S. Sylvan Simon, Moviemaker

Adventures with Lucy, Red Skelton and Harry Cohn in the Golden Age of Hollywood

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About the Book

He was Red Skelton’s favorite director, and mentored Lucille Ball in the art of physical comedy. In his 15-year Hollywood career, S. Sylvan Simon (1910-1951) directed and/or produced more than 40 films, with stars like Lana Turner, Abbott and Costello, and Wallace Beery. Though he loved to make moviegoers laugh, he demonstrated his versatility with murder mysteries, war stories, and musicals. After a decade at MGM, he moved to Columbia, where he produced his own projects, including the Western melodrama Lust for Gold, and popular slapstick comedies like The Fuller Brush Girl. As head of production, reporting to irascible Harry Cohn, he produced the award-winning Born Yesterday, and was working on From Here to Eternity when his life ended tragically at the age of 41.

This first-ever account of Simon’s life and career draws on interviews with family and colleagues, genealogical records, archival materials, and his own annotated scripts to tell the story of a stage-struck boy from Pittsburgh whose talent and tenacity made him a Hollywood success. The filmography provides production histories, critical commentary, and excerpts from published reviews. An appendix covers books written or edited by Simon, including his anthologized plays for amateur groups.

About the Author(s)

David C. Tucker is the author of numerous books about classic film and television history. A retired public library administrator, he lives just outside Atlanta, Georgia.

Bibliographic Details

David C. Tucker

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 228
Bibliographic Info: 58 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8219-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4174-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1
Part I. Biography 5
1. Early Stages 6
2. Go West, Young Director 27
3. Mr. Simon Takes Columbia 50
Part II. Filmography 67
Appendix: Books Written or Edited by S. Sylvan Simon 199
Notes 203
Bibliography 211
Index 215

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “A wealth of details…a masterful job”—Another Old Movie Blog
  • “Tucker’s book helps us to realize the depth of [Simon’s] impact in fascinating detail”—James L. Neibaur