Delmer Daves (Delmer Daves)

Delmer Daves

Born in San Francisco, Delmer Daves first pursued a career as a lawyer. While attending Stanford University, he became interested in the burgeoning film industry, first working as a prop boy on the Western The Covered Wagon (1923) and serving as a technical advisor on a number of films. After finishing his education in law, he continued his career in Hollywood. After moving to Hollywood in 1928, he became a screenwriter, his first credit being the “talkie” comedy So This Is College, released by MGM. Through the 1930s, he made himself a name as a successful screenplay and story writer, while moonlighting as an actor in bit parts and uncredited roles. He penned the successful Dick Powell musicals Dames, Flirtation Walk, and Paging Miss Glory between 1934 and 1935. Daves’ largest successes of the period, however, came with The Petrified Forest (1936) and Love Affair (1939). Almost twenty years later, Leo McCarey, director of Love Affair, would helm the nearly identical An Affair to Remember (1957) using Daves’ script. Daves made his directorial debut in the Cary Grant wartime adventure Destination Tokyo in 1943. Over the course of his twenty-two-year career, Daves cultivated an unpretentious style, taking a relaxed approach to filming and letting the actors and screenplay drive the film. His most notable films include Dark Passage (1947), which utilized a first-person approach to great effect, the critically acclaimed Broken Arrow (1950), the westerns 3:10 to Yuma (1957) and The Hanging Tree (1959), the Cold War drama Never Let Me Go (1953), and the melodramatic A Summer Place (1959). Daves garnered a Directors Guild of America Award nomination for his work on 1958’s Cowboy. Spencer’s Mountain (1963), which he wrote, directed, and produced, was based upon Earl Hamner’s autobiographical novel of the same name, and served as the basis for the popular television series The Waltons. He would be known for his dramas and for the Western adventures that saw heroes battle Indians, nature, and outlaws, the two most acclaimed of these being Broken Arrow and 3:10 to Yuma. In addition, Daves would work with some of the most famous actors of the time; a few would make several movies with him, including Gary Cooper, Glenn Ford, Richard Egan, Alan Ladd, Troy Donahue, Ernest Borgnine, and Rossano Brazzi. He also launched soon to be famous stars like Anne Bancroft, Olivia Hussey, George C. Scott, Sandra Dee, and Charles Bronson. Daves was married to actress Mary Lawrence from 1938 until his death on August 17, 1977.

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  • July, 24, 1904
  • USA
  • San Francisco, California


  • August, 17, 1977
  • USA
  • La Jolla, California


  • Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)
  • Glendale, California
  • USA

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