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‘Gentleman Agent’ exhibit hails Kohner

The Goethe-Institut Los Angeles opens “Hollywood’s Gentleman Agent: Paul Kohner” at 7 p.m. Thursday. Organized by Berlin’s Stifting Deutsche Kinemathek, the exhibition of artifacts and photographs is part of the institute’s current “Landscape of Exile” program running concurrently with the L.A. County Museum of Art’s exhibition “Exiles and Emigres.”

Kohner (1902-88), whose talent agency was a vital part of Hollywood for four decades, began his film career working in his father’s movie theater. In 1920, he met legendary Hollywood producer Carl Laemmle, who hired him to join Universal’s New York office. For two decades before establishing his agency, he worked as a producer, often spearheading the company’s European operations and foreign productions.

However, he remains best known for representing such industry icons as Billy Wilder, John Huston, Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth and Erich Von Stroheim. He was also an integral part of Hollywood’s emigre community, often sponsoring talent fleeing Nazi Germany of the 1930s. In 1938, Kohner was instrumental in founding the European Film Fund, whose purpose was rescuing talent fleeing Germany and other European countries.

“Hollywood’s Gentleman Agent,” running through May 31, chronicles visually and through correspondence this extraordinary life. The material was largely derived from the Kinemathek’s purchase of a substantial part of Kohner’s archive in 1988. Further information on the exhibition is available by calling (213) 525-3388.

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