DIRECTOR EMERITUS ART DIRECTORS GUILD
ALLEN; Artist, Sketch Artist, Art Director, Production Designer,
Screen Writer, Producer, Academy Award Oscar Winner, had a diversified
and successful career in motion pictures. From the pensive expression,
he wears in this photo, taken when he was four, at Sunset Beach
in California, it's clear that Gene may have wanted to be a boatman.
His face shows that he may have been a bit worried about it. Perhaps
he suspected, at that early age, that Destiny may have had different
plans for him and he was intended to leave boating and go on to
an exciting life in Show Biz.
went from Sketch Artist, to being the former President of the
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and Executive Director
Emeritus of the Art Directors Guild. On his way he won an "Oscar”.
He's rather casual about all he accomplished, taking little credit
for some pretty potent talent, he says, "I had a reasonably
successful theatrical career due primarily to the actions of one
of Hollywood's greats."
goes on to say, "The cycle began when my sketching assignment
with Lyle Wheeler, head of the Twentieth Century Fox Art Department
-- ended. I went across town to Warner Brothers and landed a job
with Art Director Lem Ayres, an import from the New York stage.
The film was “A Star is Born", staring Judy Garland
and James Mason.
Director on the film had an incredible list of MGM credits; "Adams
Rib", "Pat and Mike" with Tracy and Hepburn, "Born
Yesterday" with Judy Holiday, "Gaslight" with Ingrid
Bergman and Charles Boyer", "The Philadelphia Story"
with Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart, and Camile, with Garbo
~ to name but a few of his magnificent movies. It’s important
to remember these credits as I tell the rest of the story. His
name was, as you have guessed, George Cukor.
brief, after just a week or two of illustrating story boards and
set sketches, Lem had me attend a production meeting with Cukor
and twenty five or more members of the shooting company. The entire
production was discussed and when it was about to break up, George
Cukor asked if any one has any additional ideas.
hesitated, remembering his long list of credits. Finally. in a
very weak voice, I offered a story idea that related to a transition
from the end of one scene to the beginning of another. I mumbled
that it might add a little humor.
studied me carefully then said, in a gruff tone that told me I
might once again be an unemployed sketch artist, “You're
going to add a little humor to a George Cukor, Moss Hart script?”
I started to reply, but with Lem guiding me, I left by the nearest
was only silence on the way back to the art department. It wasn't
until the next morning that I knew the result of my suggestion.
On my drawing board were screenplay blue pages that spelled out
my 'humorous' suggestion.
worked for Mr. Cukor for the next seventeen years; as a sketch
artist, assistant art director, production designer, screenwriter,
producer. second unit director, and director. During that time
I received three Academy Award Nominations, and an Oscar for My
Lem Ayres hired me he was Cukor's Art Director. He had worked
on Meet Me in Saint Louis with Preston Ames, and Cedrick Gibbons,
designed Kismet for the New York stage, and was the costume designer
of Kiss Me Kate."
the 'humorous' episode mentioned, Lem left Cukor (A Star is Born),
thus leaving the way open for me to climb upwards. Lem had designed
a host of other productions. He passed away at only forty.
Cukor slowed down, I became Executive Director of the Society
of Motion Picture and Television Art Directors, for twenty-seven
years, and the President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts
and Sciences, for two terms. And all because I had the nerve,
and it took nerve for a former blue-print boy, to suggest to one
of Hollywood’s great directors, how he might improve his
Moss Hart screenplay." ~ GENE ALLEN
account of the turning point in Gene's life displays the role
that Destiny plays in a career. In addition to talent, opportunity
and confidence -- it's Destiny that brings everything together
in one place. One place, the right place and at the right time.
Cukor left "Gone with the Wind", Lem Ayers left "A
Star is Born" and Gene Allen left Twentieth Century Fox.
another Gene Allen memory about Films. Go back to this site's
MENU, find QUOTES & STORIES, click on the link for FRIENDS,
and you will be led to Gene Allen's story about an occurrence
that took place at MGM involving Mentor, George Cukor, and a now
unknown Drafting Room 'foreman', that required Gene's intervention,
during the production of the award winning film, "Les Girls".
ALLEN'S ACADEMY NOMINATIONS
Star is Born
ALLEN'S ACADEMY NOMINATION AND ACADEMY AWARD
Bathroom Scene Set
Production Designer Gene Allen explaining his vision to
Director George Cukor
< L to R > Ed Graves ~ Audrey Hepburn ~ Gene Allen
~ George Cukor
SOCIETY OF ART DIRECTORS AND PRODUCTION DESIGNERS
SURPRISE GENE ALLEN WITH A LUNCHEON
HONORING HIS 50 YEARS WITH THE I.A.T.S.E.