Marcus Loew was a pioneer of the motion picture industry, and was one of the most powerful figures in the world of motion pictures and vaudeville in his time.
Loew opened his first motion-picture theaters in Cincinnati and New York when the industry was young, converting his penny arcades, which were making him rich, to this purpose. His entrance into the vaudeville field likewise was modest, but it helped to swell the profits that were pouring in.
Exploiting the opportunities in cheap amusement by opening new theaters, the former furrier found success to compensate for early failures in other business endeavors. In New York City alone more than 8,000 people at one time were entertained each night in Loew theaters, and his daily receipts ran into hundreds of thousands of dollars. He also was president of the Metro-Goldwyn Pictures Corp.
Loew quit formal education and began working at the age of 9. His first regular employment was with a map printing concern when he was 10, but he lost the job when he struck for higher pay. Two years later he went to work in a factory handling furs and making dress trimmings. His task was turning the crank of a machine for 11 hours a day, for which he was paid $4.50 a week.
Becoming familiar with the fur business, he launched into it independently when he was 18. After two failures, a fur dealer invited Loew to become his partner in a penny arcade because he was impressed with Loew's payments of his debts.
Loew invested $40,000 in the amusement place, which opened on Union Square in New York. It returned the investment within seven months. Later, Loew built two arcades on his own, one in Cincinnati and one in New York. When he began to show motion pictures in his two arcades, he found that they brought him success.
He gradually added more and more penny arcades around the city and eventually opened his first motion-picture theater in Brooklyn.
His friend David Warfield, a former stage actor, first resisted Loew's urging to enter the motion-picture business, but they were "partners for life" and his objections melted before Loew's arguments. They started together on their new venture and Loew's genius carried Warfield with it to the top of the motion-picture world.