Milton Sperling (July 6, 1912 – August 26, 1988) was an American
film producer and screenwriter for
20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox and Warner Bros.,
where he had his own independent production unit, United States
After leaving the City College of New York, Sperling entered the film
industry by working at Paramount's Astoria Studios as a shipping
clerk. He later became a personal secretary for
Darryl F. Zanuck
Darryl F. Zanuck and
Hal Wallis at
Warner Bros. in 1931. After Zanuck resigned his
position as Head of Production of
Warner Bros. studios in 1933 and was
offered a position with
Twentieth Century Pictures
Twentieth Century Pictures (later merged with
Fox Pictures), Sperling became an assistant to Edward Small, an
independent film producer who released his Reliance Pictures and
Edward Small Productions through United Artists. Sperling learned as
much about an independent low-budget film production unit as he had
about high-budget major studio films from Zanuck and Wallis at Warner
Zanuck hired Sperling for his combined 20th Century Fox, where
Sperling's first screenplay Sing, Baby Sing was released in 1936.
Sperling later did more screenwriting, credited and uncredited, for
20th Century Fox, becoming a film producer in 1941, with his first
Sun Valley Serenade
Sun Valley Serenade then I Wake Up Screaming, both
Though now working for Fox, in 1936, Sperling was introduced to Harry
Warner's (of the Warner brothers) 16-year-old daughter Betty Warner.
This match was arranged by Betty Warner's older sister, Doris. After
an on-and-off relationship of three years, Betty and Sperling married
on July 13, 1939.
In 1941, Sperling was an associate producer on the US Marine Corps
Technicolor romantic military film comedy
To the Shores of Tripoli
To the Shores of Tripoli and
quickly filmed a new ending, showing John Payne hearing the news about
the attack and reenlisting in the Marines. Sperling also enlisted in
the Marines with orders to attend
Military Intelligence school but
still had a couple of films to complete before leaving the studio. The
US Marine Corps
US Marine Corps used Sperling's film expertise by assigning him to the
US Marine Corps
US Marine Corps Photographic Unit, where he produced the documentaries
The Battle for The Marianas (1944) and the
Technicolor To the Shores
of Iwo Jima (1945), filmed up front with the Marines in their Pacific
Island campaigns, where several combat cameramen lost their lives
shooting the footage.
Returning from the war, Zanuck offered Sperling his old job back but
Harry Warner told Sperling that a member of the family
should not work for a rival studio. offering him an independent
production unit where he could make the films he wanted.
After World War II, the major studios were looking at studios that
only financed and released films such as
United Artists and Monogram
Pictures and decided that hiring stars, directors, and film crews on a
picture-by-picture basis would be more economical, especially with the
problems with the trade unions the major studios were having.
Sperling named his company "United States Pictures" with his first of
14 films released under the label being Cloak and Dagger. Sperling
contributed to the screenplays on several of these films, including
The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955) that was nominated for an
Academy Award for Best Original Writing, Story and Screenplay.
Sperling also produced other films not under the United States
Pictures label such as
Top Secret Affair
Top Secret Affair (1957), filmed in England,
and Marjorie Morningstar (1958).
United States Pictures film was Battle of the Bulge, filmed
Spain in 1965. Sperling later produced a Spanish made "spaghetti
Lee Van Cleef
Lee Van Cleef in the role of Captain Apache (1971), then
several television movies until his death by cancer in 1988. He was
buried at Mount Sinai Memorial Park, in Los Angeles.
United States Marine Corps portal
^ Sperling, Cass Warner, and Cork Millner. "Celluloid Dreams."
Hollywood Be Thy Name: The Warner Brothers Story. Rocklin, CA: Prima
Pub., 1994. 230-231. Print.
^ Sperling, Cass Warner, Millner, Cork, and Warner Jr, Jack Hollywood
Be Thy Name Prima Publishing (1994)
^ Puttnam, David The Undeclared War Harper Collins Publishers (1997)
Milton Sperling at Find a Grave
Sperling, Cass Warner, Millner, Cork, and Warner Jr, Jack Hollywood Be
Thy Name Prima Publishing (1994)
Milton Sperling on IMDb
ISNI: 0000 0000 7689 0784
BNF: cb14044126g (data)