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Adolph Zukor (1873-1976) was born in Ricse, Hungary. He emigrated to the United States in 1888 and entered the fur business, working his way up from cutter to Chicago shop owner to New York factory manager. Zukor's entertainment career started in New York with penny arcades, Kinetoscopes, and Hale's Touring Cars. In 1912 Zukor imported the French feature film "Queen Elizabeth," starring Sarah Bernhardt, and used it to launch the Famous Players Film Company. Famous Players merged with the Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company in 1916 to form Famous Players-Lasky, which acquired a controlling interest in Paramount Pictures. Zukor was president of Paramount until 1935, when the company was reorganized; he remained a figurehead (chairman of the board emeritus) until his death. He was honored by the Academy with a Special Award (1948) for his service to the film industry.
The Adolph Zukor correspondence spans the years 1912-1977 (bulk 1920-1935) and encompasses 3 linear feet. The collection consists of correspondence and subject files. Although the correspondence received by Zukor represents only a selection, it provides documentation of the producer's career and the inner workings of Paramount Pictures. Of particular importance are letters and telegrams from Jesse L. Lasky (who always refers to his partner as Zukor) detailing production at the West Coast studios, lengthy correspondence from D. W. Griffith concerning his productions at Paramount in the 1920s, and considerable correspondence from Will H. Hays. Other interesting letters are from William S. Hart, Gloria Swanson, Alexander Korda, Marguerite Clark, Mary Pickford, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, and William Randolph Hearst. Material of interest in the subject files includes biographical data; various Zukor speeches; invitations, programs, and awards; stockholders' reports for Famous Players-Lasky, Paramount, and Paramount Publix; a one-page version of Carole Lombard's first contract with Paramount; press releases relating to the studios' efforts to economize in 1933; and documents relating to the bankruptcy of Paramount Publix.
Gift of Eugene J. Zukor, 1980.