To the editor:
It’s not entirely accurate to suggest that Darryl F. Zanuck and Irving Thalberg were studio presidents (“Who’s the Boss, Weekly Variety March 7 – 13). Louis Mayer hired Thalberg as vice president in charge of production. Zanuck played a similar role at Fox. The only studio president who also functioned as head of production was Columbia’s Harry Cohn.
If the product of the studio years was superior to that of corporate Hollywood, it is partly because the studios were corporations, not subsidiaries of conglomerates. It was not moviemaking by committee; it was moviemaking by individuals who, if they were not creative themselves, delegated authority to those who were.
Either the creative pool in Hollywood has shrunk to a pond, or else the truly talented have headed upstream to the independents. Mainstream Hollywood can only regain its laurels with executives like Thalberg, Zanuck, Hal Wallis and even Harry Cohn, whom Rosalind Russell once described as a man of great taste, despite his reputation as a vulgarian. And if anyone knew about taste, it was Rosalind.
Bernard F. Dick
Fairleigh Dickinson University