CLAIM TO FAME
Oscar-winning director who worked with the Marx Brothers
Victor Heerman was one of a number of Cranleighans who made a name in the early days of Hollywood, although in his case it was not in front of the camera. He is also the only Cranleighan to win an Oscar.
After leaving school he moved to the USA where he cut his teeth as an actor and theater manager, and by 1916 he was writing scripts for Mack Sennet, the mogul of the silent film era. While remaining a prodigious script writer, mainly with his wife, Sarah Mason, he also moved into film directing.
In 1930 he directed the Marx Brothers classic, Animal Crackers, and although Groucho Marx later dismissed Heerman’s contribution, it is widely accepted his discipline helped make an unwieldy product into a huge hit. It was his last-but-one directing role, preferring script writing thereafter.
In 1933 Heerman and his wife shared the Academy Award for their adaptation of Little Women, and continued to be in demand until they gradually eased off in the 1940’s, although they continued to be associated with some of the biggest movies of the era such as Pride and Prejudice (1940), Meet Me in St Louis (1944), and the remake of Little Women (1949). Heerman died in Los Angeles in 1977 aged 84.