BiographyHe was born on March 15, 1893, the son of Arthur Hornblow, a successful novelist who became a Broadway playwright and who, from 1901 worked as editor of the influential "Theatre" magazine, which worked to promote the American theatre. Hornblow Jr. graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School, New York City, in 1911, and went on to study at Dartmouth College followed by New York Law School, intending on a legal career.
When America entered WWI he served in in the Intelligence Corps of the U.S. Army, achieving the rank of 1st Lieutenant, and was decorated for his service by the French government. After the war he was drawn to the world of the arts, rather than the law and after penning several plays himself he began producing plays on Broadway.
His biggest theatrical hit was The Captive" in 1926 which Hornblow adapted from a French play. Because the plot included a lesbian relationship, it was closed by the police after 160 sell out performances. After this Hornblow moved to Hollywood to continue his career in the movie business. The movie business had cause to be grateful.
Movie Producer 1927Hornblow was signed by Sam Goldwyn in 1927 as writer and production supervisor. Goldwyn was fast developing a reputation for selecting and nurturing the most gifted and resourceful artists for his studio and he accepted Hornblow's recommendations to employ talented writers such as Sidney Howard, Elmer Rice and Louis Bromfield. Hornblow was one of the first to fully appreciate the changes necessary for studios to adapt to Sound movies. He was responsible for co-producing with Goldwyn such early classic sound films as 'Bulldog Drummond' in 1929 and 'Street Scene' in 1931.
Between 1927 and 1933 Hornblow played an important background role in the Goldwyn studio and he used the time wisely, learning about his new business, but Goldwyn refused his repeated requests to be given public credit on screen for his work and Hornblow finally resigned in frustration.
Paramount 1933Hornblow chose Paramount as his next studio, and the series of classic films which he produced there helped save the studio from bankruptcy, including the brilliant 'Ruggles of Red Gap', starring Charles Laughton, in 1935. He produced other successful classic comedies such as 'Easy Living' in 1937 and 'Midnight' in 1939. Also in 1939 Hornblow produced the first of three top-class hit comedies starring Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard: 'The Cat and the Canary', 'The Ghost Breakers' in 1940 and 'Nothing But the Truth' in 1941.
As a top producer Hornblow showed an eye for new talent. In 1941 he advised the young actress, Constance Keane, to change her name. He suggested "Lake" for the blueness of her eyes, and "Veronica" because of her beauty.
Up to this time, her movie billing had been under her natural name of Constance Keane but with her next movie, as William Holden's love interest in 'I Wanted Wings' in 1941, she became far better known and was advised to change her name. She had just signed a contract with Paramount and one of their top producers, Arthur Hornblow, suggested "Lake" for the blueness of her eyes, and "Veronica" because of her classic beauty. With her new name and a comedic lead in Preston Sturges's classic 'Sullivan's Travels' for Paramount later in 1941, Veronica immediately surged to Hollywood and national stardom.
Similarly Hornblow was one of the earliest in Hollywood to recognise the genius and directing potential of Billy Wilder. Hornblow backed him to direct his first film, 'The Major and the Minor' in 1942, starring Ginger Rogers. The movie was a massive hit and Wilder became a full time film director.
MGM 1942After 'The Major and the Minor' Hornblow moved from Paramount to MGM where he produced several highly entertaining movies such as 'The Heavenly Body' in 1944 and 'Weekend at the Waldorf' in 1945. He was also responsible for the classy dramas 'Gaslight' in 1944 and 'The Hucksters' in 1947.
As MGM's power and reputation declined after the war, their parent company, Loews, ousted long time head, L.B.Mayer, and replaced him with Dore Schary, whose pictures tended to be darker and more socially relevant than Mayer's. Hornblow was able to adapt easily to Schary's style and produced John Huston's ground-breaking film noir 'The Asphalt Jungle' in 1950 over the objections of the conservative Meyer.
Hornblow produced his last three films as an independent. They included the classic musical 'Oklahoma!' in 1955 and the dramatic 'Witness for the Prosecution' in 1957.
PersonalHornblow married three times, firstly in 1924 to stage actress Juliette Crosby. They had one son, Terry. They divorced in 1936 and in the same year Hornblow married movie actress Myrna Loy. The couple divorced six years later, both attending a celebration divorce party, and in 1945 he married Leonora Schinasi, a writer, to whom he remained married until his death.
After the poorly received 'The War Lover' in 1962, Hornblow retired from the movie industry and spent much of his retirement co-authoring children's books with his wife Leonora. They wrote a series of books about unusual animal behaviour with titles such as "Birds Do the Strangest Things" in 1965, through to "Prehistoric Monsters Did the Strangest Things" in 1974.
Arthur Hornblow, Jr. died on July 17, 1976. He was aged 83 years.
Arthur Hornblow, Jr. Academy AwardsNo Wins:
Four Unsuccessful Nominations:
Ruggles of Red Gap ... (1935)
Hold Back the Dawn ... (1941)
Gaslight ... (1944)
Witness for the Prosecution ... (1957)
Arthur Hornblow Jr. Filmography
One Heavenly Night (executive producer - uncredited)
Arrowsmith (executive producer - uncredited)
The Pursuit of Happiness
Wings in the Dark
Ruggles of Red Gap
Four Hours to Kill!
The Princess Comes Across
Three Married Men
Swing High, Swing Low
High, Wide, and Handsome
Stranded in Paris
Man About Town
The Cat and the Canary
The Ghost Breakers
Arise, My Love
I Wanted Wings
Hold Back the Dawn
Nothing But the Truth
The Heavenly Body
Week-End at the Waldorf