|Born||in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA|
|Died||in Sherman Oaks, California, USA|
|Birth Name||Herbert John Yates|
|Height||5' 4" (1.63 m)|
Mini Bio (1)
Herbert J. Yates, the cigar-chomping force behind Republic Pictures, spent his early adulthood as a salesman for the American Tobacco Co. (and later, at age 23, for Liggett & Meyers as an account executive). At the beginning of World War I, Yates saw an opportunity to apply his hard-nosed business skills in the burgeoning film processing business, which led him to create Consolidated Film Industries (CFI) in 1922 (a company that is still in existence today, although Republic Pictures ceased operations in 1959).
The 1933 bankruptcy of slapstick producer Mack Sennett presented a unique opportunity for a handful of enterprising (though some would call them cheapskate) producers along Gower Gulch (a section of Gower Street in Hollywood, also called "Poverty Row," where many small, independent producers and production companies had their offices). Sennett, who had fallen on hard times due to a combination of circumstances he was both unable and unwilling to confront, had his own well-equipped studio production facility. Nat Levine, the head of serial specialist Mascot Pictures, had his headquarters in a cramped building above a building contractor's office on Santa Monica Boulevard. He immediately saw an opportunity to go big time and approached Monogram Pictures chiefs Trem Carr and W. Ray Johnston about a joint venture to buy the studio, an offer they declined. Rebuffed but not discouraged, Levine obtained an option for the shuttered facility. At the same time, Yates was entering into film production with his fledgling Republic Pictures, and since both Monogram and Mascot were customers of his film lab (to which they owed a considerable amount of money), he held more influence than Levine in convincing the Monogram executives to join under the wings of the Republic eagle. Neither Monogram nor Mascot had owned much in the way of any real production facilities, instead renting studio space whenever it was needed. When Mascot and Monogram (along with Liberty Pictures, Chesterfield Pictures and Invincible Pictures, three small production companies that Yates basically foreclosed on) merged into Republic, Mascot was killed off and the Monogram name was (temporarily) shelved when production began at Republic in 1935 (beginning with a John Wayne oater, Westward Ho (1935), released that August. This "marriage," however, was not one of equals. Carr and Johnston, nominally the studio's chieftains, constantly clashed with Yates, who they felt was a tyrannical Hollywood interloper. One thing became clear, however--Yates was, as Republic's chief stockholder, the financial force of the studio. Levine managed to largely remain out of the fray (he was later bought out by Yates and blew his money on the ponies), and by using many of the same production techniques he had used at Mascot, the new studio's output came to resemble the best of Levine's Mascot product. Republic could also boast of having the best special effects/miniatures department (headed by former Mascot employees Howard Lydecker and his brother Theodore Lydecker) in the industry, a factor that greatly contributed to the quality level of Republic's output. Chafing under Yates' autocratic business style, Carr and Johnston finally departed Republic in 1937 to reform Monogram Pictures. Republic would, for a time, dominate the B-movie industry and often defy expectations by producing several notable A-pictures (Lewis Milestone's The Red Pony (1949), Orson Welles' Macbeth (1948), John Ford's The Quiet Man (1952), among others), along with a number of excellent programmers that temporarily blurred Republic's image as a Poverty Row studio. Yates' reign at Republic would last until 1956, when he was ultimately ousted by stockholders who'd grown increasingly dissatisfied with him. Much of the resentment was based on the blatant favoritism Yates showed toward his wife, Vera Ralston, a former ice-skating champ from Czechoslovakia who Yates repeatedly cast in big, expensive vehicles that almost always lost money because of her near total lack of acting skills. Also, Yates refused to license Republic's film library to be shown on television, believing that TV was just a fad, a mistake that cost the company hundreds of thousands of much-needed dollars. He eventually "saw the light" and not only licensed Republic's library for television showing but actually got the studio itself involved in television production. By that time, however, it was too late. With no strong production head and faced with the onslaught of television in an era of declining theater revenue, Republic Pictures' sprawling studio became more valuable as a real estate and film library portfolio than as a functioning production company. The facilities were sold to CBS and became CBS Studio Center, Studio City, CA. Yates died an extremely wealthy man and eventually left Vera Ralston a very rich widow.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jack Backstreet - correction (in the 2nd to last sentence) by Ed Ryba
|Vera Ralston||(March 1952 - 3 February 1966) ( his death)|