Little Bits of History

Famous Players Film Company

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 8, 2014
Adolph Zukor

Adolph Zukor

May 8, 1912: Famous Players Film Company is founded. Established by Adolph Zukor, the company advertised “Famous Players in Famous Plays” with the first release starring Sarah Bernhardt and Lou Tellegen in Les Amours de la reine Ėlisabeth. Their studio was on 26th Street in New York City. In 1915, they moved their studio to Hollywood on Melrose Avenue, one of the oldest studios there. The name changed several times until in 1916 a merger with Feature Play Company eventually became known as Paramount Pictures, the name they still have today. They are now a subsidiary of Viacom.

Paramount is consistently ranked as one of the top-grossing film studios and is a member in good standing of the Motion Picture Association of America. They became the first big Hollywood studio to distribute all films in digital-form only. They have had many commercial success stories over the years. They are the 5th oldest surviving film studio in the world, three of which are European. The only American production company which is older is Universal Studios. Paramount is the last major film studio still headquartered in Hollywood.

Zukor was born in Hungary and moved to the US in 1889 at the age of 16. He first worked in an upholstery shop and then moved to work in a furrier. He became an accomplished designer and opened his own successful shop in the Midwest after attending the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. By the turn of the century, he was relatively wealthy and had moved back to New York City, living in an upper class German-Jewish section. In 1903, his cousin, Max Goldstein, asked for a loan to expand his line of theaters. This was Zukor’s introduction to the motion picture industry. Also joining in partnership in the venture was Marcus Loew. He began Famous Players and in one year had produced five films. Zukor retired from Paramount in 1959 and became Chairman Emeritus until his death in 1976 at the age of 103.

Paramount, now with Brad Grey as Chairman and CEO, Rob Moore, Frederick Huntsberry, Mark Badagliacca, and Adam Goodman running the show has a yearly revenue over $1 billion. In 2011, their revenue was $1.2 billion while their operating income was $300 million. They have several other divisions under the Paramount umbrella separating large and small screen productions as well as animation distinct from live. Some of their more popular series are The Godfather (1972-1990), and Star Trek (1979-present), Indiana Jones (1982-2008), Shrek (2001-2010), Transformers (2007-present), and G.I. Joe (2009-present).

Rather than lose the public because television is here, wouldn’t it be smart to adopt television as our instrument?

The public is never wrong.

If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.

[on Clara Bow] She danced even when her feet were not moving. – all from Adolph Zukor

Also on this day: Saint-Pierre, Martinique – In 1902 a volcano erupts and destroys Saint-Pierre, Martinique.
Good Dog – In 1877 the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held.
Shoot Out – In 1984, a shooting at the Quebec National Assembly took place.
One Down – In 1945, Germany unconditionally surrendered.


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