George Sidney (1916-2002) was a film director during the Golden Age of Hollywood filmmaking (1927-1954). He spent the longest period of his career at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) until the 1950s. He later produced and directed films for Columbia Pictures and Paramount Pictures. He was a president of the Directors Guild of America and an avid photographer. He was the recipient of three awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscar). The collection consists of photographs, photographic negatives, personal and business materials, and film. The collection also contains material created by George Sidney's uncle, George Sidney, vaudevillian and motion picture actor.
Scope and Contents:
The George Sidney Collection consists of approximately eighty-eight cubic feet of photographs and materials from the Hollywood director George Sidney, most dealing with his career in motion pictures. Sidney was an avid photographer and collector of photographs documenting extremely well the Hollywood film community during the Studio Era (1927-1954) of filmmaking. The bulk of the collection is from Sidney's most productive years, circa 1937-1968.
MGM's motto was "More Stars than there are in Heaven" and the researcher would be advised that the extent of this collection is such that it is impossible to list and identify all of the celebrities and personalities photographed, both behind and in front of the camera. There are stills from Sidney's many productions as well as his on-set personal photographs. There are photographs from dinner parties, and many studio and film community functions. Productions are dated to their generally accepted first theatrical release date (Los Angeles and New York) and in the case of a Broadway show to their opening date.
The collection is arranged into six series.
Series 1: Photographs, Photographic Negatives, and Slides, 1914-1996, undated.
Subseries 1.1: The Camera Eye of George Sidney, undated.
Subseries 1.2: Productions (Motion Picture, Stage, and Radio), 1921-1968.
Subseries 1.3: Personalities and People, 1932-1996, undated.
Subseries 1.4: Personal and Family, 1914-1992, undated.
Subseries 1.5: Family Photograph Albums and Scrapbooks, 1918-1950, undated.
Subseries 1.6: Travel and Locations, 1940-1981, undated.
Subseries 1.7: Studio, Entertainment, and Public Events, 1949-1995, undated.
Series 2: Production Ephemera, Posters, Scripts, 1930-1991, undated.
Subseries 2.1: Production Posters, 1943-1964, undated
Subseries 2.2: Production Ephemera and Scripts, 1930-1991, undated
Series 3: Office Files and Personal Material, 1903-2002, undated
Subseries 3.1: Personal Material, 1944-2002, undated
Subseries 3.2: Correspondence, Random Files, Indices, and Inventories, 1903-2002, undated
Series 4: Music Manuscripts, Sheet Music, and Music Related Material, 1885-1992, undated
Subseries 4.1: Music Manuscripts, 1937-1960, undated
Subseries 4.2: Sheet Music, 1885-1990
Subseries 4.3: Music Related Material, 1971-1992, undated
Series 5: Audiovisual, 1933-2001, undated
Subseries 5.1: Film, 1940-1960, undated
Subseries 5.2: Audio, 1933-2001, undated
Subseries 5.3: Video, 1989-2001, undated
Series 6: George Sidney (1877-1945), 1909-1945, undated
Biographical / Historical:
George E. Sidney was born in New York, New York on October 4th, 1916 into a show business family. His father Louis K. Sidney (birth surname Kronowith) (1891-1958) was a Broadway producer, actor-manager, and one of the vice-presidents of Loew's Incorporated. Sidney's mother, Hazael Mooney (?-1969), was a vaudeville performer, part of a sister act known as The Mooney Sisters. She was a native New Yorker, daughter of prominent New York City attorney Henry Mooney. She and Louis were married at her home, 12 West 109th Street, New York. Another residence was 179 West 63rd Street.
Louis K. Sidney began working for Loew's Incorporated in 1923. He managed theatres in Denver, Pittsburgh, Toledo, Dayton, and New York. Later he was in charge of stage productions for the theatre circuit. He was in charge of MGM's East Coast film production facility in New York. He and Hazael followed son George to Los Angeles in 1937. Louis produced two motion pictures at MGM, The Big Store with the Marx Brothers and Hullabaloo. After February 1951, he was a member of the four man executive committee in charge of MGM. At his retirement in 1955, Louis K. had risen to the position of vice-president of Loew's, Incorporated. He served as vice-president and director of the Motion Picture Producers Association, as a director of the Motion Picture Relief Fund, and the Hollywood Coordinating Committee.
George Sidney had two uncles in show business, Jack Sidney, known as "Jack of Spades" a black-face comedian, and Sidney's half-uncle, George Sidney (1877-1945) (real name Samuel Greenfield), a vaudeville comic. George had a successful Broadway and screen career, most notably as the bum, Busy Izzy, a character that lasted on the vaudeville circuit from 1901-1915. His initial Broadway success was in a show entitled Welcome Stranger that ran for 309 performances. Welcome Stranger had an extensive touring schedule across the United States. In conjunction with Charlie Murray, he developed a comedy act known as Cohen and Kelly that was not only a vaudeville success but easily made the transition to motion pictures. The Cohens and Kellys films became a motion picture franchise for Universal Studios in 1924. He was married to Carrie Weber (?-1940). George was a member of the Friars Club and an avid sports fan. He owned a racehorse named Kibbitzer.
George Sidney made his on-screen debut in The Littlest Cowboy (1921) starring Tom Mix. He moved to Los Angeles in 1930. Sidney went to work as a messenger at MGM. Louis B. Mayer's nickname for Sidney was "boy". Sidney flourished at the studio and by the time he was twenty he was directing screen tests and one-reel shorts. He directed installments in the Our Gang and Little Rascals series, as well as the Pete Smith and the Crime Does Not Pay series. He won back-to-back Oscars for two of his shorts, Quicker'n a Wink (1940) and Of Pups and Puzzles (1941). His feature film directing debut was Free and Easy (1941) starring Robert Cummings. His first major film musical was the all-star, war time musical, Thousands Cheer (1943), starring Kathryn Grayson and Gene Kelly. Sidney always indicated he viewed films as entertainment and seems to have rejected the auteur theory of directing embraced by some of his well known colleagues such as John Ford and Vincent Minnelli. His film, The Three Musketeers (1948), starring Gene Kelly and Lana Turner, was one of MGM's highest grossing films in the post World War Two period. He won his third Oscar for the short, Overture to 'The Merry Wives of Windsor, in 1954. Jupiter's Darling (1955) with Esther Williams was Sidney's last film for MGM. He was loaned to Columbia Pictures to direct The Eddy Duchin Story (1956), after which his contract at MGM ended.
Sidney went on to become an independent producer and director at Columbia Pictures where he directed such films as Pal Joey (1957), starring Frank Sinatra, and Bye Bye Birdie (1963) starring Ann-Margret. He returned to MGM in the 1960s to make A Ticklish Affair (1963), starring Shirley Jones and Viva Las Vegas (1964), starring Ann-Margret and Elvis Presley. His last film was the musical Half a Sixpence (1967) starring Tommy Steele for Paramount Pictures. Sidney also directed and produced for television most notably Who Has Seen the Wind (1964). He financed and founded Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1944. He was a two-term president, 1951-1959 and 1961-1967, of the Directors Guild of America (DGA), earlier known as the Screen Directors Guild (SDG).
In his personal life, Sidney was married in 1942 to legendary MGM drama coach, Lillian "Burnsie" Burns Salzer (1903-1998). He was eight years her junior. They lived at the Sidney home (1140 Tower Road) in Beverly Hills. They divorced in the mid 1970s. For a brief time Sidney maintained a penthouse apartment for George Sidney Productions at 144 South Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills. He maintained a suite (301) in the Palm Wilshire Building, 9201 Wilshire Boulevard in the 1970s. He married his second wife, Jane Adler Robinson (?-1991), second wife and widow of actor Edward G. Robinson (1893-1974), around 1978. The house at 1140 Tower Road was sold and Sidney moved to the Robinson home at 910 Rexford Drive in Beverly Hills. Sidney married his third wife, Corinne Kegley Entratter (1937-?), widow of showman and Las Vegas entrepreneur John Entratter, in 1991. Sidney was a prolific photographer. He collected art and was apparently an avid gardener. He was a member of the Royal Horticultural Society. He died in Las Vegas, Nevada in May 2002.
The Harry Warren Collection, AC0750
The Groucho Marx Collection, AC0269
Sidney related artifacts from Sidney's films are housed in the Division of Culture and the Arts, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian. There are scrapbooks donated by the Sidney Estate in the collection of the Cinema-Television Library, Doheny Library, University of Southern California, consisting of eleven volumes containing photographs, correspondence, publicity documents, and other materials, circa 1933-1963.
This collection was donated to the Archives Center in 2005 by Corinne Entratter Sidney, widow of George Sidney.
This collection is open for research use.
Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with cotton gloves. Researchers may use reference copies of audio-visual materials. When no reference copy exists, the Archives Center staff will produce reference copies on an "as needed" basis and as resources allow.
Viewing film portions of the collection requires special appointment, please inquire; listening to LP recordings is only possible by special arrangement.
Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs and negatives. Special arrangements required to view materials in cold storage. Using cold room materials requires a three hour waiting period. Contact the Archives Center at 202-633-3270.
The Archives Center does not own exclusive rights to these materials. All requests for permission to use these materials for non-museum purposes must be addressed directly to the Archives Center, and the Archives Center will forward the request to the copyright holder. Collection items are available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Reproduction permission from Archives Center: fees for commercial use.