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Biography

Jump to: Overview (2) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (5) | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (2)

Date of Birth 14 September 1916Seattle, Washington, USA
Date of Death 10 December 1972Los Angeles, California, USA  (brain tumor)

Mini Bio (1)

One of the two founders of AIP (American International Pictures), James H. Nicholson was born in the Midwest in 1916. He was working as a promo man for Realart Pictures when, in 1955, he struck up a partnership with fellow Midwesterner (from Iowa) Samuel Z. Arkoff. They founded American Releasing Corp. (ARC), soon to become AIP, which would turn out 500 movies, over 60 of them produced by Nicholson. AIP discovered a niche that was being completely ignored by mainstream Hollywood--teenagers. It turned out movies about hot rods and rock 'n' roll, and the drive-ins filled with kids. It also made a ton of horror movies, of course, such as The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), among others. When Columbia's The Werewolf (1956) became a hit, AIP came out with not only I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) but, for good measure, I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957). To make sure all its bases were covered, AIP came out the next year with How to Make a Monster (1958), teaming these two teen monsters in a story about a makeup artist who plans revenge against the studio that dumped him after 25 years--a part allegedly written originally by Edward D. Wood Jr. for his friend Bela Lugosi before Lugosi died. In the 1960s, AIP turned out a string of zany, inexpensive but highly profitable "Beach Party" movies full of sand, songs, surf and (albeit tame) sex. Actress Susan Hart had been cast in about a half-dozen films that Nicholson produced; in 1965, the 49-year-old Nicholson divorced his wife Sylvia and married 24-year-old Hart, who had appeared in The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966). AIP hit upon the surefire moneymaking formula of coming up with movies that teenagers loved. In addition to grinding out hot-rod, rock-and-roll and horror pictures, in the 1960s it began to buy inexpensive, Italian-produced "sword and sandal" movies for $20,000 or so, dub them into English, and release them to American audiences, to the sound of ringing cash registers. When the biker craze hit, AIP was there with The Wild Angels (1966). Nicholson continued to make movies until he died in 1972. His wife remarried, and is now Susan Nicholson-Hofheinz. Around 1978, Arkoff, no longer interested the film business, sold AIP for approximately $4 million. With that, an era came to an end, but millions of fans are grateful that AIP's films are still available for late-night viewing.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: kdhaisch@aol.com

Spouse (2)

Susan Hart (August 1964 - 10 December 1972) (his death) (1 child)
Sylvia Nicholson (? - 1964) (divorced) (2 children)

Trivia (5)

When he divorced his first wife Sylvia, her settlement included a portion of his stock in American-International Pictures. This reduced his status as an equal partner with Samuel Z. Arkoff.
AIP co-founder Samuel Z. Arkoff credits Nicholson with being the idea man at the company. He would come up with a great title and a campaign would be built around it. When that was all settled, they would get around to actually making the film.
Before teaming up with Samuel Z. Arkoff, Nicholson was the sales manager at Realart Pictures. Realart was a company that bought the distribution rights to older films from other studios for a set period of time and re-released them.
James had two daughters with wife Sylvia, Luree Holmes and Laura Nicholson, who often appeared as extras in the "Beach" movies. Luree is given screen credit as the girl at the perfume counter who gets into a squirting match with none other than Buster Keaton in Pajama Party (1964). Luree also became one of Annette Funicello's best friends and was a bridesmaid in her wedding (This is confirmed in Annette's autobiography "A Dream Is A Wish").
Grandfather of Joi Holmes.

Personal Quotes (2)

[on Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe adaptations] Poe writes the first reel or the last reel. Roger does the rest.
Each time our monster got his deserts, he had actually enacted a modern version of the medieval morality play. We had filmed "Everyman."

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