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William Fox

William Fox


Starting at the age 8 he had a series of jobs before starting his own business in 1900, which was sold to buy a Brooklyn nickelodeon in 1904. As the new owner with an empty house, Fox hired a coin manipulator and a barker to attract patrons into the dark 146-seat theatre. Once audiences adequately understood what moving pictures were, live acts were dispensed with. More nickelodeons were opened and he became a successful film exhibitor. He then won a long legal battle against Thomas Edison's Motion Pictures Patent Company, ending the film trust and allowing him to start his own production company in 1913. Operations were consolidated into the Fox Film Corporation in 1915. Theda Bara and Tom Mix starred in successful pictures made at the Fox Hollywood studios and the profits from them, and from the 1000 house Fox theatre chain, paid for "artistic" projects like Sunrise (1926), for awards and critical acclaim. In 1927, Fox acquired the American patent rights to the sound-on-film process developed by a Swiss firm. Fox pioneered the widescreen film with The Big Trail (1930). Poised for the future of talkies, he attempted to buy MGM just in time for 1929s stock market crash. In 1930 Fox was forced out of his company after a federal anti-trust investigation. His version is told in 1933 Upton Sinclair's book, 'Upton Sinclair Presents William Fox.' In 1936, a year after Darryl F. Zanuck's 20th Century Pictures merged with Fox Films, Fox bribed a judge during the liquidation of his holdings in bankruptcy proceedings. His sentence, a year in prison, began in 1941. Paroled in 1943, he was a pariah in Hollywood. Though secure from his many patent holdings, the industry for which he had been so visionary was closed to him. A virtual pariah at the time of his death, no industry representative came to eulogize at his funeral.

  • Known For: Production
  • Birthday: 1879-01-01
  • Place of Birth: Tolcsva, Austria-Hungary [now Hungary]
  • Also Known As: W. M. Fox, Wm. Fox

Movies List of William Fox