My Architecture & Design Photography: WINNETKA, Illinois. (12 Photos & Illustrations).

FEATURE image: 822 Bryant, Winnetka, 1901. A grand example of the Shingle style working its way through the Arts and Crafts movement and influenced by the recent Prairie School’s horizontality and openness. Author’s photograph. 8/2014 99% 6.92mb.

Test & Photographs John P. Walsh.

11-844 Prospect, Winnetka, 1885 with later additions. The central section with the steeply pitched roof with a prominent flare is the oldest part of the house. It is the American Queen Anne style in vogue in the 1880s and Classical Revival style that emerged following the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The sunporch abuts a two-story porch whose corner columns are the Ionic order. 8/2014 7.79mb 95%
11-844 Prospect, Winnetka, 1885 with later additions. The south-facing façade has a tall chimney that rises from the ground to above the roof peak. The main entrance is under a shouldered segmental arch held up by columns of the relatively uncommon Roman Doric order. The beige-colored metal siding is a modern addition. 8/2014 6.04mb
9 – 824 Prospect Avenue, Winnetka, c. 1900. There is a prominent cornice with a garland frieze below a tiled hipped roof that has a central dormer with a Palladian window. The porch, supported by Ionic order expanded columns, wraps around the front to embrace a two-story bay facing south. Originally this offered a second -floor open sunporch. 8/2014 6.76mb
8 – 800 Lloyd Place, Winnetka, 1901. A traditional cube structure which is half stucco and half shingled is covered by a hipped roof that is slightly flared at the eaves. The main roof’s central dormer as well as the main entrance have their own hipped roofs. There is a slight polygonal bay seen on the east side. 8/2014 6.15mb
Sheridan Road, Winnetka, Illinois. 8/2014 3.01mb
Sacred Heart Church, 1077 Tower Road, Winnetka. In July 2018 Sacred Heart Church in Winnetka and St. Philip the Apostle in Northfield consolidated into one (Divine Mercy Parish) as declining participation and increasing reliance on government funds and private donor largesse to operate make it impossible to sustain a presence and footprint in the local community otherwise. When this photograph was taken in 2014 Sacred Heart was still its own parish with a vestibule wall filled with photographic portraits of past pastors indicating a long and proud history. The trends in modern Catholic parish life and Catholic institutions in general are, and have been since the 1960’s, on a downward spiral. The Archdiocese itself cites these troubling statistics – less than 1 in 5 of Catholic Millennials (17%) go to weekly Mass; more than a third of the same Millennials (those born after 1986) identify with no religion at all; more than 8 in 10 (85%) of all public and private school 8th graders stop practicing the Catholic faith by early adulthood (23 years old). In the last 20 years Mass attendance has lost over 1 in 4 filling the pews. A significant number of “cradle Catholics,” that is, baptized children, do not receive 1st communion (20%) or the sacrament of confirmation (40%). See – – retrieved November 21, 2023. 8/2014 4.58mb
Thirty-five-year old Augustus Barker Higginson, an architect located in Los Angeles, California, built  the impressive Shingle style house (below) at 822 Bryant Avenue Winnetka in 1901. Public Domain.
7 –  822 Bryant, Winnetka, 1901. A grand example of the Shingle style working its way through the Arts and Crafts movement and influenced by the recent Prairie School’s horizontality and openness. The domicile was built by progressive American architect Augustus Barker Higginson (1866-1915) then with architects Myron Hunt & Elmer Grey in Los Angeles, later locating his own firm in Santa Barbara, California. See – – retrieved November 21, 2023. The house is an L-shaped plan with broad sloping pitches roofs. The window groupings have plain surrounds that fit elegantly into shingle walls that, when they reach the ground, flare slightly.
Christ Church and Garland Cemetery, 784 Sheridan Road, Winnetka, 1870’s. The church was established in 1869 and the cemetery grounds was begun in 1876. 8/2014 6.60mb
Christ Church, 784 Sheridan Road, Winnetka. Gothic revival: Charles J. Connick Studio (1912-1945). Harriet Leonard, born Albany, NY, Nov. 17, 1875 – died Winnetka, Feb. 28, 1923. Connick’s work in stained glass is noted for its brilliant colors, rich symbolism and abundant use of scripture passages. 8/2014 7.66mb
Dedicated in 1905, Christ Church (also known as Church on the Hill) is a traditional stone church that was the gift of the William Hoyt family. It was built as a memorial to their daughter and three grandchildren who were tragically killed in the 1903 Iroquois Theater fire in Chicago and buried in the adjacent cemetery. 8/2014 7.77mb
newspaper headline, 1903.


A Guide to Chicago’s Historic Suburbs on Wheels and on Foot, Ira J. Bach, Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, 1981, pp. 565-74.

My Architecture & Design Photography: WILMETTE, Illinois. (10 Photos & Illustrations).

FEATURE image: Detail of 804 Forest Avenue, Wilmette, Illinois. The Prairie style house was built in 1906 by architect George Washington Maher (1864-1926) whose influence on the Midwest was profound and prolonged and, in its time, as great as Frank Lloyd Wright’s. Author’s photograph. 6/2014 3.95mb

5 – 1231 Forest Avenue, 1898. A two-story clapboard with a flared hipped roof with three dormers, one each in the front and on the sides. The façade-length porch also has a hipped roof. The first floor has a projecting polygonal bay window and a front door and separate square vestibule window. 6/2014 4.76mb
6 – 1215 Forest Avenue, c. 1909. The two-story home is built of finely dressed (cut, worked) ashlar stone. The home has a hipped roof and steep pitched pediment with a broken cornice and a false balcony with rounded attic window. In a rigidly centralized composition, there is a slight projecting bay above the entrance that is sheltered by a large porch with a massive projecting pediment held by a masonry pier with short bulging columns. 6/2014 5.67mb
11 – 1041 Forest Avenue, 1873. Masked by later additions, this house was originally Italianate whose hooded windows and small square attic window remain on the façade. 6/2014 4.20mb
12- 1020 Forest Avenue, Community Church of Wilmette, 1920, has massing of large rubble ashlar walls with broad arches and a porch. 6/2014 3.57mb
12- 1020 Forest Avenue, Community Church of Wilmette, 1920, was a pioneer for a large building tucked unobtrusively onto a residential street that in terms of stance was replicated by other churches that were built later in the suburb. 6/2014 6.05mb
13 – 932 Forest Avenue, 1890s. A grand two-story Classical Revival house with a high hipped roof and ionic pilasters at the corners as well as sides and pediment of the projecting entrance. Ionic columns also support the porch. 6/2014 4.86mb
14 – 922 Forest Avenue pre-1873 and c. 1900. The house was originally built in the Italianate style evident in the cornice with double brackets in the front and single brackets on the side of the house along with pedimented windows. The third-floor gables were added around 1900 as well as the broad bow façade. These changes worked to add space and mask the original style. The front porch is even more recent. 6/2014 5.61mb
George Washington Maher (1864-1926), born in West Virginia, was an American architect in the Prairie School style who was known for blending with the Arts& Crafts style. According to H. Allen Brooks in The Prairie School – Frank Lloyd Wright and his Midwest Contemporaries (1972) “[Maher’s] influence on the Midwest was profound and prolonged and, in its time, was certainly as great as was [Frank Lloyd] Wright’s. Compared with the conventional architecture of the day, his work showed considerable freedom and originality, and his interiors were notable for their open and flowing…space.” By the time of his death, G.W. Maher had designed over 270 projects; from houses to parks to public buildings. Public Domain.
15 – 804 Forest Avenue, 1906. The Prairie style house was built in 1906. The architect was George Washington Maher (1864-1926). 6/2014 3.95mb
15 – 804 Forest Avenue, 1906, by G.W. Maher is a solid 4-square house that is modest compared to a similar-styled project the Prairie-school architect completed in 1899 in Oak Park, IL , known as Pleasant Home. 6/2014 4.85mb


A Guide to Chicago’s Historic Suburbs on Wheels and on Foot, Ira J. Bach, Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, 1981, pp. 534-547.

The Prairie School – Frank Lloyd Wright and his Midwest Contemporaries. Brooks, H. Allen New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1972, p. 330.

My Architecture & Design Photography: LOUIS BOURGEOIS (1856–1930), Baháʼí Temple (1912-1953), 100 Linden Avenue, Wilmette, Illinois. (10 Photos & Illustrations).

FEATURE image: To convey the Baháʼí principle of the unity of religion, architect Louis Bourgeois incorporated a variety of religious architecture and symbols including for Hindus, Buddhists, Native Americans, Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Text & Photographs by John P. Walsh.

The temple was designed by French-Canadian architect Louis Bourgeois (1856–1930). Bourgeois and his wife joined the Baháʼí faith by winter 1906. Photo c. 1922, Public Domain.

The Chicago Baháʼí Temple House of Worship is the second such house of worship constructed and the oldest one that is still standing. The popular destination along Lake Michigan on Chicago’s Northshore attracts visitors from around the world today for its amazing architecture, beautiful gardens, and message of religious unity in prayer and for peace.

The temple was designed by French-Canadian architect Louis Bourgeois (1856–1930). After studying and traveling in Paris, Italy, Greece, Egypt, and Iran, Bourgeois settled in Chicago in 1896 where he worked with Louis Sullivan. Bourgeois moved to Southern California and, in 1898, designed in Hollywood a landmark Mission Revival style house for painter Paul de Longpré (1855-1911) whose architecture and gardens became a tourist attraction.

The nine sides of the building represent the largest single digit number which stands for the Baháʼí belief  in the unity and oneness of humankind. 6/2014 6.55mb

The idea for the construction of the first Baháʼí Temple in the Western world began in Chicago in 1903. When there was a call for designs, Louis Bourgeois’ plans were the most promising. He worked on the complex design from 1909 to 1917. Before that time, Louis Bourgeois and his wife had joined the Baháʼí faith after having come into association with the Baha’i Faith through Boston’s Baháʼí community. In that time Bourgeois constructed a plaster model of his completed vision and in the 1920’s until his death in 1930 worked on the temple’s construction in Wilmette, Illinois.

While building activity was delayed though the Great Depression of the 1930’s and into World War II, temple construction began again in earnest in 1947 and the temple was dedicated in 1953.

Abdu’l-Bahá (1844-1921), eldest son of Baháʼu’lláh (1817-1892), the founder of the Baháʼí Faith, participated in the ground-breaking ceremony in 1912 of Baháʼí Temple. Construction began in earnest in the 1920s. It is four stories of reinforced concrete. 6/2014 4.11mb
Money for the building was raised entirely by the temple congregants as their gift to the people of the world. 6/2014 6.30mb
The temple rises 191 feet from its base to its ribbed dome’s peak. The main story pylons are 45 feet high each. The building’s surfaces are teeming with carved lacelike ornamentation. 6/2013 4.50mb
The Baháʼí Temple has a highly traditional appearance whose architectural reputation in an age of orthodox modernism has only grown more positive with the years. 6/2013 4.85 mb
Interior. “The forbidden temple.” by kern.justin is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
The temple’s main prayer room seats 1,200 people. In the Baháʼí faith there are no clergy, no sermons and no rituals. Scriptures are read from various faith traditions with song provided by a cappella choir. 12/2017 5.31mb
“The Source of All Learning is the Knowledge of God – Exalted Be His Glory.” There are an equal number of entrances each with a quotation above it by Baháʼu’lláh  (1817-1892), founder of the Baháʼí faith. 6/2013 5.94mb
The Baháʼí temple is open year-round presenting its unique beauty through the seasons. 2/2021 7.97mb


Chicago Churches and Synagogues: An Architectural Pilgrimage, George Lane, S.J., and Algimantas Kezys, Loyola University Press, Chicago, 1981, pp. 160-161.

Chicago’s Famous Buildings, Fifth Edition, Franz Schulze and Kevin Harrington, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2003, pp. 267-269.

A Guide to Chicago’s Historic Suburbs on Wheels and on Foot, Ira J. Bach, Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, 1981, p. 535.

The building is on the National Register of Historic Places situated on a broad, landscaped site that looks towards Lake Michigan.Wilmette, 2015” by gregorywass is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

My Architecture & Design Photography: GRAHAM, ANDERSON, PROBST & WHITE, Civic Opera Building (1929), 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois. (8 Photos & Illustrations).

FEATURE image: CIVIC OPERA BUILDING, 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago.

Graham, Anderson, Probst & White was one of the largest architectural firms in the first half of the twentieth century. Founded in 1912, the firm was the successor to D. H. Burnham & Co. by way of partner, Ernest R. Graham (1868-1936), and Burnham’s sons, Hubert and Daniel Jr. Five years  later the Burnhams left to form their own firm (Burnham Brothers) and Graham partnered with others of the firm’s members: William Peirce Anderson (1870-1924), Edward Mathias Probst (1870-1942), and Howard Judson White (1870-1936).
Ernest R. Graham (1868-1936)
William Peirce Anderson (1870-1924)
Edward Mathias Probst (1870-1942)
Howard Judson White (1870-1936)

Plan of Chicago Authors:

The Burnham Plan, co-authored by Daniel H. Burnham (1846-1912) and Edward H. Bennett (1874-1954) and published in 1909 encouraged making the Chicago River a focal point of building development. By 1929 massive projects including the Merchandise Mart, Chicago Daily News Building (2 N. Riverside Plaza) and Civic Opera Building (above) stood along the intersection of the three branches of the Chicago River that was part of the plan.

Daniel Hudson Burnham, c. 1890. Burnham was a great collaborator and invited architect Edward Bennett to move to Chicago to collaborate on the comprehensive plan for San Francisco, and afterwards, the Plan of Chicago. While Burnham raised money and visibility for the Chicago Plan, Bennett created the actual layouts and drawings which are so well known today. Public Domain.
The architect Edward Herbert Bennett (1874–1954) is best known as the co-author (with Daniel H. Burnham) of the Plan of Chicago, published in 1909. Bennett moved to Chicago from New York City in 1903 when he was 29 years old. Public Domain.

The Civic Opera Building is an office building wrapped around its theatres including a 3,563-seat opera house. It is the second-largest opera auditorium in North America after the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. in 1996 the interior was named The Ardis Krainik Theatre in honor of Ardis Joan Krainik (1929-1997), an American mezzo-soprano opera singer and the former General Director for 15 years, who was responsible for its renovation after 1993. The impressive building and its ornamentation was the result of British business magnate and Chicago financier Samuel Insull (1859-1938) who was inspired by the concept of the Auditorium Building with its theatres and offices in a skyscraper-sized building designed by Adler & Sullivan in 1889 at 430 S. Michigan Avenue.

Chicago. Civic Opera House (1929). 5/2014 2.79 mb


AIA Guide to Chicago, 2nd Edition, Alice Sinkevitch, Harcourt, Inc., Orlando, 2004, pages 14 and 90.

Chicago’s Famous Buildings, 5th Edition, Franze Schulze and Kevin Harrington, The University of Chicago Press, 2003, pp. 117-118.

ORCHESTRA WIVES (1942), 20th Century-Fox’s rom-com music film, has first-class swing music from the Glenn Miller Band including that year’s No.1 popular, Academy Award nominated best original song, “(I’ve Got a Gal In) Kalamazoo.” Ann Rutherford and George Montgomery star in a realistic plot about musicians and their wives on tour across wartime America.

FEATURE image: Glenn Miller Orchestra, 1940-41. Public Domain.

The 1942 music film, Orchestra Wives, from 20th-Century-Fox is one of the best dance band movies ever made. Between 1934 and 1945 Fox studios made 57 musicals and music films (see – While M-G-M is known for its musicals where characters sing and dance in place of spoken dialogue, the music film is one that usually features a bandleader – which in Orchestra Wives is Glenn Miller – and musical performers within a band orchestra – Marion Hutton with The Modernaires – as well as music-related acts such as the Nicholas Brothers. In a music film, including Orchestra Wives, characters don’t break out into song but speak in regular speech. In the music film singing and dancing are normally set pieces in a nightclub or on a stage and the music itself is presented in a realistic setting all of which perfectly describes 20th Century-Fox’s Orchestra Wives.

Even Mickey Rooney was decidedly underpaid during his glory years at M-G-M. But not Ann Rutherford. When she asked for a raise, she took out her checkbook and, showing L.B. Mayer the amount it contained, told him she had promised her mother a new house. Ann got her raise. In 1942 at the age of 23, Ann appeared in her last Andy Hardy film, Andy Hardy’s Double Life (1942). She then left M-G-M and freelanced her talent. See- – retrieved October 16, 2023.
Ann Rutherford.” by carbonated is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
George Montgomery was an actor who started as a stuntman in Western films in the mid1930s. Montgomery appeared in around 87 films and later in several television series in his six-decade career. Best known for his roles in Westerns, he appeared as the leading man for a number of 20th Century-Fox romantic comedies, music films and musicals. Orchestra Wives in 1942 was one of the first of many that year for the handsome and rugged star. In the film Montgomery played trumpet player Bill Abbott in Gene Morrison’s Band. The part was played on the soundtrack by Glenn Miller’s lead trumpet player, Johnny Best (1913-2003). See – – retrieved October 16, 2023.
George Montgomery – in ”Roxy Hart” 1942” by Movie-Fan is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Musical direction of the Orchestra Wives was by Alfred Newman. The film itself was directed by Archie Mayo (1881-1968). Mayo was a longtime Hollywood director, having moved from New York City to the West Coast in the mid1910s. He started directing a short time later. Over his 30 year career Mayo directed scores of films and worked with James Cagney, Bette Davis, and the Marx Brothers. Permission details
The item has no copyright marks as can be seen in the links. At bottom right is a logo indicating the card was produced by a union print shop and Country of origin USA.
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Fox musicals and music films from the mid1930’s to mid1940’s were extremely popular. Orchestra Wives features high production set pieces of original swing music envisioned by its music director Alfred Newman (1900-1970). The film itself was directed by Archie Mayo (1881-1968) whose decades-long career was coming to a close (Mayo retired in 1946, shortly after completing A Night in Casablanca with the Marx Brothers). Orchestra Wives features 38-year-old Glenn Miller (1904-1944) and his 22-piece Band, then at the height of popularity. It was the second of two films Miller made for Fox (the first was Sun Valley Serenade in 1941). The Miller band returned to Hollywood to film 1942’s Orchestra Wives and though contracted to do a third movie for Fox called Blind Date, Miller disbanded the band and entered the US Army. Called the Gene Morrison Band in Orchestra Wives, music includes vocal performances by Marion Hutton (1919-1987) with The Modernaires, tenor sax player Tex Beneke (1914–2000) and Lynn Bari (1919-1989). The film concludes with choreographed athletic tap dancing of the Nicholas Brothers. The film is filled with pop-song classics by the successful writing team of composer Harry Warren (1893-1981) and lyricist Mack Gordon (1904-1959). In Orchestra Wives Warren/Gordon songs included in whole or in part, That’s Sabotage, Chattanooga Choo Choo (a main set piece in Sun Valley Serenade indicating Orchestra Wives picked up right where the previous successful film left off), People Like You and Me, the love ballad At Last, the torch song Serenade in Blue (performed by sultry Lynn Bari) and Orchestra Wives’ main production number (I’ve Got a Gal in) Kalamazoo which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song (the Oscar went to White Christmas by Irving Berlin). Warren melodies are instantly recognized as simple and fresh and Gordon’s lyrics are free of cliché. The music that opens Orchestra Wives presents the film’s first set piece which is a Warren/ Gordon song, People Like You and Me. It is performed by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra with Marion Hutton and The Modernaires. All of the Warren/Gordon songs for Orchestra Wives were recorded by Glenn Miller – as well as many other musical artists in those years.

Glenn Miller. Unknown author – Ad on page 65 of the Billboard 1943 Music Yearbook. Public Domain.
(5.51 minutes). Orchestra Wives’ opening scene is set in Melody-Tone Record Corp. featuring the Glenn Miller Band (called the Gene Morrison Band in the film). It starts with Glenn Miller’s 22-piece band recording a lively, perfectly arranged rendition of “People Like You and Me,” one of Harry Warren and Mack Gordon’s pop classics written for the film. The Glenn Miller Band, then at the height of their popularity, are presented with a touch of Hollywood – Jackie Gleason (1916-1987) appears as the Band’s bassist and César Romero (1907-1994) plays its pianist. Gleason and several other featured performers (such as Marion Hutton) went uncredited in the film. Miller had joined the armed forces where he led the Glenn Miller Army Air Forces Orchestra until his disappearance over the English Channel in December 1944 at 40 years old. The energy of the swing era is evident which includes trumpeter Bill Abbott (played by Western cowboy George Montgomery), one of the film’s romantic leads with Ann Rutherford, and singer “Tex” Beneke who played saxophone with bandleader Glenn Miller. One-minute-long opening credits showcase Glenn Miller’s theme from 1939, “Moonlight Serenade,” as its background music. This is a colorized version of the black and white film.
Tall, suave and sophisticated César Romero was born in New York City to Cuban parents. Romero danced and performed comedy in the 20th Century Fox films he starred in opposite Carmen Miranda and Betty Grable, such as Week-End in Havana (1941) and Springtime in the Rockies (1942). In Orchestra Wives Sinjin’s role, though minor, is pivotal to the resolution of the plot. Alice faye & Cesar Romero in ”Weekend in Havanna” 1941” by Movie-Fan is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Poster for Orchestra Wives (1942) called in Spanish, “Las viudas del jazz.”
Viudas del jazz” by Kirby York is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0.

Orchestra Wives is one of the very few films to give insight into the lives of dance band musicians and their singers and spouses on tour. These singers and wives are portrayed in the Hollywood film by glamorous Ann Rutherford (1917-2012), Lynn Bari (1919-1989), Carole Landis (1919-1948), Mary Beth Hughes (1919-1995) and Virginia Gilmore (1916-1986). Each of their glamour and acting ability make dramatic scenes highly entertaining even as they advance the plot by way of bored and distasteful gossiping and rumor mongering.

The three catty spouses in Orchestra Wives are beautiful Carole Landis, Virginia Gilmore and Mary Beth Hughes (below):

Carole Landis.Carole Landis” by thefoxling is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Ronald Colman, Hedy Lamarr, Greer Garson and Virginia Gilmore.Ronald Colman, Hedy Lamarr, Greer Garson and Virginia Gilmore” by classic film scans is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Mary Beth Hughes in Design for Scandal – trailer (cropped screenshot)
PD-US (licensing information : [1]). Public Domain.
Connie Ward (played by “America’s Sweetheart” Ann Rutherford) goes on a date with soda-jerk Cully Anderson (Harry Morgan) to hear and dance to Gene Morrison’s (Glenn Miller’s) Band in Dixon, Illinois. At Last is another song that takes place on stage in the music film Orchestra Wives. Used as a musical motif throughout the film in dramatic and romantic scenes, the Harry Warren/Mack Gordon love ballad is sung in a duet featuring headliner Lynn Bari (her voice dubbed by Pat Friday, 1921-2016, and not credited), In 1942 Ann Rutherford had been in the picture business almost a decade. She starred as Polly Benedict in the Andy Hardy series in the 1930’s  and 1940’s and was one of Scarlett O’Hara’s sisters in Gone With The Wind (1939). Rutherford was a big star compared to slightly older Harry Morgan who was making his film debut in 1942. Co-star George Montgomery (1916-2000) was an actor who had begun to appear in a string of Western films starting in 1935. Montgomery signed with 20th Century-Fox in 1939 and soon was playing leading man roles such as Bill Abbott in Orchestra Wives and several other hit films at Fox. World War II interrupted that trajectory and, in 1943, Montgomery joined the U.S. Army Air Forces First Motion Picture Unit where he made training films. Though he returned to Fox in 1946 and resumed playing lead roles, he left the studio in 1947.

Orchestra Wives is a music film with excellent swing music as a highlight and featured in regular intervals  that are set on stages such as a record studio, local dance and concert halls, and in nightclubs. The film’s central drama, however, lies in the love relationships of the professional bandmembers and their wives who travel with them. It seems everyone is stressed or bored or both by the intensity of the extra work involved in cross country touring as a musician in a popular swing band. These orchestra wives – namely, Natalie (Carole Landis), Elsie (Virginia Gilmore), and Caroline (Mary Beth Hughes) – are beautiful and jaded about living conditions and unique complications as orchestra wives. When Bill Abbott, the band’s superlative trumpeter, meets Connie Ward (Ann Rutherford), it is on the road at a local dance in Dixon, Illinois. The small-town young woman –  daughter of a town doctor (Grant Mitchell) – goes on a date with the local soda jerk just to see and hear Gene Morrison’s swing band. Up close to the stage, it is love at first sight for Connie when handsome trumpet player Bill Abbott (George Montgomery) steps up to perform. The next night, on the spur of the moment, Bill and Connie get married after Connie traveled by bus alone to Elgin, Illinois, for the band’s next gig.

Ann Rutherford was known as “America’s Sweetheart” and a big star in 1942.
Original studio publicity photo of Ann Rutherford Permission details
This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published in the United States between 1928 and 1977, inclusive, without a copyright notice. For further explanation, see Commons:Hirtle chart as well as a detailed definition of “publication” for public art. Note that it may still be copyrighted in jurisdictions that do not apply the rule of the shorter term for US works (depending on the date of the author’s death), such as Canada (50 p.m.a.), Mainland China (50 p.m.a., not Hong Kong or Macao), Germany (70 p.m.a.), Mexico (100 p.m.a.), Switzerland (70 p.m.a.), and other countries with individual treaties.
Harry Morgan in 1975. In the mid 1930s Harry Morgan was a star debater in high school in Michigan. and began acting at the University of Chicago in 1935. Orchestra Wives was one of two films Morgan made in 1942 that marked the actor’s film debut. Permission details
Pre-1978, no mark. Public Domain.

Connie spontaneously joins the life of traveling orchestra wives and is at first innocent of its darker side. Connie learns a lot as she takes the long rides on train tours as a musician’s wife to the band’s engagements around the country and back. Those film scenes reflect accurately the lives of dance musicians of the era who had to take these long tours to far-flung places. Connie is soon at odds with the other wives who come in shapely forms of Natalie, Elsie and Caroline who are bored by the monotony of the road so that their lives get filled with backbiting gossip and being jealous of one another.

Glenn Miller, born in Clarinda, Iowa, near the Missouri and Nebraska state lines. Miller had his first first-class experience of playing professional dance music in Chicago in 1926. Miller quickly started freelancing where he became a top arranger for Ray Noble (1903-1978), Tommy Dorsey (1905 -1956), Jimmy Dorsey (1904-1957), and others. Miller formed his own band in 1936. In its first year Miller’s band was just one of many swing dance bands and it soon disbanded. In 1938 when Miller reformed the band, he had developed his definitive big-band sound and his records started selling like hot cakes to his mostly younger fans across the country. In art imitating life, Miller portrays bandleader Gene Morrison in Orchestra Wives who disbands his 22-piece band in the face of circumstances where some band-members resign because of their orchestra wives. Having to cancel the rest of the tour, Miller/Morrison immediately looks to re-assemble the band. In the film, Connie Ward Abbott, a new orchestra wife, conspires with Morrison band pianist Sinjin to reunite the original band. This will also produce, with the help of Dr. Ward (Grant Mitchell), Connie’s father, a reconciliation between Connie and Bill who had separated but were always deeply in love.

Among the many swing era musicals in this period, Orchestra Wives, while a comedy with the usual lighter fare typical for the genre, is notable for its realistic and serious plot. Though called a “musical comedy with the occasional touch of drama” ( it is really more of a drama with musical comedy. The naïveté and lack of trust between lovers, namely small-town Illinois girl Connie Ward (played by “America’s sweetheart” Ann Rutherford) and Bill Abbott (played by Western cowboy George Montgomery) — whose fictional bandleader Gene Morrison (played by Glenn Miller) calls him “the best trumpet man in the business” — is raw, serious and real. Sparked by in-house rumor-mongering of band-members’ infidelities as well as other cascading gossip of bored wives on a cross- country band tour, the newlyweds Connie and Bill face their first big crisis as a couple very shortly after they are married. Upon suspecting her husband is having an affair with sultry Jaynie, the band’s lead singer, there is this confrontation between newlyweds whose misunderstanding gets mixed up in embarrassment and resentment:

CONNIE: I know there was nothing wrong between you and Jaynie (played by statuesque Lynn Bari)

BILL: That’s what I told you last night.

CONNIE: But it really wasn’t my fault. It was Natalie (Carole Landis) and Elsie (Virginia Gilmore) and Carole (Mary Beth Hughes)  and their gossip started it.

BILL: From what I heard just now, you’ve been spreading a little gossip yourself.

Lynn Bari was born in Virginia. A statuesque, dark-haired WWII pin-up beauty Bari paid her acting dues for years by way of tart bit-parts as secretary, party girl and glorified extra. At the same time, she was being groomed as a starlet under contract to MGM and Fox. Fox Studios started giving her leads and top supporting roles in mostly second-tier films such as The Return of the Cisco Kid (1939), Pack Up Your Troubles (1939), Hotel for Women (1939), and Hollywood Cavalcade (1939). Bari had gained fame by her good looks though even her better roles tended toward unsympathetic parts such as in Orchestra Wives where she played a femme fatale. See – – retrieved October 16, 2023. “Lynn Bari (colorized) by manito” is licensed under CC By 2.0.
Jaynie (Lynn Bari), lead singer for the touring Gene Morrison band, performs in a nightclub another Warren/Gordon pop classic from Orchestra Wives, “Serenade in Blue.” The composers believed this song, which became a pop standard, was a superior piece of music and that Glenn Miller was able to arrange its harmonies and perform the song at its best potential.

Jaynie, the band’s singer, held a torch for Bill though their affair was over shortly before Bill met Connie and married her. Because Gene Morrison didn’t want to pay for the wives to accompany the band on an overnight gig to Iowa City, the newlyweds were apart for the first time. Natalie gossiped to Connie about other band members’ extra-marital affairs and Carole told Connie about Bill and Jaynie. Connie, apparently unafraid to take the bus alone between towns, travels that way late at night to meet Bill. In the meantime, the gossiping wives call Jaynie (with a reproduction of Whistler’s Mother on the wall behind them) to tell her that Connie is coming to town. After Jaynie and Bill shared an after-show chop suey dinner together, Jaynie propositioned Bill in her hotel room which he declined. Afterwards learning that Connie was coming to the hotel she telephoned Bill’s room and on the pretext of needing cash, Bill comes into Jaynie’s room. Connie discovered the pair together in Jaynie’s room in their pajamas and, as Jaynie planned, is scandalized. Though Bill tells Connie that nothing was going on, Connie storms out, hurt and angry, and gets on the next bus back to Des Moines. The next day, when the band returns, Connie learns that what she was told is gossip. In revenge, Connies spills the beans about spousal infidelities of the gossiping wives that Natalie told her before. Connie’s words result in three band members leaving the tour and to the cancellation of the rest of the tour by bandleader Gene Morrison.

It also leads to a serious dramatic scene between Connie and Bill that honestly explores a situation of any new spouse – not just an “orchestra wife” – who is in love with someone with a stressful job who has to travel and be on the road all the time. The work/home tension is a modern theme and universal to more than a swing band musician’s family. Released in September 1942, Orchestra Wives, was popular cinematic fare in a country that neared its first full year of being “all-in” fighting in World War II. The film has one foot in a carefree pre-war swing era and another in wartime America that brought one of its longest lists of casualties in its history and, soon, the Atomic Age. Orchestra Wives is a music film and ostensible comedy that provides serious treatment to scenes that point, if briefly and thus superficially to the post-war era’s film noir and its themes of jealousy, infidelity, innuendo, mystery, and the femme fatale. To combine music, comedy and serious drama is a highlight of the original screenplay by Karl Tunberg (1907-1992) and Darrel Ware (1906-1944) – a writing team nominated the year before for an Academy Award for screenwriting for Tall, Dark and Handsome also from 20th Century-Fox.

BILL: I married you because you were a happy kid. Gay, cute, cheerful. But you’ve gone neurotic on me. You trail me around like a house detective. And then with one flick of your tongue you bust up our band. Last night you said you weren’t an orchestra wife and you hit the nail right on the head. You aren’t and you never will be.

CONNIE: Maybe you’re right Bill but I’ve tried. I don’t know the two things just don’t seem to go together. Look, how can you be a real wife when you are trailing from one hotel to another like a lot of gypsies? When you have breakfast at lunchtime and lunch at dinnertime and dinner at midnight? Why this isn’t living. Why this isn’t even being married.

BILL: What did you expect – a banker? You married a trumpet player. You weren’t getting a suburban home with flowerpots and kiddies. At the time you seemed to think the idea was pretty glamorous.

CONNIE: Well at the time I was crazy. This life is about as glamorous as a gymnasium.

BILL: Well,  I’ll give you a chance for something better. You know that marriage certificate? That little piece of paper with rosebuds on it? Well you can pack it with your things. I’m through with it.

CONNIE: So am I. And I’ll leave you half the pieces.

The climax of the film occurs when Connie walks out on Bill—and vice versa—and leaves their marriage and love hanging in the air. With band members’ tensions among their wives exploding into the open, Gene Morrison (Glenn Miller) has to break up the band. Though these breakups’ flashpoint is Connie and Bill’s open rift, can and will she now help to get the band back together and reconcile with Bill? And who will help her?

MARION HUTTON. Singer Marion Hutton was discovered by Glenn Miller when she was 17 years old. Marion was the older sister of film actress Betty Hutton (1921-2007). Since the Huttons’ father had died, Glenn Miller and his wife Helen became Marion’s legal guardians which allowed her to accompany them as they worked. Marion Hutton stayed with the Glenn Miller Band until it disbanded in 1942.
Unknown author – Ad on page 80 of Billboard 1944 Music Yearbook
·         Public Domain Created: 1 January 1944
Tex Beneke was a saxophone player who played with the Glenn Miller Band, among others. Tex Beneke is featured in major production swing music numbers by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon in Orchestra Wives. Tex Beneke” by Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
The #1 popular song in 1942 was (I’ve Got a Gal) in Kalamazoo by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon and featured in the music film, Orchestra Wives. Featuring Tex Beneke and Marion Hutton with The Modernaires it was recorded by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra and was on the 78 r.p.m.’s A side with At Last on B side. The Glenn Miller record was 1942’s best-selling recording and spent 8 weeks in the no.1 spot. It was also nominated  for the Academy Award for Best Original Song. The main production number in Orchestra Wives also featured The Nicholas Brothers composed of brothers, Fayard (1914–2006) and Harold (1921–2000). The act from the 1930s to 1950s excelled in a variety of dance techniques, especially its high acrobatics, and they were considered the greatest tap dancers of their time. See – “The Year’s Top Recordings”. The Billboard. 55 (1): 27. January 2, 1943. – retrieved October 16, 2023.

About composer Harry Warren and lyricist Mack Gordon.

Orchestra Wives provides a lot of first-class music and a dramatic film record of the dance hall scene in the swing era. (I’ve Got a Gal) in Kalamazoo was nominated for an Academy for Best Original Song. Harry Warren wrote some of the great popular songs of the 1930s and 1940s. Many of them were used in Fox musical films in their heyday. Warren had been writing music in Hollywood since 1932. When he moved from Warner Bros. to Twentieth-Century Fox he was assigned to write for Fox’s well-produced and highly popular musicals.

Harry Warren believed he saw the quality of motion pictures in Hollywood actually improve during World War II, the mid20th century’s major global crisis. Through all of it, Americans, Warren observed, expressed a general feeling of confidence that the war would ultimately be won. This excitement translated to the movies at the time.

In addition to working with lyricist Mack Gordon (1904-1959), Warren worked with Fox’s arranger-orchestrator Herbert Spencer (1905-1992). In a long career, Spencer worked with many successful composers and helped orchestrate scores in Holiday Inn (1942), Gentleman Prefer Blondes (1953), Call Me Madam (1953), Carousel (1956), Funny Girl (1968), Hello, Dolly (1969), and more, but he expressed especial enjoyment working with Warren.

Warren’s many inspired melodies, Spencer thought, were simple but logical, seemingly inevitable, and Warren’s song drafts arrived to Spencer filled with detail that helped make the orchestrator’s role more interactive. Spencer also enjoyed working personally with Warren whom the Chilean-born arranger described as “simpatico.” Warren, unlike other busy composers, was accessible to discuss and develop a musical score. With beguiling modulation, the songs rise and fall in intervals, and its notes and meter, as Herbert Spencer might have had it, follow their logical and effortless path.

Head of production at 20th Century-Fox and producer of Orchestra Wives, William LeBaron was brought to Hollywood by Joseph P. Kennedy.

William LeBaron (1883 1958) in 1919. LeBaron became the production chief at several studios, including RKO Studios (1929-1931), Paramount Studios (1936-1941) and 20th Century Fox (1941-1947). He started out working as a playwright in New York City and was brought to Hollywood in 1924 by one of his theatrical investors, Joseph P. Kennedy (1888-1969). LeBaron was born in Elgin, Illinois, an Illinois town that had a pivotal role in Orchestra Wives as the script’s setting where Connie Ward and Bill Abbott get married. Public Domain.

While not in the top ten films of 1942 that earned between $2.885 (M-G-M’s Somewhere I’ll Find You starring Clark Gable and Lana Turner) and $5.358 million (M-G-M’s Mrs. Miniver starring Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon), 20th Century-Fox’s Orchestra Wives produced a solid and popular music film that took in a very respectable $1.3 million at the box office.

The Films of 20th Century-Fox A Pictorial History, Tony Thomas and Aubrey Solomon, Secaucus NJ: Citadel Press, 1985, pp. 129-130.
The Dance Bands, Brian Rust, New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House Publishers, 1974, pp. 140-142.
Harry Warren and the Hollywood Musical, Tony Thomas, Foreward by Bing Crosby, Secaucus NJ: Citadel Press, 1975, pp. 184-189.

Unknown author – Ad on page 27 of May 16, 1942 Billboard magazine. Public Domain.

James McNeill Whistler’s favorite contemporary British artist: ALBERT JOSEPH MOORE (1841–1893). Four of his large-format, meticulously painted visions of human figures in a mysterious, at once ancient and modern, idealized natural world that succeeded in pursuing beauty.

FEATURE image: Albert Joseph Moore (1841-1893), READING ALOUD, 1884, oil on canvas, 42.24 x 81 in., Glasgow Art Gallery & Museum.

The artist: Albert Joseph Moore (1841-1893).

INTRO: Albert Joseph Moore was born in 1841 into a family of artists in North Yorkshire in England. Moore through his own advanced aesthetic experiments in the milieu of theoretical and practical advancements of mid-to-late 19th century modern art in England and France – such as a systematic analysis of nature, mathematical plotting, and principles for quintessential combinations of color, line and form – created art that was, in formal terms, in its conception and execution, on the cutting edge of abstraction that would continue to develop and blossom into early 20th century Cubism. Moore’s art gained the respect of other progressive artists (Moore was called “a painter’s painter”), patrons and collectors, if not always the critics and contemporaries who viewed Moore’s work as merely decorative. Moore was actively collected in his lifetime and exhibited regularly in major venues such as the Royal Academy. Unmarried and of a lifelong independent disposition, Moore died in 1893 at 52 years old, having just completed his last monumentally ambitious artwork (“The Loves of the Winds and the Seasons,” Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, posted below) a handful of days before. Several of Moore’s pictures are now in public collection throughout the UK, including the Tate and the British Museum in London. 

Albert Joseph Moore (1841-1893), AZALEAS, 1867, Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland.

Azaleas was a popular artwork by Albert Moore for its harmonies of color and the “Greek refinement” that the artist infused into his work. This bigger-than-life-size canvas called Azaleas was painted in 1867, exhibited in 1868 and demonstrates the artist’s ability to represent the human figure on a grand scale.

The 26-year-old artist had some architectural design experience in theory and practice and used this in his preparatory process. This artwork incorporated ideal geometry along with typical academic methods.

Moore’s process followed, first, making studies of the nude figure and draped figure. Moore next made a larger-than-life-sized full-scale nude figure cartoon which, at this stage, was informed by geometric abstraction of the figure in a setting guided by, or through, the milieu of the object in the artist’s hands.

The geometric quality guided the composition rather than was externally imposed by the artist. Moore’s “system of line arrangement” sought the directions of the prominent lines of the composition so to plot parallels of them throughout the drawing resulting in a statuesque yet corporeally vivacious figure.

Nature, specifically the landscape, ultimately served as the inspiration for the manifestation of line parallels and optical balance rather than the mathematically ideal. Moore’s geometric construct and its interplay determined every element of the composition – from the position and placement of the figure to the location of accessories, such as wall hangings, distribution of drapery folds, and architectural elements. The canvas’s shape and size also were ultimately determined by this idiosyncratic geometric arrangement.

Traces of Moore’s preparatory practice are in evidence in Azaleas’ full size nude cartoon with its vestiges of diagonal and horizontal lines through the midsection of the figure and near to her feet. Using these lines in the nude drawing it is apparent that Moore experimented with the placement of the figure’s head, the extended hand, and a raised heel which was ultimately hidden under opaque drapery. Moore used a live model for his figure.

The final nude cartoon was transferred to the canvas and this outline was built up with oil colors. A drapery cartoon was then transferred on top of the transferred, built-up nude figure cartoon. Using this method Moore rendered greater transparency of the fabric since the underlying nude cartoon showed through faintly. This painstaking preparation was masked by Moore’s fresh and free style of painting. For instance, the drape folds of the left shoulder are painted in long, fluent, and elegant strokes while the azaleas are rendered in energetic strokes. Moore’s objective was for the final painting to look like an impromptu and expressive sketch when, in fact, it was carefully planned and executed.

About painting Moore taught his students to think long about it but execute with quickness and determination. This technique aided in transforming oil painting into the manner of Graeco-Roman fresco in that Moore’s working method allowed for painting only what could be finished in a day.

Moore’s careful planning, rapid execution, and brush technique also suggested the influence of Japonisme. Asian influences in Azaleas included the carp bowl held in the women’s arm (an actual studio prop) and the geometric pattern in the azalea pot whose symmetry Moore saw as part of both Greek and Japanese art. To integrate and transition the predominantly yellow figure in the predominantly white background Moore used a device taken from Japanese art of painting flitting butterflies around the azalea bush. Moore also painted russet blossoms in the woman’s hair and bowl and on the floor that further unites the monumental composition.

Moore’s observation of Japanese prints also likely influenced the English artist’s color scheme in Azaleas. This is identifiable in its limited schematic of hues. The color placement, however, was also subject to the geometric practices in the whole composition.

When Azaleas was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1868 it was consigned to an out of the way place on the wall of its North Room. It was observed that Moore’s canvas looked more like a tapestry than an oil painting. In this way, Moore anticipated James McNeill Whistler’s comment about color in that it should appear “embroidered” on the canvas, in the same way a thread is embroidered on fabric. Whistler attributed this color quality to Japanese art in that those artists looked for repetition in color application and not contrast.

Architecture critics in 1868 noticed and especially admired Moore’s Azaleas. Its systematic repetitions and geometric construction were labeled the only “decorative” painting in the 1868 English exhibition. Art critics were less generous. Straining with opera glasses just to see the work they recognized its beauty and Moore’s talent but called its design and execution eccentric. Others turned up their critical nose to the new decorative work as “curious” and little more than a luxurious indulgence of art for art’s sake. Art critics were unhappy with the paintings’ colors as they found they lacked the requisite black that marked contemporary French art and, instead, opted for a quiet and delicate dreamscape.

English writer William Michael Rossetti (1829-1919) declared Azaleas one of the most important English pictures of 1868 and decried those looking to judge it by way of actual historical pictures from Greek antiquity. With Algernon Swinburne (1837-1909), Rossetti compared Moore’s artwork to another painting in the 1868 exhibition: “The Wife of Pygmalion, A Translation from the Greek” by the older George Frederic Watts (1817-1904). In that work Watts sought to create a painterly equivalent of classical sculpture. William Gladstone (1809-1898) wanted to purchase Watts’ picture after seeing it at the Academy in 1868. In a letter to Gladstone in May 1868 Watts informed Gladstone that it had been “claimed” but invited Gladstone to visit him in his studio to see the cast of the fragmentary Greek original from which the painting was derived.

Swinburne saw the poetry and musicality of Moore’s artwork .While most art critics snubbed the painting (and by extension the painter) for its art for art’s sake qualities, Swinburne praised them. Of Azaleas, Swinburne wrote: “The melody of color, the symphony of form is complete: one more beautiful thing is achieved, one more delight is born into the world; and its meaning is beauty; and its reason for being is to be.”

Albert Joseph Moore (1841-1893), SEA-GULLS, 1870/71, oil on canvas, 27 x 61 inches (68.5 x 154.8 cm), Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, Birkenhead, UK.

Sea-gulls was accepted for the 1871 Royal Academy exhibition. It was the third painting for Albert Moore to exhibit at the Royal Academy. Moore was absorbed in painting Sea-gulls, a major work, for British shipping magnate Frederic Leyland (1831-1892) and this work occupied him up to the Royal Academy Exhibition that spring.

Its creation by the 36-year-old Moore was not without headaches owing to controversy. Moore’s friend and admirer, American ex-patriate artist, James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), had learned of Moore’s preliminary work on the painting through Leyland, a major art collector and the artists’ mutual friend.

Whistler expressed concern that Moore’s work perhaps overlapped adversely with some of Whistler’s own preliminary sketches for a painting. Whistler saw a pair of sketches Moore had sent to Leyland as potential commissions. Whistler felt that Moore’s sketch may have been influenced by seeing one of Whistler’s sketches. Whistler feared that if Moore’s painting was exhibited first, it would reflect badly on Whistler as an imitator when in fact the artwork Whistler was working on ante-dated Moore’s conceptions. This was a mortifying prospect for Whistler who prided himself on originality.

Whistler’s anxiety may have also stemmed from the fact that with Sea-gulls, Moore would fulfill his second commission for Leyland, while Whistler who introduced them had yet to complete a picture for Leyland that had been commissioned in 1867.

To ease Whistler’s fears, the American artist proposed that Moore accompany another mutual friend, architect William Nesfield (1835-1888), to Whistler’s studio in Chelsea to inspect his older original sketch that Moore had seen.

Nesfield, acting as mediator, concluded in September 1870 that the recent work of the two artists shared themes, but each maintained their own artistic originality. The crisis was averted and led to Moore exhibiting Sea-gulls.

During this crisis and shortly thereafter, Moore did not finish to his satisfaction his painting when it was time for its exhibition in April 1871. A major effort required to complete Sea-gulls had deeply undermined Moore’s health. After the exhibition the painting was returned to the artist, but he could not yet immediately set to work on it to completion. Months later it was finished and sold to Leyland.

In Sea-gulls Moore introduced obvious analogies between the liquid patterns of the sea and the rippling and splashing motion of the figure’s hair and drapery. Moore’s intention was to discern patterns inherent in nature. The drawings also suggest that he exaggerated the effect of air currents by employing the revolving fans that were simultaneously in use for Sea-gulls and another painting titled Shells.

Much of Moore’s work to complete the painting after the exhibition revolved around redressing the picture surface. Moore had been experimenting for some time with the surface quality of his paintings. In the early 1870s, Moore’s technique had developed to combine transparent and opaque fabrics that created unusual layering effects. Following the 1871 exhibition, Moore seemed to apply this technique in Sea-gulls that involved unusually thick paint layers.

Much later, during the winter of 1880, Sir Coutts Lindsay (1824-1913) – the British artist and watercolorist founded Grosvenor Gallery on Bond Street as an alternative exhibition space to the Royal Academy which became a venue for avant-garde artists, particularly those associated with art for art’s sake – mounted a show on the subject of artists’ working sketches. Moore contributed the preparatory studies for Sea-gulls to the show that included his sketches of hands, heads, drapery, plants and flowers, as well as the painting’s cartoon.

Although biographers of Whistler and Moore have attached no importance to their friendship, particularly after the September 1870 controversy over Sea-gulls which they claim ended it, the artists in fact remained on intimate terms unbroken until Moore’s death in 1893. In the later 1870s they again were thrust together in a contentious situation but this time on the same side of sorts. When Whistler became involved in libel proceedings against Ruskin in later 1878 Albert Moore was the only artist who the American ex-patriate artist could rely on to both publicly attend the proceedings and actually give evidence on Whistler’s behalf. 

Albert Joseph Moore (1841-1893), READING ALOUD, 1884, oil on canvas, 42.24 x 81 in., Glasgow Art Gallery & Museum.

Reading Aloud was one of three large-format paintings Albert Moore completed in the 1880s. Completed in 1884, Moore had been working on Reading Aloud for years – at least since 1881. Moore had drawn a chalk sketch of the geometrically designed composition over which the artist would lay a piece of translucent glass. By painting directly on the glass, he could experiment with colors without redrawing the picture. He then could transfer the trial color experiment on glass (as well as a final drawing) onto tracing paper by which the final artwork was then made by pinning the tracing paper to the canvas. The artist then painted the composition directly to the canvas, section by section, working as he painted to unify color scheme and, as figural poses and other details are different in the final artwork than surviving preparatory materials, drawing. It was meticulous organizing and harmonizing creative work that helps to explain why Moore labored for years on the almost 7×4 foot oil on canvas.

While these three reclining figures are static their contrasting drapery folds whether they are swirls, zigzags or sweeping diagonals – with the sofa’s swags to unite them – enliven the picture. As classicism revivalists are noted for their mere realism and moralistic anecdote, Moore’s evocation of classicism, though containing allegorical qualities, belies a modernity by way of its abstract combination of line and form in the depiction of languid female figures in a neutral setting. The black-and-white owl vase that Moore included in the lower right corner of the painting had been absent from previous studies (originally it was a seated cat) and provides a narrative sign. It connotes the quality of wisdom as well as perhaps the goddess Athena with which the owl is associated so to apply it to the various states of the readers though the overall picture with its fascination with repose is more subtly mysterious than anecdotal. Yet the classicism/modernity enigma continues as the honey bee which Moore paints on the face of the owl vase was the symbol used by the picture’s purchaser, pig iron industrialist William Connal (1819-1898), for himself.

Moore, Albert Joseph; William Connal; York Museums Trust;

After his wife of 25 years Emelia Jessie (Campbell) Connal died in 1877, 56-year-old industrialist William Connal faced life alone at Solsgirth, his Scottish country manor. Connal turned his attention to the arts and, in addition to Moore, became an avid collector of contemporary art by such painters as Edward Burne Jones (1833-1898), Edward Poynter (1836-1919), Frederick Sandys (1829-1904), Roddam Spencer Stanhope (1829-1908), Fernand Knopff (1858-1921) and Adolphe Monticelli (1824-1886) along with the Old Masters. Connal owned Symphony in Silver and Grey by American artist James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) who greatly admired Moore. In 1883, Connal invited Moore to stay at Solsgirth House in Perthshire for a month allowing the artist to recuperate after a serious illness. It was during this stay that Connal commissioned Moore to paint his portrait that shows him wearing a honeybee brooch, the emblem that Connal used on his personal items (Connal’s portrait today is in York Art Gallery).

Moore’s pictorial methodology which he continued to develop over his artistic career is in evidence in Reading Aloud. Moore works out and unifies various and moving parts depicting a scene’s animating personality based in psychology with its physical forms that are mathematically contrived by way of lines and curves and, ultimately, color and texture, and whose impact on the viewer of the completed artwork is allowed to be emotional rather than cerebral. In Reading Aloud Moore constructed the image based on two pairs of diagonals that intersect into a pattern. Though the geometric system is visually subdued, it is evident in the figure on the right whose arms coincide with a set of diagonals. It is obvious also in the picture’s overall use of contrasting bold colors – the fabrics’ pinks and creams are integrated to, though angularly distinct from, the charcoal greys of the covered limbs and book cover. The edges of the book cover also coincide with some of the complex design of diagonal lines whose subliminal quality is an intrinsic expression of the psychic nature of the artwork. This angularity based on diagonals was a deliberate strategy for Moore when he painted the final artwork. There is also the horizontal lines component in the painting manifested in the outstretched arms of the crouching figure at left and the table and vase. Moore’s design strategies were innovative in 1884 startling contemporary viewers approaching to what Cubism would accomplish 25 years later. Critics when viewing Reading Aloud, being neither particularly understanding nor sympathetic to Moore’s methods or intentions, praised the picture’s overall gracefulness but impugned his drawing skills and identified the painting as mostly static decoration. Yet the static figures form part of a complex array of abstract and naturalistic patterns that fill every inch of canvas. Reading Aloud is a testament to the artist’s ability to translate such natural phenomena into a stylized form. Most prominent among them is a fabric effect found in other of Moore’s paintings of the period, in which white lace is layered over cloth of a darker color. Reading aloud was exhibited at the Royal Academy where, starting in 1883, Moore chose to exhibit annually.

Albert Joseph Moore (1841-1893), The Loves of the Winds and the Seasons, 1893, oil on canvas, Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, Blackburn, UK.

The Loves of the Winds and the Summer was English artist Albert Moore’s final and largest artwork of his career. It is 6 feet tall and 7 feet wide and is the jewel in the crown of the Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery near Manchester, England. It is the result of Moore’s study of the psychology of his subject matter, that of love. Love begins to manifest formally for Moore by the expression of soft bodily postures, changing and harmonious curves, and piercing gazes expressed in deep coral colors. The male figure of the Wind is flanked by the spurned female figure of Summer to the left and the embraced female figure of Autumn to the right. Moore was so enveloped in his amorous themes that while working on this picture he was writing poetry about what the human face was like when in love – and it is found in his picture. The Love of the Winds and the Seasons is Moore’s fullest expression of animating personality united to depicted physical forms that are first lines, curves and color, with the result being an emotional impact on the viewer who encounters the artwork. This exquisite artistic sensitivity by Moore is made more remarkable since the artist was dying in 1893. In the company of his young and attractive live models in his new capacious art studio, Moore worked day after day on this work. Moore had cancer (a tumor on his thigh) and had submitted to three operations to keep ahead of it. When his doctors told him they could operate no more, and that the cancer continued to spread throughout his body, Moore was resigned to his situation. He is reported to have said: “Well, there’s an end of it.” In the limited time left to him Moore intended to finish his painting of love, The Loves of the Winds and the Seasons. The artist did not want to lose any time. His legs had swollen to twice their size and had to be drained. In acute pain he worked around the clock for the next six months. His friends thought the intense work as well as the cancer was killing Moore but as the painting progressed to completion, they observed that the artist’s personal tranquility and happiness became apparent. The project was monumental – numerous preparatory studies, drapery studies, full scale and life-sized cartoons (i.e., 4’ 9” tall by 1’4” wide for Autumn) , nude studies – all technically meticulous and versatile- and that underwent the artist’s elaborate and idiosyncratic geometric platting system that he began in the late 1870s. Moore was the consummate auteur that slightly older American ex-patriate painter James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1904) most admired in England. Moore conceived his paintings from start to finish – and The Loves of the Winds and the Seasons was at once its pinnacle and completion. Moore, as Whistler aspired to be, was sole master of his work. In 1893 Moore now expanded this mathematical process to amalgamate his diagonals with horizontals so that his creative process could not suffer the critique that Ruskin hurled at Whistler of “ask(ing) 200 guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public’s face.” The painting was a commission for the Australian mine-owner George McCulloch (1848-1907). Moore’s calculations included various adjustments of the models’ natural poses to submit to the mathematical formulas on the canvas. This formal submission of subjects to linear construction extended to each detail in the entire composition, such as the flowers for which also study drawings were made. Within these design rigidities, the preparatory drawings of the live models and subjects were transferred to the artwork with little idealization though slight but important adjustments were made, such as to Summer’s hairstyle. Knowing his own time was short, Moore made his cartoons in color so that his transfer to the canvas was as efficient as possible as he painted the final artwork. Critics have observed that despite the intense planning and preparation, the final artwork is executed unevenly – parts are meticulous and vigorous, mostly in the foreground, while others in the background are loose and crude. To what degree this is the artist’s intention or the result of his declining health, is a matter for speculation. During the artistic process the terminally ill artist isolated himself mostly. His handful of visitors remarked that the artist was cheerful, cracked jokes, told funny stories, and smoked his pipe. These select parties knew, however, that their social calls were in the context of final good-byes. In those last days and months of Moore’s life, the artist’s mind, by evidence of the art from his past that he referenced in 1893, stretched back to an earlier career which shared long-held important aspects with The Loves of the Winds and the Summer. For his last artwork. Albert Moore glossed the picture’s narrative in verses he wrote to accompany it:

Lo! fickle Zephyr chaseth wayward Spring,

It is a merry race;

Flowers laugh to birds that sing,

Yet frequent tears shall cloud her comely face.

The South Wind shall with blushing Autumn mate,

Contented with her lot;

Summer sigheth – such her fate

She and her burning kisses are forgot.

Two lovers rough for shudd’ring Winter strive,

Beneath a shroud of snow;

Heaven haply shall contrive

Their violence she may not further know.

Through its figural and intellectual prism of ancient classical mythology, Moore worked in his career to update the complex equation of the natural world’s varying and transitory seasons to human life’s copious physical, emotional, and spiritual expressions and contradictions. With their immersion in Moore’s modern art, the painter achieved a graciously-contrived visual dramatic interplay of nature and humanity, ancient and present-day, whose quest is eternal in time and space.

Albert Joseph Moore passed away in the middle of the night on September 25, 1893. He died 9 days after finishing his last painting, The Loves of the Winds and the Summer. Moore was 52 years old.

SOURCES: ALBERT MOORE, Robyn Asleson, Phaidon, 2000, pgs. 70, 97-100, 104, 108. 164, 166-168, 177, 179, 185, 199-202; – retrieved September 5, 2023.

The Beatles’ “When I’m Sixty-Four” was written by Paul McCartney in the 1950’s, re-emerged when his own father Jim turned 64 in 1966, and appeared in 1967 as one of the classic pop songs of the psychedelic era on the LP “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and in 1968 in “Yellow Submarine,” the animated Beatles’ feature film from United Artists and King Features Syndicate.

FEATURE Image: Yellow Submarine was a British cartoon feature film in 1968 starring comic strip figures of the Beatles in a colorful and surrealistic musical adventure featuring Beatles hits. Though it was a box office flop in the U.K., it was wildly successful in the U.S. The film title and concept were based on the Lennon-McCartney song of the same name and the screenplay was by Al Brodax, Jack Mendelsohn, Erich Segal (who did Love Story in 1970) and Lee Monoff. In the kingdom of Pepperland that is being attacked by the Blue Meanies, Fred, the conductor of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, escapes in a yellow submarine. He surfaces in Liverpool where he meets the Beatles and they set off together in the yellow submarine through the Seas of Time, Monsters and Holes to restore music and color to Pepperland. With 11 Beatles’ tunes and eye-popping animation in a host of styles, the De Luxe Color film from United Artists and King Features Syndicate epitomized the pop music culture of the late 1960’s. PHOTO credit: “yellow submarine” by youngdoo is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Paradoxically, When I’m Sixty-Four about relationships as one grows older, is probably one of the first songs Paul McCartney ever wrote. He was 13 or 14 years old when he composed it sometime in late spring 1956 although, in the mid-1960’s, it fit into the current fashion of rock music looking back to emulate pre-war English pop music hall styles (i.e., New Vaudeville Band’s “Winchester Cathedral” in 1966). In 1967 and credited to Lennon–McCartney, the song was released on the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band studio album. When I’m Sixty-Four was also included in the Beatles’ 1968 animated film and pop phenomenon, Yellow Submarine that is a landmark of the genre.

Released in June 1967, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band included When I’m 64. One of Paul McCartney’s earliest compositions from the mid-1950’s and used by the Beatles as filler during their club days, it emerged again following Paul McCartney’s own father Jim turning 64 years old in July 1966. PHOTO Credit: “The Beatles” by John Oxton is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

When I’m Sixty-Four, while seemingly just a cute and simple ditty, was the result of several recordings and mixing stages before it reached the album. It was recorded by the Beatles on December 6, 1966. Two days later, alone, McCartney dubbed his lead vocal onto a December 6 take. Two weeks later, the Beatles dubbed backing vocals and the sound of bells. A new mix of the song was then created by producer (and later Sir) George Martin (1926-2016). The next day, 3 session musicians overdubbed the clarinets which added a fuller and fatter focal point for the song. The magic of mixing carried forward until the end of the year when 24-year-old McCartney suggested speeding up the track, which raised the key, in an attempt to make him sound “younger” and enliven the tune. Released during the Summer of Love in 1967, this was at the height of the LSD influence around music culture so that some viewed the song’s lyric “digging the weeds” as another possible dope allusion. 

In Yellow Submarine the cartoon characters (voiced by professional actors, not the Beatles) appealed to audiences as the artistic expression of their mythic celebrity status which was, as Jonathan Gould identified in Can’t Buy Me Love, “droll, mod, mock-heroic saviors, appearing out of nowhere to free a beleaguered population from the grip of repression and fear…” PHOTO Credit: “beatles-yellow-submarine-characters” by anathea is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The animated film, Yellow Submarine, released in the U.S. in November 1968, had already caused a stir in London that July. With its 11 Beatles’ tunes, solid script, and direction by Canadian animation producer George Dunning (1920-1979), the United Artists’ and King Features Syndicate’s production was an almost effortlessly surreal animation and music experience. The film, originally intended for a juvenile audience, was attracting instead full-grown Flower Children which shocked its marketeers who now wanted to cancel, and, ultimately, delayed, its general release. Yet, unlike in Britain where the film was a box office failure – as the UK’s homegrown pop entertainments often were (even the Beatles wanted nothing much to do with the animated film project) – it was an immediate success at its release Stateside in November 1968.

The Beatles – The Beatles Book no. 64 (November 1968). For Yellow Submarine the voices of the cartoon Beatles’ characters were provided by professional actors. Wanting no involvement with the film project, the Beatles were available to appear for the project only at the last minute and at the fade-out of the 1968 landmark animation film. PHOTO credit:”68-1115-02 – The Beatles – The Beatles Book 64 (November 1968)” by Bradford Timeline is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

In the U.S. there were more tickets sold for Yellow Submarine  that year than any other film except The Sound Of Music. Though U.S. critics were unimpressed with Yellow Submarine, the film’s core audience of American teenagers and twenty-somethings bought tickets to see it over and over again and escaped for a time some of the late 1960’s turmoil of war, riots, assassinations as well as 1968’s divisive, razor-close presidential election. Over 55 years after its initial release, Yellow Submarine remains one of cartoon history’s landmark entertainments.

SOURCES: Revolution in the Head The Beatles’ Records and the Sixties, Third Edition, Ian MacDonald, Chicago Review Press, 2007, pp. 220-221.

Can’t Buy Me Love, The Beatles, Britain, and America, Jonathan Gould, New York: Harmony Books, 2007, pp. 484-486 and 505-507.

The United Artists Story, Ronald Bergan, Crown Publishers, Inc., New York, 1986, p. 243.

Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. (1883-1939)

FEATURE image: Douglas Fairbanks, c. 1918. Harris & Ewing, photographer. Collection Library of Congress. No known restrictions on publication. Public Domain.

By John P. Walsh.

Born in Denver in 1883, Douglas Fairbanks’ mother had been married three times before she had him, the younger of two brothers with his father, an East Coast publisher and lawyer, who had relocated his family to the West. Douglas’s father abandoned the family when he was 5 years old, and the brothers were raised by their mother in Denver. Douglas also had two older half brothers by way of his mother’s previous marriages. With Douglas’s father’s departure, his mother gave her youngest sons her first husband’s surname—Fairbanks.

Douglas Fairbanks started acting as a youth in summer stock at the historic Elitch Theatre in Denver so that by 1899 Fairbanks was touring with the acting troupe of English Shakespearean actor Frederick Warde (1851-1935). For two seasons Fairbanks was an actor and assistant stage manager with the group.1 Fairbanks moved to New York where he debuted on Broadway in Her Lord and Master in February 1902. The year before, from February 1901 to July 1901, Ethel Barrymore (1879-1959) of the legendary Barrymore acting family became a Broadway star in a new romantic comedy play, Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines, at the Garrick Theatre in New York City. Barrymore’s production ran on Broadway for 168 performances in 1901 and made the 22-year-old actress a star. The turn of 20th century was a time when the theatre was king of the arts – and where, in the new century’s first decade, the nation’s celebrities were born to be made. Her Lord and Master by Martha Morton was first produced in New York, during the spring of 1902. The play, in which Douglas Fairbanks had his first role, met with success, and ran for 69 performances at the Manhattan Theatre (demolished) at 102 W. 33rd Street in New York City.2 The opening night cast for A Case of Frenzied Finance in April 1905 included Douglas Fairbanks playing Bennie Tucker at third-billing. The play, set in the Vanbillon Hotel, ran for less than a month at the Savoy Theatre at 112 W. 34th Street. That theatre opened in 1900 and closed in 1933 and was demolished in 1952.3

A dapper and svelte 22-year-old Douglas Fairbanks played third-bill Bennie Tucker in A Case of Frenzied Finance at the Savoy Theatre in April 1905. It closed after 8 performances. Public Domain.

Fairbanks appeared in A Gentleman from Mississippi from September 1908 to September 1909. On September 22, 1908 (datelined September 21, 1908) The New York Times wrote a blurb regarding a preview that stated: “A Gentleman from Mississippi received its initial performance to-night at the New national Theatre. The play deals with Congressional riots and social life in the National capital. Thomas A. Wise, Douglas Fairbanks, Sue Van Duser, Harriet Worthington and Lola May were in the cast. Mr Wise [1865-1928] and Harrison Rhodes [1871-1929] are the authors of the play.”

A Gentleman from Mississippi ran for 407 performances moving to the Bijou Theatre in NYC.4 In July 1907, 24-year-old Douglas Fairbanks married wealthy Anna Beth Sully (1886-1967) of Rhode Island. The couple had one son who followed his father into the acting business—Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (1909-2000).

Douglas Fairbanks, c. 1910. It was on Broadway before 1915 that Fairbanks established his character type of the athletic all-American hero that followed him into films. By 1920 it was the full-blooded romanticism of Douglas Fairbanks film roles that drew the biggest movie-going audiences in the country 5 Harris & Ewing, photographer. Public Domain.

It was in November 1912, on opening night of Hawthorne of the USA, a play by J.B. Fagan, that Fairbanks established his character type for stage and screen: the athletic all-American hero.6 With Fairbanks in the starring role as Anthony Hamilton Hawthorne, the play set in Oberon, the small capital of Borrovina, a small independent state somewhere in the mess of Southeastern Europe, ran for 72 performances at the Astor Theatre at 1537 Broadway (45th St.) in New York.7 It was made into a silent film in 1919 starring Wallace Reid (1891-1923) as the American hero.

Athleticism and acrobatic stunts characterized Douglas Fairbanks’ roles on stage since 1912 and translated to his films. They are on full display in A Modern Musketeer, a silent adventure comedy film produced by and starring Douglas Fairbanks in 1917.
Fairbanks family, c. 1916. Public Domain.

In 1915 the Fairbanks moved to Los Angeles – Douglas Fairbanks Sr. had received a lucrative offer from the nascent film industry. It was a three-year contract for $104,000 per year (over $3 million in today’s dollars) to join Triangle films. Exorbitant sums were dangled, often over-ambitiously by producers, to coax legitimate theatre actors to work on the West Coast in film – and under sometimes multi-year contracts. The strategy usually worked but came at a high cost later to a company’s survival and the star’s future. Again, Ethel Barrymore who became a Broadway star in 1901 and national celebrity at 22 years old began to appear in major silent films starting in 1914. Her brothers John and Lionel were already making films and though absolutely devoted to the stage from her youth, Ethel made at least 14 films before returning to the stage full time in 1920. The trend to capitalize on the talents of the stage in film was already underway when Triangle company was formed in 1915 to do just that on a spectacular scale.

Harry Aitken, c. 1910. Public Domain.

Harry Aitken (1877-1956) and his brother Roy Aitken (1882-1978) co-founded a film distribution business in Milwaukee in 1906. There had also been a relationship with a Chicago film distributor who established American Film Manufacturing Company production company in 1910. The Aitken brothers relocated to California in 1908 and in 1912, with others, formed the Mutual Film Corporation. One of Mutual’s many subsidiary production and auxiliary units was Keystone Studios, where 24-year-old Charlie Chaplin got his start in films in 1913 at $150 per week (Chaplin was making more than $20,000 a week 5 years later). In 1914 Harry Aitken went into partnership with D.W. Griffith (1875-1948) and, in 1914, founded Reliance-Majestic Studios at 4516 Sunset Boulevard which is today a strip mall.

Following the tremendous success of The Birth of Nation in 1915 with which Harry Aitken was involved so to reap some of its incredible profits, the Aitken brothers and various other companies, such as Reliance-Majestic Studio, departed from Mutual to form a conglomerate of Triangle Film Corporation. The company served as a distributor to other studios in California and Aitken’s plans included sweeping into the fold the best and the brightest of Broadway theatre –  which included 32-year-old Douglas Fairbanks. A leading artistic objective for these Hollywood producers was to bring these stage actors’ greatest plays to the screen. Believed to be a worthwhile goal in 1915, before the end of the 1920’s such published plays and other literature while fine for the boudoir reader were problematic to simply translate to the silver screen. The movement towards self-censorship had developed in reaction to the fear the industry would be regulated or outright banned by states. In 1915 there were fewer worries about this as such theatrical artistic fare was expected to attract a better educated movie-goer as well as the Wall Street big-money-type investors who invested in Broadway plays. In one fell swoop Aitken contracted over 60 actors and actresses including Billy Burke (1884-1970), recently married to Florenz Ziegfeld; soon-to-be Western star Dustin Farnum (1874-1929); Shakespearean actor Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree (1852-1917) who played Macbeth in D.W. Griffith’s lost 1916 film of the same name; and, “Casey At the Bat” DeWolf Hopper (1858-1935).

Douglas Fairbanks, 1916. Public Domain.

The debut feature from Triangle starred Douglas Fairbanks in The Lamb, a film based on a 1913 stage play that was expanded to have Western cinematic elements. It premiered with two more features on September 23, 1915 at The Knickerbocker Hotel in Fairbanks’ old stomping ground of New York City. Triangle had in-house three master directors – D.W. Griffith, Mack Sennett, and Thomas Ince. D.W. Griffith had a hand in The Lamb, though its directing and screenplay credits went to 27-year-old W. Christy Cabanne (1888-1950). The Lamb was a hit with audiences, and critics praised Fairbanks’ performance marked by his celebrated physicality.8 The film had a nationwide release that November 1915. Although not yet a movie star, Fairbanks saw his weekly salary doubled. By His Picture in the Papers, a 1916 silent comedy film for Triangle that provided stunts for Fairbanks to wrap his athleticism around, Fairbanks became a popular screen idol. Fairbanks made 13 films for Triangle and when his contract expired, Harry Aitken was paying him $10,000 per week.9 Yet, excepting Douglas Fairbanks, Aitken had over bought his stable of stage stars in relation to their poor return so that in 1916 Triangle was known in the industry to be on the verge of collapse.

Adolph Zukor (1873-1976). Paramount Pictures’ co-founder was one of the innovators of the motion picture business. In 1916 Zukor convinced Douglas Fairbanks to become the independent producer of his own films. From the May 1922 issue of Motion Picture Classic. Public Domain.

Douglas Fairbanks, Triangle’s star, was convinced by Paramount Pictures’ co-founder Adolph Zukor (1873-1976), believed to be “the business brains of the motion picture industry,”10 to become the independent producer of his own films. This became reality at the end of 1916 with the creation of the Douglas Fairbanks Picture Corporation. Zukor had already worked to do something similar for Mary Pickford’s films.

Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford around 1919. Both movie stars already had established independent productions companies for their own films which still required their distribution, a key aspect of making money in movies, by others. These stars along with comedy star Charlie Chaplin and master director D.W. Griffith, founded United Artists in 1919 in large part to establish control of the distribution arm of the movie making business for their independently produced films. In 1919, Douglas Fairbanks divorced his wife, Anita. The following year, Mary Pickford, “America’s Sweetheart,” divorced her husband, Owen Moore, and married her paramour since 1916, Douglas Fairbanks. The American public took tremendous interest in these personal affairs and, if shocked, hardly surprised by the country’s changing values. Even Douglas Fairbanks’ films between 1915 and 1919 had demonstrated those changing values by way of his athletic, likeable characters increasingly drawn to display a comical, good-natured, brash overambition of a hero with a popular philosophy of his own whose sole adversary is boring convention – and, conventional boredom. While Fairbanks’ dramatis personae would change dramatically in the 1920s – broadly, from comedies to swashbucklers- this fantastic and ultimately attractive and likeable character type was merely reinforced.11 Glass negative, Harris & Ewing photographer. Public Domain.

As Fairbanks had been lured away by a better offer, so the actor hired his team at Triangle for his own company. Director John Emerson (1874-1956) and screenwriter Anita Loos (1888-1981) – to be husband and wife in 1919 – had successfully collaborated on Fairbanks’ movie hits at Triangle and even D.W. Griffith valued the pair as among the best film editors in the business after working on Intolerance in 1916. Emerson had directed important films at Triangle in 1916 featuring Douglas Fairbanks including His Picture in the Papers, The Americano, and The Mystery of the Leaping Fish. These Emerson-directed films were followed in 1917 by In Again, Out Again, Wild and Woolly, Down to Earth, and Reaching for the Moon, all for Douglas Fairbanks Productions. In 1918 Fairbanks made 5 more romantic comedies and one melodrama called Arizona, a film now lost. Despite a film receiving perhaps a mixed review from critics or being subject to local censorship, Douglas Fairbanks’ films proved box office gold due to his star power. In 1918 and moving into 1919 Fairbanks had become a millionaire, screen idol and soon to be co-founder of his own movie studio, United Artists.

John Emerson and Anita Loos in 1918. These two creative individuals who married in 1919 worked closely with Douglas Fairbanks as well as D.W. Griffith at Triangle films and later at Douglas Fairbanks Picture Corporation as director, screenwriter, and film editor helping to make some of the most popular and critically-acclaimed films in the industry at that time. Public Domain.
Down to Earth is a 1917 American comedy romance film produced by and starring Douglas Fairbanks with Irish-born actress Elaine Percy. Directed by John Emerson with a screenplay co-written by Anita Loos, the film features Fairbanks as Bill Gaynor who sets out to prove the outdoors and self-reliant manual labor are better for health than any modern medical treatment. He does this by kidnapping a group of hypochondriacs from a clinic that includes a girl, Ethel Forsythe (Percy), Bill is interested in but who has so far refused his proposals. Finally, after proving his point on a “deserted island”that is next to a California freeway, Bill bids farewell to the revived group of patients and escapes with his awaiting newly-gained love interest, Ethel, into the sunset by rowboat. The film is in the Public Domain.
The most popular silent film stars on the road selling Liberty bonds in 1918 were Douglas Fairbanks (depicted above on Wall Street in New York City before a massive crowd that year), Charlie Chaplin, and Mary Pickford. At the end of 1918 it was Fairbanks and Chaplin who decided to hire private detectives to spy on their respective studios, Paramount Pictures and First National. They were told that the studios were going to put a stop to their exorbitant salaries and not renew their contracts.12 The positive audience response from the Liberty drives and a fear of a corporate merger that would end star leveraging power, led directly to Fairbanks, Chaplin, Pickford, and master director D.W. Griffith, to found United Artists in January 1919. Public Domain.


1. Goessel, Tracey. The First King of Hollywood; The Life of Douglas Fairbanks. Chicago Review Press, 2016.

2. – retrieved August 28, 2023.


4. The Oxford Companion to American Theatre (3 ed.), Gerald Bordman  and Thomas S. Hischak, 2004 and

5. The United Artists Story, Ronald Bergan, Crown Publishers, Inc., New York, 1986, p.9.

6. Ibid., p. 8.

7. – retrieved August 30, 2023; – retrieved August 30, 2023.

8. Lombardi, Frederic (2013). Allan Dwan and the Rise and Decline of the Hollywood Studios. McFarland. pp. 53–54.

9. United Artists, Volume 1, 1919–1950: The Company Built by the Stars, Tino Balio,  University of Wisconsin Press, 2009. p. 143.

10. Quoted in the May 1922 issue of Movie Picture Classic, p. 26.

11. A Short History of the Movies, Gerald Mast, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1976, pp. 124; 127 and The Liveliest Art: A Panoramic History of The Movies, Arthur Knight, New York: MacMillan Publishing, 1978, p 107.

12. Chaplin: His Life and Art, David Robinson, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1985, p. 267.


A Short History of The Movies, Gerald Mast, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. Indianapolis, 1977.

David Robinson, Chaplin: His Life and Art. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1985.

Hollywood: The Pioneers. Kevin Brownlow and John Kobal, New York: Alfred A. Knopf Inc. A Borzoi Book,1979.

History of the American Cinema, Volume 5, 1930-1939, Charles Harpole, General Editor, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1993.

The American Film Industry, ed. Tino Balio, University of Wisconsin Press, 1976.

The Hollywood Story, Joel W. Finler, New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1988.

The Liveliest Art: A Panoramic History of The Movies, Arthur Knight, New York: MacMillan Publishing, 1978

The United Artists Story, Ronald Bergan, Crown Publishers, Inc., New York, 1986.

United Artists, Volume 1, 1919–1950: The Company Built by the Stars, Tino Balio,  University of Wisconsin Press, 2009

Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977).

FEATURE image: Charles (Charlie) Chaplin (1889-1977), 1918, A Dog’s Life, First National. Public Domain.

Charles (Charlie) Chaplin (1889-1977), 1918, A Dog’s Life, First National.

Twenty-four-year-old Charlie Chaplin was “discovered” in 1913 when he was touring Stateside in an English pantomime, acrobat and clown show troupe. Chaplin signed up to work for $150 a week in Mack Sennett’s Keystone Comedies. It was a definite pay raise at about triple what he was making in vaudeville and music halls. It opened his eyes to movies’ possibilities for popularity and money making. Chaplin made 35 motion pictures in the first year. The norm of one- and two-reels was a perfect foil for Chaplin’s trademark character – “the Tramp” – and he became an overnight sensation among film-hungry audiences.

Though Sennett wanted to keep his surprising new star, Chaplin was lured away by Essanay Film Manufacturing Company of Chicago for $1,250 a week and the option to direct his own pictures. Whereas Chaplin was making 5 and 6 figures with Essanay, the company was making 7 figures with the artist. Chaplin made 14 films for Essanay and exerted a high level of control of these films before he left for Mutual Film Corporation in early 1916.

Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) and Edna Purviance (1895-1958) in a clip from A Dog’s Life (1918). Granville Redmond (1871-1935) plays the dance hall proprietor. Purviance appeared in over 30 films with Chaplin between 1915 and 1923.

Chaplin’s new salary was $670,000 a year or $10,000 a week (equal to a staggering $300,000 plus per week in 2023 dollars) – plus bonuses that amounted to what had about been his collective total salary over two years at Essenay. By 1916 Charlie Chaplin had become the nation and world’s favorite comedian and a very marketable cultural phenomenon. In 1916 Chaplin made 12 films for Mutual which were all comic masterpieces- The Floorwalker, The Fireman, The Vagabond, One A.M., The Count, The Pawnshop, Behind the Screen and The Rink. In 1917 Chaplin made 4 more films. By the beginning of 1918 twenty-something Chaplin had become a world-renown film artist comic/auteur who found entrée to meeting with other international celebrity cultural artists.

Chaplin was a trouper who churned out the work and Mutual looked to keep Chaplin on for another series of profitable films. They presented a generous offer of $20,000 per week which is about $600,000 per week today. The studio would pick up Chaplin’s production costs as well. But, Charlie Chaplin, wanting to keep fresh as well as share in the profits of his pictures, signed with First National. Their deal included matching Mutual’s per week salary requirements as well as a signing bonus of $15,000. Though Chaplin had to pay his production costs with First National, he received the aforesaid profit-sharing for his next 8 pictures. At this point Chaplin was an independent producer with financing and artistic control over his own pictures as well as a 50% share in its box office. One next logical step would be to increase profit margin.

Chaplin’s first picture release for First National was A Dog’s Life. It was a three-reeler (33 minutes) featuring the Tramp that was released in April 1918 and for which Chaplin was its producer, writer, director, and star.

Main Theme by John Barry of Chaplin, the 1992 biographical film of the legendary English comic and filmmaker starring Robert Downey, Jr. as “the Tramp.” The film was produced and directed by Richard Attenborough (1923-2014) and co-starred Marisa Tomei as silent film actress Mabel Normand (1893-1930), Dan Ackroyd as director and studio head Mack Sennett (1880-1960), Penelope Ann Miller as silent film actress Edna Purviance and Kevin Kline as Douglas Fairbanks Sr. (1883-1939). The film featured Charlie Chaplin’s own daughter, Geraldine Chaplin (b. 1944), playing Chaplin’s mother and her own grandmother, Hannah Chaplin (1865-1928), Maria Pitillo played “America’s Sweetheart,” silent film actress Mary Pickford (1892-1979). Though the film received mixed critical reviews it was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Original Score for John Barry whose haunting Main Theme evokes the greatness of the main character in a comedy-drama story from TriStar Pictures (US).


David Robinson, Chaplin: His Life and Art. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company,1985.

Tino Balio, “Stars in Business: The Founding of United Artists” in The American Film Industry, ed. Tino Balio, University of Wisconsin Press, 1976.

Set up in 1919 by Hollywood’s elite stars, UNITED ARTISTS movie studio originated many of the industry’s great individual films for decades. Its visionary corporate identity contracted self-financed, self-distributed independent production companies and gave them influence and freedom of artistic expression away from the major studios’ house styles and so invigorated the genre.

FEATURE image: United Artists founders in 1919, (Left to right) Douglas Fairbanks (1883-1939), Mary Pickford (1892-1979). Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) and D.W. Griffith (1875-1948). 

By John P. Walsh

It is debated whose brainchild the United Artists Corporation (UA), founded in 1919, ultimately was. Was it Mary Pickford’s and Douglas Fairbanks’ theatrical lawyer and a later UA executive who advised them to found an artist-controlled movie company or UA’s first president, a former U.S Treasury Department official, who suggested Douglas Fairbanks start a distribution company for his films or was it a publicity man for one of the majors who suggested to UA’s first general manager to create a movie studio run by artists for artists – or, finally, was it, as Charlie Chaplin claimed, by way of his elder half-brother Sydney who had hired a pretty girl to spy on another studio’s imminent potential merger and whose culled information led directly to founding their own?1 Whatever or whoever was the conduit or original source, in 1919, four of Hollywood’s legendary film artists — actors Douglas Fairbanks (1883-1939), Fairbanks’ future wife, Mary Pickford (1892-1979), Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977), and “the Father of Film Technique” director D.W. Griffith (1887-1948)- formed United Artists, one of Hollywood’s name-brand film studios.

In April 1918 Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and Charlie Chaplin, traveled the country selling Liberty Loans (war bonds). The adulation these stars received everywhere during the tour worked to convince them and others that it was time for them to establish an artist-controlled movie studio which occurred months later in February 1919. Public Domain.

Distinct from other movie studios, UA was especially founded by artists for artists. From His Majesty, The American in 1919 starring Douglas Fairbanks that premiered in New York City at the newly-built Capitol through to The Underdoggs scheduled for 2024, a comedy starring Snoop Dog – and many hundreds of major motion pictures in between – United Artists’ impact on the entertainment industry and culture has been highly significant in that its range of film product envisioned and presaged the artist/ producer-driven film industry that is normal today. Yet United Artists was also more as it allowed independents to make their films free of heavy-handed interference from the higher ups which was often the case at the majors. Such freedom in the marketplace could be risky and United Artists’ survival through the decades is nothing other than extraordinary.

Alexandria Hotel in downtown Los Angeles where Pickford, Chaplin, Fairbanks and Griffith met in the dining room in January 1919 to finalize plans for the founding of their artist-controlled movie studio called United Artists. Built in 1906, the Alexandria Hotel was a relatively new hotel in 1919 sitting on the southwest corner at 501 South Spring Street.Alexandria Hotel (Los Angeles)” by Los Angeles is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

The following artist corporate manifesto was released to the press on February 5, 1919. Over 100 years later it remains prescient for many reasons including a warning about the use of technology in filmmaking (“machine-made entertainment”) and freedom of choice for the consumer in terms of viewership (“not force[ing] upon him program films he does not desire”) – A new combination of motion picture stars and producers was formed yesterday, and we, the undersigned, in furtherance of the artistic welfare of the moving picture industry, believing we can better serve the great and growing industry of picture productions, have decided to unite our work into one association, and at the finish of existing contracts, which are now rapidly drawing to a close, to release our combined productions through our own organization. This new organization, to embrace the very best actors and producers in the motion picture business, is headed by the following well-known stars: Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, William S. Hart, Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith productions, all of whom have proved their ability to make productions of value both artistically and financially. We believe this is necessary to protect the exhibitor and the industry itself, thus enabling the exhibitor to book only pictures that he wishes to play and not force upon him (when he is booking films to please his audience) other program films which he does not desire, believing that as servants of the people we can thus serve the people. We also think that this step is positively and absolutely necessary to protect the great motion picture public fromthreatening combinations and trusts that would force upon them mediocreproductions and machine-made entertainment.2

In a short 30 years, by the early 1950’s, with the demise of the studio system and the rise of broadcast television, UA would bring this visionary independent investor and producer driven film product to the world as the business template for how all films in and outside of Hollywood would be made. In 1919, United Artists was originally conceived as a prestige studio that distributed some of the industry’s best larger budget pictures. By the 1940’s it had evolved to add less expensive film products that met audience demands and kept the studio’s distribution networks humming. As capital and power tends towards concentration in a capitalist economy, the notion for a nimble, relatively low overhead movie-making patron facilitating production planning and distribution of films by independent producers proved a vital idea whose relevancy renewed itself through the years.3

In contrast to the major studios, such as MGM, Paramount, Fox, RKO, and Warner Bros., which had production, distribution and exhibition arms, United Artists focused solely on distribution. Unlike the majors, United Artists had no star stable, no studio facilities to speak of, no directors, no technicians, no chain of theaters, no house style, but, functioned as a distribution outlet for independently-made productions. In that way, UA was responsible for all phases of an independent production company’s film releases. This included the layers of market testing desired, the planning (including some financing) and booking of production releases, sundry marketing, and settlement matters following release. Distribution duties ranged from pre-production to marketing assistance as well as a bird’s-eye evaluation during production. Post-production distribution of motion pictures to the country 23,000 theatres in the 1930’s was an umbrella term for what was really a chain of complex business actions starting at the beginning of a film project to its being shown flickering on a local screen.

In the beginning: the 1920’s.

Throughout the silent era’s heyday and ultimate demise—the 1920’s—UA was clearly distributing films of its four founders which was a large reason for the company’s genesis. This soon included bankable silent film stars, such as Gloria Swanson (1889-1983). Lillian Gish (1893-1993), Buster Keaton (1895-1966) and Norma Talmadge (1894-1957). UA had no shortage of money-making hits in the roaring ‘20’s. There were melodramas such as Griffith’s Broken Blossoms (1919) to his Way Down East (1921) and comedies starring Mary Pickford, including Pollyanna (1920) and Little Annie Rooney (1925). Douglas Fairbanks starred in UA crowd-pleasers in roles that in the 1930’s sound era was played by Errol Flynn, such as The Mark of Zorro (1920), The Three Musketeers (1921), Robin Hood (1923) and The Thief of Bagdad (1924).

Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. was a swashbuckling film hero of the 1920’s. Made for $2 million, The Thief of Bagdad in 1924 was the most expensive movie ever made up to that time. Douglas Fairbanks Pictures had simply outdone itself since his 1922 silent film, Robin Hood, made for $1.5 million had been the most expensive motion picture ever made (see – Tino Balio, Grand Design: Hollywood As A Modern Business Enterprise, 1930-1939, New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1993, p. 205). For The Thief of Bagdad, based on the Arabian Nights stories, there were monumental sets constructed – and a fantastic magic carpet ride- which set a new standard for Hollywood production values. In a United Artists’ picture directed by Raoul Walsh (1887-1980), Fairbanks played the lead role of Ahmed the Thief, an exotic athletic romantic role. In this leading man type, Fairbanks was joined by Rudolph Valentino (1895-1926), Ramon Novarro (1899-1968), John Barrymore (1882-1942), John Gilbert (1897-1936), Ronald Colman (1891-1951) and Gilbert Roland (1905-1994). Usually playing opposite sexy, mysterious heroines such as Greta Garbo (1905-1990) and Vilma Banky (1901-1991), Douglas Fairbanks played opposite Julanne Johnston (1900-1988) in this silent action film. Douglas Fairbanks Sr.” by twm1340 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
United Artists’ 1924 silent classic, The Thief of Bagdad, was written, produced and starring Douglas Fairbanks.
Mary Pickford in 1920 in Los Angeles. Pickford was “America’s Sweetheart” and one of the highest paid film stars of the silent era. Pickford made about 50 feature films over which she exercised complete control. As a cofounder of United Artists Pickford exercised direct influence over scores of Hollywood releases for more than 30 years. Portrait by Nelson Evans. Public Domain.
Master of film technique, D.W. Griffith, with Dorothy and Lillian Gish. In 1908 Griffith was paid $5 a day as a scene writer and actor. Seven year later, in 1915, with Griffith’s Birth of a Nation the film director was a millionaire. Made for $100,000, that film generated $18 million at the box office (see – Tino Balio, “Stars in Business: The Founding of United Artists” in The American Film Industry, ed. Tino Balio, University of Wisconsin Press, 1976, p.144).D.W.Griffith, Dorothy & Lilian Gish” by oneredsf1 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Lillian Gish in 1922 by an unknown photographer. In D.W. Griffith’s Broken Blossoms released by United Artists in 1919, Gish plays young girl, Lucy Burrows, who is abused by her alcoholic prizefighting father, and who meets Cheng Huan, a kind-hearted Chinese man who falls in love with her. In a film career that spanned from 1912 to 1987 – including a directorial debut in 1920 – Gish was called the “First Lady of American Cinema.”Lillian Gish by unknown photographer, ca. 1922” by trialsanderrors is licensed under CC BY 2.0.Public Domain.
Buster Keaton in The General, released by United Artists in 1927. The film was an example of a speculative bare bones film studio gone awry. UA president Joseph Schenck had lent Buster Keaton productions (his brother-in law) $750,000 for the silent action film that essentially broke even and prompting UA’s facilitating Buster Keaton’s move to a more watchful MGM for future projects. Screenshot of a film in the Public Domain.

Gloria Swanson, born in Chicago, was, at 26 years old, considered the most bankable silent film star of the time. In a successful career in film since 1918, she signed with United Artists in 1925 with UA chairman of the board Joseph Schenck who was brought in the year before. It was a six-picture distribution deal, and her production company was advanced financial loans through United Artists’ own Art Cinema Corporation subsidiary. Swanson also agreed to invest in UA by buying $100,000 of preferred stock. These financial terms proved difficult for Swanson to repay later and required the services of financier Joseph P. Kennedy (1888-1969) who reconfigured her business portfolio to meet her obligations and produced one of her films.4 Meanwhile, her UA debut, The Love of Sunya, basically broke even. Swanson made two other UA films that were critical and financial successes –Sadie Thompson in 1927 with director Raoul Walsh (1887-1980) and The Trespasser, one of Swanson’s few sound films. The latter was directed by Edmund Goulding (1891-1959) and produced by Kennedy in 1929. For both of these films, Gloria Swanson received Academy Award nominations for Best Actress.

Gloria Swanson, c. 1923. Swanson signed with UA for a six-picture deal. Though the actress adapted well to talkies, Swanson remained the consummate silent screen film star.smokin turban gloria swanson, c.1923” by carbonated is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. Public Domain.
Kennedy family, c. 1923. Joseph P. Kennedy, an imaginative and successful businessman, was the  financial advisor to Gloria Swanson in 1927 and film producer for Queen Kelly, a United Artists release, in 1928. The future president of the United States, John F. Kennedy, is seated to the left. Public Domain
English film director Edmund Goulding (1891-1959) helping William Twiddy and “Bill” Easton kiss while making a film in 1927. Public Domain.

As its founders first looked to protect their public image and screen product, United Artists opened its doors to an array of outside suppliers expanding their business operations. In 1929 UA produced 18 pictures – a company record – and, in the next few years, was expanding to distribute films of Samuel Goldwyn, Howard Hughes, Joseph Schenck, Walt Disney, Alexander Korda, David O. Selznick, and Walter Wanger, among others. With the onset of talkies in 1927 and the Great Depression in 1929 the new pressures on the movie studios were enormous. While having built their reputation on silent film stars and watching their film output dwindle 25% in the early 1930’s, UA benefited from the management of Joseph Schenck (1876-1961) who facilitated the release of several popular money-making features by Samuel Goldwyn (Palmy Days), Howard Hughes (The Front Page – nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture), Charlie Chaplin (City Lights) and Alexander Korda (The Private Life of Henry VIII).5

Actor Toby Wing (1915-2001) was an actress and showgirl, once called “the most beautiful chorus girl in Hollwood.” In 1931 she became one of the first Goldwyn Girls and started her film career in Palmy Days (1931), a United Artists release starring Eddie Cantor. In 1933, she was the blonde in 42nd Street in the ‘Young and Healthy’ number with Dick Powell – a film that singlehandedly saved Warner Bros. in the throes of the Great Depression. Sam Goldwyn, imitating the Ziegfeld Follies, looked to create a chorus line for his films where the producer insisted each actress in the Goldwyn line-up “must look as though she had just stepped out of a bathtub. There must be a kind of a radiant scrubbed cleanliness about them which rules out all artificiality.” In a memorable if short film career – Toby Wing retired at 23 years old – her roles were small, often uncredited, and, before the introduction of the Production Code in 1934, frequently risqué. In 1934 she played Consuelo of Claghorne to Cary Grant’s Dr. Maurice Lamar in Paramount Pictures’ rom-com, Kiss and Make-Up and, in 1937, in True Confession, starring Carole Lombard. When, in 1938, at 22 years old, she married “Dick” Merrill, a dashing airmail pilot 20 years her senior, observers didn’t expect the union to last. Wing promptly retired from show business and the newlyweds moved to Florida where Merrill had a reliable Florida-to-New York City route. Wing had two children with Merrill, became a successful real estate agent and the couple stayed together for 44 years until Merrill’s death in 1982. While Toby Wing may have been one more zany platinum blonde that Hollywood and its audiences adored, she possessed an on-screen radiance that found her honored in 1960 with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Toby Wing died in 2001 at 85 years old.Toby Wing; (1915 – 2001)” by Movie-Fan is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Adolphe Menjou (1890-1963) starred as newspaper editor Walter Burns in The Front Page produced by Howard Hughes and distributed by United Artists in 1931. When the remake of the film by Howard Hawkes was released in 1940 by Columbia Pictures, it was renamed “His Girl Friday” with Cary Grant in the Walter Burns role. For his performance in 1931, Adolphe Menjou as Walter Burns received an Academy Award nomination as Best Actor.Adolphe Menjou” by twm1340 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights (1931) released by his United Artists –here with Virginia Cherrill (1908-1996) as the visioned-impaired flower girl – was a silent film though made in an era when talkies were most wildly popular. While a tender relationship blossomed between Chaplin’s tramp and the flower girl in the film, on the set, in real life, Chaplin almost fired Cherrill for not meeting his threshold for professionalism. Ultimately, Chaplin didn’t follow through on his threat because it would be prohibitively expensive to find and film a replacement. Independent film production companies, even when it is a famous star and movie studio owner, often had to follow a tighter budget than the majors. “City Lights,” one of Chaplin’s classic films, became one of that year’s blockbusters and helped UA make money during the Great Depression. City Lights” by Mgmax is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

In 1926, Joseph Schenck in a visionary move, set up the United Artists Theatre Circuit which selectively acquired certain first-run theatres in major markets to show their pictures. This also had the effect of the majors working more accomodatingly with an astute competitor and showed UA pictures in their venues. Yet, since United Artists, as part of its nimble, skeletal organization, did not have a portfolio of theatres like MGM, Paramount, Warner Bros., Fox, and RKO – collectively, these majors owned about 15% of the country’s total number – meant that when times were bad, such as in the Great Depression, UA was not impacted as negatively by the sudden decline in movie attendance or dipping real estate values. Moreover, UA’s low operating overhead included a smaller staff that resulted in less lay-offs in hard times. Under Joseph Schenck, UA started in the 1930’s to invest money in future productions with profit-sharing in addition to simply loaning money to producers to be paid back with interest in post-production (Gloria Swanson’s deal). After Joseph Schenck partnered with Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), formerly of Warner Bros., to form Twentieth Century Pictures in 1933, they produced most of UA’s films in 1933 and 1934. When Schenck left United Artists in 1935 after being rejected for partnership6 he merged with Fox Films to form Twentieth Century-Fox and became its chairman. The situation placed United Artists in a difficult position of having to replace their leading producer. The leadership issue was, arguably, not be addressed by UA until Krim and Benjamin in the 1950’s. After-Schenck’s departure, notable filmmakers slowly fled UA, though this was also the natural condition of the movie business, especially among the independent-minded, to find greener pastures. Disney exited in 1936 and Goldwyn in 1940, both moving to RKO, and William Wanger moved in 1941 to Universal Pictures. Not until in the post-war period did Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin look to recruit vibrant new leadership for UA following the demise of the studio system in the late 1940’s and the rise of television at the same time – and would swiftly result in their own departures from the company.

Joseph Schenck. Joseph M. Schenck Productions became Art Cinema Corporation in 1926. In addition to Buster Keaton, Norma Talmadge (Schenck’s wife) and Gloria Swanson, Schenck through United Artists Studio (Art Cinema using Pickford and Fairbanks’ studio) produced scores of pictures in the 1920’s by Rudolph Valentino (The Son of the Sheik in 1926), John Barrymore (The Beloved Rogue in 1927) and Dolores Del Rio (Evangeline in 1929). In 1927 Schenck had brought in Samuel Goldwyn to United Artists. In 1933 Schenck and Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), formerly of Warner Bros., formed Twentieth Century Pictures. In 1935 Schenck and Zanuck left United Artists to form Twentieth Century-Fox studio in 1935. It had been mainly Charlie Chaplin who resisted Schenck’s vision for a more comprehensive movie studio like the majors that hastened Schenck’s ultimate departure as owner-co-founder Chaplin looked to continue the vision of United Artists for pictures that reflected the specialized talents of its independent creators (see – Tino Balio, “Stars in Business: The Founding of United Artists.” in The American Film Industry, ed. Tino Balio, University of Wisconsin Press, 1976, p.151). Public Domain.

Meantime, in 1935 David O. Selznick (1902-1965) joined UA and released his pictures – in 1936, Little Lord Fauntleroy and The Garden of Allah; in 1937, A Star is Born, The Prisoner of Zenda, and Nothing Sacred; in 1938, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Young at Heart; and, in 1939, Made For Each Other and Intermezzo, starring Ingrid Bergman who Selznick introduced to American film audiences. These films were jewels for UA and made a fortune for the studio. Selznick International Pictures’ Gone With The Wind should have been released through UA but part of the condition of MGM lending Clark Gable to the project was that the film would be distributed by Gable’s home movie studio. In the 1940’s Selznick released Rebecca (1940), Since You Went Away (1944), I’ll Be Seeing You (1945) and Spellbound (1945) through UA.

Ingrid Bergman (1915 – 1982) was a 23-year-old Swedish actress when she was introduced to U.S. film audiences after she appeared in David O. Selznick’s 1939 film production, Intermezzo. co-starring Leslie Howard and released by United Artists. “Ingrid Bergman 1915 – 1982” by oneredsf1 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Other notable films from the 1930s released by UA included Walter Wanger’s Trade Winds (1938), John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939), and Samuel Goldwyn’s Wuthering Heights (1939). Before Goldwyn’s departure in 1940 under circumstances not unlike Joseph Schneck in 1935 – a star producer wanting to buy in or buy out UA- he left to form his own movie enterprise after 50 critically acclaimed and money-making films in 14 years for United Artists.

Carole Lombard (1908-1942), well known screen actress shown on the courthouse steps in Carson City, Nevada, on August 18,1933 following her divorce from her husband, William Powell. A rising comedian originally from Indiana, Lombard appeared in the 1937 Technicolor screwball comedy feature film, Nothing Sacred. From Selznick International Pictures, the film was released by United Artists as part of an agreement Selznick made with the movie studio to release a dozen films in a 10-year period.Carole Lombard 1908 – 1942” by oneredsf1 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

The War Years.

Seeking diversion, news information, and community camaraderie, America continued to go to the movies in record numbers before and during World War II (1939-1945). In 1938 there were 80 million tickets sold every week.7 The U.S. population in 1940 was about 130 million people and in pre-Pearl Harbor 1941 about 55 million of them (about 40% ) attended the movies each week. 8 In three years, by 1944, weekly attendance numbers nearly doubled to 100 million people – or about 75% of the U.S. population.9 By comparison, starting in the early 1970’s and through to today, the trend is very different. About 10% of the population may attend the movies each week at movie theatres. The early 1940’s was booming times for the movie industry whose contemporaneous films often extolled democracy’s virtues as well as a sentimental Homefront along with providing the outright escapist fare such as Westerns, comedies and musicals. Despite this prosperity UA’s film product was mostly undistinguished in this period and their income fell slightly from the end of the pre-war period.10 After the war, movie attendance levels dropped as people returned to start families, and go back to school and work. In response, the movie industry released less product – and the decline spiraled so that by the end of the decade of the 1940’s UA was in debt and ripe for a takeover.

In 1949 Orson Welles starred in Black Magic, an 18th century costume drama, released by United Artists. Welles played Count Cagliostro, a legendary hypnotist, conjurer, showman and charlatan. The film co-starred Nancy Guild (1925-1999) as Marie Antoinette and her supposed double, Lorenza, whom the Count plots to replace at the Dauphin’s side and control France. The film received mixed reviews. The photograph of Welles in 1949 is from The Third Man.The Third Man (1949)” by twm1340 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
Lucille Ball (1911-1989) in the mid 1940’s. Lucy appeared in the stylish atmospheric “Lured,” a United Artists release, in 1947. Directed by Douglas Sirk and co-starring George Sanders, the film noir is a murder mystery set in Victorian England where 8 young women have mysteriously disappeared after answering an advertisement. Lucy is recruited by Scotland Yard to act as bait for the killer who could be one of several suspects. In the 1940’s United Artists included many lower budget and B pictures to meet demand and keep its distribution business humming.Lucille Ball” by manito℡ is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Jane Russell (1921-2011) appeared in Howard Hughes’ The Outlaw, released by UA in 1946. From the start, the Western, with its sexual overtones, was mired in controversy so that it only gained a wide showing in 1950. Russell, playing Rio and wearing a Howard Hughes’ specially designed bra using his aeronautical engineering skill – all of which became part of the film’s controversy – ended up as an iconic Hollywood sex symbol in the process.Jane Russell (1)” by oneredsf1 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Notably, at the end of the decade, beyond film noir with, as Michael F. Keaney points out, “its thematic criminal content” and “Emphasis on obsession, desperation, alienation, and paranoia” that is noted for its “dark visual style,“11 United Artists’ releases contributed to the new willingness after the war and ushering in of the Atomic Age to present serious social issues in films such as Home of The Brave (1949) exploring issues of race bigotry. Produced by Stanley Kramer, directed by Mark Robson, and written by Carl Foreman Kramer and others would continue to explore these social issues in the future.

Lloyd Bridges (1913-1998) played the buddy who was killed in Home of The Brave, a 1949 UA release, that results in a Black GI (James Edwards) returning in a state of shock from their mission in the South Pacific during World War II. Using psychoanalysis conducted by a sympathetic doctor (James Corey), the Black soldier’s reaction is revealed to be the result of racial abuse by one of the platoon leaders. This serious social issue of racial bigotry in American institutions and controversial subjects was part of a Hollywood’s new willingness to confront them in popular film in the late 1940’s.Lloyd Bridges” by YorkieBoy is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

The Post War Era: 1950’s to 1970’s. Krim and Benjamin.

In 1951, Arthur B. Krim (1910-1994) and Robert Benjamin (1909-1979), lawyers and producers, were given leadership at UA and, based on their immediate success, soon acquired the movie studio. The duo unabashedly practiced the capital-producer-driven model for making movies which has since defined the film industry business model. United Artists’ visionary low overhead approach from its inception proved prescient for film production outside the once all-encompassing major studio system. Continuance of a skeletal staff which caused independent producers, notably Samuel Goldwyn, to flee from its sometime sloppy operations and no studio space – such could be leased from Pickford and Chaplin – became the de facto method to critical and box office success. 12 When Krim and Benjamin took over United Artists, stockholders gave them three years to make a profit. They did it in six months.13 United Artists devised a strategy based on financing and distribution of independent production that quickly and sustainably transformed the company into an industry leader. The revamped 1950’s United Artists worked with producer Sam Spiegel (1901-1985) and director John Huston (1906-1987) to have two upfront hits – The African Queen in 1951 and Moulin Rouge in 1952. This was followed up by High Noon in 1952 which was nominated for 7 Academy Awards and won four. United Artists was soon working closely with Stanley Kramer, Otto Preminger, Hecht-Hill-Lancaster Productions (actor Burt Lancaster’s production company) and other free-agent actors and others wanting to produce and direct. UA’s innovative and successful business model made the movie studio run by artists for artists the envy of the film industry so that, by the 1960’s, the majors were imitating them.

Humphrey Bogart won his only Oscar for the role of the scruffy captain who falls in love with a spinster missionary (Katharine Hepburn) as they take an old steamer down the Congo River during World War I in The African Queen (1951) released by United Artists under the new management of Krim and Benjamin. John Huston’s script wisely focused on the character development and performances of the two talented leads.
The African Queen (1951)” by Wasfi Akab is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Surviving Founders Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin Sell.

By 1956 both Chaplin and Pickford had divested their shares to Krim and Benjamin who came from Eagle-Lion Films. United Artists then made a motion picture, Marty in 1955, that won four Oscars, including Best Picture. In 1957, a social drama, 12 Angry Men, was Oscar-nominated multiple times. There was also The Bachelor Party, an Oscar-nominated follow-up to Marty, in 1957 and Stanley Kramer’s The Defiant Ones in 1958. UA also released some of the era’s great comedies, including Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot in 1959 and The Apartment in 1960 which won the Best Picture Oscar. In the 1960’s Wilder did some of his best work with United Artists including, all of them box office hits, One, Two, Three in 1961, Irma La Douce in 1963, Kiss Me, Stupid in 1964 and The Fortune Cookie in 1966.

Jack Lemmon (right) as Jerry/”Daphne” with admirer Osgood Fielding III (Joe E. Brown) in Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot, released in 1959 by United Artists. Lemmon and Tony Curtis as Joe/”Josephine” gave the two best drag performances of their generation as Some Like It Hot marked the best in post-war comedy.Some Like it Hot, 1959” by thefoxling is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Theatre marquee with Billy Wilder (and United Artists) comedy double feature.
Some Like it Hot” by Thomas Hawk is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.
Marilyn Monroe as Sugar Kowalczyk, a ukulele player and singer, talks to film director Billy Wilder during the filming of a scene in Some Like It Hot. There is no funnier and sexier performance by Monroe in her filmography.Marilyn Monroe Talking with Billy Wilder” by Movie-Fan is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Arthur Krim with his wife  Mathilde Krim and President John F. Kennedy at the White House in 1962. Public Domain.

In 1957 Krim and Benjamin did something the founding owners didn’t do and if they had the studio’s history, likely starting in the mid-1930’s, would be very different: they took UA public. Before the 1950’s was finished, United Artists was the envy of the Hollywood motion picture industry, very profitably producing films, television shows, and records.14 Arthur Krim and Robert Banjamin remained with UA until 1978 when, with others, they created Orion Pictures. From 1978 to 1992, Krim attempted to mirror UA’s success with a company that, since 1997, is a subsidiary of MGM.

12 Angry Man” by benjami is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

In 1961, United Artists released West Side Story which won a record 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture. Producer-Director Stanley Kramer with whom United Artists first started working in 1958, released Judgement At Nuremburg in 1961 and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World which, in its homage to slapstick, featured a Who’s Who ensemble cast of stage and screen comedians and became a box office smash.

One of the best animated opening credits in film history is Saul Bass’s effort for It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World in 1963 from United Artists.
Director John Sturges’ The Magnificent Seven released by United Artists in 1960 – it was an adaptation of the 1954 Japanese film classic, The Seven Samurai – and a major blockbuster. It featured (pictured above) Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen. “The Magnificent Seven” by MacQ is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
Brochure for ‘West Side Story’ (brochure)” is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.
In 1962 United Artists released The Miracle Worker, starring Anne Bancroft as Annie Sullivan, the partially blind teacher of deaf, mute and blind Helen Keller played by Patty Duke, both in Oscar-winning performances. William Gibson’s inspiring theatrical play was altered slightly by the author for the screen that was directed by Arthur Penn.Miracle Worker” by Mike Monteiro is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Sidney Poitier (1927-2022) in 1963. Two years later, in 1965, Sidney Poitier became the first Black performer since Hattie McDaniel in Gone With The Wind (MGM. 1939) to win an Oscar for his role as Schmidt, a workman who helps a small group of German nuns build a chapel in Arizona in the United Artists release of Lilies of The Field.1-a-patch-of-blue-sidney-poitier-1965-everett” by jamesjoel is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

It was also in 1963 that United Artists backed the first film in the James Bond 007 franchise – Dr. No. Starting in 1964, they also backed The Pink Panther films directed by Blake Edwards and Bud Yorkin. Starting in 1964, Clint Eastwood was well on his way to becoming a star by way of his UA-backed spaghetti westerns. These and other films looked to satisfy the younger movie-going demographic that increasingly desired depictions of sex and violence at the cinema.

The first James Bond ride was this 1961 Sunbeam Alpine Mk1 in Dr. No. In 1961, producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman purchased the filming rights to Ian Fleming’s spy novels. The pair founded Eon Productions and, with financial backing by United Artists, produced Dr. No that was directed by Terence Young and featured Sean Connery as 007.The First James Bond Ride: 1961 Sunbeam Alpine Mk1” by Automotive Rhythms is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
UA-backed spaghetti westerns in the mid-1960’s made Clint Eastwood a star. They included A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966).Clint Eastwood” by yagisu is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0.

In 1964 and 1965 United Artists got on board to introduce the Beatles to U.S. film audiences with A Hard Day’s Night and Help. Both films were phenomenal money makers. In 1965 UA had the means to finance, at $20 million, the most expensive film ever made up to that time: George Stevens’ production of The Greatest Story Ever Told. Starring Max von Sydow as Jesus Christ with an ensemble cast of actor favorites, the film was critically acclaimed and received five Academy Award nominations in 1965. However, the film recouped most though not all of its historic initial investment.

The Beatles with Richard Lester, film director of A Hard Day’s Night (1964). The film was released by United Artists in the U.S. on August 11, 1964. It accompanied the Beatles’ hit song of the same name and became a phenomenal hit with U.S film audiences, particularly teenagers around the country who lined up to see it with their friends, often multiple times. The film starred the Fab Four – John, Paul, George, and Ringo – in a rather mundane story whose better purpose was to feature the band mates and about a dozen of their most popular songs.Sept hard-days-night-a-1964-011-beatles-richard-lester-clapperboard-00o-cjr” by bridgevillepennsylvania is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

LATER DEVELOPMENTS and the end of an era.

United Artists was ascendant in the 1960’s. It won 5 best Picture Oscars in the decade – more than any other single movie studio, a remarkable accomplishment. In addition to The Apartment in 1960 and West Side Story in 1961, there was Tom Jones directed by Tony Richardson in 1963, In the Heat of the Night in 1967, and Midnight Cowboy in 1969. United Artists was working with an array of directors such as Norman Jewison (In The Heat of the Night in 1967 and The Thomas Crown Affair in 1968), John Sturges (The Magnificent Seven in 1960), Robert Wise and Blake Edwards.15 In the 1960’s this diverse array of directors and actors and their films from United Artists found their audience although, as production exploded with independent projects, not every movie made its mark.16 Purchased in 1967 by Transamerica Corp. based on its film and television success, Krim and Benjamin were pushed aside for new management as UA continued to manufacture film hits such as The Graduate (Best Picture nominee) and In The Heat of the Night (Best Actor and Best Picture winner). In 1968 UA’s income reached $250 million with a $20 million in profit. Yet, in 1970, the studio lost $35 million. Krim and Benjamin were restored while staff and overhead expenses drastically cut.17

On the set of Midnight Cowboy, a United Artists production, in 1969. Directed by Britisher John Schlesinger, and starring Jon Voight as small-town stud Joe Buck and Dustin Hoffman as down-and-out local hustler Ratso Rizzo, Midnight Cowboy, follows the pair’s unlikely relationship through the seedy, sordid streets of New York City and beyond. Midnight Cowboy won that year’s Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay at the Academy Awards and both Voight’s and Hoffman’s performances were Oscar-nominated for Best Actor, though it was John Wayne who took home Oscar for his role in True Grit that year. Midnight Cowboy was made on a shoestring budget of $3 million and though criticized for being luminous but not accurately observed, with a haunting theme by John Barry and hit rock songs on the soundtrack (“Everybody’s Talkin’” by Nilsson), the film scored over $44 million at the box office. Still, the movie studio’s new owner, insurance giant Transamerica, was not particularly pleased with this UA release and, later, its Last Tango In Paris, because of the X-rated content. It led to the insurance corporation taking action to distance itself from certain of its own films. This fissure ultimately led to an irreparable fracture with the movie studio’s longtime successful management team who were also its former owners and who left United Artists in 1978 to form a competing movie studio. Transamerica put United Artists up for sale two years later.18On the set – Midnight Cowboy – United Artists production, 1969” by dou_ble_you is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

The decade of the 1960’s saw a precipitous decline in movie attendance. What began in 1960 with 44 million Americans, or 25% of the population, going to cinema each week was 15 million in 1970 – or less than 10%. Most of these numbers were concentrated in a few films while the rest languished. The movie studios’ search for the surefire blockbuster intensified. One or two misses could – and did – sink a studio’s fortunes. Though UA was no longer the Oscar leader, the 1970’s was a mostly remarkable decade for United Artists. It made hits such as Fiddler on the Roof (1971) and the James Bond series with Roger Moore and had three Best Picture films in a row – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), Rocky (1976) and Annie Hall (1977).19 Significantly, in 1977 and 1979, respectively, Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford both passed away – and, with them, some of the last vestiges of old Hollywood.

In 1978, following Chaplin’s death, Krim and Benjamin left UA to form Orion Pictures, looking to make it a worthy heir to what United Artists had been. Their exit evolved with clashes with Transamerica since the insurance giant took over the movie studio in 1967. In 1973, as United Artists took over U.S. sales and distribution of MGM films and its music publishing business, in 1981 Transamerica sold United Artists and its film library to Tracinda Corp. Since Tracinda Corp. owned MGM, these two iconic film studio brands merged to become MGM/UA Entertainment Company with a host of subsidiaries.20

Mid-1970’s – Three Best Picture Oscars in a Row.

Jack Nicholson in 1976. Nicholson won the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of grinning anti-hero McMurphy fighting the system personified by Nurse Ratched played by Louis Fletcher in the United Artists’ 1975 release, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Based on a 1960’s novel and stage play, the film swept the Oscars winning Best Picture, Best Director (Miloš Forman), Best Actor (Nicholson), and Best Actress (Fletcher). File:Jack Nicholson in 1976 crop retouch.jpg” by AP Wire press photo – from eBay auction ebay (auction archive) is marked with CC0 1.0.
Sylvester Stallone in Rocky (1976). Stallone was offered $300,000 for his original script but declined and counter-offered for $75,000, a percentage of the box office and the lead role. It was a shrewd move. The film made $54 million at release and won Best Picture, Best Director (John G. Avildsen) and Best Film Editing Oscars. Stallone was nominated for Best Actor. Made for $1 million, “Rocky” has grossed nearly $1 billion worldwide and spawned 8 sequels so far.Rocky (1976)” by 7th Street Theatre is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Diane Keaton in Annie Hall, 1977. “A Nervous Romance” co-written and directed by Woody Allen won 4 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director (Allen), Best Actress (Keaton) and Best Original Screenplay. It was the first comedy film in Oscar history to win for Best Picture. Diane Keaton’s quality costumes of baggy pants, knotted black tie, felt hat, stylish eyewear and liberated hairstyles set a fashion going forward into the 1980’s.Diane Keaton in Annie Hall, 1977” by Beauties in Glasses (Movies) is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0.

The end of the 1970s was profitable for UA. Though Krim and Benjamin were gone, UA was headed by Andy Albeck, Krim’s longtime assistant and the studio’s investments were reaping themselves handsomely at the box office – Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979), Woody Allen’s Manhattan (1979), Bond installment Moonraker (1979) and Rocky II were all hits, Although Westerns had fallen out of favor, in 1978 UA fronted almost $8 million for Heaven’s Gate. Starting in the 1960’s the film market was gearing to younger audiences. This trend intensified so that in the late 1970s and early 1980s most films were targeted to teenagers.21 Heaven’s Gate became way over budget and then opened to devastatingly reviews. Albeck saw the train wreck that was coming. The film was released then pulled and re-released after severe editing but was a box office bomb, Albeck resigned and UA, despite its money-making releases, including For Your Eyes Only (1981), Rocky III (1982) and Yentl (1983) was sold to MGM and became MGM/UA Entertainment Corp.

Roger Moore in Moonraker. The film was made precisely to cash in on audience demand for space adventure films that 20th Century-Fox’s Star Wars started in 1977. The most expensive Bond film ever made and its biggest money maker, the film nonetheless received mixed to negative reviews. The era of the adolescent, formulaic blockbuster had clearly taken hold at the movies.
moonraker” by cdrummbks is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Late 20th century to today.

By 1983, MGM started selling UA assets such as its New York City headquarters as part of the consolidation process while in terms of film and television production the two jointly-owned studios under Kirk Kerlorian’s Tracinda Corp. were put in direct competition with one another. In March 1985 both studios went under one studio head, Alan Ladd, Jr.22 In March 1986,Ted Turner bought MGM/UA and renamed it MGM Entertainment Co. selling back the United Artists’ assets (about one third of the deal) to Tracinda Corp. Though it shared the same or similar assets, it was, from a transactional viewpoint, the end of the original United Artists and start of a new company.23

Later in 1986 Turner sold back MGM’s production and distribution assets to United Artists, retaining ownership of film libraries. United Artists was renamed MGM/UA Communications Company.24 In the 1990s United Artists (MGM/UA) traded hands from and back to Tracinda Corp and in the 2000s MGM folded UA into Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures though certain distributorship, branding, and copyrights could bear the United Artists name. In 2005, Comcast, Sony and partner banks bought United Artists and, its parent, MGM, and folded those operations into Sony. The era of mega-consolidation was well underway.25 In 2006, in a return to its roots as an artists’ film studio, actor Tom Cruise, producer Paula Wagner and MGM Studios created United Artists Entertainment LLC. In 2011 it was revealed that MGM bought United Artists whose brand name remains though the last films made under the United Artists banner was in 2009. 26

Since the 1980’s until today, certain UA films have been geared to mature audiences -such as, François Truffaut’s The Last Metro (1981), Karel Reisz’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981), Walter Hill’s Wild Bill (1995) and other less successful ventures. But, starting with War Games (1983), the majority of feature films released in the last 40 years are geared to the youth market demographic.

War Games started as a film for mature audiences on the risks of nuclear war. Market research, however, revealed that such a serious-minded film would not be a blockbuster in the box office sense. Director John Badham (“Saturday Night Fever,” Paramount Pictures, 1977) was brought in and working with newcomer Matthew Broderick and witty script by Lawrence Lasker and Walter F. Parkes appealed to a youth market with a film about games. A teenage computer wiz uses his home computer to connect to the Pentagon and with teenage girlfriend Ally Sheedy go about saving the world from the next Armageddon. Made for $12 million, WarGames earned $124 million at the box office and, like United Artists itself, provided a formula for successful movie making that has endured through the decades.WarGames (1983)” by Wasfi Akab is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


1. Bergan, Ronald, The United Artists Story, Crown, 1986, p. 8.

2. Ibid., p.8.

3. Ibid., p.6; see – – retrieved August 8, 2023.).

4.  see- Balio, Tino, United Artists, Volume 1, 1919–1950: The Company Built by the Stars, 2009 and Welsch, Tricia, Gloria Swanson: Ready for Her Close-Up, University Press of Mississippi, 2013.

5. The UA Story, p.41; – retrieved 8.17.23.

6. The UA Story, p.41.

7. A Short History of The Movies, Gerald Mast, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. Indianapolis, 1977, p.263.

8. – retrieved August 11, 2023.

9. The UA Story, p. 87.

10. Mast, p. 263 and – retrieved August 11, 2023.

11. Film Noir Guide, Michael F. Keaney,  McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers, Jefferson, North Carolina, 2003. p. 3.

12. – retrieved 8.17.23.

13. – retrieved 8.17.23.

14. Mayer, Arthur L., “UA at 40,” Variety, June 24, 1959, p. 42; Balio, Tino (March 2, 2009). United Artists: The Company that Changed the Film Industry (1st ed.). Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press. pp. 226–227.

15. The UA Story, p. 195.

16. Ibid., p. 231.

17. Ibid., p. 251.

18. You’re Only as Good as Your Next One: 100 Great Films, 100 Good Films, and 100 for Which I Should Be Shot, Mike Medavoy and Josh Young, New York: Pocket Books, 2002.  pp. 85–86.

19. The UA Story, p. 251.

20. – retrieved 8.17.23. “Big 3 Sold to UA; Plus 1/2 Can. Co”. Billboard Magazine. October 27, 1973. p. 3.  – retrieved August 8, 2023; Cole, Robert J. (May 16, 1981). “M-G-M is Reported Purchasing United Artists for $350 Million”. The New York Times, p.1 – retrieved August 8, 2023.

21. The UA Story, p. 293.

22. – retrieved 8.17.23.

23. Balio, Tino (March 2, 2009). United Artists, Volume 2, 1951–1978: The Company That Changed the Film Industry. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press. p. 343.

24. Gendel, Morgan (June 7, 1986). “Turner Sells The Studio, Holds on to the Dream”. Los Angeles Times – retrieved August 8, 2023; “Turner, United Artists Close Deal”. Orlando Sentinel. United Press International. August 27, 1986 – retrieved August 8, 2023.

25. Leming, Mike Jr; Busch, Anita (September 22, 2014). “MGM Buys 55% Of Roma Downey And Mark Burnett’s Empire; Relaunches United Artists”. Deadline Hollywood; “United Artists restructuring by MGM”. CNNMoney. June 7, 1999.

26. Fritz, Ben, “MGM regains full control of United Artists”. Los Angeles Times, March 23, 2012.


A Short History of The Movies, Gerald Mast, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. Indianapolis, 1977.

Film Noir Guide, Michael F. Keaney, McFarland & Co., Inc. Jefferson North Carolina, 2003.

History of the American Cinema, Volume 5, 1930-1939, Charles Harpole, General Editor, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1993.

Hollywood The Glamour Years (1919-1941), Robin Langley Sommer, Gallery Books: New York, 1987.

License To Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films, James Chapman, 2009.

My Autobiography, Charlie Chaplin, Melville House Publishing, Brooklyn and London, 2012 (originally published in 1964).

The American Film Industry, ed. Tino Balio, University of Wisconsin Press, 1976.

The United Artists Story, Ronald Bergan, Crown Publishers, Inc., New York, 1986.

United Artists, Volume 1, 1919–1950: The Company Built by the Stars, Tino Balio,  University of Wisconsin Press, 2009

United Artists, Volume 2, 1951–1978: The Company That Changed the Film Industry, Tino Balio, University of Wisconsin Press, 2009.

You’re Only as Good as Your Next One: 100 Great Films, 100 Good Films, and 100 for Which I Should Be Shot, Mike Medavoy and Josh Young, New York: Pocket Books, 2002.