Joseph Santley

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Joseph Santley
Born Joseph Mansfield
(1890-01-10)January 10, 1890
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
Died August 8, 1971(1971-08-08) (aged 81)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor, writer, singer, producer, director
Spouse(s) Ivy Sawyer (3 children)

Joseph Santley (January 10, 1889 – August 8, 1971) was an American actor, singer, dancer, writer, director, and producer of musical theatrical plays and motion pictures.[1]

Born Joseph Mansfield in Salt Lake City, Utah, he adopted the stage name of his stepfather, actor Eugene Santley. As a boy, he and older brother Fred began performing in live theatre appearing in summer stock and touring with their parents. In 1906, at age seventeen, Joseph Santley co-wrote and starred on Broadway in the play, Billy the Kid. In 1907, he acted in film for the first time for Sidney Olcott at the Kalem Company in a silent Western film short called Pony Express.

Santley continued to work almost exclusively in musical comedy plays, returning to Broadway five more times as well as touring nationally. A gifted dancer, Santley created the Santley Tango and the Hawaiian Butterfly. After he married actress/singer and cabaret dancer Ivy Sawyer, beginning in 1916 the two danced as a team, performing together in a number of Broadway musicals beginning with “Betty” and “Oh, My Dear!” and eventually other productions at major venues across the United States such as the National Theatre in Washington, D.C.. Their final collective Broadway presentation was in 1927's Just Fancy which Santley co-wrote, produced and directed. He and Ivy Sawyer had a son Joseph born in 1916 and a daughter Betty born in 1928.

In 1928, Joseph Santley directed his first motion picture, making a short talkie for Paramount Pictures that featured singer Ruth Etting. The next year, Paramount had Santley direct three more films that were short singing productions, one with Etting, another with crooner Rudy Vallee, plus a third titled High Hat with Broadway singing star Alice Boulden. Also, he directed A Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic, a musical film featuring Eddie Cantor along with Eddie Elkins and his orchestra. In 1929, Joseph Santley co-directed, with Robert Florey, the first Marx Brothers feature film The Cocoanuts, a musical comedy for which he is most famous. Based on the George S. Kaufman play, and with music by Irving Berlin, the film was billed as "Paramount's All Talking-Singing Musical Comedy Hit." His other notable directorial efforts include 1935's Harmony Lane, a biographical musical on the life of composer Stephen Foster. In 1940, he directed Melody Ranch starring "singing cowboy" Gene Autry. The film has been deemed "culturally significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

During World War II, Joseph Santley worked for the war effort and in 1942 made the film Remember Pearl Harbor. In 1950, he made his last feature film but came back at age sixty-five to produce the 1954-55 television comedy The Mickey Rooney Show. In 1956, he put together two segments of Jazz Ball, a made-for-TV musical revue created from various filmed performances by jazz greats from the 1930s to the 1950s.

Joseph Santley died in 1971 in Los Angeles.

Selected filmography


  1. "Joseph Santley". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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