In a town that was practically built on the motion picture industry, Howard Hawks was perhaps one of the most influential film directors of all time. His films spanned multiple genres and nearly all were noteworthy. He was one of the few in Hollywood to successfully make the transition from silents to talkies, and over his forty-five year career he worked with several of the greats and made many of the movies we now consider classics.
Hawks trivia: He infamously remade Rio Bravo – his own film – twice, first as El Dorado and again as Rio Lobo. All three incarnations starred John Wayne.
Hawks’ most fascinating characteristic (at least as far as I’m concerned) was his determination to create a star. According to Lauren Bacall, whom Hawks discovered, he wanted to create a very specific sort of girl and chose her to make over into that girl. He changed her name, changed her hair, fictionalized her history, and taught her to always pose with her chin down, a look she became famous for. She also claims that he gave up on her when she failed to maintain the air of mystery he needed and married Humphrey Bogart. Of course that might all be apocryphal, but whether he ever created an actress, he certainly created a character archetype: the tough, fast-talking dame epitomized by Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday. His contribution to the screwball comedy genre, the incomparable Bringing Up Baby, includes the screwy version of that character, as portrayed by Katharine Hepburn.
Though born in Indiana, Hawks and his family moved to Southern California when he was a small child, and he attended Glendora High School. He died in Palm Springs in 1977 after a bad fall; he was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the desert near Calimesa.
See the rest of the 25 Greatest Dead Angelenos .