US film director, screenwriter, and producer who specialized in making popular westerns, gangster films, comedies, and musicals. Born in Goshen, Indiana, Hawks was educated at Philips-Exeter Academy and Cornell University. After World War I, during which he served as a pilot, he became a racing-car driver before entering the film business in 1922 and progressing through the various departments until he finally became a director. His first feature was The Road to Glory (1926), which he also wrote. Throughout his career he continued to write and to contribute to his film scripts. Although he made several silent films, he only became known with his talkies Scarface (1931), Barbary Coast (1935), and Only Angels Have Wings (1939). Rita Hayworth (1918–87), Katherine Hepburn, and Cary Grant were among the great stars he directed. So, too, were Humphrey Bogart and his wife Lauren Bacall, who appeared together in To Have and Have Not (1944) and again in one of the screen's best-known films, The Big Sleep (1946).
Hawks then turned to westerns, producing, among others, Red River (1948) and Rio Bravo (1959). In sharp contrast were Monkey Business (1952) and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) with Jane Russell (1921–) and Marilyn Monroe. His last film was Rio Lobo (1970); in 1974 he was awarded an Honorary Oscar for his work.
From Who's Who in the Twentieth Century in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).