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Walter Wanger
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    (July 11, 1894-November 18, 1968)
    Born in San Francisco, California
    Birth name was Walter Feuchtwanger
    Produced the films ‘The Coconuts’ (1929), ‘Tarnished Lady’ (1931), ‘The Bitter Tea of General Yen’ (1933), ‘Queen Christina’ (1933), ‘Shanghai’ (1935), ‘History Is Made At Night’ (1937), ‘Algiers’ (1938), ‘Foreign Correspondent’ (1940), ‘Arabian Nights’ (1942), ‘Scarlet Street’ (1945), ‘Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman’ (1947), ‘Joan of Arc’ (1948), ‘Aladdin and His Lamp’ (1952), ‘Riot in Cell Block 11’ (1954), ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ (1956), ‘I Want To Live!’ (1958) and ‘’Cleopatra’ (1963)
    President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (1939-October, 1941; December, 1941-1946)
    Last name rhymes with ‘danger’
    He tried to convince Groucho Marx to give up his greasepaint mustache because it looked ‘obviously fake.’
    He turned down an honorary Oscar for ‘Joan of Arc’ because he was disappointed at the film’s failure to be nominated for Best Picture.
    He divorced actresses Justine Johnstone and Joan Bennett.
    During their marriage, he became convinced that Bennett was having an affair with her agent, Jennings Lang.
    In a fit of jealousy, he shot Lang twice, hitting him in the thigh and groin (December 13, 1951).
    He served only four months in jail for the shooting, since his attorney successfully argued that Wanger had been on the verge of a nervous breakdown and was therefore not completely in control of his actions.
    He disproved his motto – ‘Nothing is as cheap as a hit, no matter how much it costs’ – with his last film, ‘Cleopatra,’ which was the biggest hit of 1963 yet went so far over budget that, after adjusting for inflation, it remains a contender for Hollywood’s biggest money loser.
    During World War I, he served as a pilot in the Signal Corps.
    He worked with just about every major Hollywood studio during his career.
    For his first job in the movies, he bought the movie rights to plays and novels for Paramount; his biggest success was acquiring ‘The Sheik’ as a starring vehicle for Rudolph Valentino.
    As President of AMPAS, he convinced the Academy to add Best Documentary and Best Foreign Film categories.
    At his peak, he earned more than any other movie executive, except MGM’s Louis B. Mayer.
    ’Time’ magazine wrote that he was ‘in the forefront of Hollywood’s crusade for social conscience.’ (1939)
    After serving time for the Lang shooting, he told the press that the American prison system ‘is the nation’s number one scandal. I want to do a film about it.’ (Thus leading to ‘Riot in Cell Block 11’ and ‘I Want to Live!’)

Credit: C. Fishel

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