Harold Brent Wallis (September 14, 1898 – October 5, 1986) was an American film producer. He is most famously remembered for producing Casablanca, and other important films featuring actors such as Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Katherine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, Dean Martin, John Wayne and Elvis Presley.
Wallis was born in Chicago in 1898, the son of Eva (née Blum) and Jacob Walinsky, Eastern European Jews. His family moved in 1922 to Los Angeles, 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 many significant movies he produced were Dark Victory, Now Voyager, Sergeant York and The Adventures of Robin Hood the 1938 swashbuckler directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley. Filmed in lush Technicolor, the picture stars Errol Flynn, Olivia de Haviland, Basil Rathbone and Claude Rains.
The Maltese Falcon is a 1941 Warner Bros. film based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett. Written for the screen and directed by John Huston, the film stars Humphrey Bogart as private investigator Sam Spade, Mary Astor as his femme fatale client; Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet in his film debut. The film was Huston’s directorial debut and was nominated for three Academy Awards.
Wallis left Warner Bros. in 1944, after a clash with Jack Warner over Warner’s acceptance of the Best Picture Oscar to Casablanca, to work as an independent producer, enjoying considerable success both commercially and critically. Among his financial hits were the Martin and Lewis comedies, and several of Elvis Presley’s movies.
He produced True Grit, a 1969 American Western written by Marguerite Roberts and directed by Henry Hathaway. It is the first adaptation of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel of the same name. John Wayne stars as U. S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn and won the Academy Award for his performance in this film. Wayne reprised his role as Cogburn in the 1975 sequel Rooster Cogburn.
Wallis 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.