King Wallis Vidor

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King Wallis Vidor

Birthdate: (88)
Birthplace: Galveston, Texas, USA
Death: November 1, 1982 (88)
Paso Robles, California, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Charles Shelton Vidor, Jr. and Kate Lee "Katie" Vidor
Husband of Elizabeth Vidor
Ex-husband of Florence Vidor-Heifetz and Eleanor d'Abbadie d'Arrast
Father of Suzanne Parry; <private> Vidor and <private> Holiday (Vidor)

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Immediate Family

About King Wallis Vidor

American film director King Vidor is noted for his experimentation with visual effects and camera movement in motion pictures such as The Big Parade (1925) and Wedding Night (1935).

He was born on February 8, 1894 in Galveston, Texas, the son of Charles Shelton and Katie Lee (Wallis) Vidor. His father was a lumber producer and merchant with the Miller-Vidor Lumber Company, which had headquarters in Galveston and owned land, mills, and lumber railroads in East Texas. The towns of Vidor and Milvid were named for him. King Vidor's grandfather, Charles Vidor, was a refugee of the Hungarian revolution of 1848–49 who settled in Galveston in the early 1850s. Vidor he survived the great Galveston Hurricane of 1900 and later made an amateur movied based on it, Hurricane in Galveston (1913). He attended Peacock Military Academy in San Antonio in 1908 but left after only one year. One of his schoolmates there was Edward Sedgwick, later his partner in the film business.

After making a few amateur films on his own, Vidor struck out for Hollywood with his bride, Florence Arto, in 1915 at the age of twenty-one. He was determined to learn more about the art and technique of filmmaking. He worked on a variety of film-related jobs before directing a feature film, The Turn in the Road, in 1919. A successful mounting of Peg o' My Heart in 1922 got him a long term contract with Goldwyn Studios, later to be absorbed into MGM. Three years later he made The Big Parade, among the most acclaimed war films of the silent era, and a tremendous commercial success. This success established him as one of MGM's top studio directors for the next decade. In 1928, Vidor received his first Oscar nomination, for The Crowd, widely regarded as his masterpiece and one of the greatest American silent films. In the same year, he made the classic Show People, the last silent film of Marion Davies, a comedy about the film industry in which Vidor had a cameo as himself and his much-loved screwball comedy The Patsy.

Vidor's first sound film was Hallelujah!, a groundbreaking film featuring an African-American cast, and in which he established the new language for sound films (which is still used today by most directors). His directorial career extended well in to the sound era and he continued making feature films until the late 1950s. Some of his better known sound films include Stella Dallas, Our Daily Bread, The Citadel, Duel in the Sun, The Fountainhead, and War and Peace. He directed the Kansas sequences in The Wizard of Oz (including "Over the Rainbow") when director Victor Fleming had to replace George Cukor on Gone with the Wind, but never received screen credit.

In 1962 he was head of the jury at the 12th Berlin International Film Festival.

Vidor entered in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest career as a film director: beginning in 1913 with Hurricane in Galveston and ending in 1980 with a short documentary on painting entitled The Metaphor. He was nominated five times for an Oscar but never won in direct competition; he received an honorary award in 1979.

In 1967, Vidor researched the unsolved 1922 murder of fellow director William Desmond Taylor for a possible screenplay. Vidor never published or wrote of this research during his lifetime, but biographer Sidney D. Kirkpatrick posthumously examined Vidor's notes. He alleged in his 1986 book Cast of Killers that Vidor had solved the sensational crime but kept his conclusions private to protect individuals still living at the time. The widely cited newsletter Taylorology later noted over 100 factual errors in Cast of Killers and strongly disputes Kirkpatrick's conclusions, but credits the book with renewing popular interest in the crime.

Vidor was married three times:

  1. Florence Arto; one daughter - Suzanne (born 1918) (Florence later married Jascha Heifetz, who adopted Suzanne);
  2. Eleanor Boardman; two daughters - Antonia (born 1927) and Belinda (born 1930)
  3. Elizabeth Hill (1932–1982)


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King Wallis Vidor's Timeline

February 8, 1894
Galveston, Texas, USA
December 26, 1918
Age 24
California, USA
November 1, 1982
Age 88
Paso Robles, California, USA