Pandro S. Berman

Pandro Samuel Berman (March 28, 1905 – July 13, 1996), also known as Pan Berman, was an American film producer.

Pandro S. Berman
Pandro S. Berman 1953.jpg
Berman in 1953
Pandro Samuel Berman

(1905-03-28)March 28, 1905
DiedJuly 13, 1996(1996-07-13) (aged 91)
Resting placeHillside Memorial Park
Culver City, California
Years active1923–1970
  • Viola V. Newman (divorced)
  • Kathryn Hereford
    (m. 1960; died 1993)
RelativesHenry Berman (brother)

Early lifeEdit

Berman was born to a Jewish family[1][2][3] in Pittsburgh in 1905. His father Henry was general manager of Universal Pictures during Hollywood's formative years.[4]


Berman was an assistant director during the 1920s under Mal St. Clair and Ralph Ince. In 1930, he was hired as a film editor at RKO Radio Pictures, then became an assistant producer. When RKO supervising producer Henry Hobart walked out during production of the ill-fated The Gay Diplomat (1931), Berman took over Hobart's responsibilities and remained in the post until 1939.

When David O. Selznick became chief of production at RKO in October 1931, Berman managed to survive Selznick's firing of most of the staff.[citation needed] Selznick named him producer for the adaptation of Fannie Hurst's short story Night Bell, a tale of a Jewish doctor's rise out of the Lower East Side ghetto to become a Park Avenue physician, which Selznick personally retitled Symphony of Six Million. He ordered Berman to have references to ethnic life in the Jewish ghetto restored.[5][6] The movie was a box-office and critical success, and Selznick and Berman were proud of it. Berman later said it was the "first good movie" he produced.[7]

The Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers musicals were in production during the Berman regime, Katharine Hepburn rose to prominence, and such RKO classics as The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Gunga Din (both 1939) were completed.

Berman's brother Henry, a film editor, became his assistant at RKO.[4]


Upset when an RKO power-play diminished his authority, Berman left for MGM in 1940, where he oversaw such productions as Ziegfeld Girl (1941), National Velvet (1944), The Bribe (1949), Father of the Bride (1950), Blackboard Jungle (1955) and BUtterfield 8 (1960). His brother Henry also moved to MGM to continue to work with him.[4]

He had a partnership with the director Richard Thorpe in the 1950s, with whom he made several films, including Ivanhoe (1952), The Prisoner of Zenda (1952), Knights of the Round Table (1953), All the Brothers Were Valiant (1953) and The Adventures of Quentin Durward (1955).

He survived several executive shake-ups at MGM and remained there until 1963, then went into independent production, closing out his career with the unsuccessful Move (1970).


Berman was the winner of the 1976 Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. Six of his films were nominated for Academy Award for Best Picture: The Gay Divorcee (1934), Alice Adams and Top Hat (both 1935), Stage Door (1937), Father of the Bride (1950), and Ivanhoe (1952).

Personal life and deathEdit

In 1937, Berman and his wife, Viola, hired architect Roland Coate to design a house for them in Beverly Hills, California. The sixteen-room, Cape Cod-inspired mansion cost $50,000 to build and included a screening room.[8] Berman had three children with his first wife Viola - Susan Berman Moshay, Cynthia Berman Schaffel, and Michael Berman. His marriage to Viola ended in divorce. In 1960, Berman married Kathryn Hereford.[9]

Berman died of congestive heart failure on July 13, 1996, in his Beverly Hills home, aged 91. He was buried at the Hillside Memorial Park, Culver City, California.[10]

Selected filmographyEdit


  1. ^ The Jewish Chronicle: "Revealed: the truth about the 'Jewish' Hollywood" by Michael Freedland September 5, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2022.
  2. ^ Allan, John B. (July 5, 2011). Elizabeth Taylor. Blackbird Books. ISBN 9781610533232.
  3. ^ Brook, Vincent (December 15, 2016). From Shtetl to Stardom: Jews and Hollywood: Chapter 1: Still an Empire of Their Own: How Jews Remain Atop a Reinvented Hollywood. Purdue University Press. p. 17. ISBN 9781557537638.
  4. ^ a b c "Obituaries". Variety. June 20, 1979. p. 86.
  5. ^ "Symphony Of Six Million – 1932". The Irene Dunne Site. Archived from the original on September 25, 2013. Retrieved September 21, 2013.
  6. ^ Doherty, Thomas (Summer 2011). "Symphony of Six Million". Cineaste. XXXVII (1). Archived from the original on September 25, 2013. Retrieved September 21, 2013.
  7. ^ Arnold, Jeremy. "Symphony of Six Million". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved September 21, 2013.
  8. ^ Appleton, Marc (2018). Master Architects of Southern California 1920-1940: Roland E. Coate. Santa Barbara, California: Tailwater Press. pp. 184–189. ISBN 9780999666418.
  9. ^ Pace, Eric (July 15, 1996). "Pandro Berman, 91, a Producer of Classic Films (Published 1996)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  10. ^ Pandro Samuel Berman at Find a Grave

External linksEdit