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Sol M. Wurtzel
Sol-Wurtzel-1933.jpg
Wurtzel in 1933
Born
Solomon Max Wurtzel

(1890-09-12)September 12, 1890
New York City, US
DiedApril 9, 1958(1958-04-09) (aged 67)
Los Angeles, California, US
Resting placeHillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California
OccupationFilm producer

Solomon Max Wurtzel (September 12, 1890 – April 9, 1958) was an American film producer.

Life and career

Tom Mix, actor; Sol Wurtzel, West Coast manager for Fox Film Corporation; and Winfield R. Sheehan, Fox Film general manager (1919)
William Farnum, Helen and Babe Ruth and Wurtzel on the Fox Studios lot in Hollywood (1920)

Born in New York City, the second of five brothers; his parents were both Polish Jews from the village of Ulanow (Surname Wurtzel is a variant spelling of German and Yiddish wurzel, root in English). Wurtzel worked as an executive assistant to William Fox, founding owner of the Fox Film Corporation.

In 1911, Wurtzel hired Alan E. Freedman as a bookkeeper for Fox's fledgling film processing laboratory. Freedman would remain for over 50 years, eventually turning the operation into the gargantuan "Color by DeLuxe" DeLuxe Laboratories.

In 1917, Fox sent Wurtzel to California to oversee the studio's West Coast productions. Early in Wurtzel's career, he shepherded Fox's Hollywood studio through the Spanish Flu pandemic.[1] He developed a formula for creating consistently profitable B movies that are heralded today.

During his 34 year career at Fox and 20th Century Fox Wurtzel produced hundreds of films (many uncredited)[2] including a large number of both the Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto series as well as other successes such as Bright Eyes in 1934, starring Shirley Temple and featuring her enduring trademark song: "On the Good Ship Lollipop".

He discovered young director John Ford who later went on to earn 4 Academy Awards. He also discovered and made a star of famous cowboy Will Rogers.

Wurtzel cast dancer Rita Hayworth (credited under her given name Rita Cansino) in her first film role, the 1935 production Dante's Inferno. He gave an unknown Marilyn Monroe her first walk-on in his 1947 production of Dangerous Years.

He produced several of Laurel and Hardy's later comedies in the 1940s, including Great Guns (1941), A-Haunting We Will Go (1942), Jitterbugs (1943) and The Big Noise (1944). In 1943, he produced Chetniks! The Fighting Guerrillas on the guerrilla resistance movement in Serbia.

Personal life and death

Wurtzel married Marian Bodner, who immigrated to New York from a small Polish shtetl, in 1912. They had two children Paul Wurtzel, who worked in his father's production company Sol M. Wurtzel Productions and went on to become a prolific assistant director for multiple television series.[1] and Lillian Wurtzel Semenov,[3] who compiled and edited a book of letters between her father and his boss William Fox.[4]

Ill for many years following a stroke in 1953, Wurtzel died at his home in Hollywood on April 9, 1958.[5] John Ford and Rabbi Max Nussbaum delivered eulogies at his funeral at Temple Israel of Hollywood attended by 400 mourners. Wurtzel was interred in the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.

Wurtzel cofounded and served as the first President of Temple Israel of Hollywood.[6]

The Wurtzel-Neff Estate on Bellagio Road in Bel Air, Los Angeles was designed by Wallace Neff and completed in 1932.[7]

Selected filmography

Source:[8]

References

  1. ^ Rosen Leib, Sharon (August 20, 2020). "The 28-year-old studio executive who helped Hollywood survive its first pandemic". The Forward.
  2. ^ "Sol M. Wurtzel IMDb".
  3. ^ "Lillian Wurtzel Semenov". Variety.
  4. ^ Semenov, Lillian (2001). William Fox, Sol M. Wurtzel and the Early Fox Film Corporation, Letters 1917-1923. McFarland & Co. ISBN 078640857. ((cite book)): Check |isbn= value: length (help)
  5. ^ "Sol M. Wurtzer, 67, Long a Film-Maker". The New York Times. Retrieved July 23, 2016.
  6. ^ Jewish Journal: "Paul Wurtzel, Son of Hollywood Legendary Producer Sol Wurtzel, Dies at 92" by Rabbi John Rosove June 3, 2014
  7. ^ Wallace Neff; Virginia Steele Scott Gallery; Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery (1998). Wallace Neff 1895-1982: The Romance of Regional Architecture. Hennessey & Ingalls. p. 130. ISBN 978-0-940512-13-9.
  8. ^ "Sol M. Wurtzel Filmography". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. 2019. Retrieved May 22, 2020.