Victor Lonzo Fleming (February 23, 1889 – January 6, 1949) was an American film director, cinematographer, and producer. His most popular films were The Wizard of Oz (1939), and Gone with the Wind (1939), for which he won an Academy Award for Best Director. Fleming holds the achievement of being the only film director to have two films listed in the top 10 of the American Film Institute's prestigious 2007 AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies list.
Victor Fleming was born in La Canada, California, the son of Elizabeth Evaleen (née Hartman) and William Alonzo "Lon" Fleming, who worked in the water industry in Pasadena. His mother was of part German descent.
He served in the photographic section during World War I, and acted as chief photographer for President Woodrow Wilson in Versailles, France. He showed a mechanical aptitude early in life; while working as a car mechanic he met the director Allan Dwan, who took him on as a camera assistant. He soon rose to the rank of cinematographer, working with both Dwan and D. W. Griffith, and directed his first film in 1919.
Many of his silent films were action movies, often starring Douglas Fairbanks, or Westerns. Because of his robust attitude and love of outdoor sports, he become known as a "man's director"; however, he also proved an effective director of women. Under his direction, Vivien Leigh won the Best Actress Oscar, Hattie McDaniel won for Best Supporting Actress, and Olivia De Havilland was nominated.
In 1932, Fleming joined MGM and directed some of the studio's most prestigious films. Red Dust (1932), Bombshell (1933), and Reckless (1935) showcased Jean Harlow, whileTreasure Island (1934) and Captains Courageous (1937) brought a touch of literary distinction to boy's-own adventure stories. His two most famous films came in 1939, when The Wizard of Oz was closely followed by Gone with the Wind.
Fleming's version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941), with Spencer Tracy, was generally rated below Rouben Mamoulian's 1931 Pre-Code version, which had starred Fredric March. Fleming's 1942 film version of John Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat starred Tracy, John Garfield, Hedy Lamarr, and Frank Morgan. Other films that Fleming made with Tracy include Captains Courageous (for which Tracy won his first Oscar), A Guy Named Joe, and Test Pilot. He directed Clark Gable in a total of five films – Red Dust, The White Sister, Test Pilot, Gone with the Wind, andAdventure.
He died suddenly, while en route to a hospital in Cottonwood, Arizona after suffering a myocardial infarction (heart attack) on January 6, 1949. His death occurred shortly after completing Joan of Arc (1948) with Ingrid Bergman, one of the few films that he did not make for MGM. Despite mixed reviews, Fleming's film version of the life of Joanreceived seven Academy Award nominations, winning two.