George Cukor was born to a Hungarian Jewish immigrant family on the Lower East Side of New York City. He developed a love of theater as a child, taking dance lessons, appearing in amateur productions, and even cutting classes to see shows on Broadway. He graduated from De Witt Clinton High School in 1917, and went to work in the theater, rising from production assistant to stage manager to director.
Movies were becoming popular and by 1929, Cukor was invited to work in Hollywood. His first major project there was as a dialogue director for All Quiet on the Western Front (1930). He landed a few co-directing jobs as well, including The Royal Family of Broadway (1930). He made his directorial debut with Tallulah Bankhead's film debut, Tarnished Lady (1931), and helped discover Katharine Hepburn -- he fought with the RKO Studio to cast her in A Bill of Divorcement (1932). He had his first major success as a director working with Hepburn again in Little Women (1933). He went on to direct some of Hollywood's biggest stars, including Greta Garbo in Camille (1936). He worked with Hepburn and Cary Grant on The Philadelphia Story (1940) and made several sophisticated comedies. He suffered a career setback by being fired by David O. Selznick from the production of Gone with the Wind in 1939, but made successful films for many more years. He was particularly known for adaptations of books and stage plays for the screen; many of them centered on strong female characters. He received an Academy Award for My Fair Lady (1964).