Norman Foster: American film director and actor (born: 1903 - died: 1976) | Biography
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Norman Foster
American film director and actor

Norman Foster

Norman Foster
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American film director and actor
A.K.A. John Hoeffer
Was Actor Film director Screenwriter Film actor Film producer
From United States of America
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender male
Birth 13 December 1903, Richmond, Wayne County, Indiana, USA
Death 7 July 1976, Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, California, USA (aged 72 years)
Star sign Sagittarius
Spouse: Claudette Colbert (1928-1935)Sally Blane (1935-1976)
The details (from wikipedia)


Norman Foster (born Norman Foster Hoeffer, December 13, 1903 – July 7, 1976) was an American actor, film director and screenwriter. He directed many Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto films as well as projects for Orson Welles and Walt Disney. As an actor he was a leading man in early talkies and also appeared in Welles’ final film The Other Side of the Wind.

Life and career

Norman Foster was born Norman Foster Hoeffer on December 13, 1903, in Richmond, Indiana. He became a cub reporter on a local newspaper in Indiana before going to New York in the hopes of getting a better newspaper job but there were no vacancies.

He tried a number of theatrical agencies before getting stage work including The Barker (1927, New York; 1928, London) in which he appeared opposite Claudette Colbert. He later appeared on Broadway in the George S. Kaufman/Ring Lardner play June Moon in 1929. He began working in crowd scenes in films before moving to bigger parts.

Foster wrote several plays. He gave up acting in the late 1930s to pursue directing, although he occasionally appeared in movies and television programs. Foster directed a number of Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto mysteries, including Charlie Chan in Panama (1940), Charlie Chan at Treasure Island (1939), Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation (1939), Charlie Chan in Reno (1939), Mr. Moto's Last Warning (1939), Mysterious Mr. Moto (1938), Mr. Moto Takes a Chance (1938), Thank You, Mr. Moto (1937), and Think Fast, Mr. Moto (1937). He co-wrote and directed the "My Friend Bonito" segment of Orson Welles's unfinished Pan-American anthology film It's All True (1941). Initially engaged as a second-unit director who would film background material, Foster came to do much more and the quality of his work would have been recognized with a co-director credit on the film. A co-production of RKO Pictures and the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, the non-commercial project was later terminated by RKO.

As Welles prepared to go to Brazil to film the Rio Carnival for It's All True, he temporarily suspended "Bonito" (for which filming was never completed) so Foster could return to Hollywood to direct Journey into Fear (1943). Welles played a small on-screen role in the Mercury Production, and denied that he took over direction of the film himself.

Some of Foster's other directorial efforts include Kiss the Blood off My Hands (1948), Rachel and the Stranger (1948), Woman on the Run (1950) and The Sign of Zorro (1958). He directed the Davy Crockett segments of the Walt Disney anthology television series Disneyland that were edited into the feature films Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier (1955) and Davy Crockett and the River Pirates (1956). Foster's second verse of his lyrics to Disney's Zorro theme song which was "He is polite, but the wicked take flight, when they catch the sight of Zorro. He's friend of the weak, and the poor, and the meek, this very unique Senor Zorro." never aired on the television series. This version of the Zorro Theme including these verses was performed by The Chordettes. These verses later appeared in the Disney Sing-Along Songs version of the Zorro Theme in its 1987 direct-to-video episode, "Heigh-Ho".

Personal life

In 1928, Foster secretly married Claudette Colbert in London. Concerned about the reaction of Colbert's mother to their union, they continued to keep their marriage a secret from her, even to the point of living apart. Nevertheless, in 1935 they divorced, and Foster in October that same year married actress Sally Blane, an older sister of actress Loretta Young. They had their first child, Gretchen (Loretta Young's birth name), who was born in June 1936. They also had a son, Robert. He was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California.


Theatre credits

Date Title Role Notes
September 14 – November 1926 Just Life Dick Fellows Henry Miller's Theatre, New York
October 20 – November 1926 Sure Fire Philip Cole Waldorf Theatre, New York
January 18 – July 1927 The Barker Chris Miller Biltmore Theatre, New York
November 22, 1927 – March 1928 The Racket Dave Ames Ambassador Theatre, New York
September 12 – December 1928 Night Hostess Rags Conway Martin Beck Theatre, New York
November 1 – December 1928 Tin Pan Alley Fred Moran Biltmore Theatre, New York
April 24 – May 11, 1929 Carnival Bobbie Spencer Forrest Theatre, New York
October 9, 1929 – June 4, 1930 June Moon Fred M. Stevens Broadhurst Theatre, New York
December 31, 1930 – January 1931 Savage Rhythm Writer (with Harry Hamilton)
John Golden Theatre, New York

Film and television credits


Year Title Role Notes
1929 Gentlemen of the Press Ted Hanley
1929 Love at First Sight Richard Norton
1930 Young Man of Manhattan Toby McLean
1931 No Limit Douglas Thayer
1931 It Pays to Advertise Rodney Martin
1931 Men Call It Love Jack Mills
1931 Up Pops the Devil Steve Merrick
1931 Confessions of a Co-Ed Hal
1931 Reckless Living Doggie
1931 Under Eighteen Alf
1932 Girl of the Rio Johnny Powell
1932 Play Girl Wallie Dennis
1932 Steady Company Jim
1932 Alias the Doctor Stephan Brenner
1932 The Cohens and Kellys in Hollywood Melville Cohen
1932 Week-End Marriage Ken Hays
1932 Skyscraper Souls Tom
1932 Strange Justice Wally Baker
1932 Prosperity John Warren
1933 State Fair Wayne Frake
1933 Professional Sweetheart Jim Davey
1933 Pilgrimage Jim Jessop
1933 Rafter Romance Jack Bacon
1933 Walls of Gold Barnes Ritchie
1934 Orient Express Carlton Myatt
1934 Strictly Dynamite Nick Montgomery
1934 Elinor Norton Bill Carroll
1935 Behind the Evidence Tony Sheridan
1935 Behind the Green Lights Dave Britten
1935 The Hoosier Schoolmaster Ralph Hartsook
1935 Ladies Crave Excitement Dan Phelan
1935 Superspeed Randy Rogers
1935 The Bishop Misbehaves Donald Meadows
1935 Escape from Devil's Island Andre Dion
1935 The Fire Trap Bill Farnsworth
1935 Suicide Squad Larry Parker
1936 The Leavenworth Case Bob Gryce
1936 Everybody's Old Man Ronald Franklin
1936 Fatal Lady Philip Roberts
1936 High Tension Eddie Mitchell
1936 I Cover Chinatown Eddie Barton
1938 Mysterious Mr. Moto Hoodlum in tavern uncredited
2018 The Other Side of the Wind Billy Boyle filmed in 1974, not released until 2018


Year Title Notes
1936 I Cover Chinatown
1937 Fair Warning Also screenwriter
1937 Think Fast, Mr. Moto Also screenwriter
1937 Thank You, Mr. Moto Also screenwriter
1938 Walking Down Broadway
1938 Mr. Moto Takes a Chance Also screenwriter
1938 Mysterious Mr. Moto Also screenwriter
1939 Mr. Moto's Last Warning Also screenwriter
1939 Charlie Chan in Reno
1939 Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation Also screenwriter
1939 Charlie Chan at Treasure Island
1939 20,000 Men a Year Second unit director, uncredited
1940 High School
1940 Northwest Passage Second unit director, uncredited
1940 Charlie Chan in Panama
1940 Viva Cisco Kid
1940 Maryland Second unit director, uncredited
1941 Ride, Kelly, Ride
1941 Scotland Yard
1941 It's All True Segment "My Friend Bonito"
Also screenwriter; unfinished film
1943 Journey into Fear
1943 Santa
1944 The Escape
1945 The Hour of Truth
1946 El ahijado de la muerte
1948 Rachel and the Stranger
1948 Kiss the Blood Off My Hands
1949 Tell It to the Judge
1950 Father Is a Bachelor
1950 Woman on the Run Also screenwriter
1952 Navajo Also screenwriter
1952 Sky Full of Moon Also screenwriter
1953 Sombrero Also screenwriter
1965 Indian Paint Also screenwriter
1966 Brighty of the Grand Canyon Also screenwriter
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 28 Oct 2021. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: When was Norman Foster born?
A: Norman Foster was born on December 13, 1935.
Q: What is Norman Foster known for?
A: Norman Foster is known for being a British film director, best known for directing the science fiction film "Silent Running" in 1972.
Q: What other films did Norman Foster direct?
A: In addition to "Silent Running," Norman Foster directed several other films including "The Sign of the Cross," "Woman on the Run," and "Journey into Fear."
Q: Did Norman Foster only direct films?
A: No, Norman Foster also had a successful career as an actor. He appeared in several films and television shows, including "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and "Sergeant Preston of the Yukon."
Q: What awards did Norman Foster receive?
A: Norman Foster received the Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1949 for his screenplay of the film "The Dark Past." He was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Director for his work on "Silent Running."
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