Richard Thorpe

Richard Thorpe

Stars

Richard Thorpe
Film: North side of the 6100 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Director
Born Rollo Smolt on Feb. 24, 1896 in Hutchinson, KS
Died May 4, 1991 in Palm Springs, CA

Richard Thorpe was a silent-screen actor who directed more than 100 films, including "The Great Caruso" and "Ivanhoe" as one of MGM's top directors.

Known as a capable and versatile director willing to take on any assignment the studio handed him, Thorpe was kidded about leaping from horse opera to grand opera when he began the 1951 "Caruso." He had also directed more than 70 silent Westerns and a number of Western talkies.

Thorpe was unfazed by directing Mario Lanza and a host of other opera stars in the biographical film about the fabled Italian tenor.

"I haven't lost any sleep over 'The Great Caruso,' " Thorpe told The Times as filming began in 1950. "That's my test. If a film keeps me awake nights there is generally something wrong."

Thorpe's personal favorites of the films he directed were "Night Must Fall" in 1937 and "Two Girls and a Sailor" in 1944.

Thorpe moved easily in a variety of genres, including Westerns, musicals, comedies, biographies, Tarzan films and special films designed to showcase performers, such as Elvis Presley in "Jailhouse Rock."

A director for more than four decades, Thorpe retired after producing and directing the MGM film "The Last Challenge" in 1967.

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