Van Dyke began his career as an assistant director, notably under D. W. Griffith on "Intolerance" (1916). He took over the direction of "White Shadows of the South Seas" from Robert Flaherty in 1928 a...
Spent childhood touring and acting with mother; became involved in production when mother formed own company
Helmed the classic detective comedy-drama "The Thin Man"
Made stage debut in "Damon and Pythias" at age three
First film job, as assistant director to Charles Brabin on "The Raven"
Employed by D.W. Griffith as actor and assistant director on "Intolerance"
Served in Marines
First film as director, "Her Good Name"
Last film, "Dragon Seed" (completed by Jack Conway and Harold S Bucquet)
Signed by Thalberg for MGM
Joined mother's company, Laura Winston Players
Moved to Seattle to live with grandmother at age 14; worked way through business school as grocery clerk, janitor, waiter, salesman, railroad attendant and express wagon driver
Worked as miner, electrician, sailor, vaudevillian, mercenary in Mexico; gold prospector in Alaska; and lumberjack in Washington State, where he met his wife
With wife, toured with various theater companies until a Pantages tour took them to Los Angeles; became involved with film
Wrote numerous screenplays for directors Lawrence Windom and Arthur Berthelet
Van Dyke began his career as an assistant director, notably under D. W. Griffith on "Intolerance" (1916). He took over the direction of "White Shadows of the South Seas" from Robert Flaherty in 1928 and, by the 1930s, had developed into one of MGM's most reliable directors. Van Dyke was a capable craftsman whose nonchalant approach to filming earned him the nickname 'One-Shot Woody'; it also brought him success at the box-office, particularly with the "Thin Man" series, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. His deft touch is evident in films such as "Trader Horn" (1930), "Manhattan Melodrama" (1934), "Sweethearts" and "Marie Antoinette" (both 1938).
W S Van Dyke
superior court judge; died nine days before son's birth
married c. 1907; divorced in 1920
married in 1935; niece of MGM vice president Eddie Mannix