Wandsbek, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Place of Death
Beverly Hills, California
Cause of Death
Writer, Director, Other Crew
Has Detailed Data (New)
Irving Thalberg, Louis B. Mayer
Paul Bern (born Paul Levy; December 3, 1889 – September 5, 1932) was a German-born American film director, screenwriter and producer for MGM, where he became the assistant to Irving Thalberg. He helped to launch the career of Jean Harlow, whom he married in July 1932; two months later, he was found dead of a gunshot wound, leaving what appeared to be a suicide note. Various alternate theories of his death have been proposed. Film producer Samuel Marx believed that he was killed by his ex-common law wife Dorothy Millette, who jumped to her death from a ferry days afterwards.
Full Name at Birth
Profile Bio Text
Paul Bern (December 3, 1889 – September 5, 1932) was a German-born American film director, screenwriter and producer for MGM.
Bern was born Paul Levy in Wandsbek, which was then a town in the Prussian province of Schleswig-Holstein (now a district of the city of Hamburg). He was one of six children of Julius and Henriette (née Hirsch) Levy, a Jewish couple. Julius worked as a clerk for a shipping company before opening a candy store. In 1898, Julius decided to move the family to the United States due to the rise of unemployment and anti-Jewish attitudes that were rising in Wandsbek. The family eventually settled in New York City. Julius Levy died in 1908. In 1920, Henriette Levy drowned herself.
Bern pursued a career in acting on the stage and studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He later adopted the stage name "Paul Bern". Bern soon realized he had little aptitude for acting and pursued other aspects of theater production. He worked as a stage manager for a time before moving to Hollywood in the early 1920s. He initially as a film editor before he worked his way up to scenario writing and directing for United Artists and Paramount Pictures. This led to his working full-time as a producer at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the major studio of the time. Bern eventually became the production assistant of Irving Thalberg.
The star-studded film Grand Hotel, released six days after Bern's death, won the Best Picture Academy Award for 1931–32. Bern and Irving Thalberg produced the film, although neither was listed in the film credits (in the early 1930s MGM did not list their films' producers in their credits). However, the award was presented solely to Thalberg, and Bern was excluded.
director, screenwriter and producer for MGM
Claim to Fame
Open All Night (1924)
Brown - Dark
Henriette Hirsch Levy
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