Frank Borzage: Wikis


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Frank Borzage
Born April 23, 1894(1894-04-23)
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
Died June 19, 1962 (aged 68)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Spouse(s) Rena Rogers (divorced 1941)

Frank Borzage[1] (April 23, 1894[2] – June 19, 1962) was an American film director and actor.



Borzage's father, Luigi Borzaga, was born in Roncone, Austria-Hungary in 1859. As a stone mason, he sometimes worked in Switzerland; he met his future wife, Maria Ruegg (b. 1860, Ricken - d. 1947, Zürich), where she worked in a silk factory. Borzaga emigrated to Hazleton, Pennsylvania in the early 1880s where he worked as a coal miner. He brought his fiancee to the United States and they married in Hazleton in 1883.

Their first child, Henry, was born in 1885. The Borzaga family moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, where Frank Borzage was born, and the family remained based until 1919. The couple had fourteen children, eight of whom survived childhood: Henry (1885-1971), Mary, Bill (1892-1973), Frank, Daniel (1896-1975, a performer and member of the John Ford Stock Company), Lew (1898-1974), Dolly (1901-19??) and Susan (1905-19??). Luigi Borzaga died in Los Angeles in a car accident in 1934; his wife died of cancer in 1947.

In 1912 Frank Borzage found employment as an actor in Hollywood, and remained in the profession until 1917. His directorial debut came in 1915 with his film, The Pitch o' Chance.

On June 7, 1916, Borzage married vaudeville and film actress Lorena "Rena" Rogers in Los Angeles. However they proved to be incompatible. She preferred parties, luxury, and travel, while he was less social, except in his athletic activities. Rena became dissatisfied with her husband, who, according to family members, had discreet affairs with Lupe Vélez, Mary Pickford, Marion Davies, Joan Crawford, and Hedy Lamarr.[3] By 1940, the strain on their marriage had become too great. At a double celebration for Rena's birthday and their anniversary on June 7, Borzage, who then had a drinking problem, suddenly left his mansion and moved out. A divorce was granted on January 22, 1941; Rena obtained $250,000 in damages and interest. Despite this, the couple maintained contact.[citation needed]

Borzage died of cancer in 1962, aged 68, and was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. For his contributions to film, Borzage was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


Borzage was a successful director throughout the 1920s but reached his peak in the late silent and early sound era. Absorbing visual influences from the German director F.W. Murnau, who was also resident at Fox at this time, he developed his own style of lushly visual romanticism in a hugely successful series of films starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, including Seventh Heaven (1927), for which he won the first Academy Award for Directing, Street Angel (1928) and Lucky Star (1929). (He won a second Oscar for 1931's Bad Girl.)

Borzage's trademark was intense identification with the feelings of young lovers in the face of adversity, love in his films triumphing over such trials as World War I (Seventh Heaven and A Farewell to Arms (1932)), disability (Lucky Star), the Depression (Man's Castle (1933)), a thinly-disguised version of the Titanic disaster in History Is Made at Night (1937), and the rise of Nazism, a theme which Borzage had virtually to himself among Hollywood filmmakers from Little Man, What Now? (1933) to Three Comrades (1938) and The Mortal Storm (1940).

His work after 1940, however, took a turn into religiosity in such films as Strange Cargo (1940) and The Big Fisherman (1959), and his once extremely high reputation fell as his earlier films became hard to see; of his later work only the film noir Moonrise (1948) has enjoyed much critical acclaim. After 1948, his output was sporadic, and his last film work was sequences in Edgar G. Ulmer's 1962 film L'Atlantide (Journey Beneath The Desert), for which he was uncredited.

Selected Filmography


  1. ^ Borzage told The Literary Digest his name was pronounced "in three syllables, and g in get, bor-zay'gee." (Charles Earle Funk, What's the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936.)
  2. ^ To gain a professional advantage, Borzage subtracted a year from his date of birth while still a teenager; many sources, including IMDb, thus give 1893 as his birthdate; Dumont, p. 32.
  3. ^ Dumont, p. 290.

Further reading

  • Dumont, Hervé. Frank Borzage: the Life and Times of a Hollywood Romantic. McFarland, 2006.
  • Lamster, Frederick. "Souls Made Great Through Love and Adversity": the Film Work of Frank Borzage. Scarecrow, 1981.

External links



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