Oscar Directors: Franklin, Sidney–Background, Career, Awards (LGBTQ, Gay)

Sidney Franklin Career Summary:

Occup. Inheritance: brother director

Social Class: Jewish

Sexual Orientation: Gay


Training: Assistant operator

First Film

Last Film:

Oscar Nomination: Good Earth, 1937; age 44

Career: Director to Producer; bullfighter

Career Output:

Career Span:



Death: 1972; age 79

Sidney Arnold Franklin specialized in adapting to the big screen literary works or Broadway plays. He received one Best Director Oscar nomination, in 1937, at the age of 44, for “The Good Earth,” for which Luise Rainer won her second, consecutive Best Actress Oscar.

The winner, however, was Leo McCarey for the sublime screwball comedy, “The Awful Truth.”

His brother Chester Franklin (1890–1954), who also became a director during the silent era, is known for directing the early Technicolor film “Toll of the Sea.”

Sidney Franklin was born March 21, 1893 in Brooklyn, New York to Orthodox Jewish parents.

In 1922, he traveled to Mexico City where he began a career in bullfighting. He fought bulls in Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Colombia, and Panama.

Writing on Sidney Franklin in Death in the Afternoon, Ernest Hemingway said:” Franklin is brave with a cold, serene and intelligent valor but instead of being awkward and ignorant he is one of the most skillful, graceful and slow manipulators of a cape fighting today. His repertoire with the cape is enormous but he does not attempt by a varied repertoire to escape from the performance of the veronica as the base of his cape work and his veronicas are classical, very emotional, and beautifully timed and executed. You will find no Spaniard who ever saw him fight who will deny his artistry and excellence with the cape. He is a better, more scientific, more intelligent, and more finished matador than all but about six of the full matadors in Spain today and the bullfighters know it and have the utmost respect for him.”

Franklin appeared in a few films in the USA and Mexico. Later he presented bullfights on American TV.


He wrote an autobiography, Bullfighter from Brooklyn, and was a close friend of the American actor James Dean, who was a fan of bullfighting.

He died at home in 1976, age 72, of natural causes. He was gay, his sexual identity having was open secret among those who knew him, but unknown to the public.

Credits as director include:

A Sister of Six (1916) co-directed with brother Chester

The Babes in the Woods (1917) co-directed with brother Chester

The Forbidden City (1918)

Treasure Island (1918) co-directed with Chester

The Hoodlum (1919)

A Virtuous Vamp (1919) assistant director with David Kirkland

Smilin’ Through (1922)

Beverly of Graustark (1926)

The Actress (1928)

The Last of Mrs. Cheyney (1929)

Wild Orchids (1929)

A Lady’s Morals (1930)

Private Lives (1931)

Smilin’ Through (1932)

The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934)

The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1957; a remake of the 1934 version)

The Dark Angel (1935)

The Good Earth (1937)


He also produced:

Ninotchka (1939) (associate producer)

Waterloo Bridge (1940)

Mrs. Miniver (1942)

Random Harvest (1942)

Madame Curie (1943)

The White Cliffs of Dover (1944)

The Yearling (1946)

Homecoming (1948)

Command Decision (1948)

The Miniver Story (1950)

Fearless Fagan (1952) (associate producer)

Sky Full of Moon (1952)

The Story of Three Loves (1953)

Gypsy Colt (1953)

Young Bess (1953)

Torch Song (1953)

Franklin died on May 18, 1972, at age 79.