Catholics in the Movies: Allan Dwan (1885-1981)

A surprising number of Hollywood’s greatest directors were Catholic, including John Ford, Raoul Walsh and Allan Dwan. Born Joseph Aloysius Dwan in Canada, he moved to the United States at age eleven. At the University of Notre Dame, he majored in engineering, but he was more interested in motion pictures. In New York, he started working as a screenwriter for the Essanay Film Company before he moved to Hollywood. There he directed Between 1911 and 1961 he directed over 400 films starring the likes of Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., Mary Pickford, John Wayne and Ronald Reagan. His 1922 Robin Hood, starring Fairbanks, was one of the smash hits of the silent era. He was equally successful in the sound era. His 1949 hit The Sands of Iwo Jima earned John Wayne his first Oscar nomination. Dwan retired from films in 1961, and died at age 96 in California. He was buried at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery, outside of Los Angeles.

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