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"I always bragged of the fact that no second of those contained in the twenty-four hours ever passed - without my name of William Fox was on the screen, being exhibited in some theatre in some part of the world... ~ Wm Fox"
Before I start, THANK YOU to hollywoodlegends.net friend, & FAMILY member of Wm Fox - Brandon Fox in NY for the photos! Secondly ... get it RIGHT News Corp!! 😉
At the end of his life, Fox bragged,
"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."
These days that is an understatement and goes without saying, obviously - & no doubt would have him going INSANE with excitement with THAT feet!! He WAS THE movie mogul, that LOVED seeing his name in lights!! That said.. He didn't care so much for he, HIMSELF, being in lights!! In fact, comparatively to other movie moguls, (with the exception of Albert Warner, who didn't care for his photo image - or his first name😉, anyway, being spotlighted), very few photos of he, the person, exists today!! Comparatively!! But his NAME?? Throw that shaaut up there into the spotlight, and make it shine with THE GLITTER of glittery of the FINEST glitter possible!! To achieve that feat?? He would go to any length, taking on THE TOP of the TOP, as you will see, (or anything/one, else bold enough), to stand in his way!!
Out of every mogul in the industry - his company has stayed the truest to it's original roots..something I am sure has kept him smiling in his grave. That said however, I am fairly sure he wouldn't have THIS guy, working for him, (it took the FOX company long enough time to figure THAAT out! It needs to be noted that William Fox was a pivotal person in changing the whole filmmaking world, ultimately freeing pioneers to establish a setting to make films the way they so chose to. If not for Fox, in my opinion, major studios would not exist today due to the fact they could have never been established early on. He has a Hungarian Film Club in his honor...very cool!!
Here is THE prestigious story of THE MAN who made his name, FOX, a world recognized brand in the entertainment industry..
William Fox, was born Vilmos Fuchs, in Tulchva, Hungary on New Years day, 1879.
His parents weren't filthy rich by any means...but let's just say, they weren't lacking either. Young Vilmos and parents immigrated from Hungary when he was 9 months old. Upon their arrival in the United States, they legally changed their name to 'Fox'.
As a boy, it seemed he was, as his teacher told his parents - "always in an odd fog." He was an outsider at school and didn't talk much. He made excellent grades in school, but the silent type, often alone. While quiet, he also had a sold OUT determination, that he was right and would fight his theory with anyone willing to test it... Something that would prove difficult for his parents, but work to his advantage later in life. He was filled with, dreams, and the GREAT ability to make negotiations. His father drilled in him, the importance of stuffing money away and saving.
At 10 - he became an errand boy for a wealthy Brooklyn family and successfully argued his salary was too low. This would become Fox's forte.
At age 11, the Fox family would move and settle here - in Virginia. Fox was, even as a boy, considered a workaholic. Ironically, working and saving, became a hobby of young Fox. (Ironically later in life, he was said to not wear a watch because his day was finished when quote.."his work was done.) He had sheer determination, and gave things full focus and absolute attention to detail. Early in life, he would take rides with his father to the bank, where his father would let him make the family deposits. Things might've turned out much different for him had fate not stepped in. "He wanted to be a banker, terribly"... As recalled by his lifelong friend Ernie Thompson. He would go on to finally land a job as a newsboy, and furman (trading furs.)
In 1900 .. he landed a job that would forever change his life. He was hired on broadway to run a projector. He was INSTANTLY obsessed and quickly took on a bold new passion.
On his twenty-first birthday, Fox married Eva Leo; They went on to have two daughters.
By 1904, he bought his own small nickelodeon @ 10 Flatbush Street, in Brooklyn... Nowadays - the spot sits very generic.. He set out to be number one in Brooklyn. He quickly became very popular among townspeople. The popularity increased when he started hiring live acts to entertain the audience between movies. Fox was most successful because he was a visionary.
From this nickelodeon, stemmed another, then another, then another..eventually totalling up to 9 nickelodeons in the New York area. Even today, his theaters still stand in most major cities. He saw a place for organs in theaters, which added to the drama of the film screening for his patrons. Other theaters didn't have these at first, only Fox Theaters. It was at this point that William decided he would purchase the items and begin to make his own films. It seemed like the perfect idea. They would be Fox made, Fox produced, and screened in Fox Theaters! He did have a problem, however.
Fox knew Thomas Edison controlled all filmmaking and production from his patient of the invention of the motion picture camera, and that Edison formed a trust in early 1900's. His trust sought to control the production, distribution, and exhibition of films on the basis of their possession of existing patents. Fox knew Edison's trust had been posing a problem for some of the times top filmmakers, (the Warner's, Carl Laemmle (who eventually founded Universal), and Louis B. Mayer (of MGM fame). While most filmmakers were moving far west as possible to get away from Edison's patents, Fox decided to fight them. He filed a court statement that read in part, 'Edison's monopoly over the filming industry was an unlawful conspiracy, in the restraint of trade.' While the litigation was proceeding, Fox was already forming what was to be his production company. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court who, in 1917, ruled in Fox's favor, granting filmmakers everywhere, the right to brand their films as they wanted. The move also forced improvement in the quality of productions - and it gave Fox the green-light to start his own film company (no spotlights or music in those days, just this picture before Fox Films.) Important to note - whereas most filmmakers were moving out west, running from Edison, to form their film companies - Fox knew that unless Edison's trust was abolished.. Filmmakers could NEVER really make films the way they wanted!! Eventually - Edison would've expanded his trust thugs out west to personally supervise things.. Thus Fox's actions proved INSTRUMENTAL for filmmakers everywhere, not just giving them freedom to produce films on their own timetable theme - but also allowing quality and the film industry to move forward on its own path!!
In what I am fairly sure, pissed Edison off even more... Fox rented this studio in Fort Lee, New Jersey (not far from Edison's studio). Fox created his first feature film, 'Life's Shop Window.' It was a smash success in his theater among his patrons. With a newfound company, he christened it, "Fox Film Corporation", and hit the ground running making two more films at Fort Lee. During that time, Fox also served as chairman of the Theatrical American Red Cross drive and of the United War Work Campaign Fund drive. Although he was motivated by patriotism and goodwill, these activities also brought valuable publicity to his films.
In 1919 - Fox acquired a studio on Tenth Avenue in New York City - where he produced dozens of pictures there on a comparatively large scale. After a small time there, he began to hear from other filmmakers who had moved out west to escape the pressure of Thomas Edison's patient controlling days. He had heard them all talk about how seasonal it was year round for making films there. Liking the idea more and more, he visited before commiting. He found it to be just as his fellow filmmakers described. He returned to New York and immediately relocated his studios to Sunset Studios in Hollywood, where he established a production unit around 1917. Along with that, he created a wardrobe unit.. Fox showed imagination in selecting stories, film writers, directors, and players. His films & studio over the next 10 years were top notch!! It was during this time - Fox was at his top height in filmmaking! Having an officer directing traffic, was rare for a studio!
Fox lived HERE in Holmby Hills in Cali... See end of story, to take a Hollywood Legends.net exclusive tour of Fox's home throughout his tenor in California. He only had ONE home whilst here in Cali - making my job easy!! So thanks, Mister Fox!! 😋
In 1927, Marcus Loew, financial chief of rival studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, died, and he left all control of MGM to his longtime associate, Nicholas Schenck. Fox saw an opportunity to expand his empire, and in 1929, in a gesture of good faith, made an up-front cash advance in an attempt to purchase the Loew family's holdings in MGM from Schenck. This MAJORLY pissed MGM studio bosses Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg off. Mayer saw this as a thief in the night type deal. This would be the first nail in Fox's coffin!! It wasn't a RISK to piss LB Mayer off.. It was an out & out NO NO!!
In 1928, Fox started the popular Fox Movietone Newsreels. These were brief excerpts of the nations news on the silver screen. The methods established, are used as a standard, still today, in news!! Albeit, THIS, was real news!! Unlike today where you hear of the mad boyfriend in the next time, doing a home invasion on his X-girlfriend cause she won't take him back!! Or - Superman & Spiderman getting into a scuffle on Hollywood Blvd. over a kid customer wanting a photo, but ONLY has 5 bucks to give to one!!🙄 These are stories that have BOTH recently been broadcast folks!! I shit you NOT!! I couldn't/wouldn't make this stuff up!! Really!!🙄
ANYWAY.. Here's a sample of what patrons saw...
Newsreels had been made popular by mogul Carl Laemmle, (i love that man), and were so popular, some bought tickets to the playing film, just to see the news.
Fox continued to build theaters, now on a MUCH bigger scale, and continued to thrive for a time, continuing to build upon his studio and make state-of-the art films under his own namesake studio.
In mid-1929, Fox was in a bad automobile accident (that almost took his life), on his way home one night. Rumors began to circulate amongst insiders that Louis Mayer had arranged the crash, however - that has NEVER been validated (though, it wouldn't shock me by any sense of the word!! In any case, Fox was very, very badly injured in the accident. During Fox's time recovering in the hospital... Louis Mayer did set out to seek revenge. (TOLD yah!!) Mayer was head of the California Republican Committee and used his political connections to persuade the Justice Department to sue Fox for violating the federal antitrust law. This, combined with the car accident, & losing virtually all his stocks in the market crash, would take it's toll on Fox.
After the 1929 stock market crash, almost every Hollywood studio, (with the exception of the Warner Bros, who were reeling like a rocket from producing the first 'sound' or 'talkie' picture!), was in financial trouble.. The Fox empire he built, gradually fell apart within just a year.
In 1930 Fox had no other choice but to file for bankruptcy and SADLY..sell his controlling interest in the production, distribution, and theater holdings in the United States and abroad for a reported $18 million. Ironically, (sure as HELL not by coincidink) Nicholas Schenck..(the man Fox paid a handsome amount to in an attempt to purchase Loew's stocks in MGM), had a younger brother named Joseph Schenck, who had a company named 20th Century Pictures, bought Fox. He appointed a wealthy Chicago businessman named Sidney Kent as president, then merged Fox Pictures Corp, with Twentieth Century Pictures. In 1935, the new company became known as Twentieth Century-Fox.
Fox retired from film - and left California, making a stop in Atlanta, Georgia for the opening of another Fox Theater. Across the street from the theater, Fox stayed at my favorite hotel when in ATL. The Georgian Terrace!! The Fox Theater in Atlanta, is GORGEOUS.. Here's a drone shot.. You can see The Georgian Terrace, across the street, in the corner.. BTW - the "Gone with the Wind," premiere party was at that hotel... Being that the studio that filmed "Gone With the Wind," was MGM - the 'actual' premiere was at (none other than) Loew's Theater - just down the way from the Fox..
Many sources report he tried to bribe a judge and was jailed for it. While that part is true, what's not mentioned is the fact that the judge - John Warren Davis - was brought up on charges for accepting the bribe. After Fox served his time, he retired to live quietly in this NYC condo building, living on what he'd managed to salvage in amidst his downfall (it was quite a bit) - in the town where it all started for him. New York was ALWAYS welcoming to Fox - they loved him - & he loved them!! His took great pride in America, carrying his registration card everywhere he went - for the rest of his life.
In retirement, he would frequently visit his old theaters and make appearances at the Broadway theater. While still recognized when he would go out..he wanted none of it. He was, however, always friendly and greeted those who approached him. The evening of May 6th, 1952, was just such an evening. He spent the evening at a screening on Broadway and after was spotted autographing and posing for photos.
On the morning of May 8th, 1952 - Fox died in his condo in New York. He was laid to rest at Salem Fields Cemetery - in Brooklyn, NY.
There is absolutely no doubt that William Fox forever changed the world of filmmaking through his successful win over Thomas Edison's trust. There is also absolutely no doubt of excellence in the brand he created. It was inferior..established..and proven! It had to have been - or they would have easily changed the name of his company. His achievements were monumental as a creative businessman who produced films that influenced the lives of millions of Americans.
I have seen several sources, online and in print, that say not one Hollywood representative came to his funeral. Well?? that would probably be because he didn't die for 21 years after leaving Hollywood, and the fact that he disassociated himself from Hollywood. I think anyone would've that got kicked like he did. The massive turnout of locals speaks volumes of those who knew him locally in New York, and those who didn't but maybe were fans of his.
RIP Mr Fox...your legend is a great and powerful one!!
You may visit his gravesite, & leave your virtual NON-wilting flowers & message for William Fox, here!
Take an awesome tour of his home, below!!
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