William Fox

William Fox
Associated Press


William Fox
Film: North side of the 6500 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Executive | Studio Head
Born Wilhelm Fried on Jan. 1, 1879 in Tulchva, Hungary
Died June 8, 1952 in New York, NY

William Fox was a pioneer movie maker and founder of both the old Fox Film Corp. and the nationwide chain of Fox theaters.

The story of his career reads like the "rags to riches" scenarios his company once produced.

Fox quit a $17-a-week pants pressing job because he couldn't get a $3 raise and opened a nickelodeon in the infant days of motion pictures. From that nickelodeon he built a producing, distributing and exhibiting empire that was worth some $300 million at the time of the stock market crash in 1929.

The first William Fox theater was in a dingy Brooklyn building where his movies competed with a shooting gallery, slot machines and peep shows for audience attention.

His first theater had a capacity of 146 person and gross receipts were only $7.30 a day.

As motion pictures became more popular, Fox became dissatisfied with the quality of films and began producing his own. His first film was made at Fort Lee, N.J., but he soon moved west and founded the huge William Fox Studio here, which later became 20th Century-Fox.

Within 25 years his company owned and operated a nationwide chain of 1,100 theaters, including such places as the Roxy in New York.

At the time of the stock market crash Fox presided over a network of companies, corporations and business enterprises that spread from the old Fox lot in Hollywood to theaters in England and throughout continental Europe.

A few months later, he lost controlling interest in Fox Film Corp. and Fox Theaters Corp. and resigned as their head.

During the next six years his problems multiplied. Tax liens were filed against him by the federal government for more than $2 million and he was the subject of dozens of stockholder and corporation suits.

He went through voluntary bankruptcy in Atlantic City, N.J., in 1936.

In November 1942, Fox was sent to federal prison for five months and 17 days on charges of conspiring to obstruct justice and defraud the government.

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