Sturges, Preston

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Portrait of Preston Sturges (click to view image source)
Preston Sturges
(to view image author and license, click here)
Sturges, Preston Gender: M
Edmund Preston Biden
born on 29 August 1898 at 05:00 (= 05:00 AM )
Place Chicago, Illinois, 41n51, 87w39
Timezone CST h6w (is standard time)
Data source
Rodden Rating B
Collector: Rodden
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_vircol.18.gif 06°05' s_mo.18.gif s_aqucol.18.gif 07°51 Asc.s_vircol.18.gif 02°39'


American filmmaker, director, screenwriter, producer, playwright, composer, businessman and inventor. Hollywood's wonder-boy in the early '40s who honed comedy perfectly into the common touch along with a free-wheeling, witty style and sophisticated subject matter. He turned out seven hits from 1940-1947 and was a three time Academy Award nominee for films including "Christmas In July," 1940, "The Great McGinty," 1940, "The Lady Eve," 1941, "Sullivan's Travels," 1942, "The Palm Beach Story," 1942, and "Hail The Conquering Hero," 1944. In 1974 he was awarded a posthumous Laurel Award for Achievement from the Writer's Guild of America.

Sturges was the son of Canadian born Mary Estelle Dempsey and Edmund C. Biden. In 1900 Mary took her son to Europe, divorced Biden and married socially prominent Chicago stockbroker Solomon Sturges, who adopted young Preston. For the next six years Mary and her son traveled to Europe several times, joining Mary's best friend Isadaora Duncan on tour. Attending boarding schools in France and Switzerland, Preston proved himself an excellent student and a published composer while Mary rejoiced in sometimes dangerous liaisons after finally obtaining a divorce from Sturges, whom young Preston adored and wrote frequently.

When World War I broke out, Sturges returned to the US from boarding school in Switzerland to enlist as a pilot in the Signal Corps, eventually graduating at the top of his class on 5/01/1919, at which point the war had ended. Returning to civilian life, he married wealthy Estelle Godfrey in New York and eventually moved upstate to a house Estelle had purchased where Sturges turned his hand to being an inventor, in spite of the fact that none his inventions were patented. When his marriage ended in divorce in 1928, he found himself adrift and penniless. During a visit to his stepfather in Chicago he dated a young actress. Once when the couple were bitterly arguing she informed Sturges that the only reason she took up with him was because she was using him as fodder for her next play, that he was nothing more to her than a guinea pig was to a scientist. Thus Sturges' first play, "The Guinea Pig," opened on Broadway on 1/07/1929 to encouraging reviews, quickly followed by his second play, "Strictly Dishonorable," opening on 9/19/29. The play was a smash hit. So was Sturges.

Success was short-lived as his next three plays were flops. Signing on as a hired writer at Universal Studios, he arrived in Hollywood on 9/09/1932. Noticing how everyone in Tinsel Town deferred to directors while writers were treated like servants, Sturges decided to become a director. Despite his self-promotion, no one was interested. Yet he gained experience, credibility and connections while writing at Universal, MGM, Paramount and Columbia Studios. In 1940 he was finally given free-rein with directing and then he took off and soared like the pilot he once trained to be.

Throughout the '50s, however, financial mismanagement and broken contracts took their toll. After a series of false starts and dashed hopes in the US and Europe, Sturges was brought to New York to stage "The Golden Fleecing" in January 1959. Ten days later one of the producing partners emerged from a psychiatric unit to announce that he was taking over the production and that Sturges was out of a job.

Sturges made three more marriages and was the father of three sons. The second marriage was to Eleanor Hutton, granddaughter of C.W. Post, the third to Louise Sargeant Tevis and the fourth to Anne Margaret "Sandy" Nagle.

Previously accepting an offer to write his autobiography, Sturges returned to his lodgings at the Algonquin Hotel to write where he died of a heart attack on August 6, 1959.


Link to Wikipedia biography


  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1948 (Last movie before leaving Hollywood)
  • Family : Change residence 1950 (Moved to France)
  • Death by Heart Attack 6 August 1959 in New York (Age 60, just short of 61 birthday)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.

Source Notes

Yoe Stein quotes his biography, p.19. His wife Sandy adapted and edited the biography.


  • Traits : Mind : Exceptional mind (Creative achiever)
  • Family : Relationship : Number of Marriages (Four)
  • Lifestyle : Financial : Extreme ups and downs (Great successes and failures)
  • Lifestyle : Financial : Loss - Financial crisis (Low point 1928)
  • Vocation : Entertain/Business : Director
  • Vocation : Writers : Playwright/ script (Film writer)