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Sidney, George, 1916-2002


George Sidney (1916-2002) was an American film director and producer who worked at both Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and Columbia Pictures during his career. His work has earned multiple awards, including a Golden Globe for Best World Entertainment through Musical Films and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Well known in the art of cinema during the 1940s and the 1950s, twelve of Sidney’s films earned a total gross of $57.25 million by 1966. He also served as the president of the Screen Directors Guild from 1951 to 1959 and the Directors Guild of America from 1961 to 1967.

George Sidney was born on October 4, 1916 in Long Island City, New York to a Hungarian-Jewish family. His parents were well known in show-business as his father, Louis K. Sidney, was a theatre producer and his mother, Hazel Mooney, was a vaudevillian. This allowed Sidney to act on stage and on silent films at a young age until he was in his early teens. With the help of his father who was an executive at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Sidney became a messenger boy for MGM at the age of sixteen. He was eventually promoted to film editor and then to assistant director.

In 1936, Sidney directed the short Polo for producer Pete Smith. He continued to make more than twenty shorts, including the popular comedy series Our Gang in 1938. He was the youngest senior director of Our Gang at the time and soon continued to work on other shorts such as the Crime Does Not Pay series and the Pete Smith specialties. Two of his shorts, Quicker’n a Wink and Of Pups and Puzzles, won Academy Awards for the best short. Sidney soon progressed from shorts and directed his first feature Free and Easy in 1941. After directing Pacific Rendezvous in 1942 and Pilot #5 in 1943, he began directing successful large scale musicals such as Bathing Beauty, The Harvey Girls, The Three Musketeers, Annie Get Your Gun, and Kiss Me Kate.

Sidney left MGM in 1955 and joined Columbia Pictures for the next decade. There he directed The Eddy Duchin Story, Jeanne Eagels, Pal Joey, Who Was That Lady?, Pepe, and Bye Bye Birdie. Returning to MGM soon after, Sidney filmed A Ticklish Affair in 1963, worked with Elvis Presley to film Viva Las Vegas in 1964, and directed his last film, Half a Sixpence in 1967. Sidney passed away on May 5, 2002 in Las Vegas, Nevada at the age of 85.


"George Sidney." Wikipedia. June 17, 2020. Accessed August 4, 2020.

Barson, Michael. "George Sidney." Encyclopædia Britannica. May 4, 2020. Accessed August 4, 2020.