Adolph Zukor

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Adolph Zukor, born Adolph Cukor, (January 7, 1873 – June 10, 1976) was a film mogul and founder of Paramount Pictures.[1]


Early life

Zukor was born to a Jewish family in Ricse, Hungary, which was then a part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. In 1889, at the age of 16, he emigrated to America. Like most immigrants, he began modestly. When he first landed in New York, he stayed with his family and worked in an upholstery shop. A friend got him a job as an apprentice at a furrier. Zukor stayed there for two years. When he left to become a "contract" worker, sewing fur pieces and selling them himself, he was nineteen years old and an accomplished designer. But he was young and adventuresome, and the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, commemorating Columbus's discovery of America, drew him to the Midwest. Once there, he started a fur business. In the second season of operation, Zukor's Novelty Fur Company expanded to twenty-five men and opened a branch.

Historian Neal Gabler wrote "one of the stubborn fallacies of movie history is that the men who created the film industry were all impoverished young vulgarians.... Zukor clearly didn't fit this profile. By 1903, he already looked and lived like a wealthy young burgher, and he certainly earned the income of one. He had a commodious apartment at 111th Street and Seventh Avenue in New York City's wealthy German-Jewish section."

Early movie career

He became involved in the motion picture industry when in 1903 his cousin, Max Goldstein approached him for a loan. Mitchell Mark needed investors in order to expand his chain of similar theaters that had begun in Buffalo, New York with Edisonia Hall. The arcade salon was to feature Thomas Edison's marvels: phonographs, electric lights and moving pictures. Zukor not only gave Goldstein the money but insisted on forming a partnership to open another one. Another partner in the venture was Marcus Loew.

Famous players

In 1912, Adolph Zukor established Famous Players Film Company -- advertising "Famous Players in Famous Plays" -- as the American distribution company for the French film production Les Amours de la reine Élisabeth starring Sarah Bernhardt. The following year he obtained the financial backing of the Frohman brothers, the powerful New York City theatre impresarios. Their primary goal was to bring noted stage actors to the screen and Zukor went on to produce The Prisoner of Zenda (1913). He purchased an armoury on 26th Street in Manhattan and converted it into Chelsea Studios, a movie studio that is still used today.[2] The Balaban and Katz Historical Foundation now owns the Famous Players Trademark

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