The Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award (AMPAS)

by cts-6 | created - 30 Oct 2016 | updated - 7 months ago | Public

Named for the famed MGM head of production who died in 1936, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents the Thalberg Award on an irregular basis "to creative producers whose bodies of work reflect a consistently high quality of motion picture production." Unlike lifetime achievement Oscars -- which are usually presented to people at or after the end of their careers -- the Thalberg is usually awarded to producers who are at the apex of their careers. Darryl F. Zanuck received three Thalbergs; Hal B. Wallis received two; and Zanuck's son, Richard, and his production partner, David Brown, received the award jointly. Recipients are listed in order of the year of their awards.

1. Irving Thalberg

Producer | The Tower of Lies

Irving Grant Thalberg was born in New York City, to Henrietta (Haymann) and William Thalberg, who were of German Jewish descent. He had a bad heart, having contracted rheumatic fever as a teenager and was plagued with other ailments all of his life. He was quite intelligent with a thirst for ...

2. Darryl F. Zanuck

Producer | All About Eve

One of the kingpins of Hollywood's studio system, Zanuck was the offspring of the ill-fated marriage of the alcoholic night clerk in Wahoo, Nebraska's only hotel and the hotel owner's daughter. Both parents had abandoned him by the time he was 13. At 15, he joined the U.S. Army, and he fought in ...

1937 (first of 3 Thalberg Awards)

3. Hal B. Wallis

Producer | True Grit

Legendary producer Hal B. Wallis was born in Chicago and moved to Los Angeles when he was in his early 20s. He got a job managing a theater owned by Warner Bros., and his success at the job caught the eye of studio head Jack L. Warner, who gave him a job in the studio's publicity department. Within...

1938 (first of 2 Thalberg Awards)

4. David O. Selznick

Producer | Gone with the Wind

David O. Selznick was a son of the silent movie producer Lewis J. Selznick. David studied at Columbia University until his father lost his fortune in the 1920s. David started work as an MGM script reader, shortly followed by becoming an assistant to Harry Rapf. He left MGM to work at Paramount then...

1939

5. Walt Disney

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Walter Elias Disney was born on December 5, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Flora Disney (née Call) and Elias Disney, a Canadian-born farmer and businessperson. He had Irish, German, and English ancestry. Walt moved with his parents to Kansas City at age seven, where he spent the majority of ...

1941

6. Sidney Franklin

Director | The Good Earth

Sidney Franklin was involved in amateur filmmaking while still at school. With his brother Chester M. Franklin, he wrote, directed and edited a short film, The Baby (1915), at a cost of $400. Somehow it attracted the interest of D.W. Griffith, who decided to put the brothers to work making ...

1942

7. Hal B. Wallis

Producer | True Grit

Legendary producer Hal B. Wallis was born in Chicago and moved to Los Angeles when he was in his early 20s. He got a job managing a theater owned by Warner Bros., and his success at the job caught the eye of studio head Jack L. Warner, who gave him a job in the studio's publicity department. Within...

1943 (second of 2 Thalberg Awards)

8. Darryl F. Zanuck

Producer | All About Eve

One of the kingpins of Hollywood's studio system, Zanuck was the offspring of the ill-fated marriage of the alcoholic night clerk in Wahoo, Nebraska's only hotel and the hotel owner's daughter. Both parents had abandoned him by the time he was 13. At 15, he joined the U.S. Army, and he fought in ...

1944 (second of 3 Thalberg Awards)

9. Samuel Goldwyn

Producer | The Best Years of Our Lives

Famed for his relentless ambition, bad temper and genius for publicity, Samuel Goldwyn became Hollywood's leading "independent" producer -- largely because none of his partners could tolerate him for long. Born Shmuel (or Schmuel) Gelbfisz, probably in 1879, in the Jewish section of Warsaw, he was ...

1946

10. Jerry Wald

Producer | Key Largo

The son of a dry goods salesman, Jerry Wald was the go-getting Hollywood writer-producer of popular imagination: charismatic, ambitious, shrewd, frequently brilliant, and filled with a nervous energy driving him from one project to another. An avid reader, with an innate sense of literary judgement...

1948

11. Darryl F. Zanuck

Producer | All About Eve

One of the kingpins of Hollywood's studio system, Zanuck was the offspring of the ill-fated marriage of the alcoholic night clerk in Wahoo, Nebraska's only hotel and the hotel owner's daughter. Both parents had abandoned him by the time he was 13. At 15, he joined the U.S. Army, and he fought in ...

1950 (third of 3 Thalberg Awards)

12. Arthur Freed

Producer | An American in Paris

Producer, songwriter and author, brother to Ralph Freed, Walter and Ruth Freed. He was educated at the Phillips Exeter Academy, and became associated with Gus Edwards musical acts. He performed in vaudeville with Louis Silvers, with whom he wrote revues for New York restaurants. During World War I,...

1951

13. Cecil B. DeMille

Producer | The Ten Commandments

His parents Henry C. DeMille and Beatrice DeMille were playwrights. His father died when he was 12, and his mother supported the family by opening a school for girls and a theatrical company. Too young to enlist in the Spanish-American War, Cecil followed his brother William C. de Mille to the New ...

1952

14. George Stevens

Director | Giant

George Stevens, a filmmaker known as a meticulous craftsman with a brilliant eye for composition and a sensitive touch with actors, is one of the great American filmmakers, ranking with John Ford, William Wyler and Howard Hawks as a creator of classic Hollywood cinema, bringing to the screen ...

1953

15. Buddy Adler

Producer | From Here to Eternity

While known mostly for his activities as a film producer, Maurice Buddy Adler attended both Columbia and Pennsylvania universities and wrote fiction short stories for magazines prior to becoming involved in the film industry. In 1936 he joined MGM Pictures as a writer for the regular series of ...

1956

16. Jack L. Warner

Producer | My Fair Lady

With his brothers Harry M. Warner, Albert Warner, and Sam Warner, he founded Warner Bros. Pictures Inc. in 1923. They released the first motion picture with synchronized sound, The Jazz Singer (1927) with Al Jolson. In the 1930s they gave employment to a parade of stars, including Bette Davis, ...

1958

17. Stanley Kramer

Producer | Judgment at Nuremberg

Stanley Kramer was born on September 29, 1913 in Hell's Kitchen [now Clinton], Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA as Stanley Earl Abramson. He is known for his work on Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) and Inherit the Wind (1960). He was married to Karen Sharpe, ...

1961

18. Sam Spiegel

Producer | Lawrence of Arabia

Sam Spiegel was born on November 11, 1901 in Jaroslau, Galicia, Austria-Hungary as Samuel P. Spiegel. He is known for his work on Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) and On the Waterfront (1954). He was married to Betty Benson, Lynn Baggett and Rachel "Ray" Agranovich. He...

1963

19. William Wyler

Director | Ben-Hur

William Wyler was an American filmmaker who, at the time of his death in 1981, was considered by his peers as second only to John Ford as a master craftsman of cinema. The winner of three Best Director Academy Awards, second again only to Ford's four, Wyler's reputation has unfairly suffered as the...

1965

20. Robert Wise

Director | West Side Story

Robert Earl Wise was born on September 10, 1914 in Winchester, Indiana, the youngest of three sons of Olive R. (Longenecker) and Earl Waldo Wise, a meat packer. His parents were both of Pennsylvania Dutch (German) descent. At age nineteen, the avid moviegoer came into the film business through an ...

1966

21. Alfred Hitchcock

Director | Psycho

Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone, Essex, England. He was the son of Emma Jane (Whelan; 1863 - 1942) and East End greengrocer William Hitchcock (1862 - 1914). His parents were both of half English and half Irish ancestry. He had two older siblings, William Hitchcock (born 1890) and ...

1967

22. Ingmar Bergman

Writer | Smultronstället

Ernst Ingmar Bergman was born July 14, 1918, the son of a priest. The film and T.V. series, The Best Intentions (1992) is biographical and shows the early marriage of his parents. The film 'Söndagsbarn' depicts a bicycle journey with his father. In the miniseries Private Confessions (1996) is the ...

1970

23. Lawrence Weingarten

Producer | Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

After a somewhat brief acting stint in the silent Bitter Sweet (1916), Weingarten decided to work on the other side of the camera, initially as publicity man for Thomas H. Ince and, later, First National Pictures. He was an early influence in the career of child star Jackie Coogan, before ...

1973

24. Mervyn LeRoy

Director | Gypsy

The great San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906 was a tragedy for Mervyn LeRoy. While he and his father managed to survive, they lost everything they had. To make money, LeRoy sold newspapers and entered talent contests as a singer. When he entered vaudeville, his act was "LeRoy and Cooper--Two...

1975

25. Pandro S. Berman

Producer | Father of the Bride

Pandro S. Berman was born into the film industry. His father, Harry, was distributor and exhibitor of films. Pandro also had a number of relatives in the film industry. When he started working in the 1920's he started as a script clerk and then rose to film editor. By 1931, the 26 year old Berman ...

1976

26. Walter Mirisch

Producer | In the Heat of the Night

Walter Mirisch and brothers Marvin Mirisch and Harold Mirisch were one of the most successful producing teams in Hollywood history. Their Mirisch Company produced such diverse hits as Some Like It Hot (1959), The Magnificent Seven (1960), West Side Story (1961), The Great Escape (1963), The Pink ...

1977

27. Ray Stark

Producer | Annie

Ray Stark was born on October 3, 1915 in New York City, New York, USA as Raymond Otto Stark. He was a producer, known for Annie (1982), Steel Magnolias (1989) and Murder by Death (1976). He was married to Frances Brice (Arnstein). He died on January 17, 2004 in West Hollywood, California, USA.

1979

28. Albert R. Broccoli

Producer | Dr. No

Albert Romolo Broccoli was born in Astoria, Queens (New York City) on April 5th, 1909. His mother and father, Cristina and Giovanni Broccoli, raised young Albert in New York on the family farm. The family was in the vegetable business, and Albert claimed one of his uncles brought the first broccoli...

1981

29. Steven Spielberg

Producer | Schindler's List

One of the most influential personalities in the history of cinema, Steven Spielberg is Hollywood's best known director and one of the wealthiest filmmakers in the world. He has an extraordinary number of commercially successful and critically acclaimed credits to his name, either as a director, ...

1986

30. Billy Wilder

Writer | The Apartment

Originally planning to become a lawyer, Billy Wilder abandoned that career in favor of working as a reporter for a Viennese newspaper, using this experience to move to Berlin, where he worked for the city's largest tabloid. He broke into films as a screenwriter in 1929 and wrote scripts for many ...

1987

31. David Brown

Producer | Deep Impact

David Brown was born on July 28, 1916 in New York City, New York, USA. He was a producer, known for Deep Impact (1998), The Player (1992) and Cocoon (1985). He was married to Helen Gurley Brown. He died on February 1, 2010 in Manhattan, New York City.

1990

32. Richard D. Zanuck

Producer | Driving Miss Daisy

Richard D. Zanuck was born on December 13, 1934 in Los Angeles, California, USA as Richard Darryl Zanuck. He was a producer, known for Driving Miss Daisy (1989), Deep Impact (1998) and Cocoon (1985). He was married to Lili Fini Zanuck, Linda Harrison and Lili Gentle. He died on July 13, 2012 in ...

1990

33. George Lucas

Writer | Star Wars

George Walton Lucas, Jr. was raised on a walnut ranch in Modesto, California. His father was a stationery store owner and he had three siblings. During his late teen years, he went to Thomas Downey High School and was very much interested in drag racing. He planned to become a professional racecar ...

1991

34. Clint Eastwood

Actor | Million Dollar Baby

Clint Eastwood was born May 31, 1930 in San Francisco, the son of Clinton Eastwood Sr., a manufacturing executive for Georgia-Pacific Corporation, and Ruth Wood, a housewife turned IBM operator. He had a comfortable, middle-class upbringing in nearby Piedmont. At school Clint took interest in music...

1994

35. Saul Zaentz

Producer | The English Patient

Saul Zaentz learned gambling as a youth in Passaic, New Jersey, playing a card game called briscola. Later, in his twenties, he earned a full-time living as a gambler.

Saul settled in San Francisco after WWII, at first working for a local record distributor and eventually joining the jazz record ...

1996

36. Norman Jewison

Director | In the Heat of the Night

Norman Frederick Jewison was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to Dorothy Irene (Weaver) and Percy Joseph Jewison, who managed a post office and a convenience store. His mother was an English immigrant, and his father was of English and Ulster-Scots descent. Jewison got his BA at Victoria College, ...

1998

37. Warren Beatty

Actor | Heaven Can Wait

Since starring in his first film, Splendor in the Grass (1961), Warren Beatty has been said to have demonstrated a greater longevity in movies than any actor of his generation. Few people have taken so many responsibilities for all phases of the production of films as producer, director, writer, ...

1999

38. Dino De Laurentiis

Producer | La strada

Dino De Laurentiis left home at age 17 to enrol in film school, supporting himself as an actor, extra, propman, or any other job he could get in the film industry. His persistence paid off, and by the time he reached his 20th birthday he already had one produced film under his belt. After serving ...

2000

39. John Calley

Producer | The Remains of the Day

Calley was born the son of a car salesman in Jersey City, New Jersey, and attended Columbia University before briefly serving in the Army. At NBC, he started in the mail room and moved up through the ranks from from 1951-57 in a still-young TV industry, from sale and production before settling in ...

2009

40. Francis Ford Coppola

Producer | Apocalypse Now

Francis Ford Coppola was born in 1939 in Detroit, Michigan, but grew up in a New York suburb in a creative, supportive Italian-American family. His father, Carmine Coppola, was a composer and musician. His mother, Italia Coppola (née Pennino), had been an actress. Francis Ford Coppola graduated ...

2010

41. Kathleen Kennedy

Producer | The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Kathleen Kennedy worked in San Diego local television before moving to Los Angeles, where she was hired by Steven Spielberg as a secretary on the production of 1941 (1979). Both later reported that she was lacking as a typist but had good production ideas. She was an associate to Mr. Spielberg on ...

2018 (first woman to win the award)

42. Frank Marshall

Producer | Congo

Frank was born in Glendale, California to musician Jack Marshall. He entered the film world when his parents invited him to a birthday party for the daughter of directing legend John Ford in 1966. There, he met Peter Bogdanovich and soon agreed to work on his first film, Targets (1968), later ...

2018



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