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William Fox

AKA Wilhelm Fuchs

Born: 1-Jan-1879
Birthplace: Tulchva, Hungary
Died: 8-May-1952
Location of death: New York City
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Salem Fields Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY

Gender: Male
Religion: Jewish
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Film/TV Producer, Business

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Founder of 20th Century Fox

Wilhelm Fuchs was born in what is now Hungary, and came to America with his parents when he was still in diapers. His family's name was changed to "Fox" by immigration officials on Ellis Island, and his first name was casually Americanized as William. He was a street hustler before adolescence, married at 20, and four years later purchased a bankrupt nickelodeon in Brooklyn, which he made successful with a combination of vaudeville and motion pictures. Fox eventually expanded into movie distribution, opening the Greater New York Film Rental Company. In 1914, after winning a protracted antitrust battle against Thomas Edison's Motion Pictures Patent Company, he established the Fox Film Corporation to make his own movies. The company's early successes included Cleopatra with the scandalously sultry Theda Bara, and a string of westerns starring Tom Mix. With movie hits, mergers, and dazzling new movie palaces, Fox became one of the most powerful men in the movie business.

In 1926 Fox Film Corp purchased North American rights to the Movietone sound system, which soon superceded the system used in Warners' The Jazz Singer. In March of 1929 Fox Film Corp purchased Loews, a chain then consisting of 500 theaters, and the prestigious and powerful Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios. Mere months later, though, William Fox was ruined by the stock market crash, which left him a reported $91M in debt, and the US Justice Department blocked his takeover of MGM and Loews under antitrust rules. One of the last films produced by Fox at Fox was 1930's The Big Trail, John Wayne's first leading role and the first widescreen movie. Fox resigned as president of Fox Film and Fox Theatres in 1930, and in 1935 Fox Film Corp merged with Darryl F. Zanuck's Twentieth Century Pictures, emerging as 20th Century Fox. In 1936, as Fox's personal bankruptcy proceedings continued, he was charged and convicted of attempting to bribe the judge. He spent six months in prison, and never returned to moviemaking.

Wife: Eve Leo Fox (b. 1883, m. 31-Dec-1899, four daughters)

    20th Century Fox Founder and President of Fox Film Corp (1914-30)
    Hollywood Walk of Fame 6541 Hollywood Blvd. (motion pictures)
    Bribery 1941
    Naturalized US Citizen 1879
    Austrian Ancestry
    German Ancestry
    Hungarian Ancestry
    Risk Factors: Diabetes

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