Where the stars always sparkle.

Paramount Pictures Corporation.

Paramount Pictures Inc. began in May of the year 1912, from the Famous Players Film Company. Founded by Adolph Zukor, he had been an investor in nickeledeons and saw the pattern that films mostly appealed to working-class people. So, with partners Daniel and Charles Frohman, Zukor planned to offer feature-length films featuring famous female stars of the era. By 1913, Famous Players had shot and completed five motion pictures. Zukor was now on the way to success.

In that same year, 1913, Jesse L. Lasky, another want-to-be producer, opened his own company, the Lasky Feature Play Company, with money he borrowed from his brother-in-law, Samuel Goldfish. Goldfish would later be known as Samuel Goldwyn, the studio head at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios. The company's first employee was a stage director with absolutely no film experience: Cecil B. DeMille. He would find a location in Hollywood, near Los Angeles, for his first film, The Squaq Man. Beginning in 1914, Lasky and Zukor's company released a company together, entitled Paramount Pictures. The company was organized earlier in the year by a Utah-theater owner W.W. Hodkinson. He had bought and managed several firms. Paramount was his first successful nation-wide distributor. Films, up until 1914, were sold on a regional or state-wide bases, which was not only ineffective, it was costly to film producers.

In 1916, Zukor maneuvered a three-way merger of his Famous Players, the Lasky company and Paramount. The new company, entitled the Famous Players-Lasky quickly grew. Lasky and his partners (Goldfish and Demille) ran the production, Hodkinson in charge of distribution, Zukor was making fantastic progress. With only First National as competition, Zukor's company and its "Paramount Pictures" soon became head huncho in the film business. Zukor, in turn, believed in stars. His slogan had begun by offering "Famous Players in Famous Plays." He signed and even brought to fame many people, along with the likes of Mary Pickford, Rudolph Valentino, Wallace Reid and even Douglas Fairbanks. Paramount was able to introduce, as a result of having so many important players, "block-booking." Block-booking meant an exhibitor who wanted a particulra star's films had to buy one years worth of other Paramount films. This system helped Paramount lead a good position through the 1920s into the 1930ss--but this also led the government to pursue its anti-trust grounds for over twenty years.

Zukor kept Paramount on top. Throughout the 1910s and 1920s, he built a theatrical chain of almost two thousand screens, ran two studios and became one of the first investors into the market of radio. He took a 50% interest in the brand-new Columbia Broadcasting System in the year 1928. He obtained the successful Balaban & Katz chain in 1926, gained the employment of Barney Balaban (who would become Paramount's president) and Sam Katz, who ran the Paramount theater chain. Zukor also hired producer B.P. Schulberg, who had a great eye for "new talent" and ran the west-coast studio. Famous Players-Lasky officially took its name now known world-wide, Paramount Pictures Corporation in 1927.

Many early partners in the corporation were left, but the Frohman brothers, Hodkinson and Goldfish/Goldwyn left by 1917. Lasky stook by the studio until 1932, which was blamed on the Depression and near collapse of Paramount. Zukor's over-expansion and use of over-valued Paramount stock for purchases led the company into recievership by the middle of the 1930s. A bank-mandated organization team kept the company intact and amazingly, Zukor continued his trek. He was even promoted to honorary chairman emeritus in 1935, when Barney Balaban became chairman.

Paramount films themselves always emphasized on their stars. In the 1920s, it was Valentino and Hollywood's "It" Girl, Clara Bow. When talking pictures rolled in, new stars took over such as Bing Crosby, the Marx Brothers, Claudette Colbert and Gary Cooper. It was in this era that Paramount could really be described as a movie factory in every sense of the world. They made sixty to seventy films a year! These were the benefits of a theater chain to fill with customers and block-booking to pursuade other chains to jump on the Paramount band wagon.

Paramount also brought into the world the world's first "sexy" cartoon: Betty Boop. In fact, the studio's whole cartoon division was a success. They also created Popeye the Sailor. Both cartoons are still known today by the public. Fleisher Studios put out both cartoons until 1942, when Famous Studios took over the care of both of these characters.

Paramount agreed to a government-institued consent degree that block-booking and "pre-selling" (collecting money up front for movies not even in production as of yet) to end in the year 1940. Paramount automatically cut back on their film production, and began to churn out a measy twenty films a year during World War II. With more new stars (such as Bob Hope and Betty Hutton), and with war-time attendance sky-rocketing through the roof, Paramount and other studio theaters combined made more money than ever anticipated. As a result, the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department decided to re-open their case against five other film studios. The Supreme Court decision in the year 1948 broke up Adolph Zukor's amazing empire. Too bad.

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