Richard Thorpe

This article is about the film director. For his son, see Jerry Thorpe. For the rugby union player, see Richard Thorpe (rugby union). For the historian and biographer, see D. R. Thorpe.
Richard Thorpe

Cesar Romero, Fay Wray, Richard Thorpe (right) and cinematographer George Robinson (in back) on set of Cheating Cheaters (1934)
Born Rollo Smolt Thorpe
(1896-02-24)February 24, 1896
Hutchinson, Kansas, United States
Died May 1, 1991(1991-05-01) (aged 95)
Palm Springs, California, United States
Resting place Cremains scattered into the Pacific Ocean
Occupation Film director
Children Jerry Thorpe

Richard Thorpe (February 24, 1896 – May 1, 1991) was an American film director best known for his long career at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.[1]


Born Rollo Smolt Thorpe in Hutchinson, Kansas, he began his entertainment career performing in vaudeville and onstage. In 1921 he began in motion pictures as an actor and directed his first silent film in 1923. He went on to direct more than one hundred and eighty films. He worked frequently at the Poverty Row studio Chesterfield Pictures during the 1930s. The first full-length motion picture he directed for MGM was Last of the Pagans (1935) starring Ray Mala. After directing The Last Challenge in 1967, he retired from the film industry. He died in Palm Springs, California on May 1, 1991.

His two favourite films were Night Must Fall (1937) and Two Girls and a Sailor (1944).[2]

Wizard of Oz

Thorpe is also known as the original director of The Wizard of Oz. He was fired after two weeks of shooting, because it was felt that his scenes did not have the right air of fantasy about them. Thorpe notoriously gave Judy Garland a blonde wig and cutesy "baby-doll" makeup that made her look like a girl in her late teens rather than an innocent Kansas farm girl of about thirteen. Both makeup and wig were discarded at the suggestion of George Cukor, who was brought in temporarily. Stills from Thorpe's work on the film survive today. Further, it is understood that bits of his filmed footage of Toto escaping from the Wicked Witch's castle are still featured in the film, albeit uncredited.

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Thorpe has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6101 Hollywood Blvd. In 2003 a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars in Palm Springs, California was dedicated to him and his son, Jerry.[3]

Partial filmography (director)


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