Harold Brent "Hal" Wallis (September 14, 1898 – October 5, 1986) was an American film producer. He is best remembered for producingCasablanca (1942), and other films for Warner Bros. featuring such film stars as Bette Davis and Errol Flynn. Later, for a long period, he was connected with Paramount Pictures and oversaw films featuring Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Elvis Presley, and John Wayne
Harold Brent Wallis was born in 1898 in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Eva (née Blum) and Jacob Walinsky, Eastern European Jews, who changed their surname to Wallis. His family moved in 1922 to Los Angeles, California, where he found work as part of the publicity department at Warner Bros.in 1923. Within a few years, Wallis became involved in the production end of the business and would eventually become head of production at Warners. In a career that spanned more than fifty years, he was involved with the production of more than 400 feature-length movies.
Among the significant movies he produced were Casablanca, Dark Victory, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Maltese Falcon, Sergeant York, andNow, Voyager. He left Warners in 1944, after a clash with Jack Warner over Warner's acceptance of the Best Picture Oscar for Casablanca, to work as an independent producer, enjoying considerable success both commercially and critically. The first screenwriters he hired for his new enterprise were Ayn Rand and Lillian Hellman. Among his financial hits were the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comedies, and several of Elvis Presley's movies.
He produced True Grit, for which John Wayne won the Academy Award for Best Actor of 1969, and its sequel. After moving to Universal Pictures he produced Mary, Queen of Scots (starring Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson) and Anne of the Thousand Days (starring Richard Burton andGenevieve Bujold). He received sixteen Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, winning for Casablanca in 1943. For his consistently high quality of motion picture production, he was twice honored with the Academy Awards' Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. He was also nominated for seven Golden Globe awards, twice winning awards for Best Picture. In 1975, he received the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in motion pictures. In 1980 he published his autobiography, Starmaker, co-written with Charles Higham.
Wallis died in 1986 of complications of diabetes in Rancho Mirage, California, at the age of eighty-eight. News of his passing was not released until after his private service was completed. U.S. President Ronald W. Reagan sent condolences to the Wallis family. He is interred in a crypt at the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.