Most Powerfol People in the History of the Movies
William K.L. Dickson
Born in France to British parents, William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson stayed in that country until age 19, when he, his mother and sisters (their father had died sometime before) returned to Great Britain. Once there, Dickson--in an early indication of his lifelong fascination with science and mechanics--began a correspondence with Thomas A. Edison
in the US...
Charlie Chaplin, considered to be one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood, lived an interesting life both in his films and behind the camera. He is most recognized as an icon of the silent film era, often associated with his popular "Little Tramp" character; the man with the toothbrush mustache, bowler hat, bamboo cane, and a funny walk...
Mary Pickford was born Gladys Louise Smith in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to Elsie Charlotte (Hennessy) and John Charles Smith. She was of English and Irish descent. Pickford began in the theater at age seven. Then known as "Baby Gladys Smith", she toured with her family in a number of theater companies...
His father was a well-to-do inventor, his mother a beautiful concert pianist; Orson Welles was gifted in many arts (magic, piano, painting) as a child. When his mother died (he was seven) he traveled the world with his father. When his father died (he was fifteen) he became the ward of Chicago's Dr...
Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone, Essex, England. He was the son of Emma Jane (Whelan; 1863 - 1942) and East End greengrocer William Hitchcock (1862 - 1914). His parents were both of half English and half Irish ancestry. He had two older siblings, William Hitchcock (born 1890) and Eileen Hitchcock (born 1892)...
Walter Elias Disney was born on December 5, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Flora Disney
(née Call) and Elias Disney
, a Canadian-born farmer and businessperson. He had Irish, German, and English ancestry. Walt moved with his parents to Kansas City at age seven, where he spent the majority of his childhood...
David Wark Griffith was born in rural Kentucky to Jacob "Roaring Jake" Griffith, a former Confederate Army colonel and Civil War hero. Young Griffith grew up with his father's romantic war stories and melodramatic nineteenth-century literature that were to eventually mold his black-and-white view of human existence and history...
Will H. Hays
First President of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association of America, Will H. Hays had a distinguished career as a politician before that, most notably as Chairman of the Republican National Committee (1918-21) and as U.S. Postmaster General under Warren Harding (1921-22). As Postmaster General...
John Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison in Iowa, to Mary Alberta (Brown) and Clyde Leonard Morrison, a pharmacist. He was of English, Ulster-Scots, and Irish ancestry. Clyde developed a lung condition that required him to move his family from Iowa to the warmer climate of southern California, where they tried ranching in the Mojave Desert...
Jesse L. Lasky
Miscellaneous Crew, Wings
Lasky, one of the first pioneers of the Hollywood film industry and its first genuine 'mogul', was not only a consummate showman and entrepreneur, but a jack-of-all-trades. Born in San Francisco in September 1880, the son of a shoe salesman, he attended high school in San Jose and held down his first job at seventeen as a reporter for the San Francisco Post...
Sergei M. Eisenstein
The son of an affluent architect, Eisenstein attended the Institute of Civil Engineering in Petrograd as a young man. With the fall of the tsar in 1917, he worked as an engineer for the Red Army. In the following years, Eisenstein joined up with the Moscow Proletkult Theater as a set designer and then director...
Thalberg was born in New York City of German immigrant parents. He had a bad heart, having contracted rheumatic fever as a teenager and was plagued with other ailments all of his life. He was quite intelligent with a thirst for knowledge but, convinced that he would never see thirty, he skipped college and became...
Thomas H. Ince
Thomas H. Ince was born into a family of stage actors. He appeared on the stage at age six and worked with a number of stock companies, making his Broadway debut at 15. Vaudeville work was inconsistent, so he was a lifeguard, a promoter and part-time actor. His stage career was a failure but by 1910 he joined Biograph...
Marlon Brando is widely considered the greatest movie actor of all time, rivaled only by the more theatrically oriented Laurence Olivier
in terms of esteem. Unlike Olivier, who preferred the stage to the screen, Brando concentrated his talents on movies after bidding the Broadway stage adieu in 1949...
Louis B. Mayer
Miscellaneous Crew, Greed
Born Lazar Mayer sometime between 1880-1886 (his actual birth date is unknown), he overcame a particularly brutal poverty-stricken childhood at the hands of his near-illiterate father, who moved his family to Eastern Canada to avoid Jewish persecution. The only regular trade his father undertook was as a scrap metal dealer...
Greta Garbo was born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson on September 18, 1905, in Stockholm, Sweden, to Anna Lovisa (Johansdotter), who worked at a jam factory, and Karl Alfred Gustafsson, a laborer. She was fourteen when her father died, which left the family destitute. Greta was forced to leave school and go to work in a department store...
Although his parents were deaf-mutes, Leonidas Chaney became an actor and also owner of a theatre company (together with his brother John). He made his debut at the movies in 1912, and his filmography is vast. Lon Chaney was especially famous for his horror parts in movies like e.g. Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame
While she is now best known for her book "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," Anita Loos was one of Hollywood's foremost early screenwriters. She began writing screen scenarios for the 'Biograph Company' at an early age (though not 12, as she later claimed), and the first to be produced, The New York Hat
Georges Méliès was a French illusionist and film director famous for leading many technical and narrative developments in the earliest days of cinema. Méliès was an especially prolific innovator in the use of special effects, popularizing such techniques as substitution splices, multiple exposures, time-lapse photography, dissolves, and hand-painted color...
Adolph Zukor's success began with penny arcades, offering moving peepshows that evolved into nickelodeon theaters that offered longer, larger moving pictures. On July 12, 1912, he premiered the first feature-length film, Queen Elizabeth
, featuring French actress Sarah Bernhardt
that ran for 40 minutes...
John Gilbert was born into a show-business family - his father was a comic with the Pringle Stock Company. By 1915 John was an extra with Thomas H. Ince
's company and a lead player by 1917. In those days he was assistant director, actor or screenwriter. He also tried his hand at directing. By 1919 he was being noticed in films and getting better roles...
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...
George Walton Lucas, Jr. was raised on a walnut ranch in Modesto, California. His father was a stationery store owner and he had three siblings. During his late teen years, he went to Downey High School and was very much interested in drag racing. He planned to become a professional race-car driver...
Eadweard Muybridge's great breakthrough came in 1872 when he was hired by wealthy American businessman Leland Stanford
, for whom Stanford University is named. Stanford was interested in whether horses lifted all legs off the ground at once during trotting and Muybridge was engaged to take photographs to settle the point...
Born May 12, 1907 in Hartford, Connecticut, she was the daughter of a doctor and a suffragette, both of whom always encouraged her to speak her mind, develop it fully, and exercise her body to its full potential. An athletic tomboy as a child, she was also very close to her brother, Tom, and was devastated at age 14 to find him dead...
Like many pioneers, the work of 'Winsor McCay' has been largely superseded by successors such as Walt Disney
and Max Fleischer
but he more than earns a place in film history for being the American cinema's first great cartoon animator. He started out as a newspaper cartoonist, achieving a national reputation for his strips 'Little Nemo in Slumberland' and 'Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend'...
Stanley Kubrick was born in Manhattan, New York City, to Sadie Gertrude (Perveler) and Jacob Leonard Kubrick, a physician. His family were Jewish immigrants (from Austria, Romania, and Russia). Stanley was considered intelligent, despite poor grades at school. Hoping that a change of scenery would produce better academic performance...
James Agee, Pulitzer Prize winning author, was born in Knoxville in 1909. The intense writer was to enjoy little real success in his lifetime, but after death won accolades. In 1958 he won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for his uncompleted biographical novel A Death in the Family. Agee also wrote the...
Fritz Lang was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1890. His father managed a construction company. His mother, Pauline Schlesinger, was Jewish but converted to Catholicism when Lang was ten. After high school, he enrolled briefly at the Technische Hochschule Wien and then started to train as a painter. From 1910 to 1914...
His film resume belies the fact that he was the most important man in motion pictures at the time of his death. Born as Max Loew in New York City to a poverty-stricken Viennese waiter, his life could've easily gone the the way of many boys of the east side slums, except that he was hyper-enterprising...
After graduating from New York's Art Students League he worked for his architect father, then started film work at Edison Studios in 1915 assisting Hugo Ballin
. In 1918 he moved to Goldwyn as art director and, in 1924, began his 32 year stint as supervising art director for some 1500 MGM films, with direct responsibility in well over 150 of those...
One of Hollywood's preeminent male stars of all time (eclipsed, perhaps, only by "King" Clark Gable
and arguably by Gary Cooper
or Spencer Tracy
), and the cinema's quintessential "tough guy", James Cagney was also an accomplished--if rather stiff--hoofer and easily played light comedy. James Francis Cagney was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City...
Ben Hecht, one of Hollywood's and Broadway's greatest writers, won an Oscar for best original story for Underworld
at the first Academy Awards in 1929 and had a hand in the writing of many classic films. He was nominated five more times for the best writing Oscar, winning (along with writing partner and friend Charles MacArthur
Ernst Ingmar Bergman was born July fourteenth, 1918, the son of a priest. The film and T.V. series, The Best Intentions
is biographical and shows the early marriage of his parents. The film 'Söndagsbarn' depicts a bicycle journey with his father. In the miniseries Private Confessions
is the trilogy closed. Here...
Humphrey DeForest Bogart was born in New York City, New York, to Maud Humphrey, a famed magazine illustrator and suffragette, and Belmont DeForest Bogart, a moderately wealthy surgeon (who was secretly addicted to opium). Bogart was educated at Trinity School, NYC, and was sent to Phillips Academy in Andover...
Leon Schlesinger occupies an odd niche in Hollywood history. He was every bit a studio mogul but occupied a narrow, if extremely lucrative corner of the industry, an animation company. He might have shared this corner with Walt Disney
but the two men couldn't have been more different in their professional outlook...
Roger William Corman was born April 5, 1926, in Detroit, Michigan. Initially following in his father's footsteps, Corman studied engineering at Stanford University but while in school, he began to lose interest in the profession and developed a growing passion for film. Upon graduation, he worked a total of three days as an engineer at US Electrical Motors...
The man behind the low woodwinds that open Citizen Kane
, the shrieking violins of Psycho
, and the plaintive saxophone of Taxi Driver
was one of the most original and distinctive composers ever to work in film. He started early, winning a composition prize at the age of 13 and founding his own orchestra at the age of 20...
Born to Alice Cooper
and Charles Cooper (not in film business). Gary attended school at Dunstable school England, Helena Montana and Iowa College, Grinnell, Iowa. His first stage experience was during high school and college. Afterwards, he worked as an extra for one year before getting a part in a two reeler by Hans Tissler (an independent producer)...
Film producer Michael Todd was one of the major contributors to technical innovation in the film industry in the 1950s. Having worked with Fred Waller
and Cinerama, he got tired of the three-panel format, left the company and tried to find the process for making "Cinerama coming from one hole". He joined forces with the American Optical Co...
From Ernst Lubitsch's experiences in Sophien Gymnasium (high school) theater, he decided to leave school at the age of 16 and pursue a career on the stage. He had to compromise with his father and keep the account books for the family tailor business while he acted in cabarets and music halls at night...
A native of Cat Island, The Bahamas (though born in Miami during a mainland visit by his parents), Poitier grew up in poverty as the son of farmers Evelyn (Outten) and Reginald James Poitier, who also drove a cab. He had little formal education and at the age of 15 was sent to Miami to live with his brother...
Saul Bass was born in New York City in 1920 and is a widely acclaimed graphic designer with a career spanning over 40 years. Among his most famous works are the title sequences for such classic films as The Man with the Golden Arm
, North by Northwest
, and Psycho
. Bass used his innovative ideas and unique perspective of the world to influence his art...
The second of two sons, his father ran a chain of railway station cafes. As a youth he was obsessed with everything American. encouraged by his mother he enrolled as a law student at the University of Vienna but quit after 3 months to be a writer on a magazine which although poorly paid it gave him a great amount of experience interviewing such as Richard Strauss and Sigmund Freud...
Ruth Elizabeth Davis was born April 5, 1908, in Lowell, Massachusetts, to Ruth Augusta (Favor) and Harlow Morrell Davis, a patent attorney. Her parents divorced when she was 10. She and her sister were raised by their mother. Her early interest was dance. To Bette, dancers led a glamorous life, but then she discovered the stage...
Erich von Stroheim
Erich von Stroheim was born Erich Oswald Stroheim in 1885, in Vienna, Austria, to Johanna (Bondy), from Prague, and Benno Stroheim, a hatmaker from Gliwice, Poland. His family was Jewish. After spending some time working in his father's hat factory, he emigrated to America around 1909. Working in various jobs he arrived in Hollywood in 1914 and got work in D.W...
Max Factor Jr., named Frank at birth, was the second son of Max Factor, who opened his first wig shop in Razan, Russia in the 1890s. In April 1904, Max emigrated to the United States and opened a perfume, makeup, and wig concession at the St. Louis World's Fair. Max's son Frank was born in St. Louis...
Although it is his brother Louis Lumière
who is generally acclaimed as the "father of the cinema", Auguste Lumiere also made a major contribution towards the development of the medium, first by helping with the invention and construction of the cinematographe (the world's first camera and projection mechanism)...
“ with Luis Lumière ” - JuliusGaleano
Woody Allen was born Allan Stewart Konigsberg on December 1, 1935 in Brooklyn, New York, to Nettie (Cherrie), a bookkeeper, and Martin Konigsberg, a waiter and jewellery engraver. His father was of Russian Jewish descent, and his maternal grandparents were Austrian Jewish immigrants. As a young boy...
was an American film actor, often referred to as "The King of Hollywood" or just simply as "The King." The 1930s saw him at the peak of his acting ability and his popular appeal, as he often portrayed down-to-earth, bravado characters with a carefree attitude. He was known as the epitome of masculinity with his unmatched charm and knowing smile...
David O. Selznick
David O. Selznick
was a son of the silent movie producer Lewis J. Selznick
. David studied at Columbia University until his father lost his fortune in the 1920s. David started work as an MGM script reader, shortly followed by becoming an assistant to Harry Rapf
. He left MGM to work at Paramount then RKO...
Born in Illinois in 1904, the only child of Jennie and Frank Toland, Gregg and his mother moved to California several years after his parents divorced in 1910. Through Jennie's work as a housekeeper for several people in the movie business, Gregg may had gotten a $12-a-week job at age 15 as an office boy at William Fox Studios...
Lillian Diana Gish was born on October 14, 1893 in Springfield, Ohio. Her father James Lee Gish was an alcoholic who caroused around, was rarely at home and left the family to more or less to fend for themselves. To help make ends meet, Lillian, her sister Dorothy Gish
and their mother Mary Gish
William Cameron Menzies
William Cameron Menzies was educated at Yale University, the University of Edinburgh and at the Art Students League in New York. He entered the film industry in 1919, after serving with the U.S. Expeditionary Forces in World War I. His initial assignments were in film design and special effects, as assistant to Anton Grot
at Famous Players-Lasky...
The woman who will always be remembered as the crazy, accident-prone, lovable Lucy Ricardo was born Lucille Desiree Ball on August 6, 1911 in Jamestown, New York. Her father died before she was four, and her mother worked several jobs, so she and her younger brother were raised by their grandparents...
After training as a painter (he storyboards his films as full-scale paintings), Kurosawa entered the film industry in 1936 as an assistant director, eventually making his directorial debut with Sanshiro Sugata
. Within a few years, Kurosawa had achieved sufficient stature to allow him greater creative freedom...
Probably the most celebrated of all actresses, Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson on June 1, 1926, in the charity ward of the Los Angeles General Hospital. Prior to her birth, Marilyn's father bought a motorcycle and headed north to San Francisco, abandoning the family in Los Angeles. Marilyn grew up not knowing for sure who her father really was...
Vittorio De Sica
Vittorio De Sica
grew up in Naples, and started out as an office clerk in order to raise money to support his poor family. He was increasingly drawn towards acting, and made his screen debut while still in his teens, joining a stage company in 1923. By the late 1920s he was a successful matinee idol of the Italian theatre...
Roger Joseph Ebert was the all-time best-known, most successful movie critic in cinema history, when one thinks of his establishing a rapport with both serious cineastes and the movie-going public and reaching more movie fans via television and print than any other critic. He became the first and only movie critic to win a Pulitzer Prize (it would be 28 years before another film critic...
“ with Gene Siskel ” - JuliusGaleano
Willis H. O'Brien
In 1949, 16 years after his ground breaking work on "King Kong", Willis O'Brien worked as Chief Technician on another gorilla picture for Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Shoedsack called "Mighty Joe Young". A young Ray Harryhausen would animate most of the animation, but O'Brien did come up with the designs for the film...
Shirley Temple was easily the most popular and famous child star of all time. She got her start in the movies at the age of three and soon progressed to super stardom. Shirley could do it all: act, sing and dance and all at the age of five! Fans loved her as she was bright, bouncy and cheerful in her...
Hollywood's most renowned stuntman and second unit director, a pioneer the field, Yakima Canutt was born on a ranch on Penewawa Creek in the Snake River Hills, 16 miles from Colfax, Washington. Canutt grew up riding and roping. He entered his first rodeo at 16 and proved to be a natural bucking-bronc rider and bulldogger...
"If they move", commands stern-eyed William Holden
, "kill 'em". So begins The Wild Bunch
, Sam Peckinpah's bloody, high-body-count eulogy to the mythologized Old West. "Pouring new wine into the bottle of the Western, Peckinpah explodes the bottle", observed critic Pauline Kael
. That exploding bottle...
Jackie Coogan was born into a family of vaudevillians where his father was a dancer and his mother had been a child star. On the stage by four, Jackie was touring at the age of five with his family in Los Angeles, California. While performing on the stage, he was spotted by Charles Chaplin
, who then and there planned a movie in which he and Jackie would star...
The women who both attracted and frightened him and an Italy dominated in his youth by Mussolini and Pope Pius XII - inspired the dreams that Fellini started recording in notebooks in the 1960s. Life and dreams were raw material for his films. His native Rimini and characters like Saraghina (the devil herself said the priests who ran his school)...
Leni Riefenstahl's show-biz experience began with an experiment: she wanted to know what it felt like to dance on the stage. Success as a dancer gave way to film acting when she attracted the attention of film director Arnold Fanck
, subsequently starring in some of his mountaineering pictures. With Fanck as her mentor, Riefenstahl began directing films...
Undoubtedly one of the most influential film personalities in the history of film, Steven Spielberg is perhaps Hollywood's best known director and one of the wealthiest filmmakers in the world. Spielberg has countless big-grossing, critically acclaimed credits to his name, as producer, director and writer...
Sam Warner could rightly be called "The Father of Talking Pictures". Of the four Warner brothers, Sam was the most in favor of using synchronized sound with movies. He was the driving force behind the studio's partnership with Western Electric to create Vitaphone. At first, he only wanted to use Vitaphone to provide music and sound effects...
Jean-Luc Godard was born in Paris on December 3, 1930, the second of four children in a bourgeois Franco-Swiss family. His father was a doctor who owned a private clinic, and his mother came from a preeminent family of Swiss bankers. During World War II Godard became a naturalized citizen of Switzerland and attended school in Nyons (Switzerland)...
Robert De Niro
De Niro's longtime collaboration with Scorsese later earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull
. He also earned nominations for the psychological thrillers Taxi Driver
and Cape Fear
, both directed by Scorsese. De Niro received additional Academy Award nominations for Michael Cimino
's Vietnam war drama The Deer Hunter
Fred Astaire was born in Omaha, Nebraska, to Johanna (Geilus) and Fritz Austerlitz, a brewer. Fred entered show business at age 5. He was successful both in vaudeville and on Broadway in partnership with his sister, Adele Astaire
. After Adele retired to marry in 1932, Astaire headed to Hollywood. Signed to RKO...
Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola was born in 1939 in Detroit, Michigan, but grew up in a New York suburb in a creative, supportive Italian-American family. His father, Carmine Coppola
, was a composer and musician. His mother, Italia Coppola
(née Pennino), had been an actress. Francis Ford Coppola graduated with a degree in drama from Hofstra University...
Ted Turner was born on November 19, 1938 in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA as Robert Edward Turner III. He is the founder of CNN, TurnerBrodcastSystem(TBS)and TNTnetwork He was previously married to Jane Fonda, Jane Shirley Smith and Judy Nye .He started in the business as a writer and producer but had a bigger vision.
Perhaps the icon of macho movie stars, and a living legend, Clint Eastwood has become a standard in international cinema. Born May 31, 1930 in San Francisco, the elder of two children in a middle-class family, Eastwood stayed in high school until the comparatively late age of nineteen and worked menial jobs over a period of several years before enrolling at Los Angeles City College...
Dalton Trumbo, the Oscar-winning screenwriter, arguably the most talented, most famous of the blacklisted film professionals known to history as the Hollywood 10, was born in Montrose, Colorado to Orus Trumbo and his wife, the former Maud Tillery. Dalton Trumbo was raised at 1124 Gunnison Ave. in Grand Junction...
With an amazing cinematic career of more than five decades, Dennis Hopper was a multi-talented and unconventional actor/director, regarded by many as one of the true "enfants terribles" of Hollywood. Hopper was born on May 17, 1936 in Dodge City, Kansas, to Marjorie Mae (Davis) and James Millard Hopper...
John Chambers worked out of his home in a blue collar neighborhood in Burbank, California, just a few short blocks from Disney Studios, (actually, his garage transformed into a makeup lab) where the likes of Lana Turner
could be found sitting for a set of teeth, Howard Keel
getting a fitting for an Indianesque nose...
Mack Sennett was born Michael Sinnott on January 17, 1880 in Danville, Quebec, Canada, to Irish immigrant farmers. When he was 17, his parents moved the family to East Berlin, Connecticut, and he became a laborer at American Iron Works, a job he continued when they moved to Northampton, Massachusetts...
Martin Charles Scorsese was born on November 17, 1942 in Queens, New York City, to Catherine Scorsese
(née Cappa) and Charles Scorsese
, who both worked in Manhattan's garment district, and whose families both came from Palermo, Sicily. He was raised in the neighborhood of Little Italy, which later provided the inspiration for several of his films...
Oscar-winning cinematographer Karl Struss was born on November 30, 1886, in New York City. He became a professional photographer after studying photography with Clarence H. White and became part of the group associated with the great photographer Alfred Stieglitz
. His photographs, which he characterized as "pictorial" rather than "fashion"...
Busby Berkeley was one of the greatest choreographers of the US movie musical. He started his career in the US Army in 1918, as a lieutenant in the artillery conducting and directing parades. After the World War I cease-fire he was ordered to stage camp shows for the soldiers. Back in the US he became a stage actor and assistant director in smaller acting troupes...