Childhood & Early Life
He was born on October 5, 1908, in Texarkana, Texas, to Joshua Lockwood Logan and his wife Susan née Nabors. His father committed suicide when Logan was only three years of age.
After the incident his mother relocated to her parent’s house in Mansfield Louisiana with young Logan and his younger sister Mary Lee. Forty years hence Logan used the same location as the backdrop of his play ‘The Wisteria Trees’.
When he was around nine years of age, his mother remarried following which he began attending the ‘Culver Military Academy’ in Culver, Indiana, where his stepfather worked as a teacher. It is in this academy that he had the opportunity to attend a drama class, an activity that became quite to his liking.
Completing graduation from high school Logan enrolled at ‘Princeton University’ which he attended from 1927 to 1931. There he remained actively associated with ‘University Players’, the intercollegiate summer stock company and also with the venerable musical theatre group of the university called ‘Princeton Triangle Club’. He also remained president of the club during his senior year.
However after winning a scholarship to study acting under eminent Russian actor and theatre director Constantin Stanislavsky, Logan left the university before completing his graduation and moved to Moscow.
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In 1932 he began his career in ‘Broadway’ with the historical play ‘Carry Nation’ by playwright Frank McGrath. Later he started working as an assistant stage manager.
He made his debut in Hollywood in the mid-1930s as a dialogue writer in a couple of films that starred Charles Boyer.
He went on to co-direct a romantic drama film along with Arthur Ripley and George Cukor (uncredited) titled ‘I Met My Love Again’ that was released on January 14, 1938. The film failed to create an impression at the box office and incurred a loss of $64,104.
Logan then opted to comeback to ‘Broadway’ where he met with moderate success directing the 1938 play ‘On Borrowed Time’ that ran for around a year.
His first significant ‘Broadway’ success as theatre director came with the play ‘I Married An Angel’, which opened on May 11, 1938, at ‘Shubert Theatre’. The play was staged for 338 performances and closed on February 25, 1939.
The next few years saw him successfully directing several plays that included ‘Knickerbocker Holiday’, that opened at the ‘Ethel Barrymore Theatre’ on ‘Broadway’ on October 19, 1938, and after completing 168 stage productions closed on March 11, 1939; ‘Morning's at Seven’, a play by Paul Osborn that opened at ‘Longacre Theatre’ on November 30, 1939 and ran for 44 performances; a three act farce titled ‘’Charley’s Aunt’ by Brandon Thomas that was staged in 1940; and the musical, ‘By Jupiter’ that was premiered at ‘Shubert Theatre’ on June 3, 1942, and after staging 427 performances closed on June 12, 1943.
During the ‘Second World War’, he was enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and served as public relations and intelligence officer. At the end of the war he was discharged as a Captain.
Thereafter he returned to ‘Broadway’. In 1946 he directed the musical, ‘Annie Get Your Gun’, which was premiered in Broadway at the ‘Imperial Theatre’ on May 16, 1946. It became a huge hit with 1,147 performances in New York. The musical that included several hit songs was also premiered in West End at the London Coliseum on June 7, 1947, where it ran for 1,304 performances.
He directed and choreographed the musical ‘Wish You Were Here’ that was premiered on ‘Broadway’ at the ‘Imperial Theatre’ on June 25, 1952, and after staging 598 performances closed on November 28, 1953. It also ran for 282 performances at the London Casino starting from October 10, 1953.
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His other notable directorial endeavours in ‘Broadway’ were ‘Happy Birthday’ (1945), ‘John Loves Mary’ (1946), ‘Mister Roberts’ (1948), ‘South Pacific’ (1949), ‘Fanny’ (1954), and ‘The World of Suzie Wong’ (1958).
Meanwhile he returned to Hollywood to direct remaining part of the comedy-drama ‘Mister Roberts’ (1955) that was interrupted due to ill health of its director John Ford. Logan’s directorial contribution in the film however remained uncredited.
In 1955 he went on to direct the film version of his 1953 play ‘Picnic’ with the same title. The film not only became a box office hit but also earned six ‘Academy Award’ nominations including Best Director and won two of them for Best Film Editing and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color. It was also winner of the prestigious ‘Grand Prix’ of the ‘Belgian Film Critics Association’.
His next blockbuster was the 1957 Technicolor film ‘Sayonara’ starring Marlon Brando. The film not only proved to be a smashing success commercially but also bagged kudos from the critics. It earned a remarkable count of 10 nominations from the ‘Academy Awards’ including one for Logan’s direction and won 4 out of them.
Other notable films of Logan were ‘Bus Stop’ (1956), ‘South Pacific’ (1958), ‘Camelot’ (1967) and ‘Paint Your Wagon’ (1969).
He served as a jury member in 1961 at the 2nd Moscow International Film Festival.
His later Broadway works included ‘All American’ (1962), ‘Mr. President’ (1962), ‘Ready When You Are, C.B.’ (1964) and others, however he failed to garner much success.
Logan taught theatre from 1983 to 1986 at the ‘Florida Atlantic University’ located in Boca Raton, Florida.
Personal Life & Legacy
During a brief period from 1939 to 1940 he remained married to American film and stage actress Barbara O'Neil.
In 1945 he married Nedda Harrigan.
Logan suffered from bipolar disorder, a mental disorder for which he had to be hospitalised for a couple of times. After he came to know that it can be restricted with proper treatment, he spoke on the subject to create awareness and also appeared on TV shows along with psychiatrist Ronald R. Fieve, who treated him with lithium in the 1970s to control the disorder.
He passed away on July 12, 1988, in New York City, after suffering from progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP).