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Adolph Zukor was born in Austria-Hungary in 1873, and he was one of the absolute most important pioneers of early movies! At the turn of the century he ran penny arcades and later nickelodeons, but he foresaw the potential for longer, better movies at a time when next to no one else did. In 1912, he premiered a U.S. version of the first feature-length film, Les Amours de la Reine Elisabeth starring French actress Sarah Bernhardt, at his theater, and that led him to produce many more similar movies, including the first versions of The Prisoner of Zenda (considered the first American-made feature film), The Count of Monte Cristo, The Poor Little Rich Girl, and many others. At that time there were many, many independent producers like himself, and he saw how much power they would gain if they joined together, and in 1914 he started the "Paramount Program", a loose organization of anyone who wanted to join. The great success of this program caused him the following year to form Paramount Studios (with himself as President), and they had their famous logo from the very start. Universal and the other major studios were formed soon after, but Paramount, under the leadership of Zukor, remained the number one studio for many years. A list of the movies Zukor produced in the 1920s includes many of the best films from that decade! The Great Depression took a great toll on Paramount, and they went bankrupt in 1933, and Zukor was forced out, but three years later the new President, Barney Balaban, brought him back as chairman of the board and they ran Paramount together until 1964, when they were both forced out, after the major box office flop, The Fall of the Roman Empire. Zukor lived all the way to 1976, when he was 103. In 1973 Paramount threw him a birthday party, and afterwards auctioned the 100 candles for $1,000 each and gave the money to charity. Many, many memorable quotes are attributed to Zukor. Two of the best are "The public is never wrong.", and "If I'd known I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself."!
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