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General information  

  • Real name : Howard Winchester Hawks
  • Place of birth : Goshen
  • Date of birth : 30/05/1896
  • Place of death : Palm Springs
  • Date of death : 26/12/1977



  • Hawks Howard


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Howard Hawks (1896)

Howard Winchester Hawks

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Howard Winchester Hawks (May 30, 1896–December 26, 1977) was an American film director, producer and screenwriter of the classic Hollywood era. He is popular for his films from a wide range of genres such as Scarface , Bringing Up Baby , Only Angels Have Wings , His Girl Friday , Sergeant York , To Have and Have Not , The Big Sleep , Red River , The Thing from Another World , Gentlemen Prefer Blondes , and Rio Bravo .

In 1975, Hawks was awarded the Honorary Academy Award as "a master American filmmaker whose creative efforts hold a distinguished place in world cinema," and in 1942 he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director for Sergeant York.


 early life and education
Howard Hawks was born in Goshen, Indiana on May 30, 1896. Hawks was the first-born child of Frank W. Hawks (1865–1950), a wealthy paper manufacturer, and the former Helen Howard (1872–1952), the daughter of a wealthy industrialist. Hawks's family on his father's side were American pioneers and his ancestor John Hawks had emigrated from England to Massachusetts in 1630. The family eventually settled in Goshen and by the 1890s was one of the wealthiest families in the Mid-West, due mostly to the highly profitable Goshen Milling Company. Hawk's maternal grandfather C. W. Howard (1845–1916) had homesteaded in Neenah, Wisconsin in 1862 at age 17 and within 15 years had earned a fortune in the town's Paper mill and other industrial endeavors. Frank Hawks and Helen Howard met in the early 1890s and married in 1895. Hawks was the oldest of five children and his birth was followed by Kenneth Neil Hawks (August 12, 1899- January 2, 1930), William Bellinger Hawks (1902- January 10, 1969), Grace Louise Hawks (October 17, 1903- December 23, 1927) and Helen Bernice Hawks (1906- May 4, 1911). In 1898 the family moved to Neenah, Wisconsin where Franks Hawks began working for his father-in-law's Howard Paper Company.

Between 1906 and 1909 the Hawks's family began to spend more time in Pasadena, California during the cold Wisconsin winters in order to improve Helen Hawks's ill health. Gradually they began to spend only their summers in Wisconsin before permanently moving to Pasadena in 1910. The family settled in a house down the street from Throop Polytechnic Institute , and the Hawks children began attending the school's Polytechnic Elementary School in 1907. Hawks was an average student at school and did not exceed in sports, but by 1910 had discovered coaster racing, an early form of soapbox racing. In 1911, Hawks's youngest sibling Helen died suddenly of food poisoning. From 1910 to 1912 Hawks attended Pasadena High School, where he was again an average student. But in 1912 the Hawks family moved to nearby Glendora, California, where Frank Hawks owned orange groves. Hawks finished his junior year of high school at Citrus Union High School in Glendora., and was then sent to Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire from 1913 to 1914. Again, he was an average student and his family's wealth may have influenced his acceptance to the elite private school. While in New England, Hawks often attended theatrical shows in nearby Boston. In 1914 Hawks returned to Glendora and graduated from Pasadena High School in 1914. In 1914 Hawks was accepted to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where he majored in mechanical engineering and was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon. As always, Hawks was an average student and college friend Ray S. Ashbury remembered him as spending more of his time playing craps and drinking alcohol than studying, although Hawks was also known to be a voracious reader of popular American and English novels in college.

In 1916, C.W. Howard bought his grandson Howard a Mercer race car and Hawks began both racing and working on his new car during summer vacation in California. It was at this time that Hawks first met Victor Fleming, allegedly when the two men raced on a dirt track and caused an accident. Fleming had been an auto mechanic and early aviator when his old friend Marshall Neilan recommended him to film director Allan Dwan as a good mechanic. Fleming went on to impress Dwan by quickly fixing both his car and a faulty film camera and by 1916 had worked his way up to the position of cinematographer. Meeting Fleming lead to Hawk's first job in the film industry as a prop boy on the Douglas Fairbanks film In Again, Out Again for Famous Players-Lasky, which Fleming was employed on as the cinematographer. According to Hawks, a new set was in need of quickly being built when the studios set designer was unavailable and Hawks volunteered to do the job himself, much to Fairbank's satisfaction. He was next employed as a prop boy and general assistant on an unspecified film directed by Cecil B. DeMille . While breaking into the film industry in the summer of 1916, Hawks also unsuccessfully attempted to transfer to Stanford University, and then returned to Cornell in September 1916. Hawks left Cornell in April 1917 when the United States declared war on Germany and entered World War I. Like many college students who joined the Armed services during the war, he received a degree in absentia in 1918. Before Hawks was called for active duty, he took the opportunity to go back to Hollywood and by the end of April 1917 was working on Cecil B. DeMille's The Little American, where he met and befriended the then eighteen-year-old slate boy James Wong Howe. Hawks next worked on the Mary Pickford film The Little Princess, directed by Marshall Neilan. According to Hawks, Neilan did not show up to work one day and the resourceful Hawks offered to direct a scene himself, which Pickford agreed to allow. Hawks then had his first experience as a film director at the age of twenty-one when he and cinematographer Charles Rosher spent the day filming a tricky double exposure dream sequence with Pickford. Hawks worked with Pickford and Neilan again on Amarilly of Clothes-Line Alley before joining the United States Army Air Service. Hawks's military records were destroyed in the 1973 Military Archive Fire, so the only account of his military service is his own. According to Hawks, he spent fifteen weeks in basic training at the University of California in Berkeley where he was trained to be a squadron commander. When Mary Pickford visited Hawks at basic training, his superior officers were so impressed that they promoted him to flight instructor and sent him to Texas to teach new recruits. Due to boredom, Hawks attempted to get a transfer during the first half of 1918 before finally being sent to Fort Monroe, Virginia. But the Armistice was signed in November of that year and Hawks was discharged as a Second Lieutenant without having seen active duty.

 personal life
Hawks was married three times:
  • to Athole Shearer (1928–1940), sister of movie actress Norma Shearer, mother of his daughter Barbara Hawks and son David Hawks;
  • to Slim Keith (1941–1949), who was the mother of his daughter, Kitty Hawks, a noted interior designer; and
  • to Dee Hartford (1953–1959), an actress whose real name was Donna Higgins.

His brothers were director/writer Kenneth Neil Hawks and film producer William Bettingger Hawks.

His directorial style and the use of natural, conversational dialogue in his films were cited a major influence on many noted filmmakers, including Robert Altman, John Carpenter, and Quentin Tarantino.

Brian De Palma dedicated his version of Scarface to Hawks and Ben Hecht.

Although his work was not initially taken seriously by British critics of the Sight and Sound circle, he was venerated by French critics associated with Cahiers du cinéma, who intellectualized his work in a way Hawks himself was moderately amused by, and he was also admired by more independent British writers such as Robin Wood and, to a lesser extent, Raymond Durgnat.

Critic Leonard Maltin labeled Hawks "the greatest American director who is not a household name," noting that, while his work may not be as well known as Ford, Welles, or DeMille, he is no less a talented filmmaker.

Hawks was nicknamed "The Gray Fox" by members of the Hollywood community.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Howard Hawks", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.