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100 Years



Below is an exclusive account of the milestones of Preston's Life as told by Sandy Sturges. Check back for updates and accounts of upcoming Centennial Events as this Summer kicks off what is certain to be a year-long celebration of Preston Sturges' life and his body of work.

1898


  • August 29, born Edmund Preston Biden in Chicago, Illinois.

    1901


  • Click to enlargeFirst sojourn in France; Mother and Isadora Duncan meet.

    1902


  • Click to enlargeJanuary, adopted by Solomon Sturges.

    1905


  • Click to enlargeClick to enlargeStarts elementary school in Chicago, Illinois.

    1906 to 1914


  • Click to enlargeBoarding schools in Paris, Normandy and Lausanne.
  • First song published in Latvia in 1913.

    1914


  • Click to enlargeManages Maison Desti, Deauville, France.
  • Sent to New York City at outbreak of war.

    1915


  • First job in theatre, backstage work for Isadora Duncan.
  • Mother sails for Europe with Isadora; PS takes over management of Maison Desti, New York.

    1917


  • Volunteers as flyer as America enters the war.

    1918


  • March, reports for training in Aviation Section of Signal Corps.
  • Writes and draws weekly comic strip for camp newspaper.

    1919


  • Earns wings as pursuit pilot, discharged May 19 as reserve officer.

    1923


  • Click to enlargeMarries Estelle Mudge.

    1927


  • Estelle leaves him.
  • Begins career as song writer.

    1928


  • First produced play, The Guinea Pig, opens at Wharf Theatre, Provincetown, Mass.

    1929


  • January 7, The Guinea Pig, opens on Broadway.
  • September 19, second play, Strictly Dishonorable, opens on Broadway. A smash hit.
  • Writes first screenplays, The Big Pond and Fast and Loose for Paramount, Astoria.

    1930


  • January 29, third play, Recapture, opens on Broadway. Closes after 24 performances.
  • April 12, elopes with Eleanor Hutton.
  • November 30, fourth play, The Well of Romance, opens on Broadway. Closes eight days later.

    1931


  • April 12, mother dies.

    1932


  • March 2, fifth play, Child of Manhattan, opens on Broadway. Closes after 87 performances.
  • April 12, Eleanor and he part forever.
  • September 9, arrives in Hollywood for Universal writing stint.

    1933


  • Sells original screenplay, The Power and the Glory, to Fox.
  • Writes original screenplay, The Great McGinty. No takers.
  • Does short stints as a writer at Metro, Columbia and Universal.

    1934


  • Click to enlargeWrites screenplay of story, Thirty Day Princess, for Paramount.
  • Adapts novel, Imitation of Life, for Universal.
  • Writes screenplay of novel, Resurrection, for Sam Goldwyn. Released as We Live Again.
  • Writes and rewrites screenplay of Pagnol's play, Fanny, for Universal. Scripts never get through Breen office. Project shelved.
  • Writes screenplay of Molnar's play, The Good Fairy, for Universal.
  • Wins Hollywood Reporter gold medal for The Power and the Glory story.

    1935


  • Writes screenplay, Diamond Jim, for Universal.
  • Starts the Sturges Engineering Company at Wilmington, CA to manufacture a vibrationless diesel engine.

    1936


  • For Universal, works on screenplays, Next Time We Love, and Love Before Breakfast, and writes original screenplay, Song of Joy (unproduced).
  • Writes screenplay, Easy Living, for Paramount.
  • With Ted Snyder, opens Snyder's, a watering hole for songwriters on the Sunset Strip.
  • Writes screenplay Hotel Haywire for Paramount.
  • September 9, signs renewable two-year writer's contract with Paramount.

    1937


  • Spends next twenty-six weeks starting in July working on screenplay Never Say Die.

    1938


  • Writes screenplay of McCarthy's play If I Were King.
  • June, Paramount lends him to MGM to write Broadway Melody of 1939.
  • July, Port of Seven Seas, from his 1934 script Fanny, released by MGM.
  • August, begins first draft of screenplay Two Bad Hats, eventually titled The Lady Eve, for Paramount.
  • November 7, marries Louise Sargent Tevis in Reno, Nevada.
  • December 31, closes Snyder's. Moves restaurant equipment to the 8225 Sunset Boulevard property.

    1939


  • Writes original screenplay, Remember the Night for Paramount.
  • Writes screenplay eventually tited The Great Moment.
  • Sells original screenplay, The Great McGinty, to Paramount for $1.00 (the legal department ups the price to $10.00) in exchange for studio agreeing to let him direct it.

    1940


  • Wraps The Great McGinty (released in August 1940).
  • April, his beloved adoptive father, Solomon Sturges, dies.
  • Writes and directs original screenplay, Christmas in July, based on his own play, A Cup of Coffee (released in November 1940).
  • July 4, opens his new restaurant, The Players, at 8225 Sunset Boulevard.
  • Directs his screenplay, The Lady Eve (released February 1941).

    1941


  • Writes and directs original screenplay, Sullivan's Travels (released January 1942).
  • June 25, his first son, Solomon Sturges, IV, born in Los Angeles.
  • Writes and directs original screenplay, The Palm Beach Story ( released December 1942).

    1942


  • Appears in Star Spangled Rhythm with practically everyone else under contract to Paramount.
  • Produces and directs his screenplay, The Great Moment (released November 1944).
  • Produces Rene Clair's I Married a Witch.
  • Produces and begins shooting his original story The Miracle of Morgan's Creek with only ten pages of the script written. Writes screenplay at night, shoots in the daytime, and wraps the picture in December (released January 1944).

    1943


  • Writes, produces and directs original screenplay Hail the Conquering Hero (released August 1944).
  • December, leaves Paramount.

    1944


  • Click to enlargeThe Miracle of Morgan's Creek and Hail the Conquering Hero each nominated for Best Original Screenplay Academy Award.
  • February, he and Howard Hughes, as partners, reach an oral agreement for the creation of a new production company, California Pictures Corporation ("Cal-Pix"). According to Time magazine, "Hollywood braced itself tor the sort of thing that happens when hydrogen and a match flame meet."
  • August, he and Hughes sign contracts creating California Pictures Corporation.
  • Assembles studio and its personnel from scratch. Begins writing original screenplay, The Sin of Harold Diddlebock.

    1945


  • Finishes writing Diddlebock, writes screenplay. Vendetta, loosely based on Merrimee's story Columba.
  • Produces and directs The Sin of Harold Diddlebock.

    1946


  • January, The Sin of Harold Diddlebock wraps (first released 1947; re-released 1950 as Mad Wednesday).
  • April, Louise moves out and files for divorce.
  • June, sells script Vendetta to Cal-Pix for $10.00.
  • August, begins production of Vendetta with Max Ophuls directing. Hughes meets Ophuls, tells Preston to get rid of him and direct the film himself.
  • October 30, with Preston still shooting Vendetta , Hughes pulls the plug, exercises his contractual right to take over Cal-Pix, and hires Stuart Heisler to finish the picture.
  • December, sells original story, Matrix, to 20th Century Fox.

    1947


  • March, thirty week contract with 20th Century Fox begins, starts work on screenplay for Matrix.
  • At Zanuck's request, suspends writing Matrix to write screenplay. The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend, loosely based on an Earl Felton story.
  • Zanuck trades Matrix for another Sturges original story eventually titled Unfaithfully Yours.
  • Writes Unfaithfully Yours screenplay.
  • November, divorce from Louise becomes final;. re-signs with 20th Century Fox.

    1948


  • Click to enlargeProduces and directs Unfaithfully Yours (released November 1948).
  • Produces and directs The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend (released 1949).

    1949


  • Starts construction of theatre at The Players.

    1950


  • Click to enlargeWrites book for New York musical, Make a Wish, based on his 1934 screenplay, The Good Fairy.

    1951


  • April, theatre at The Players opens.
  • August 15, marries Anne Margaret Nagle ("Sandy").

    1953


  • February 22, second son, Preston, born in Los Angeles.
  • August, to San Franciso to rescue play, Carnival in Flanders.
  • New York, writes screenplay of Shaw's The Millionairess, for Lester Cowan.

    1954


  • To London with Sandy and little Preston at behest of Lester Cowan. May, to Paris.

    1955


  • Writes and directs screenplay of Daninos' book, Les Carnets du Major Thompson (French version released December 1955).

    1956


  • Polishes English version of Carnets, titled The French They Are a Funny Race for American consumption (released in USA May 1957).
  • June 22, third son, Thomas Preston ("Tom-Tom"), born in Paris, France.

    1957


  • Click to enlargePlays cameo role in Bob Hope's Paris Holiday.

    1958


  • December, to New York to re-work a play in rehearsal, The Golden Fleecing.

    1959


  • February, begins autobiography for Henry Holt publishers.
  • June, signs contract to stage his original play, I Belong to Zozo, and to adapt his original screenplay, The Gentleman from Chicago, as a musical for the stage.
  • August 6th, 2:30AM, dictating half-finished autobiography, dies of natural causes at The Algonqun Hotel.


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