Hal B. Wallis

Harold Brent Wallis (born Aaron Blum Wolowicz; October 19, 1898 – October 5, 1986) was an American film producer. He is best remembered for producing Casablanca (1942), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), and True Grit (1969), along with many other major films for Warner Bros. featuring such film stars as Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, and Errol Flynn.

Later on, for a long period, he was connected with Paramount Pictures and oversaw films featuring Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Elvis Presley, and John Wayne.

Hal B. Wallis
Hal B. Wallis
Aaron Blum Wolowicz

October 19, 1898
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedOctober 5, 1986 (aged 87)
Resting place[my Bed
OccupationFilm producer
Years active1931–1983
Louise Fazenda
(m. 1927; died 1962)

Martha Hyer
(m. 1966; his death 1986)

Life and career

Aaron Blum Wolowicz was born October 19, 1898[1] in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Eva (née Blum) and Jacob Wolowicz, who were Ashkenazi Jews from the Suwałki region of Poland who changed their surname to Wallis.[2][3][4]

His family moved in 1922 to Los Angeles, California, where he found work as part of the publicity department at Warner Bros. in 1923. Within a few years, Wallis became involved in the production end of the business and would eventually become head of production at Warner. In a career that spanned more than 50 years, he was involved with the production of more than 400 feature-length movies.

Among the more significant movies he produced were Casablanca, Dark Victory, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Maltese Falcon, Sergeant York, and Now, Voyager.

In March 1944, Wallis won the Academy Award for Best Picture at the 16th Academy Awards. During the ceremony, when the award was announced for Casablanca, Wallis got up to accept, but studio head Jack L. Warner rushed up to the stage "with a broad, flashing smile and a look of great self-satisfaction," Wallis later recalled. "I couldn't believe it was happening. Casablanca had been my creation; Jack had absolutely nothing to do with it. As the audience gasped, I tried to get out of the row of seats and into the aisle, but the entire Warner family sat blocking me. I had no alternative but to sit down again, humiliated and furious ... Almost forty years later, I still haven't recovered from the shock."[5] This incident would lead Wallis to leave Warner Bros. the next month.

Wallis started to work as an independent producer, enjoying considerable success both commercially and critically. The first screenwriters he hired for his new enterprise were Ayn Rand and Lillian Hellman.[6] Among his financial hits were the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comedies, and several of Elvis Presley's movies.

He produced True Grit, for which John Wayne won the Academy Award for Best Actor of 1969, and its sequel.

After moving to Universal Pictures, he produced Mary, Queen of Scots (starring Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson) and Anne of the Thousand Days (starring Richard Burton and Canadian-born actress Geneviève Bujold). He received 16 Academy Award producer nominations for Best Picture, winning for Casablanca in 1943.

For his consistently high quality of motion picture production, he was twice honored with the Academy Awards' Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. He was also nominated for seven Golden Globe awards, twice winning awards for Best Picture. In 1975, he received the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in motion pictures.

In 1980, he published his autobiography, Starmaker, co-written with Charles Higham.

In the 1930s, Wallis invested in residential real estate development in Sherman Oaks, CA. He named Halbrent Avenue after himself, using his nickname "Hal" and his middle name "Brent". Most of its original homes still stand, and it is very close to Ventura and Sepulveda Boulevards and the Sherman Oaks Galleria used extensively in the 1982 movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Hyer and his second wife, actress Martha Hyer, contributed funds towards the construction of “The Hal and Martha Hyer Wallis Theatre”, a black box theater, at Northwestern University.[7]


Wallis was married to actress Louise Fazenda from 1927 until her death in 1962. They had one son, Brent, who became a psychiatrist.[8] Wallis was married to actress Martha Hyer from 1966 until his death in 1986.[9] [10]


Wallis died in 1986 of complications of diabetes in Rancho Mirage, California, at the age of 88. News of his passing was not released until after his private memorial service was completed. U.S. President Ronald W. Reagan (who had worked for Wallis in On Santa Fe Trail and This Is the Army) sent condolences to the family.[11] Wallis is interred in a crypt at the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.


Academy Awards

Year Award Film Winner
1931–32 Outstanding Production Five Star Final Irving ThalbergGrand Hotel
1932–33 I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang Winfield SheehanCavalcade
1934 Flirtation Walk Harry CohnIt Happened One Night
1935 Captain Blood Irving Thalberg and Albert LewinMutiny on the Bounty
1938 The Adventures of Robin Hood Frank CapraYou Can't Take It With You
Four Daughters
1940 All This, and Heaven Too David O. SelznickRebecca
The Letter
1941 Outstanding Motion Picture The Maltese Falcon Darryl F. ZanuckHow Green Was My Valley
One Foot in Heaven
Sergeant York
1942 Kings Row Sidney FranklinMrs. Miniver
Yankee Doodle Dandy
1943 Casablanca Won
Watch on the Rhine Hal B. Wallis – Casablanca
1955 Best Motion Picture The Rose Tattoo Harold HechtMarty
1964 Best Picture Becket Jack L. WarnerMy Fair Lady
1969 Anne of the Thousand Days Jerome HellmanMidnight Cowboy

1938 and 1943 Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Awards


  1. ^ Cook County Birth Certificates. Wallis's birthdate has commonly been given as September 14, 1898, but the official birth record shows October 19, 1898.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ http://www.filmreference.com/film/46/Hal-Wallis.html
  4. ^ U.S. World War I Draft Registration card for Harold Blum Wallis; 1900 Census entry for "Aaron Wollowitch" and 1910 Census entry for "Harold Wolowitz"
  5. ^ Ronald Haver. "Casablanca: The Unexpected Classic". The Criterion Collection Online Cinematheque. Archived from the original on June 29, 2009. Retrieved January 8, 2010.
  6. ^ Berliner, Michael, ed., Letters of Ayn Rand, New York: Dutton, 1995, p. 148.
  7. ^ "Martha Hyer - The Private Life and Times of Martha Hyer". Glamourgirlsofthesilverscreen.com. Retrieved 2015-03-18.
  8. ^ "Louise Fazenda, star of silent films, dies". Journal & Courier. Lafayette, Indiana. April 18, 1962. p. 1. Retrieved May 29, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.Free to read
  9. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1989/05/18/arts/a-california-museum-sues-over-hal-wallis-collection.html
  10. ^ New York Times: "HAL B. WALLIS, FILM PRODUCER, IS DEAD" by Tim page October 8, 1986
  11. ^ "Producer Hall Wallis succumbs", Minden Press-Herald, Minden, Louisiana, October 8, 1986, p. 3B

External links

Central Airport (film)

Central Airport is a 1933 American pre-Code drama film starring Richard Barthelmess and Sally Eilers, directed by William A. Wellman (with Alfred E. Green, uncredited), produced and released by Warner Bros. John Wayne had an unbilled part, as a co-pilot, and this film features his first on-screen death.

Daughters Courageous

Daughters Courageous is a 1939 American drama film starring John Garfield, Claude Rains, Jeffrey Lynn and featuring the Lane Sisters: Lola Lane, Rosemary Lane and Priscilla Lane. Based on the play Fly Away Home by Dorothy Bennett and Irving White, the film was directed by Michael Curtiz. It was released by Warner Bros. on June 23, 1939.

Gold Is Where You Find It

Gold is Where You Find It is a 1938 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring George Brent, Olivia de Havilland, and Claude Rains. Based on a story by Clements Ripley, with a screenplay by Warren Duff and Robert Buckner, the film is about the rivalry between farmers and miners in the Sacramento valley 30 years after the California Gold Rush. The feud between the two factions is complicated when a man from one side and a woman from the other fall in love. This Technicolor feature film was released on February 12, 1938 by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Jumping Jacks

Jumping Jacks is a 1952 American semi-musical comedy film starring the comedy team of Martin and Lewis. The film was directed by Norman Taurog, and released by Paramount Pictures. It was one of the military comedies that marked the duo's early career. Brigadier General Frank Dern, Deputy Chief of the US Army's Information Office praised Jumping Jacks as something that would "contribute to troop morale within the Army."

Last Train from Gun Hill

Last Train from Gun Hill is a 1959 Western in VistaVision and Technicolor by action director John Sturges. It stars Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn, Carolyn Jones, and Earl Holliman. Douglas and Holliman had previously appeared together in Sturges' Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), which used much of the same crew.

Little Caesar (film)

Little Caesar is a 1931 American pre-Code crime film distributed by Warner Brothers, directed by Mervyn LeRoy, and starring Edward G. Robinson, Glenda Farrell, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. The film tells the story of a hoodlum who ascends the ranks of organized crime until he reaches its upper echelons. The storyline was adapted from the novel of the same name by William R. Burnett. Little Caesar was Robinson's breakthrough role and immediately made him a major film star. The film is often listed as one of the first full-fledged gangster films and continues to be well received by critics.

The Library of Congress maintains a print.

Money from Home

Money From Home is a 1953 American comedy film starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The comedy was the first for the Martin and Lewis team to be shot in color and was their only film in 3-D. The picture was premiered as a special preview screening across the U.S. on New Year's Eve, 1953.

My Friend Irma (film)

My Friend Irma is a 1949 American comedy film directed by George Marshall, and is most notable as the film debut of the comedy team Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The film was released on August 16, 1949, by Paramount, and is based upon the CBS radio series My Friend Irma that first aired in 1947.

Paid in Full (1950 film)

Paid in Full is a 1950 American drama film directed by William Dieterle and written by Robert Blees and Charles Schnee. The film stars Robert Cummings, Lizabeth Scott, Diana Lynn, Eve Arden, Ray Collins and Frank McHugh. The film was released on February 15, 1950, by Paramount Pictures.

San Quentin (1937 film)

San Quentin is a 1937 Warner Bros. drama film directed by Lloyd Bacon and starring Pat O'Brien, Humphrey Bogart and Ann Sheridan. It was shot on location at San Quentin State Prison.

Scared Stiff (1953 film)

Scared Stiff is a 1953 American horror paranormal semi-musical comedy film directed by George Marshall and starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. One of the 17 films made by the Martin and Lewis team, it was released on April 27, 1953 by Paramount Pictures.

Scared Stiff was Carmen Miranda's final film as she died two years later, in August 1955.

September Affair

September Affair is a 1950 American romantic drama film directed by William Dieterle and starring Joan Fontaine, Joseph Cotten, and Jessica Tandy. It was produced by Hal B. Wallis.

The Accused (1949 film)

The Accused is a 1949 drama film noir directed by William Dieterle and written by Ketti Frings, based on Be Still, My Love, a 1947 novel written by June Truesdell. The drama features Loretta Young, and Robert Cummings.

The Don Is Dead

The Don Is Dead is a 1973 crime drama film directed by Richard Fleischer. It stars Anthony Quinn.

The Sad Sack

The Sad Sack is a 1957 Paramount Pictures comedy film based on the Harvey Comics character of the same name, created by George Baker. The film stars Jerry Lewis and Peter Lorre.

The Stooge

The Stooge is a 1952 American comedy film directed by Norman Taurog and starring the comedy team of Martin and Lewis. The film was released on December 31, 1952, by Paramount.

This Is the Army

This Is the Army is a 1943 American wartime musical comedy film produced by Hal B. Wallis and Jack L. Warner, and directed by Michael Curtiz, adapted from a wartime stage musical with the same name, designed to boost morale in the U.S. during World War II, directed by Ezra Stone. The screenplay by Casey Robinson and Claude Binyon was based on the 1942 Broadway musical by Irving Berlin, who also composed the film's 19 songs and broke screen protocol by singing one of them. The movie features a large ensemble cast, including George Murphy, Ronald Reagan, Joan Leslie, Alan Hale, Sr. and Rosemary DeCamp, while both the stage play and film included soldiers of the U.S. Army who were actors and performers in civilian life.

Visit to a Small Planet

Visit to a Small Planet is a 1960 American black-and-white science fiction comedy film directed by Norman Taurog and starring Jerry Lewis, Joan Blackman, Earl Holliman, and Fred Clark. Distributed by Paramount Pictures, it was produced by Hal B. Wallis.

Visit to a Small Planet debuted as an original television production by Gore Vidal, then was reworked by Vidal as a Broadway play starring Cyril Ritchard and Eddie Mayehoff.

The film was released on February 4, 1960. It was re-released in 1966 on a double bill with another Jerry Lewis film, The Bellboy.

Wild Is the Wind

Wild Is the Wind is a 1957 film that tells the story of an American rancher who, after his wife dies, goes to Italy to marry her sister, but finds that she falls in love with his young ranch hand. It stars Anna Magnani, Anthony Quinn and Anthony Franciosa.

The screenplay was adapted by Arnold Schulman from the 1947 Italian film Fury, which was in turn loosely based on Giovanni Verga's novel La lupa. It was directed by George Cukor. The title song was performed by Johnny Mathis.

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