General News

'Now, Voyager' Director Dies

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Jul 31, 2001 | 6:53am EDT

Filmmaker Irving Rapper, one of the last survivors of Hollywood's golden era and the director of the 1942 Bette Davis Oscar-winning classic "Now, Voyager," died Dec. 20 at the Motion Picture and Television Fund home in Woodland Hills, Calif. He was 101.

Best known for his professional alliance with Davis, Rapper first made his mark with the diva in the melodrama "Now, Voyager." Their collaboration continued throughout the 1940s and 1950s in three other films: "The Corn Is Green," "Deception" and "Another Man's Poison."

Rapper began his career as a dialogue coach and assistant director for Warner Bros. in 1936. He quickly moved up the ranks, landing gigs with director Michael Curtiz ("Casablanca"), among others. He made his directorial debut in 1941 with the romance drama "Shining Victory," a film that, Hollywood lore says, featured Bette Davis in a cameo as a nurse.

Also in 1941, Rapper helmed "One Foot in Heaven", a portrait of a minister and his family that earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. (It lost out to "How Green Was My Valley.")

Working regularly through the 1950s, Rapper went on to direct the likes of Natalie Wood, Gene Kelly ("Marjorie Morningstar") and Kirk Douglas ("The Glass Menagerie"). Rapper's final film was "Born Again," a 1978 biopic about Watergate conspirator-turned-born-again-Christian Chuck Colson.

Born in Jan. 16, 1898, in London, Rapper immigrated to the United States as a child. He caught the eye of Warners in 1936 for his direction of the Broadway play "Crime."

IRVING RAPPER FACTOIDS:

Known, like contemporary George Cukor, as a "women's director." One his most infamous credits was a biopic about a man who became a woman -- 1970's "The Christine Jorgensen Story." "Now, Voyager" features one of Hollywood's most-quoted closing lines: "Oh Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars." (Uttered by Bette Davis to co-star Paul Henreid.) Parted with longtime studio home in 1945 when Warners reportedly forced him to cast Robert Alda (Alan's father) as composer George Gershwin in "Rhapsody in Blue."

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