Family & Companions
While many artists develop passion for their craft following years of work and dedication, influential director Walter Lang discovered filmmaking almost on a whim. After moving from his hometown of Memphis to New York City, he found a temporary office position in a film production company and became fascinated by the creative energy surrounding him. Lang learned all aspects of filmmaking by immersing himself in conversations with talented producers, writers and directors until he landed his first assistant directing job. Despite a quick career shift--he moved to Paris to try his hand at painting--Lang returned to the film industry and directed several silent films before being discovered by 20th Century Fox. Before becoming one of Hollywood's go-to directors for musicals, Lang directed pop-culture icon Shirley Temple in the 1939 boarding school drama "The Little Princess." His artistic eye helped him visualize elaborate sets and sequences for his large-scale directorial projects, including the acclaimed musicals "Tin Pan Alley" and "Coney Island" starring Betty Grable, who went on record calling Lang a true gentleman. Perhaps Lang's best-known film was the sweeping 1956 musical "The King and I," starring Yul Brynner in an Oscar-winning role and earning Lang his first and only Oscar nomination for Best Director.