Lewis J. Selznick was a pioneering motion-picture producer in whose films a number of players first achieved stardom.
Born May 2, 1870, in Kiev, then a part of Russia and now the capital of Ukraine, Selznick came to the U.S. as a child seeking an education. He left school at an early age, however, and went to work in a jewelry shop. With his savings he established himself in business, maintaining jewelry stores in Pittsburgh and New York.
Attracted by the then-infant film industry, he came to Los Angeles and joined Universal Co. as general manager. A year after his arrival he organized World Films Corp., from which grew Lewis J. Selznick Pictures Co., under whose banner Clara Kimball Young, Norma Talmadge, Olive Thomas, Eugene O'Brien, Elsie Janis, Owen Moore, Marie Doro and Elaine Hammerstein appeared. He retired in 1924.
Two of his sons, David and Myron, became active members of the film industry in their own right.
Selznick died at age 62 at his Sunset Towers apartment in West Hollywood on Jan. 25, 1933, after a lingering illness.