450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
Young studied at Stanford University.
Waldemar Young, the MGM scenarist and screen-writer was formerly a newspaperman and has never got out of the habit of typing and preparing his own scripts without the help of a secretary.
(Two thieves, the Blackbird and West End Bertie, fall in l...)
Two thieves, the Blackbird and West End Bertie, fall in love with the same girl, a French nightclub performer named Fifi. Each man tries to outdo the other to win her heart.
(John Gilbert stars in Tod Browning's lurid tale about a c...)
John Gilbert stars in Tod Browning's lurid tale about a carnival barker whose ex-girlfriend's jealous lover (Lionel Barrymore) intends to behead him during the Dance of the Seven Veils.
Waldemar's father, Mahroni Young, was a sculptor who raised Young in an artistically sophisticated household. Thus, it was unsurprising that Young began to write as soon as he graduated from high school, working as an editor at the Salt Lake Herald. Young continued to hone his skills while in college at Stanford University, which he entered in 1900. There, he wrote for the school paper, the campus literary journal, and various class plays. At Stanford, he was also a member of the football team. He majored in English but also studied economics and history. Perhaps because he was focused so early on his writing, Young did not finish his studies at Stanford.
Leaving Stanford before graduation, Young headed straight into a newspaper job at the San Francisco Chronicle, to which he had contributed while still in college. There, he worked variously as sports writer and drama editor before taking a position as the drama editor of the San Francisco Examiner. It was common during the early part of the twentieth century for creative writers to get their starts as journalists; thus, Young began what he envisioned as a creative writing career on the staffs of various papers. There, he learned the tricks of forming exciting and readable stories, while he also learned to craft a lean and graceful sentence. Both skills would serve him well when he finally joined the newborn film industry. But before Young hit Hollywood, he spent some time writing plays and getting his feet wet in “the business” by acting as a press agent and publicity writer for various stage and vaudeville acts.
His wife, the journalist and writer Elizabeth Haigh, suggested that he attempt to write for the pictures, and Young quickly got started writing romantic comedies for Franklyn Famum and Brownie Vernon. As Young’s credits accrued, he was offered work by the bigger silent film stars, including Viola Dana, Thomas Meighan, and the impressive Mary Pickford. For Pickford, in fact, Young wrote both Suds (1920) and Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall (1924). By 1924, Young was a contract writer at Metro-Goldwyn, and he began working with one of the greatest silent screen actors of all time, Lon Chaney.
During the next three years Young created six more films The Mystic (1925), The Black Bird (1926), The Unknown (1927), London After Midnight (1927), The Big City (1928), and West of Zanzibar (1928). Young wrote for DeMille, he became acquainted with the “talkie” film style by writing a few screenplays, complete with dialogue. The first of these pictures was Sally (1929), a Florenz Ziegfield “folly” adapted to the screen. The film starred Marilyn Miller, the stage actress who originated the role of Sally. Young also wrote dialogue for such films as Ladies Love Brutes (1930), Girl of the Golden West (1930), Penrod and Sam (1931), The Miracle Man (1932), Sinners in the Sun (1932), and Love Me Tonight (1932). For several of these screenplays, Young collaborated with writers like Samuel Hoffenstein and George Marion Jr. But in 1932, Young joined DeMille to create four films: The Sign of the Cross (written with Sidney Buchman, 1932), Island of Lost Souls (written with Philip Wylie, 1932), Cleopatra (written with Vincent Lawrence, 1934), and The Crusades (written with Harold Lamb and Dudley Nichols, 1935). In the first of these films, The Sign of the Cross, Charles Laughton starred in a drama about Christians in the time of Nero.
One of the famous stars with whom Young would be identified was Gary Cooper. Young and Cooper made four pictures together: The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (written with John Balderston and Achmed Abdullah, 1935), Peter Ibbetson (written with Lawrence, 1935), Desire (written with Edwin Justus Mayer and Hoffenstein, 1936), and The Plainsman (written with Lamb and Lynn Riggs, 1936). The first of these films was Young’s most critically successful, as it was nominated for numerous awards, but all of them found critical and public welcome. In Desire, Cooper and Marlene Dietrich star in a story about a car designer and a jewel thief who are thrown together when the thief (Dietrich) must pretend to fall in love with Cooper in order to retrieve the riches she has surreptitiously stowed in his belongings. The comedy was successful with audiences, due to the combined efforts of Young, the stars, his director, and producer.
(John Gilbert stars in Tod Browning's lurid tale about a c...)1927
(Two thieves, the Blackbird and West End Bertie, fall in l...)1926
Young was a Mormon, and a grandson of Brigham Young, the famous patriarch of the Mormon Church.
Young had a talent for writing what would show the film stars to best advantage; he seemed to have a strong sense of what the public liked to see in their stars, and he was able to produce scenarios and scripts that set screen actors off impeccably.
Young’s screenplays were often crowd-pleasers, and he had a strong track record of writing box office favorites. He seemed to sense what would delight his audience - and more often than not succeeded in doing just that. Even when his films failed to draw a large audience, however, he was still clever at giving his co-workers what they needed to realize their vision.
During the early days of cinema, writers were to be utilized almost as actors were: technically trained artists whose gifts were at the disposal of a conductor figure, who would bring out particular aspects of their talents to complete a collaborative opus. Part of Young’s success, perhaps, was his canny ability to write the kinds of scenarios and dialogues that would make others look good. But for this reason, too, perhaps, Young never had the kind of public following that playwrights of his generation had.
Quotes from others about the person
“Never seeking to impose his own vision of the world, Young created first-rate scripts for fun, profitable entertainment.” - Douglas Gomery
“Young experienced little success, but by then he had fallen in love with show business. It was from that position that he was able to try scenario writing for silent films.” - Douglas Gomery
“Young had been friends with director Tod Browning and actor Lon Chaney since the three had worked on The Wicked Darling (1919). Now they re-teamed to film C. E. Robbins’s book The Unholy Three (1925), about three sideshow performers - a midget, a ventriloquist, and a strongman - who turn to crime.” - Elias Savada
“Young wrote many types of films and more often than not they made money. However, he was not well-known to the movie-going public which identified Young’s films with their famous stars." - Douglas Gomery
In 1912, Young married Elizabeth Haigh, a journalist and writer.