Walter Wanger, the producer of Cleopatra, attended
Dartmouth, served as a reconnaissance pilot with the Signal Corps
of the US Army in Italy in WWI, was appointed attache to the
American Peace Mission headed by President Wilson and attended the
Paris Peace Conference. In the early 1920s, Wanger worked at
Paramount Studios where he acquired the novel The Sheik,
which was made into a successful film starring Rudolph Valentino.
After a brief hiatus in England, Wanger returned to Paramount where
he was general manager of production from 1924 to 1931. He was
president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
1939-1941, for which he received an Honorary Academy Award in 1946.
The producer of more than 60 motion pictures, including the first
outdoor color film and Queen Christina, Scarlet Street,
Stagecoach, Foreign Correspondent, I Want to Live and The
Invasion of the Body Snatchers, he worked with such directors
as John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, George Cukor, Victor Fleming Fritz
Lang and Don Siegel; and such stars as Ingrid Bergman, the Marx
Brothers, Henry Fonda, Charles Boyer, Cary Grant Claudette Colbert,
Frederic March, Susan Hayward, and Greta Garbo. He married Justine
Johnson, a Ziegfield Girl and later the actress Joan Bennett with
whom he had two daughters. He died in 1968.
Joe Hyams was a Hollywood columnist, former movie editor of This Week magazine, and Hollywood correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune. He was the author or co-author of over two dozen books, many of which are bestselling biographies of Hollywood stars. He died in 2008.
"Absolutely ravishing reading. . . . To read [My Life with
Cleopatra] . . . was to be absorbed and delighted all over
again by Mr. Wanger's 'diary,' with the help of reporter Joe Hyams.
One is struck by Wanger's calm collected intellectual vigor, his
defense of Elizabeth the star, his defense of the talented Joe
Mankiewicz as the final director, and his annoyance, irritation and
disapproval of the then 20th Century Fox executive division."
-Liz Smith, The Huffington Post
"The story of the movie's production-which is also the story of how the budget got so big-is pretty remarkable, and is told remarkably by its producer, Walter Wanger, in the 1963 book, My Life with Cleopatra. . . . I've written often about the crucial role played by independent producers, in classic Hollywood and today, in liberating the best directors from the heavy hand of the studio system. Wanger was a friend to directors at a time when they needed all the friends they could get."
-Richard Brody, The New Yorker