Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: Zanuck, Darryl Francis
from The Columbia Encyclopedia

1902–79, American movie producer, b. Wahoo, Nebr. Beginning his Hollywood career as a scriptwriter, he was hired (1924) by Warner Brothers and made a name for himself penning scripts for Rin Tin Tin dog epics. By 1927 he was an executive producer, initiating the sound era with his production of The Jazz Singer (1927) and responsible for such other classics as Little Caesar (1930), The Public Enemy (1931), and I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932). In 1933 Zanuck cofounded Twentieth Century Films and after it merged (1935) with Fox he became head of production for the new Twentieth Century–Fox. Of all the movie magnates he was probably the most involved with his studio's products, taking an active part in creative and editorial processes. Among the most notable films created during his tenure were The Grapes of Wrath (1940), How Green Was My Valley (1941), Twelve O'Clock High (1949), and All about Eve (1950). He left Fox in 1956 to become an independent producer in Europe, but returned to the studio as its president in 1962, restoring its prosperity with such hits as The Longest Day (1962) and The Sound of Music (1965). The last of the studio tycoons, Zanuck retired in 1971.

  • See Behmer, R. , ed., Memo from Darryl F. Zanuck: The Golden Years at Twentieth Century-Fox (1993);.
  • biographies by M. Gussow (1971, repr. 1983), L. Mosley (1985), S. M. Silverman (1988), M. J. Harris (1989), and G. F. Custin (1997).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2018

Related Articles


Full text Article Zanuck, Darryl F(rancis) (1902-79)
Chambers Film Factfinder

American, born in Wahoo, Nebraska. After service in the National Guard, he held a variety of odd jobs before becoming a screenwriter at Warner...

See more from Credo