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William Fox Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trivia (14)  | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (4)

Born in Tolcsva, Austria-Hungary [now Hungary]
Died in New York City, New York, USA
Birth NameVilmos Fried
Nickname "The Man Who Forgets to Sleep"

Mini Bio (1)

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.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Bob Shields <rshields@igc.apc.org>

Spouse (1)

Eva Leo (31 December 1899 - 8 May 1952) ( his death) ( 2 children)

Trivia (14)

In 1927 Joseph P. Kennedy arranged a series of lectures in the Harvard Graduate School of Business by representatives of all the big film companies. Marcus Loew and Fox, two immigrants who had never finished grammar school, were included.
Upton Sinclair wrote a book about Fox's struggles, "Upton Sinclair Presents William Fox," based on five weeks of interviews with the former movie mogul. In the book, which was published in 1933, Fox charged that AT&T and the investment bank Halsey, Stuart & Co. entered into a conspiracy to take over his film empire and force him out so they could loot his assets. He claimed that the two culprits were in cahoots with duplicitous Fox Film executives, lawyers, financiers and government officials. The irony in Fox's case is that he had used exactly those devices in his machinations against Louis B. Mayer and other studio executives.
After going bankrupt in the early 1930s, in 1941 he was convicted of trying to bribe a bankruptcy judge and served a short term in prison.
In 1929 Loew's Inc. President Nicholas Schenck agreed to sell a controlling interest in the firm to Fox Film Corp. for $10 million that would have given Fox control of Loew's theater chain and its MGM studio subsidiary. Fox was interested in thwarting Adolph Zukor, owner of Paramount Pictures, who also was anxious to acquire Loew's. Fox claimed that the late Marcus Loew (who died unexpectedly in 1927) and Zukor, who had been partners in vaudeville, had a gentleman's agreement in which their theater chains would only show each other's films and keep out other studios' pictures. Acquiring Loew's would allow Fox to release his pictures in the Loew's theater chain and force out Paramount product, thus giving him a competitive edge over Zukor and Paramount. Fox made an agreement with Schenck by which the Loew's boss would assemble enough shares of stock, in secret, to give Fox control. The $10-million price included a $2.5-million premium for Schenck. Fox planned to merge MGM with his own studio, a merger that would require the approval of the Justice Department's Anti-Trust Division, which Fox expected would approve the deal despite the huge concentration of production and power it would put in the hands of one man and one studio. Fox lobbied the government in order to try to get the deal pushed through. When MGM studio boss Louis B. Mayer got wind of the deal, he used his connections with the administration of US President Herbert Hoover to nix the deal in order to protect himself from being forced out of his own company (as had happened to other studio moguls in the past, most notably Samuel Goldwyn, who had been squeezed out of both Paramount Pictures and his own Goldwyn Studios--which later became Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer). Fox had made a tactical error in trying to keep Mayer in the dark and forcing him out, and he tried to rectify that mistake by offering Mayer $2 million. Although Fox's political clout got him in to plead his case to President Hoover, Mayer's political connections proved to be the stronger. Fox's plan was done in when his creditors, to whom he owed more than $50 million due to expansion and the retrofitting of his studios and theaters for sound, began making financial demands. After at first seeming to go along with the acquisition, the Justice Department reversed course and filed an anti-trust suit against Fox, who had been hurt in a car crash in the summer and had had to convalesce for weeks. The stock market crash in October drove the final nails into the deal's coffin. By 1930 Fox was forced to sell the film company that bore his name, and several years later he went bankrupt. The financially troubled Fox Film Corp. was absorbed by Darryl F. Zanuck's much smaller 20th Century Pictures, creating 20th Century-Fox in 1935, with Joseph M. Schenck as president. Joe Schenck's brother, Loew's President Nick Schenck, partially financed the deal. Mayer, on his part, would replace Zukor as the most powerful movie magnate in Hollywood in the 1930s and would become the highest paid corporate employee in America.
Forced to sell the studio to bankers for $18 million in 1929 after losing his fortune in the stock market crash. He faced a federal antitrust investigation.
Opened a projection room at New York's 700 Broadway in May 1906.
Founded Box Office Attractions, a film production/distribution company active from 1913-14, when it was replaced by the Wiliam Fox Vaudeville Co., which itself was later replaced by Fox Film Corp. In 1933 it merged with 20th Century Pictures to become 20th Century-Fox Film Corp.
He was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2015.
Brother of Bessie Livingston, Aaron Fox, Maurice Fox, Tina Fox, and Malvina Dunn.
Son of Michael Fried and Hanna Fuchs.
He had two daughters with his wife, Eva: Caroline "Mona" Leah (born November 17, 1900; died July 26, 1980) and Isabella "Belle" (born April 2, 1904; died February 20, 1989).
Daughter Belle married Milton S. Schwartz on 2 April 1924, her 20th birthday, in Los Angeles.
Grandson William Fox Jerome Schwartz born 8 April 1925 to daughter Belle.
He broke his left elbow as a young man. Due to the extent of the damage and the primitive nature of orthopedic surgery in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this elbow was fused at a 90-degree angle for the rest of his life. In most medium- and long-shot photos of him, he is shown with his left hand thrust into his coat pocket. One photo from about 1913 shows him on a golf course swinging a mashie niblick right-handed while his left hand is thrust into his trouser pocket.

Personal Quotes (1)

I always bragged of the fact that no second of those contained in the twenty-four hours ever passed but that the name of William Fox was on the screen, being exhibited in some theatre in some part of the world.

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