American film producerSamuel SpiegelHe was born on November 11, 1903 in Jaroslau, Austria-Hungary (now Jarosław, Poland). He was known as a Hollywood titan, was not affiliated with any major studio, and had a reputation as a quick-tempered perfectionist. Three of his films received the Oscar for best picture.
He studied at the University of Vienna and worked as a young pioneer in Palestine in the early 1920s. In 1927 he went to Hollywood to work as a translator of short stories, and in 1930 he was sent by Universal Pictures to direct the European headquarters of that studio in Berlin He fled Germany after the Nazis came to power in 1933 and lived in Vienna before settling in Hollywood in 1939. He earned a reputation for having lavish parties with Hollywood royalty, and soon became a producer. Among his previous projects, in which he called himselfS.P. Eagle
, they find each otherTales of Manhattan
(1942) andThe Stranger
(1946) ofOrson Welles
entered a period of spectacular success with his production of The African Queen (1951) byJohn huston
. He followed up with NIdo de rats (1954) byElia kazan
, for which he won his first Academy Award. He won a second Oscar for David Lean’s Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), and Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Suddenly in Summer (1959) was also a hit.
ByLawrence of Arabia
(1962) of Lean, Spiegel won a third Oscar. His subsequent films were less well received, but the lavish Nicolás y Alejandra (1971) was nominated for an Oscar for best picture. He worked with Kazan for the second time in The Last Tycoon (1976), based on an unfinished novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The last movie he producedSpiegel
was a film version of the play Betrayal (1983) byHarold pinter
Most of Spiegel’s films were expensive, large-scale productions using some of the leading actors, screenwriters, and directors of the day. Classic moviesThe african queen,The Bridge on the River KwaiYLawrence of Arabiathey were shot largely in jungle and desert locations, often under difficult conditions. In addition to the Oscars for best picture, Spiegel received the 1963 Irving Thalberg Memorial Award for his work.