Samuel Goldwyn
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Samuel Goldwyn was an American film producer. Beginning as a salesperson for a glove firm, he climbed to become one of Hollywood’s most famous figures. His business, founded with Jesse L. Lasky and Cecil B. DeMille, made the first feature film. He then helped establish Paramount and MGM, two well-known production companies. But Goldwyn was not a team player. That’s why he founded Samuel Goldwyn Productions as an independent producer. In its 36 years of existence, it produced several successful films with only one owner, Samuel Goldwyn. He was a perfectionist who knew what he wanted. As a result, he regularly forced his coworkers to rewrite, recut, or recast films. He also had a knack for detecting talent and had worked with many well-known Hollywood actors. Many of his films are still remembered.

Early Childhood of Samuel Goldwyn

Szmuel Gelbfisz Goldwyn was born in Warsaw, Poland, on August 17, 1879. Aaron Dawid Gelbfisz and Hanna Reban (née Jarecka) were his parents. They practiced Hasidic Judaism, an Orthodox branch. Szmuel’s father died when he was 16.

Szmuel then went to Birmingham. Samuel Goldfish lived with his relatives for a few years.
He then chose America. But he feared being turned away. He chose Canada because it was more welcoming to emigrants.

So he arrived in Nova Scotia in 1898, but his real destination was America.
In January 1899, Samuel arrived in Gloversville, New York, to work in a glove factory. He eventually became Elite Glove’s Vice President of Sales. But destiny had different plans for him.

A Career of Samuel Goldwyn

After four years as Vice President, Samuel Goldfish returned to New York City. Blanche Lasky, sister of Jesse L. Lasky, one of the first American film producers, married him by then. In 1913, Samuel formed The Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company with Lasky, DeMille, and Apfel.

The business paid $4000 for the film rights to ‘Squaw Man’. Due of budget constraints, they rented a barn near Los Angeles. They shot the first full-length film there. In 1913, the shooting began. The Hollywood Heritage Museum presently occupies the Lasky DeMille Barn.
On June 1, 1914, Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company signed a contract with W. W. Hodkinson’s Paramount Pictures.

The deal required Lasky Feature Play Company to supply 36 films annually.
On June 28, 1916, Lasky Feature Play combined with Adolph Zukor’s Famous Players Company to become Famous Players Lasky Corporation. Samuel became Chairman, Zukor President, and Lasky First Vice President of this new corporation. Samuel was on the exec committee.

After a series of disagreements with the company’s president Zukor, Samuel quit on September 14, 1916. He stayed on the board and owned substantial equity.
Meanwhile, Zukor had surreptitiously bought majority shares in Paramount and become the President of the corporation as well.

Later Famous Players Lasky Corporation was combined with Paramount Picture Corporation and therefore Samuel also became one of the partners of Paramount Pictures.
In 1916, Goldfish teamed up with Broadway producers Edgar and Archibald Selwyn to form Goldwyn Pictures Corporation. The name was created by combining their surnames: Goldfish and Selwyn.

Goldwyn Pictures did well enough to relocate to Culver City in 1918. In December of the same year, Samuel Goldfish legally changed his name to Samuel Goldwyn.
Personal issues led Samuel Goldwyn to leave Goldwyn Pictures in 1922. Marcus Leo later bought the production studio and merged it with his own to establish Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Despite the name, Samuel Goldwyn was not associated with the company.

S. Goldwyn Productions was founded in 1923. He started with a collaborator, but later went solo. Its debut film was Potash and Perlmutter, a Jewish comedy. It premiered in Baltimore in September 1923.
Samuel Goldwyn continued to make great pictures with filmmakers like William Wyler, Howard Hawks, and John Ford.

In addition, he hired famous authors like Ben Hecht and Sidney Howard. America’s most successful indie producer shortly.
He left us with ‘Porgy and Bess’. Otto Preminger directed the film based on a 1935 opera of the same name. It was released in 1959, however it did not fare well. So he quit.

Big Works ‘Arrowsmith’, directed by John Ford, was one of Samuel Goldwyn’s first major works. It was nominated for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction, and Best Cinematography at the Oscars. It also did very well in theaters.

The New York Times named ‘Dodsworth’ one of the best 10 pictures of 1936. It was also one of the top twenty grossing pictures of all time.
Both ‘Dead End’ (1937) and ‘The Little Foxes’ (1941) were critically regarded films that got several Oscar nominations but no awards.

The New York Film Critic Circle named ‘Wuthering Heights’ the best film of 1939. It was nominated for several Academy Awards, but only won Best Cinematography.
The New York Times called 1946’s ‘The Best Years of Our Lives’ a masterpiece. It was nominated for ten Oscars and won nine. It also grossed $11.5 million at the box office.

Honors & Awards

Oscar winner Samuel Goldwyn won the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1946. In the same year, his picture ‘The Best Years of Our Lives’ won Best Picture.

Goldwyn received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1957.
President Richard Nixon awarded Goldwyn the Presidential Medal of Freedom on March 27, 1971.

Works of Charity

Samuel Goldwyn established a foundation in 1947. The Samuel Goldwyn Foundation is a multi-million dollar philanthropic organization that works with children, health, and education in Los Angeles.

Life and Legacy

In 1910, Samuel Goldwyn married Jesse L. Lasky’s sister, Blanche. The marriage, however, dissolved in 1915. Ruth was their daughter.
Following Frances Howard on April 23, 1925. He died in the union. Samuel Goldwyn Junior was their son. He became a famous film producer.

Goldwyn had nine successful grandkids in various fields.
Samuel Goldwyn died January 31, 1974. He was 94 at the time. He was buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in California.
And a theatre in Beverly Hills is named after Goldwyn.

Estimated Net Worth

Samuel Goldwyn, Jr. had a net worth of $50 million as an American film producer and member of one of the most famous old Hollywood families.


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