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Karl Tunberg and his Contribution to Twentieth Century Cinema

A career in the art of cinema

This Website is devoted to Karl Tunberg and his career as a screenwriter, and offers information about the more than forty major motion picture screenplays of which he was either co-author or sole author. The creators of this Website are making every effort to present the most accurate information available. The details offered here about Karl Tunberg's life, professional activities, and film credits have been derived from records kept by the Writer's Guild of America, legal documents, and information provided by family members.
 
(Website under construction)
 
Karl Owen Tunberg, 1907 (Spokane, Washington U.S.A) - 1992 (London, England, UK)



 
Karl Tunberg: photo taken between about 1946 and 1950.




Karl Tunberg (extreme left) With Some of the Cast of
The Scarlet Coat
ca. 1955

Born in Spokane, Washington, on March 11, 1907, Karl Tunberg migrated at an early age to California with and his older brother William (who also became as screenwriter as an adult), and with his mother ‘Cenna’ (her maiden name was actually Centennial Independence Firebaugh, and she was so named because she was born on 4 July 1876, the first centennial 'birthday' of the United States of America!). Karl Tunberg's birth certificate (in the records of Spokane County Health District, State of Washington) records two children as having been previously born to Cenna. We only have information pertaining to William Tunberg, and have so far encountered no additional trace of this other sibling. 

The family lived for a time in Santa Barbara, but eventually settled in Los Angeles. There Karl attended Hollywood High School, UCLA and USC. Karl Tunberg was destined to spend much of his life in Los Angeles, though he also lived and worked for many years in London, England.  Largely in connection with his film making projects, Karl also traveled throughout Europe, visited China, Malaysia, Japan, and the West Indies. 
He was married three times and had five children. He served president of the Screen Writers Guild from 1950 to 1951.

His earliest writings included short stories, and a novel entitled While the Crowd Cheers, which was published in 1935 by the Macaulay Company. Very soon, Karl Tunberg turned his story-telling talents to screenplays. Starting in 1937 Karl was on contract as a screenwriter for Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation under Darryl Zanuck. In the early 1940s Karl Tunberg moved his seat of operations to Paramount Pictures. In the first phase of his career Tunberg typically collaborated with other writers, especially with Darrell Ware, a deft composer of musical comedies. Eventually (in the later 1940s, the 1950s, and the 1960s) Karl worked more frequently on his own. In the late 1940s he made two films for Universal Studios, with a brief return to Fox (Love That Brute, 1950). This was followed by a series of large films for MGM in the 1950s, including historical epics such as Beau Brummel, the Scarlet Coat, and Ben Hur, and two big-production films for United Artists in the early 1960s (Taras Bulba [in collaboration with Waldo Salt], The Seventh Dawn). During this period he occasionally functioned as producer as well as writer – as in the case of Count Your Blessings (1958). In the 1960s Karl also wrote screenplays for two major MGM productions, I Thank a Fool (1962) and Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? (1967).  Finally, in the early 1970s Karl Tunberg began writing segments for television series, but he never felt as much at home in the television medium as he had in the creation of large-screen motion pictures. The most famous screenplay authored by Karl Tunberg was probably the one he wrote for the 1959 epic, Ben Hur, but Karl Tunberg always told those close to him that he regarded Beau Brummel (1954) as his best work.
 

Karl Tunberg 1950s
 

Motion Picture Credits 
 

 

Sole Author:

1. Masquerade in Mexico. Karl Tunberg, 1945: story by Edwin Justus Mayer and Franz Spencer.

 

Credits, summary, and other information here.

 

Synopsis & Analysis


2. The Imperfect Lady. Karl Tunberg, 1946/1947: story by Ladislas Fodor.

 

Credits, summary, and other information here.


Synopsis & Analysis


3.  Up in Central Park. Karl Tunberg, 1948: with contributions by Iam McLellan Hunter, based on the musical play by Herbert Fields, Dorothy Fields, and Clyde Finch


Credits, summary, and other information here

 

Synopsis & Analysis


4. You Gotta Stay Happy. Karl Tunberg, 1948: based on a serial by Robert Carson.

Credits, summary, and other information here

Synopsis & Analysis

5.  Beau Brummel. Karl Tunberg, 1954: based on a play by Clyde Fitch.

Credits, summary, and other information here.

Synopsis & Analysis

6. The Scarlet Coat. Karl Tunberg, 1955: based on a story by Hollister Noble and Sidney Harmon.

Credits, summary, and other information here.

Synopsis & Analysis

7. The Seventh Sin. Karl Tunberg, 1957: based on “The Painted Veil,” a novel by W. Somerset Maugham.

Credits, summary, and other information here.

Synopsis & Analysis

8. Count Your Blessings. Karl Tunberg, 1959: based on “The Blessing,” a novel by Nancy Mitford.

Credits, summary, and other information here.

Synopsis & Analysis

9. Ben Hur. Karl Tunberg, 1959: based on a novel by Lew Wallace.

Credits, summary, and other information here.

Credits, summary, and other information here.

Synopsis & Analysis

10. I Thank a Fool. Karl Tunberg, 1962: based on a novel by Audrey Erskine Lindop. 

Credits, summary, and other information here.

Synopsis & Analysis

11. The Seventh Dawn. Karl Tunberg, 1964: based on a novel by Michael Keon.

Credits, summary, and other information here.

Synopsis & Analysis

12. Harlow. Karl Tunberg, 1965.

Credits, summary, and other information here.

Synopsis & Analysis


Co-Author:
 
1. You Can't Have Everything. Harry Tugend, Karl Tunberg, Jack Yellen, 1937: based on a story by Gregory Ratoff.

Credits, summary, and other information here

2. Life Begins in College. Karl Tunberg and Don Ettlinger, 1937: based on stories by Darrell Ware.

Credits, summary, and other information here

Credits, summary, and other information here

3. Sally, Irene and Mary.  Don Ettlinger, Karl Tunberg, Jack Yellen, 1938: first made as a silent film in 1925: based on play by Eddie Dowling.

Credits, summary, and other information here

4. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.  Don Ettlinger, Karl Tunberg, 1938: based upon the children's book Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin.

Credits, summary, and other information here

5. Hold that Co-ed.  Don Ettlinger, Karl Tunberg, 1938.

Credits, summary, and other information here

Credits, summary, and other information here

6. My Lucky Star.  Screenplay by Harry Tugend and Jack Yellen, 1938: from a story by Don Ettlinger and Karl Tunberg.

Credits, summary, and other information here

Credits, summary, and other information here

7. Shipyard Sally.  Don Ettlinger, Karl Tunberg, 1939-1940 : from a story by Gracie Fields, Thomas J. Geraghty, Val Valentine.

Credits, summary, and other information here

Credits, summary, and other information here

8. I Was an Adventuress.  Don Ettlinger, John O’Hara, Karl Tunberg, 1940 : based on a French film “J'étais une aventurière (1938)”.

Credits, summary, and other information here

Credits, summary, and other information here

Credits, summary, and other information here

Credits, summary, and other information here

9. Public Deb No. 1.  Don Ettlinger, Karl Tunberg, Darrell Ware, 1941.

Credits, summary, and other information here

Credits, summary, and other information here

Credits, summary, and other information here

10. Down Argentine Way.  Karl Tunberg, Darrell Ware, 1940 : based on a story by Rian James and Ralph Spence.

Credits, summary, and other information here

11. Tall, Dark, and Handsome.  Karl Tunberg, Darrell Ware, 1941.

Credits, summary, and other information here

12. A Yank in the R. A. F. Karl Tunberg, Darrell Ware, 1941: from a story by Melville Grossman.

Credits, summary, and other information here

Credits, summary, and other information here

13. Weekend in Havana. Karl Tunberg, Darrell Ware, 1941.

Credits, summary, and other information here

Credits, summary, and other information here

14. My Gal Sal.  Seton I. Miller, Karl Tunberg, Darrell Ware, 1942 : from a story by Theodore Dreiser.

Credits, summary, and other information here

Credits, summary, and other information here

15. Orchestra Wives. Karl Tunberg, Darrell Ware, 1942 : story by James Prindle.

Credits, summary, and other information here

16. Lucky Jordan. Karl Tunberg, Darrell Ware, 1942 : story by Charles Leonard.

Credits, summary, and other information here

Credits, summary, and other information here

17. Standing Room Only. Karl Tunberg, Darrell Ware, 1943 (released 1944?) : story by Al Martin.

Credits, summary, and other information here

Credits, summary, and other information here

 
18. Dixie. Karl Tunberg, Darrell Ware, 1943: adapted by Claude Binyon; story by William Rankin.

Credits, summary, and other information here

19. Bring on the Girls. Karl Tunberg, Darrell Ware, 1945: story by Pierre Wolff.

Credits, summary, and other information here

20. The Shocking Miss Pilgrim. George Seaton, 1946 (in some sources the release date is given as 1947): story by Ernest Maas and Frederica Maas, with contributions to screenplay by Karl Tunberg and Darrell Ware.

Credits, summary, and other information here

Credits, summary, and other information here

   

21. Kitty. Karl Tunberg, Darrell Ware, 1945/1946: based on novel by Rasamund Marshall.


Credits, summary, and other information here


22. Love that Brute. Karl Tunberg, Darrell Ware, 1950: with contributions by John Lee Mahin.

Credits, summary, and other information here

23. Night into Morning. Leonard Spigelgass, Karl Tunberg, 1951.

Credits, summary, and other information here

Credits, summary, and other information here

24. The Law and the Lady. Leonard Spigelgass, Karl Tunberg, 1951: based on the play “The Last of Mrs. Cheyney,” by Frederick Lonsdale.

Credits, summary, and other information here

25. Because You’re Mine. Leonard Spigelgass, Karl Tunberg, 1952: based on a story by Ruth Brooks Flippen and Sy Gomberg.

Credits, summary, and other information here

26. Scandal at Scourie. Norman Corwin, Leonard Spigelgass, Karl Tunberg, 1953: based on a story by Mary McSherry.

Credits, summary, and other information here

27. Valley of the Kings. Robert Pirosh, Karl Tunberg, 1954: inspired by Gods, Graves and Scholars by C. W. Ceram.

Credits, summary, and other information here

28.  Libel. Anatole de Grunwald and Karl Tunberg, 1959: based on a play by Edward Wooll.

Credits, summary, and other information here

29.  Taras Bulba. Waldo Salt and Karl Tunberg, 1962: based on a novel by Nikolai Gogol.

Credits, summary, and other information here

30. Where Were You When the Lights Went Out.  Everett Freeman and Karl Tunberg, 1968: based on a play by Charles Magnier. 

Credits, summary, and other information here



Television Credits

1. How do I Love Thee. Everett Freeman and Karl Tunberg, 1968: based on book by Peter Devries. 

2. Woman in the Shadows (Mannix). Karl Tunberg, 1971.

3. Frenzy (Bonanza). Karl Tunberg and Preston Wood, 1971.

4. The Moving Target (Mannix). Karl Tunberg, 1971.

5. Murder by Moonlight (Cannon). Karl Tunberg, 1972.

6. Doctor and Mister Harper (Medical Center). Karl Tunberg, 1972.

7. Tio Taco, M.D. (Medical Center). Karl Tunberg, 1972.

8. End of the Line (Medical Center). Karl Tunberg, 1972.

9. A Life at Stake (Medical Center). Donald Brinkley and Karl Tunberg, 1973.

10. Edge of the Web (Mannix). Karl Tunberg and Terence Tunberg, 1974.

11. The Quasar Kill (Cannon). Karl Tunberg and Terence Tunberg, 1975.

12. Interception (Bronk). Karl Tunberg and Terence Tunberg, 1975.

13. A Home is not a House (Movin' On). Jimmy Sangster, Karl Tunberg and Terence Tunberg, 1975.

14. The Drone (Spencer's Pilots). Karl Tunberg and Terence Tunberg, 1976.

15. The Crop Duster (Spencer's Pilots). Karl Tunberg and Terence Tunberg, 1976.

16. The Curandero (The Blue Knight). Karl Tunberg and Terence Tunberg, 1976.

17. The Cult (Kingston). Karl Tunberg and Terence Tunberg, 1977.

18. In Hot Weather the Crime Rate Soars (Lanigan's Rabbi). Karl Tunberg and Terence Tunberg, 1977.

19. Hitch-hiking Hitch (Chips). Bruce Shelly, Karl Tunberg and Terence Tunberg, 1978