Mark Sandrich was an American film director, writer, and producer.
Sandrich was born in New York City, to a Jewish family. His sister was Ruth Harriet Louise. He was an engineering student at Columbia University when he accidentally fell into the film business. While visiting a friend on a film set, he saw that the director had a problem setting up a shot; Sandrich offered his advice. It worked.
He entered into the movies in the prop department, and became a director specializing in several comedy shorts in 1927. His first feature was Runaway Girls, in 1928. In an exciting time in the film business with the arrival of sound, Mark briefly returned to shorts. In 1933, he directed the Academy Award-winning short, So This Is Harris! This stroke of luck brought Mark's return to feature films. He most notably directed comedies, starring the team of Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey in Hips, Hips, Hooray!. In 1934, Sandrich gained his first directorial assignment with the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musical The Gay Divorcee, which proved a tremendous success.
The following year, he directed Top Hat, another Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musical. He continued working with the team on Follow the Fleet (1936), Shall We Dance (1937), and Carefree (1938). In 1940, Sandrich left RKO for Paramount, which offered him a chance to be not only director, but a producer as well. Sandrich made several successful films in this capacity, including two with Jack Benny, Buck Benny Rides Again and Love Thy Neighbor (both 1940), and the romantic comedy Skylark (1941), starring Claudette Colbert and Ray Milland. While all of these films made profits for the studio, it is Holiday Inn in 1942 starring Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby, with music by Irving Berlin, that is most remembered today. Holiday Inn introduced the song "White Christmas" performed by big band crooner and radio singing star Bing Crosby. "White Christmas" remains the best-selling single of all time. Another screen success, So Proudly We Hail! was a Sandrich-produced and directed adaptation of the hit Broadway musical. It was extremely popular and featured a pair of performers – Adrian Booth and George Reeves – whom Sandrich had intended to bring to stardom after the war.
In 1945, while in pre-production on a follow-up to Holiday Inn called Blue Skies, starring Bing Crosby and featuring Irving Berlin's music. At the same time, Mark Sandrich was serving as president of the Directors Guild. Insisting that he could complete all of his assignments, and feeling pressure to be an involved and loving family man, Mark Sandrich died suddenly of heart attack at the age of 45. At the time of his death, Mark Sandrich was considered to be one of the most trusted and influential directors in Hollywood. He was respected by his colleagues in front of and behind the cameras, as well as studio management. His interment was at Home of Peace Cemetery.