Darryl Francis Zanuck was an Academy Award-winning producer, writer, actor and director who played a major part in the Hollywood studio system as one of its longest survivors .
Zanuck was born in Wahoo, Nebraska, the son of Louise Torpin and Frank Zanuck, a hotelier; his last name is of Dutch origin, and his father had Dutch and German ancestry. At six, he and his mother moved to Los Angeles, where the better climate could improve her poor health. At eight, he found his first movie job as an extra, but his disapproving father recalled him back to Nebraska. In 1917, despite being fourteen, he deceived a recruiter and joined the United States Army and served with the Nebraska National Guard in France. Returning to the U.S., he worked in many part-time jobs while he tried to find work as a writer. He managed to find work producing movie plots, selling his first story in 1922 to William Russell and his second to Irving Thalberg. He then worked for Mack Sennett and took that experience to Warner Brothers where he wrote stories for Rin Tin Tin and under a number of pseudonyms wrote over forty scripts from 1924-1929. He moved into management in 1929 and became head of production in 1931.