Pioneering movie moguls
Famously the exception in the first generation of movie moguls, he was not Jewish. But he had a father from Switzerland and a mother from English stock, so he was an outsider. From military school, he became a shirt salesman and then a movie writer and made his mark at Warners after sound and had a big impact on their tough crime pictures. But in 1933, he formed Twentieth Century (with Joseph Schenck as his partner) and two years later they merged with Fox to be Twentieth Century Fox. He ran production there until 1952, a period that includes “The Grapes of Wrath,” “How Green Was My Valley,” “Gentleman’s Agreement” and “All About Eve.” He loved re-cutting pictures personally. He knew good dialogue and he had an eye for new actresses. In the late 1950s he went to Europe as a forlorn independent, but then came back with “The Longest Day” to reclaim his old studio. He also provided probably the best case for nepotism in that other excellent executive, Richard D.