Rouben Mamoulian, the innovative Russian-born director who helped give Broadway "Porgy and Bess" and Hollywood the Directors Guild of America, has died. He was 90.
Mr. Mamoulian, the last surviving founder of the guild and a board member for seven years, died Friday night at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Los Angeles. The cause of death was not reported.
He had been hospitalized a short time, a hospital spokesman said.
Mr. Mamoulian directed George Gershwin's musical "Porgy and Bess" on Broadway in New York in 1935. His other stage work included such 1940s hits as "Oklahoma!" and "Carousel."
He was known for innovative techniques in his films, which included "Applause," "City Streets" and "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."
Mr. Mamoulian had "extraordinary talent, insight and courage," said guild President Franklin Schaffner.
Mr. Mamoulian was fiercely independent and often clashed with studio heads. He was fired or resigned -- depending on which source is believed -- from at least two important directing jobs: the 1959 film version of "Porgy and Bess" and "Cleopatra" in 1963.
"If I couldn't have full authority, I would resign," he said in a 1970 interview with the Los Angeles Times. "I stand by everything I've done; credit or criticism, it was mine. I can't blame the producer, the actor or anyone else."
Mr. Mamoulian was born on Oct. 8, 1897, to Armenian parents in Tiflis, in what is now the Soviet republic of Georgia. His mother was the director of the Armenian theater in Tiflis.
After schooling in Paris and Moscow, Mr. Mamoulian acted in and directed plays in Moscow and Tiflis. In 1920 he went to London, and in 1923 came to the United States.
His 30-year career in film was marked by innovation.
His first film, "Applause," for Paramount in 1929, was the first talkie to use a mobile camera and double sound track. In "City Streets" (1931), he used voice-over to express the thoughts of a character during a silent closeup.
In another 1931 film, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," Mr. Mamoulian used the camera from the main character's point of view and experimented with split-screen and sound effects.
"What I did was intuitive, came from the subconscious," he said in the 1970 interview. "About what goes on on the screen and stage today, where all the defenses are down, I feel that a filmmaker or director must have a ruthless built-in censorship -- in other words, be able to censor himself."rization.
"It's not a question of morality," he said. "But that it's all in such execrable taste -- and most utterly amateurish."