David O. Selznick, born David Selznick, was an American film producer. He is best known for producing Gone with the Wind and Rebecca, both of which earned him an Oscar for Best Picture.
Selznick was born to a Jewish family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of silent movie distributor Lewis J. Selznick and Florence A. Selznick. Selznick added the "O" to his name later on a whim.
He studied at Columbia University and worked as an apprentice for his father until the elder's bankruptcy in 1923. In 1926, Selznick moved to Hollywood, and with the help of his father's connections, got a job as an assistant story editor at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He left MGM for Paramount Pictures in 1928, where he worked until 1931, when he joined RKO as Head of Production. His years at RKO were fruitful, and he worked on many films, including A Bill of Divorcement, What Price Hollywood?, Rockabye, Our Betters, and King Kong. While at RKO, he also gave George Cukor his directing break. In 1933 he returned to MGM to establish a second prestige production unit, parallel to that of Irving Thalberg, who was in poor health. His unit's output included Dinner at Eight, David Copperfield, Anna Karenina and A Tale of Two Cities. Despite his successes at MGM, Paramount Pictures, and RKO Pictures, Selznick longed to be an independent producer with his own studio. In 1935 he realized that goal by forming Selznick International Pictures and distributing his films through United Artists. His successes continued with classics such as The Garden of Allah, The Prisoner of Zenda, A Star Is Born, Nothing Sacred, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Young in Heart, Made for Each Other, Intermezzo and Gone with the Wind, which remains one of the all-time highest grossing films. It also won seven additional Oscars and two special awards. Selznick also won the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award that same year.