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Virginia Van Upp

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Name  Virginia Upp

Role  Film producer
Virginia Van Upp wwwrochellesaramillercomwpcontentuploads2015

Born  January 13, 1902 (1902-01-13) Chicago, Illinois, US
Occupation  Film producer Screenwriter
Died  March 25, 1970, Los Angeles, California, United States
Spouse  Ralph W. Nelson (m. ?–1949)
Parents  Harry Van Upp, Helen Van Upp
Nominations  Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written Musical
Movies  Gilda, Cover Girl, Swing High - Swing Low, You and Me, Together Again
Similar People  Charles Vidor, Arthur Hornblow - Jr, Alexander Hall, Norman Krasna, Rudolph Mate


Virginia Van Upp (January 13, 1902 – March 25, 1970) was an American film producer and screenwriter.


Early life

Virginia Van Upp was born in Chicago, the daughter of Harry and Helen Van Upp. Mrs Van Upp had been an editor and title writer for Thomas H. Ince.

Van Upp performed in several silent films as a child actress. She soon worked her way up in the film industry becoming a script writer, film editor, script reader, casting director, and agent.


Her first screenplay credit was for Paramount Pictures' The Pursuit of Happiness in 1934. She was a prolific writer and rewriter of screenplays for Paramount until 1943.

Queen of Columbia

Ever on the lookout for talent, Harry Cohn of Columbia Pictures hired her from Paramount to do the screenplay of Cover Girl, after several other writers failed to make a satisfying screenplay. Cover Girl was designed as a massive Technicolor blockbuster for Columbia's Rita Hayworth. Cohn surrounded his star with the best talent available, such as costume designers Travis Banton and Gwen Wakeling, who had extensive experience in big budget 20th Century Fox films. Cohn was initially reluctant to have Gene Kelly from MGM as Hayworth's co-star, until he was convinced that Kelly and his assistant Stanley Donen would do the choreography for the film for no extra fee. Van Upp not only fashioned a successful screenplay from the discarded drafts, but most importantly, gained the confidence of Rita Hayworth, becoming a friend and a mediator between her and the studio - even supervising Rita's costumes and rewriting her own screenplay for Hayworth's new persona.

Seeing the impressive results, Cohn made Van Upp an associate producer and later Executive Producer at the studio. Not only did Cohn recognize the importance of appealing to the large female audiences whose men were away during World War II, but Van Upp's broad experience in the film industry at all levels made her a rarity: someone who understood and welcomed the diversity of opinion and pressures from the studio to complete a successful film as opposed to most screenwriters who resented studio interference with their work.

Van Upp was only one of three female producers in Hollywood at the time. (The others were Joan Harrison of Universal Studios, who was associated with Alfred Hitchcock, and Harriet Parsons, daughter of influential gossip columnist Louella Parsons.) On January 7, 1945, The New York Times noted:

"Miss Van Upp's new berth is considered to be the most important position yet for a woman at a major studio. She will have the overall supervision and preparation and actual filming of twelve to fourteen top budget pictures to be made by Columbia during the year. Working under her will be several associate producers, all men.

As a producer, her work was often uncredited, such as salvaging Orson Welles' vehicle for his wife Rita Hayworth, the expensive The Lady from Shanghai.

Perhaps Van Upp's most famous production was the 1946 film Gilda, which she co-wrote and carefully supervised.

After making The Guilt of Janet Ames with Rosalind Russell, Van Upp left Columbia to spend time with her family. Harry Cohn rewarded her with a job of inspecting the Latin American market, where she visited 14 Central and South American countries. During this visit Van Upp announced that she would produce films based on the novels Christ the Man and Tolvanera by Spanish writer Dr. Ginés de La Torre, but these plans never came to fruition. It was also announced that Virginia would produce a film on the life of Rudolph Valentino for director Edward Small; Small made the film several years later without her.

Van Upp’s script for Christ the Man, titled The Trial, about a staging of the life of Jesus Christ in a small, American town, was projected for producer/director Frank Capra. However, on Feb. 27, 1951, Paramount announced the picture had been abandoned because of “the heavy expenditure necessary to produce it," circa $2,000,000. Capra believed the subject matter influenced the decision.

She returned to Columbia to work on Rita Hayworth's comeback film Affair in Trinidad, which reunited her with Gilda co-star Glenn Ford.

A projected film at Republic Pictures was cancelled due to an illness, and she reportedly made films for the United States Army in West Germany.

Personal life

Virginia Van Upp was married twice. Her second husband was production manager Ralph W. Nelson. They were divorced in 1949. They had one daughter.


Virginia Van Upp Wikipedia