Death of the Moguls: The End of Classical Hollywood

By Wheeler Winston Dixon | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7
Universal Goes Corporate

Universal was one of the earliest and most influential of the major Hollywood studios and remains so to this day. Founder Carl Laemmle came from the exhibition side of the business, and by 1909 he and a partner owned a profitable chain of film theaters as well as a distribution exchange, the Laemmle Film Service, the largest in the United States at the time. But Thomas Edison’s Motion Picture Patents Company—the “Trust”—was set on controlling every aspect of the fledgling film industry and wiping out the competition.

Edison wanted every film producer to pay him a fee for using cameras, which, Edison argued—and the courts initially agreed—all derived from patents devised entirely by the Thomas A. Edison Company. In addition, all distributors, or film exchanges, had to pay Edison a fee for simply distributing their films (again, because they were supposedly possible only because of Edison’s patents), and exhibitors were required to pay a weekly fee to use Edison’s projectors. If producers failed to pay Edison, he sued. If distributors failed to pay Edison, he sued. If exhibitors failed to pay Edison, he sued. In short, Edison wanted to control every aspect of the business (Hirschhorn 9).

Laemmle fought back and broke off all dealings with the Trust on April 12, 1909. He then rented a studio in New York at 11 East 14th Street, hired actor/director William Ranous and actress Gladys Hulette, and, using a

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Death of the Moguls: The End of Classical Hollywood
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Prologue 1
  • Chapter 1 - The Postwar Collapse 12
  • Chapter 2 - White Fang at Columbia 36
  • Chapter 3 - Z for Zanuck 65
  • Chapter 4 - Mayer’s Mgm 88
  • Chapter 5 - Zukor and Paramount 113
  • Chapter 6 - The Major Minors 136
  • Chapter 7 - Universal Goes Corporate 168
  • Chapter 8 - That’s All, Folks- Jack Warner’s Lost Kingdom 192
  • Works Cited and Consulted 225
  • Index 231
  • About the Author 249
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