Bretaigne Windust
Bretaigne Windust was a French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

-born theatre, film
Film director
A film director is a person who directs the actors and film crew in filmmaking. They control a film's artistic and dramatic nathan roach, while guiding the technical crew and actors.-Responsibilities:...

, and television director
Television director
A television director directs the activities involved in making a television program and is part of a television crew.-Duties:The duties of a television director vary depending on whether the production is live or recorded to video tape or video server .In both types of productions, the...


Early life

He was born Ernest Bretaigne Windust in Paris, France, the son of English violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

A virtuoso is an individual who possesses outstanding technical ability in the fine arts, at singing or playing a musical instrument. The plural form is either virtuosi or the Anglicisation, virtuosos, and the feminine form sometimes used is virtuosa...

 Ernest Joseph Windust and singer Elizabeth Amory Day from New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. The family escaped to London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and it was there that he developed an interest in theatre
Theatre is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music or dance...

. They returned to Paris following the war, but Windust's parents divorce
Divorce is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties...

d in 1920 and he and his mother moved to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. He attended Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 and then Princeton
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

, where he became a member and later president of the Theatre Intime
Theatre Intime
Theatre Intime is an entirely student-run dramatic arts organization operating out of the Hamilton Murray Theater at Princeton University. Intime receives no support from the university, and is entirely acted, produced, directed, teched and managed by students.Theatre Intime was founded in 1920 by...



Planning to become an actor
An actor is a person who acts in a dramatic production and who works in film, television, theatre, or radio in that capacity...

, Windust co-founded with Charles Leatherbee the University Players
University Players
The University Players was primarily a summer stock theater company located in West Falmouth, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, from 1928 to 1932. It was formed in 1928 by eighteen college undergraduates...

 in 1928 on Cape Cod
Cape Cod
Cape Cod, often referred to locally as simply the Cape, is a cape in the easternmost portion of the state of Massachusetts, in the Northeastern United States...

 in Falmouth, Massachusetts
Falmouth, Massachusetts
Falmouth is a town in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States; Barnstable County is coextensive with Cape Cod. The population was 31,531 at the 2010 census....

. The company lasted five years and included later luminaries Joshua Logan
Joshua Logan
Joshua Lockwood Logan III was an American stage and film director and writer.-Early years:Logan was born in Texarkana, Texas, the son of Susan and Joshua Lockwood Logan. When he was three years old his father committed suicide...

, Henry Fonda
Henry Fonda
Henry Jaynes Fonda was an American film and stage actor.Fonda made his mark early as a Broadway actor. He also appeared in 1938 in plays performed in White Plains, New York, with Joan Tompkins...

, James Stewart
James Stewart (actor)
James Maitland Stewart was an American film and stage actor, known for his distinctive voice and his everyman persona. Over the course of his career, he starred in many films widely considered classics and was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one in competition and receiving one Lifetime...

, Margaret Sullavan
Margaret Sullavan
Margaret Brooke Sullavan was an American stage and film actress. Sullavan started her career on the stage in 1929. In 1933 she caught the attention of movie director John M. Stahl and had her debut on the screen that same year in Only Yesterday...

, Mildred Natwick
Mildred Natwick
Mildred Natwick was an American stage and film actress.- Early life :A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she was born to Joseph and Mildred Marion Dawes Natwick. She graduated from the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore...

, Eleanor Phelps
Eleanor Phelps
Eleanor Phelps was an American theater, film and television actress from Roland Park, Baltimore, Maryland. She appeared in 17 Broadway theater productions....

, Barbara O'Neil
Barbara O'Neil
-Early life and career:Barbara O'Neil was born in St. Louis, Missouri. She began her acting career in summer stock. In July 1931 Bretaigne Windust, Charles Leatherbee , and Joshua Logan, the three directors of the University Players, a three-year old summer stock company at West Falmouth on Cape...

, Myron McCormick
Myron McCormick
Myron McCormick was an American actor of stage, radio and film.McCormick was born as Walter Myron McCormick in Albany, Indiana....

, Kent Smith
Kent Smith
Kent Smith was an American actor who had a lengthy career in film, theater, and television.Born Frank Kent Smith in New York, New York, Smith made his acting debut on Broadway in 1932 in and, after spending a few years there, moved to Hollywood, California, where he made his film debut in The...

, and Aleta Freel
Aleta Freel
Aleta Freel was an American stage actress.- Life and career :Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, the daughter of a physician, Freel was educated at the Bergen School for Girls in Jersey City. She graduated from Smith College....

. Windust directed more often than acted. Though he began his association with the Theatre Guild
Theatre Guild
The Theatre Guild is a theatrical society founded in New York City in 1918 by Lawrence Langner, Philip Moeller, Helen Westley and Theresa Helburn. Langner's wife, Armina Marshall, then served as a co-director. It evolved out of the work of the Washington Square Players.Its original purpose was to...

 in Manhattan
Manhattan is the oldest and the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. Located primarily on the island of Manhattan at the mouth of the Hudson River, the boundaries of the borough are identical to those of New York County, an original county of the state of New York...

 as an assistant stage manager in 1929, he maintained his position as a director of the University Players in the off-season when they performed on Cape Cod through the summer of 1932. Indeed, he quit the Theatre Guild briefly during the winter season of 1931-32 to direct the University Players through its 18-week winter season in Baltimore.

Windust's first major credit as a professional theatre director was the 1932 West End
West End theatre
West End theatre is a popular term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of London's 'Theatreland', the West End. Along with New York's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English speaking...

 production of Eugene O'Neill
Eugene O'Neill
Eugene Gladstone O'Neill was an American playwright and Nobel laureate in Literature. His poetically titled plays were among the first to introduce into American drama techniques of realism earlier associated with Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, and Swedish...

's Strange Interlude
Strange Interlude
Strange Interlude is an experimental play by American playwright Eugene O'Neill. O'Neill finished the play in 1923, but it was not produced on Broadway until 1928, when it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Lynn Fontanne originated the central role of Nina Leeds on Broadway...

. He directed Alfred Lunt
Alfred Lunt
Alfred Lunt was an American stage director and actor, often identified for a long-time professional partnership with his wife, actress Lynn Fontanne...

 and Lynn Fontanne
Lynn Fontanne
Lynn Fontanne was a British actress and major stage star in the United States for over 40 years. She teamed with her husband Alfred Lunt.She lived in the United States for more than 60 years but never relinquished her British citizenship. Lunt and Fontanne shared a special Tony Award in 1970...

 in The Taming of the Shrew
The Taming of the Shrew
The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1590 and 1591.The play begins with a framing device, often referred to as the Induction, in which a mischievous nobleman tricks a drunken tinker named Sly into believing he is actually a nobleman himself...

and Amphitryon 38
Amphitryon 38
Amphitryon 38 is a play written in 1929 by French dramatist Jean Giraudoux, the number in the title being Giraudoux's whimsical approximation of how many times the story had been told on-stage previously.-Original productions:...

(which he translated from the original French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

) and appeared with them in Idiot's Delight
Idiot's Delight
Idiot's Delight is a 1939 MGM comedy film, with a screenplay adapted from the 1936 Robert E. Sherwood play of the same name, by Sherwood himself. The movie stars Norma Shearer and Clark Gable. It is notable as the only film where Gable sings and dances, performing a version of the Irving Berlin...

, his last work as an actor.

Windust's first major Broadway
Broadway theatre
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...

 hit was Life With Father
Life with Father
Life with Father is the title of a humorous autobiographical book of stories compiled in 1935 by Clarence Day, Jr., which was adapted in 1939 into a long-running Broadway play by Lindsay and Crouse, which was, in turn, made into a 1947 movie and a television series.-The book:Clarence Day wrote...

, the Russel Crouse
Russel Crouse
Russel Crouse was an American playwright and librettist, best known for his work in the Broadway writing partnership of Lindsay and Crouse.-Life and career:...

/Howard Lindsay
Howard Lindsay
Howard Lindsay was an American theatrical producer, playwright, librettist, director and actor. He is best known for his writing work as part of the collaboration of Lindsay and Crouse, and for his performance, with his wife Dorothy Stickney, in the long-running play Life with...

 play based on the memoirs of Clarence Day, Jr.
Clarence Day
Clarence Shepard Day, Jr. was an American author. Born in New York City, he attended St. Paul's School and graduated from Yale University in 1896. The following year, he joined the New York Stock Exchange, and became a partner in his father's Wall Street brokerage firm...

, a distant relative on Windust's mother's side. (At 3,224 performances, it held the record for the longest-running Broadway production for many years.) In quick succession he followed this with Arsenic and Old Lace
Arsenic and Old Lace (play)
Arsenic and Old Lace is a play by American playwright Joseph Kesselring, written in 1939. It has become best known through the film adaptation starring Cary Grant and directed by Frank Capra. The play was directed by Bretaigne Windust, and opened on January 10, 1941. On September 25, 1943, the...

and Strip for Action, giving him three hits running on Broadway at the same time.

In 1947, Windust relocated to Hollywood, where he worked as the dialogue director on Stallion Road
Stallion Road
Stallion Road is a 1947 film starring Ronald Reagan, Alexis Smith and Zachary Scott, and directed by James V. Kern.-Synopsis:Stallion Road is a sweeping romantic melodrama set in the 1940s California pitting a veterinarian and a romance novelist in a bid for the affections of a beautiful rancher...

starring Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

. His film directing career included two 1948 Bette Davis
Bette Davis
Ruth Elizabeth "Bette" Davis was an American actress of film, television and theater. Noted for her willingness to play unsympathetic characters, she was highly regarded for her performances in a range of film genres, from contemporary crime melodramas to historical and period films and occasional...

 vehicles, the melodrama
The term melodrama refers to a dramatic work that exaggerates plot and characters in order to appeal to the emotions. It may also refer to the genre which includes such works, or to language, behavior, or events which resemble them...

tic Winter Meeting
Winter Meeting
Winter Meeting is a 1948 American drama film directed by Bretaigne Windust. The screenplay by Catherine Turney is based on the novel of the same title by Grace Zaring Stone, writing under the pseudonym Ethel Vance.-Synopsis:...

and the screwball comedy
Screwball Comedy
Screwball Comedy is an album by the Japanese band Soul Flower Union. The album found the band going into a simpler, harder-rocking direction, after several heavily world-music influenced albums.-Track listing:...

 June Bride
June Bride
June Bride is a 1948 American comedy film directed by Bretaigne Windust. Ranald MacDougall's screenplay, based on the unproduced play Feature for June by Eileen Tighe and Graeme Lorimer, was nominated for the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Comedy. The film starred Bette...

. The latter part of his career was spent toiling in the television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 division of Universal, directing episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Alfred Hitchcock Presents is an American television anthology series hosted by Alfred Hitchcock. The series featured dramas, thrillers, and mysteries. By the premiere of the show on October 2, 1955, Hitchcock had been directing films for over three decades...

, Wagon Train
Wagon Train
Wagon Train is an American Western series that ran on NBC from 1957–62 and then on ABC from 1962–65...

, Leave It to Beaver
Leave It to Beaver
Leave It to Beaver is an American television situation comedy about an inquisitive but often naïve boy named Theodore "The Beaver" Cleaver and his adventures at home, in school, and around his suburban neighborhood...

, and Bachelor Father, in addition to the Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving Day is a holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada. Thanksgiving is celebrated each year on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States. In Canada, Thanksgiving falls on the same day as Columbus Day in the...

 1957 special
Television special
A television special is a television program which interrupts or temporarily replaces programming normally scheduled for a given time slot. Sometimes, however, the term is given to a telecast of a theatrical film, such as The Wizard of Oz or The Ten Commandments, which is not part of a regular...

 The Pied Piper of Hamelin
The Pied Piper of Hamelin
The Pied Piper of Hamelin is the subject of a legend concerning the departure or death of a great many children from the town of Hamelin , Lower Saxony, Germany, in the Middle Ages. The earliest references describe a piper, dressed in pied clothing, leading the children away from the town never...

, later released as a feature film
Feature film
In the film industry, a feature film is a film production made for initial distribution in theaters and being the main attraction of the screening, rather than a short film screened before it; a full length movie...



On March 18, 1960, Windust died in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 at the age of 54. He had been taken to the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital is a prominent university hospital in New York City affiliated with two Ivy League medical schools: Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons and Cornell University's Weill Medical College. It is composed of two distinct medical centers, Columbia...

 for an operation.


  • Perfect Strangers
    Perfect Strangers (1950 film)
    Perfect Strangers is a 1950 American comedy-drama film directed by Bretaigne Windust. The screenplay for the Warner Bros. release by Edith Sommer was based on an adaptation of the 1939 Ben Hecht-Charles MacArthur play Ladies and Gentlemen by George Oppenheimer.-Plot:The title characters are Terry...

  • Pretty Baby
    Pretty Baby (1950 film)
    Pretty Baby is a 1950 comedy film starring Dennis Morgan, Betsy Drake, Zachary Scott and Edmund Gwenn. A young woman's little white lie leads to unforeseen complications.-Plot:...

  • The Enforcer
    The Enforcer (1951 film)
    The Enforcer is a black-and-white 1951 film noir starring Humphrey Bogart. Based on the Murder, Inc. trials, the film is largely a police procedural directed by Bretaigne Windust with uncredited help from Raoul Walsh, who shot most of the film's suspenseful moments, including the ending...

  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents
    Alfred Hitchcock Presents
    Alfred Hitchcock Presents is an American television anthology series hosted by Alfred Hitchcock. The series featured dramas, thrillers, and mysteries. By the premiere of the show on October 2, 1955, Hitchcock had been directing films for over three decades...

    (2 episodes, 1959)
  • Markham (4 episodes, 1959)
  • Startime (3 episodes, 1959–1960)

Broadway credits

  • The Hasty Heart
    The Hasty Heart
    The Hasty Heart is a 1949 British-American co-production film based on the play of the same name by John Patrick. It tells the story of a group of wounded Allied soldiers in a mobile surgery unit at the end of World War II who, after initial resentment and ostracism, rally around a loner, a...

  • State of the Union
    State of the Union (film)
    State of the Union is a 1948 film adaptation written by Myles Connolly and Anthony Veiller of the Russel Crouse, Howard Lindsay play of the same name. Directed by Frank Capra and starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, the film is Capra's first and only project for MGM Pictures...

  • Finian's Rainbow
    Finian's Rainbow
    Finian's Rainbow is a musical with a book by E.Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy, lyrics by Harburg, and music by Burton Lane. The 1947 Broadway production ran for 725 performances. Several revivals and a 1968 film version followed. A Broadway revival ran from October 8, 2009 until January 17, 2010...


External links

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