Hal B. Wallis
Aaron Blum Wolowicz

(1899-09-14)September 14, 1899
DiedOctober 5, 1986(1986-10-05) (aged 87)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)
OccupationFilm producer
Years active1923–1983
(m. 1927; died 1962)
(m. 1966)

Harold Brent Wallis (born Aaron Blum Wolowicz; September 14, 1899 – October 5, 1986) was an American film producer. He is best known for producing Casablanca (1942), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), and True Grit (1969), along with many other major films for Warner Bros. featuring such film stars as Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne, Bette Davis, and Errol Flynn. As a producer, he received 19 nominations for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Later on, for a long period, he was connected with Paramount Pictures and oversaw films featuring Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Elvis Presley, and John Wayne.

Life and career

Aaron Blum Wolowicz was born September 14, 1899[1] in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Eva (née Ewa Blum) and Jacob Wolowicz/Wolovitz (Jankiel Wołowicz). He was the youngest of three children and had two older sisters: Minna Wolovitz (1893-1986), a Hollywood talent agent, and Juel Wolovitz (1895-1953).[2] His parents were Ashkenazi Jews from the Suwałki region of Congress Poland, which was then part of the Russian Empire and is now Poland. The future producer and his sisters eventually changed their surname to Wallis.[3][4][5]

His family moved in 1922 to Los Angeles, California, where he found work as part of the publicity department at Warner Bros. in 1923. Within a few years, Wallis became involved in the production end of the business and would eventually become head of production at Warner. In a career that spanned more than 50 years, he was involved with the production of more than 400 feature-length movies.

Among the more significant movies he produced were Casablanca, Dark Victory, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Maltese Falcon, Sergeant York, and Now, Voyager.

In March 1944, Wallis won the Academy Award for Best Picture at the 16th Academy Awards. During the ceremony, when the award was announced for Casablanca, Wallis got up to accept, but studio head Jack L. Warner rushed up to the stage "with a broad, flashing smile and a look of great self-satisfaction," Wallis later recalled. "I couldn't believe it was happening. Casablanca had been my creation; Jack had absolutely nothing to do with it. As the audience gasped, I tried to get out of the row of seats and into the aisle, but the entire Warner family sat blocking me. I had no alternative but to sit down again, humiliated and furious ... Almost forty years later, I still haven't recovered from the shock."[6] This incident would lead Wallis to leave Warner Bros. the next month.

Wallis started to work as an independent producer, enjoying considerable success both commercially and critically. The first screenwriters he hired for his new enterprise were Ayn Rand and Lillian Hellman.[7] Among his financial hits were the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comedies, and several of Elvis Presley's movies.

He produced True Grit, for which John Wayne won the Academy Award for Best Actor of 1969, and its sequel.

After moving to Universal Pictures, he produced Anne of the Thousand Days (starring Richard Burton and Canadian actress Geneviève Bujold) and Mary, Queen of Scots (starring Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson). He received 16 Academy Award producer nominations for Best Picture, winning for Casablanca in 1943.

For his consistently high quality of motion picture production, he was twice honored with the Academy Awards' Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. He was also nominated for seven Golden Globe awards, twice winning awards for Best Picture. In 1975, he received the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in motion pictures.

In 1980, he published his autobiography, Starmaker, co-written with Charles Higham.

In the 1930s, Wallis invested in residential real estate development in Sherman Oaks, California. He named Halbrent Avenue after himself, using his nickname "Hal" and his middle name "Brent". Most of its original homes still stand, and it is very close to Ventura and Sepulveda Boulevards and the Sherman Oaks Galleria used extensively in the 1982 movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Wallis and his second wife, actress Martha Hyer, contributed funds towards the construction of The Hal and Martha Hyer Wallis Theatre, a black box theater, at Northwestern University.[8]


Wallis was married to actress Louise Fazenda from 1927 until her death in 1962. They had one son, Brent, who became a psychiatrist.[9] Several writers including actors and producers have stated that actress Lizabeth Scott was a mistress of Wallis while he was married to Fazenda.[10][11][12][13] Wallis was married to actress Martha Hyer from 1966 until his death in 1986.[14][15] Hyer wanted Wallis to include Scott and his other mistresses in his autobiography, but he did not. After his marriages, Wallis watched Scott's films at home, night after night.[16]


Wallis was a lifelong Republican, who supported Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1952 US Presidential Election. He was also a member of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals.


Wallis died on October 5, 1986, of complications of diabetes in Rancho Mirage, California, two weeks away from his 88th birthday. News of his passing was not released until after his private memorial service was completed. U.S. President Ronald W. Reagan, who appeared in Wallis's films Santa Fe Trail and This Is The Army, sent his condolences to the family.[17] Wallis is interred at the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.


Academy Awards

Wallis was nominated for 19 Academy Awards as producer, including five years from 1938 to 1943 in which he had multiple films nominated. He won the 1943 Academy Award for Outstanding Motion Picture for Casablanca. His production Watch on the Rhine was also nominated that year. In addition to his one competitive win, Wallis was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1938 and 1943.

Year Award Film Winner
1931–32 Outstanding Production Five Star Final Irving ThalbergGrand Hotel
1932–33 I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang Winfield SheehanCavalcade
1934 Flirtation Walk Harry CohnIt Happened One Night
1935 Captain Blood Irving Thalberg and Albert LewinMutiny on the Bounty
1938 The Adventures of Robin Hood Frank CapraYou Can't Take It With You
Four Daughters
1940 All This, and Heaven Too David O. SelznickRebecca
The Letter
1941 Outstanding Motion Picture The Maltese Falcon Darryl F. ZanuckHow Green Was My Valley
One Foot in Heaven
Sergeant York
1942 Kings Row Sidney FranklinMrs. Miniver
Yankee Doodle Dandy
1943 Casablanca Won
Watch on the Rhine
1955 Best Motion Picture The Rose Tattoo Harold HechtMarty
1964 Best Picture Becket Jack L. WarnerMy Fair Lady
1969 Anne of the Thousand Days Jerome HellmanMidnight Cowboy


  1. ^ Cook County Birth Certificates. Wallis's birthdate has commonly been given as September 14, 1898, but the official birth record shows October 19, 1898.
  2. ^ "HAL WALLIS, HOLLYWOOD HISTORY, MILLIKAN JUNIOR HIGH". www.vintagelosangeles.org. Retrieved February 11, 2022.
  3. ^ Jackson, Kenneth T.; Markoe, Karen; Markoe, Arnie (1999). The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives: 1986-1990. Vol. 2. Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 9780684804910.
  4. ^ "Hal Wallis Biography (1898-1986)".
  5. ^ U.S. World War I Draft Registration card for Harold Blum Wallis; 1900 Census entry for "Aaron Wollowitch" and 1910 Census entry for "Harold Wolowitz"
  6. ^ Ronald Haver. "Casablanca: The Unexpected Classic". The Criterion Collection Online Cinematheque. Archived from the original on June 29, 2009. Retrieved January 8, 2010.
  7. ^ Berliner, Michael, ed., Letters of Ayn Rand, New York: Dutton, 1995, p. 148.
  8. ^ "Martha Hyer - The Private Life and Times of Martha Hyer". Glamourgirlsofthesilverscreen.com. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
  9. ^ "Louise Fazenda, star of silent films, dies". Journal & Courier. Lafayette, Indiana. April 18, 1962. p. 1. Retrieved May 29, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.Free access icon
  10. ^ Douglas, Kirk (Simon & Schuster, 1st edition, August 15, 1988), The Ragman's Son, p. 123
  11. ^ MacLaine, Shirley (Bantam, 1st edition, October 1, 1991), Dance While You Can, p. 31
  12. ^ Bunker, Edward (St. Martin's Griffin, 1st edition, August 18, 2001), Education of a Felon: A Memoir, p. 80
  13. ^ Lucas, John Meredyth (McFarland & Company, May 2004), Eighty Odd Years in Hollywood: Memoir of a Career in Film and Television, p. 163
  14. ^ Reif, Rita (May 18, 1989). "A California Museum Sues Over Hal Wallis Collection - The New York Times". The New York Times.
  15. ^ New York Times: "HAL B. WALLIS, FILM PRODUCER, IS DEAD" by Tim page October 8, 1986
  16. ^ Higham, Charles (University of Wisconsin Press, 1st edition, October 27, 2009), In and Out of Hollywood: A Biographer's Memoir, p. 214
  17. ^ "Producer Hall Wallis succumbs", Minden Press-Herald, Minden, Louisiana, October 8, 1986, p. 3B
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