Joe Pasternak (1901 - 1991)

Joseph Herman Pasternak
1901 - 1991
updated January 13, 2021
Joe Pasternak was born on September 19, 1901 at Simleu Silvaniei, Romania. He died on September 13, 1991 at 89 years of age. We know that Joe Pasternak had been residing in Hollywood, in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California United States.

Joe Pasternak
Biography
Born September 19, 1901 in Szilágysomlyó, Austria-Hungary [now Simleu Silvaniei, Romania]
Died September 13, 1991 in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA (Parkinson's disease)
Birth Name Joseph Herman Pasternak
The son of an out-of-work bookkeeper, Pasternak arrived in the U.S. from Hungary in 1921. After working in a belt factory in Philadelphia, he moved to New York where he plucked chickens and worked in a cafeteria. Becoming increasingly infatuated with the film business, it didn't take him long to find a job at the Long Island Paramount studio as a busboy and washing dishes in the commissary for 15 $ a week. His easy manner earned him the sobriquet 'Smiling Joe' and he was invited to do a screen test, which went rather badly. As acting seemed out of the question, one of Paramount's directors took pity on the young man and gave him a tryout as fourth assistant. By 1923, Joe had advanced to second assistant and was regularly associated with the films of his protégé, Allan Dwan. When Paramount closed their Long Island facility, Joe made the trip to Hollywood, but found work scarce. However, his effort as director of a low budget two-reel comedy was noticed by the director Wesley Ruggles, who promptly engaged him as his assistant at Universal studios. In 1926, he was packed off to Europe to act as talent scout and, after another two years, was offered the position of manager of their European operation, Deutsche Universal-Film AG, based in Berlin.

From 1929, Joe also worked as producer of a string of German, Austrian and Hungarian light entertainments, a mixture of musicals, comedies and romances. In 1935, Universal, in dire financial straits, wound down their European unit and a new management recalled Joe to Hollywood. Within a year, he managed to almost single-handedly save the studio from bankruptcy through his canny promotion of charismatic teenage singing sensation Deanna Durbin (a recent acquisition from MGM) to star status. At the same time, he imported several fellow Hungarian émigrés into Hollywood, notably his close friend, the talented director Henry Koster, and his brother-in-law, the character actor S.Z. Sakall, who was to become fondly known as 'Cuddles'. Assigning direction to Koster, Joe produced the hugely successful box office hit Three Smart Girls (1936), followed by nine more musical outings in a similar vein, which brought fame and fortune to both Deanna and Joe, and put Universal financially in the pink. Joe stuck to the same formula (wholesome , Cinderella-type stories with polished musical interludes) on every occasion, using a tried-and-tested crew of writers and directors - all musical comedy experts - including Koster, Norman Krasna, Edward Ludwig and Norman Taurog. After launching the career of another talented juvenile soprano named Gloria Jean, Joe proceeded to revive the flagging fortunes of former Paramount star Marlene Dietrich, remodeling her image into one that was more approachable to a general audience. He effectively recast her original 'Blue Angel' bar room singer as wisecracking, good-hearted saloon girl Frenchy in Destry Rides Again (1939), a gently self-mocking western, which turned out to be one of the biggest hits for Universal in 1939.

In 1941, now firmly ensconced in Hollywood as the 'king of musicals', Joe made the natural progression by joining MGM, the organisation most adept at this particular genre. While Arthur Freed headed the A-team, Joe was assigned the second string production unit at MGM, which handled operettas and light musical entertainments. During his tenure, Joe became protégé to Kathryn Grayson and Jane Powell and helped to make swimming talent Esther Williams into a bankable movie star. He had huge successes with operatic films, like Mario Lanza's The Great Caruso (1951) and The Merry Widow (1952). He also handled some lavish, big budget extravaganzas, including Thousands Cheer (1943), Anchors Aweigh (1945) and the compelling, though fictionalized, story of Ruth Etting, Love Me or Leave Me (1955). Joe rounded off his career with a trio of Elvis Presley musicals and produced the 1966 Academy Award ceremonies (the first to be filmed in colour), at which one of the most honoured films was the David Lean-directed epic Doctor Zhivago (1965) - which just happened to have been authored by Joe's distant relative Boris Pasternak. Joe retired in 1968 with an impressive one hundred production credits to his name, and died in Hollywood in September 1991 at the age of 89.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Spouse (2)
Dorothy Darrell (9 January 1942 - 13 September 1991) ( his death) ( 4 children)
Margaret Flander (22 February 1931 - ?) ( divorced)

Brother-in-law of director László Kardos, who married Pasternak's sister Lenka.
Father of disc jockey Rosko.
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1541 Vine Street on April 24, 1984.
He passed away on September 13, 1991, only six days from what would have been his 90th birthday.
Following his death, he was interred at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.
Personal Quotes (5)
[To André Previn, composer and music arranger at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer]: Remind me, will you. I forgot. A string quartet is a harp and what else?
Never make an audience think. It always worked for me.
There's nothing wrong with using sex in films, if it's done in good taste.
No one ever gets sick in my scripts.
Uncomplicated girls can't act.
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Joseph Herman Pasternak Biography

Vital facts & highlights of Joseph's life to share with the world.

Joe Pasternak
Most commonly known name
Male
Gender
Joseph
First name
Herman
Middle name
Pasternak
Last name(s)
Smiling Joe and The King of Musicals
Nickname(s) or aliases
Hollywood, in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California United States
Last known residence
Joseph Pasternak was born on at Simleu Silvaniei, Romania,
Birth
Joseph Pasternak died on
Death
Joseph Pasternak was born on at Simleu Silvaniei, Romania,
Joseph Pasternak died on
Birth
Death
Parkinsons.
Cause of death
Do you know the final resting place - gravesite in a cemetery or location of cremation - of Joe Pasternak?
Burial / Funeral

Ethnicity & Lineage

Hungarian and Jewish. That city now Simleu Silvaniei in now in Romania.

Nationality & Locations Lived

Now Simleu Silvaniei, Romania but Joe spoke Hungarian and loved teaching people how to cook his favorite Hungarian Paprikash. He lived in Los Angeles.

Religion

Jewish.

Education

Hungarian town which is now in Romania.

Professions

Bookkeeper Dishwasher. Busboy. Assistant Director. Producer. A very versatile and clever man.

Personal Life & Organizations

Motion Pictures. He gave people what they wanted: HAPPY ENDINGS! His Chicken Paprikash Recipe.

Chicken Paprikash Recipe
Yield: serves 4
Time: 50 minutes
Ingredients
1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
2½ cups plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 whole chicken (3-4 lb.), cut into 6–8 pieces, skin removed
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cups canola oil
2 tbsp. sweet paprika
1 Italian frying pepper, chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 cup large yellow onion, minced
1½ cups chicken broth
¾ cups sour cream
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Instructions
Bring an 8-quart pot of salted water to a boil. In a bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt; form a well in the center. Add the egg and ½ cup water to well; stir to form a dough. Knead in bowl until smooth, about 1 minute. Using a teaspoon, scoop walnut-size portions of dough into the pot. Boil the dumplings until tender, 6–8 minutes. Drain dumplings and rinse in cold water; cover with a tea towel and set aside.
Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt and black pepper. Place 1⁄2 cup flour on a plate; dredge the chicken, shaking off excess. In a 6-quart Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high. Cook the chicken, turning once, until brown, 8–10 minutes; set aside. Add the paprika and half the Italian pepper, along with the tomatoes and onion, to the pot; cook, stirring, until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, turning the chicken once, until fully cooked, 12–15 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream and 2 tablespoons flour; whisk in ¾ cup sauce from the pot. Stir sour cream mixture into the sauce in the pot. Remove from heat.
In a 12-inch skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the dumplings and parsley; cook, tossing occasionally, until hot, about 2 minutes. Garnish the chicken with the remaining Italian pepper; serve with dumplings on the side.

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Amanda S. Stevenson
11.4k+ favorites
I only met him briefly but he was very warm and friendly and told me to try cooking his chicken paprikash because my boyfriend Si Seadler had the recipe!
Jan 13 · Reply

Joseph Pasternak Obituary

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Joe Pasternak, a Hungarian immigrant who rose through the film industry's ranks to produce films including "Destry Rides Again" and "The Student Prince," died at his home on Friday, six days before his 90th birthday, his son Peter said.
Mr. Pasternak, who was noted for producing family-oriented fare and sunny musicals, turned out 105 films in his 40-year career. He was credited with helping to advance the careers of Judy Garland, Mario Lanza, Gene Kelly, Esther Williams, Doris Day and other Hollywood stars.
His films included "The Great Caruso," "The Merry Widow" and "Where the Boys Are," a romance-on-the-beach adventure that became the blueprint for a string of 1960's movies about teen-agers. "Destry Rides Again" (1939) featured James Stewart as a mild-mannered sheriff who cleans up a Western town. Marlene Dietrich was cast as a dance-hall girl in a role that revitalized her career. Gene Kelly and a Mouse
In 1945, after a struggle with studio officials, Mr. Pasternak won permission to film what is now regarded as a classic sequence: Mr. Kelly and a cartoon mouse dancing together in "Anchors Aweigh." The animated scene cost $150,000, and Mr. Pasternak had to go to Louis B. Mayer, the head of M-G-M, for approval.
Mr. Pasternak brought along such actresses as Deanna Durbin, Kathryn Grayson and Gloria De Haven. But he played down his role in those successes. "Me make stars?" he said in a 1940 interview. "Never! The public makes stars."
Mr. Pasternak was born in the Hungarian town of Szilagy-Smolyo. His boyhood dream, he once said, was to "have my own bathroom." He emigrated as a teen-ager and worked in a factory, punching holes in leather belts. His studio career began as a busboy at the Paramount studio in Astoria, Queens. He worked his way up to waiter, actor, fourth assistant director and so on until, in 1928, Universal Pictures sent him to Europe as an associate producer. There he made dozens of films, including musicals.
In the mid-1930's, Universal faced bankruptcy and Mr. Pasternak, who was then making $1,500 a week, was called back to the United States. His production of "Three Smart Girls," with Miss Durbin, was a hit that helped save the studio. Films Earned $400 Million
Mr. Pasternak's work was sometimes blasted by critics, but rarely by audiences. His films earned $400 million. "If I'd had a percentage, I'd be the richest man in town," he told The Los Angeles Times in 1980.
Parkinson's disease ended his career in the 1960's, a time when movies were beginning to experiment with more graphic sex and violence. His own films were usually models of propriety, but he did not condemn the new tendencies. "There's nothing wrong with using sex in films, if it's done in good taste," he said.
Mr. Pasternak published his autobiography, "Easy the Hard Way," in 1956.
He is survived by his wife, Dorothy, three sons, a brother and two sisters.

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1901 - 1991 World Events

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In 1901, in the year that Joe Pasternak was born, Edward VII succeeded Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria of England had become Queen in 1837 and reigned until her death in 1901. Her 63 year reign was the longest in history prior to Elizabeth II who recently broke her record. The time during which she led the country was known as the Victorian era and she presided over great changes in the United Kingdom, including the expansion of the British Empire and the Industrial Revolution.

In 1922, Joseph was 21 years old when the Reparations Commission assessed German liability for World War 1 at 132 billion gold marks (over $32 billion U.S. dollars at the time). This led to hyperinflation in Germany and created the political and social atmosphere in which Hitler was able to rise to power.

In 1948, he was 47 years old when on January 30th, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in New Delhi by a member of a Hindu nationalist party who thought that Gandhi was too accommodating to Muslims. The man, Nathuram Godse, shot Gandhi 3 times. He died immediately. The shooter was tried, convicted, and hung in November 1949.

In 1953, Joseph was 52 years old when actress and comedian Lucille Ball gave birth to Desi Arnaz, Jr on January 19th. On the same day on "I Love Lucy", the fictional Little Ricky was born as well. Baby Desi graced the cover of the first TV Guide magazine with a headline that read ""Lucy's $50,000,000 baby" - because the commercial revenue from his birth was expected to be that amount.

In 1991, in the year of Joe Pasternak's passing, on January 16th, Allied forces began the first phase of Operation Desert Storm. Saddam Hussein's forces had previously invaded the sovereign state of Kuwait and the focus of the operation was to remove his Iraqi troops from Kuwait. On February 24th, the ground war began. Within 100 hours, American ground troops declared Kuwait liberated.

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