When Adolph Zukor died in 1976 at age 103, he was the last of a handful of men who could truly claim to have "created" the motion picture industry.
For nearly three-quarters of his life he had been engaged in almost ceaseless combat. At one time or another Zukor— the founder of Paramount Pictures Corp. — had fought (and more often than not, defeated) the bankers, the unions, the exhibitors, the Federal Trade Commission, the patents trust and many of the stars he himself had created.
Zukor married at 24 after he achieved some success in the fur trade. The union lasted until his wife Lottie's death in 1956. He said his marriage was the first big step he took in life and the second came in 1903 when he first saw a moving picture.
He soon grew convinced that better pictures — long ones with a narrative or "plot" — would win bigger crowds. But he couldn't get anyone to go along with him, and the patents trust that controlled raw film production at the time refused to consider the notion.
So Zukor bought a picture made in France, where the patents trust had no power, and took it to New York City. It was "Queen Elizabeth," a four-reeler starring Sarah Bernhardt — in 1912 it became the first feature film in America and the first big box-office smash.
[In 1948, Zukor was honored with a special Academy Award recognizing him as the father of feature film in America and acknowledging his 40 years of service to the industry.]