Samuel Goldwyn (born Szmul Gelbfisz ; c. July 1879 ￢ﾀﾓ January
31, 1974), also known as Samuel Goldfish, was a Polish American film producer.
He was most well known for being the founding contributor and executive of
several motion picture studios in Hollywood.
In 1916, Goldwyn partnered with Broadway producers Edgar and
Archibald Selwyn, using a combination of both names to call their movie-making
enterprise Goldwyn Pictures. Seeing an opportunity, Samuel Gelbfisz then had
his name legally changed to Samuel Goldwyn, which he used for the rest of his
life. Goldwyn Pictures proved successful but it is their "Leo the
Lion" trademark for which the organization is most famous.
On April 10, 1924, Goldwyn Pictures was acquired by Marcus
Loew and merged into his Metro Pictures Corporation. Despite the inclusion of
his name, Goldwyn had no role in the management or production at
Before the sale and merger of Goldwyn Pictures in April
1924, Goldwyn had established Samuel Goldwyn Productions in 1923 as a
production-only operation (with no distribution arm). Their first feature was
Potash and Perlmutter, released in September 1923 through First National
Pictures. Some of the early productions bear the name "Howard
Productions", named for Goldwyn's wife Frances Howard.
For 35 years, Goldwyn built a reputation in filmmaking and
developed an eye for finding the talent for making films. William Wyler
directed many of his most celebrated productions, and he hired writers such as
Ben Hecht, Sidney Howard, Dorothy Parker, and Lillian Hellman. (According to
legend, at a heated story conference Goldwyn scolded someone￢ﾀﾔin most accounts
Mrs. Parker, who recalled he had once been a glove maker￢ﾀﾔwith the retort:
"Don't you point that finger at me. I knew it when it had a thimble on
it!" During that time, Goldwyn made numerous films and reigned as
the most successful independent producer in the US. Many of his films were
forgettable; his collaboration with John Ford, however, resulted in Best
Picture Oscar nomination for Arrowsmith (1931). William Wyler was responsible
for most of Goldwyn's highly lauded films, with Best Picture Oscar nominations
for Dodsworth (1936), Dead End (1937), Wuthering Heights (1939), The Little
Foxes (1941) and The Best Years of Our Lives (1948). The leading actors in
several of Goldwyn films, especially those directed by William Wyler, were also
Oscar-nominated for their performances.
Throughout the 1930s, Goldwyn released all his films through
United Artists, but beginning in 1941, and continuing almost through the end of
his career, Goldwyn released his films through RKO Radio Pictures.
Goldwyn died at his home in Los Angeles in 1974 from natural
causes, at the probable age of 94. He was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial
Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. In the 1980s, Samuel Goldwyn Studio was
sold to Warner Bros.. There is a theater named after him in Beverly Hills and
he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1631 Vine Street.