Marie Magdalene "Marlene" Dietrich was a German-American actress. Throughout her long career, which spanned from the 1910s to the 1980s, she continually reinvented herself. In 1920s Berlin, Dietrich acted in silent films, her performance as Lola-Lola in The Blue Angel brought her an international profile and a contract with Paramount Pictures. Dietrich starred in Hollywood films such as Morocco, Shanghai Express, Desire, she traded on her glamorous persona and "exotic" looks, became one of the highest-paid actresses of the era. Throughout World War II, she was a high-profile entertainer in the United States. Although she still made occasional films after the war, Dietrich spent most of the 1950s to the 1970s touring the world as a marquee live-show performer. Dietrich was known for her humanitarian efforts during the war, housing German and French exiles, providing financial support and advocating their U. S. citizenship. For her work on improving morale on the front lines during the war, she received several honors from the United States, France and Israel.
In 1999, the American Film Institute named Dietrich the ninth greatest female star of classic Hollywood cinema. Dietrich was born on 27 December 1901 at Leberstraße 65 in the neighborhood of Rote Insel in Schöneberg, now a district of Berlin, her mother, Wilhelmina Elisabeth Josephine, was from an affluent Berlin family who owned a jewelry and clock-making firm. Her father, Louis Erich Otto Dietrich, was a police lieutenant. Dietrich had one sibling, one year older. Dietrich's father died in 1907, his best friend, Eduard von Losch, an aristocratic first lieutenant in the Grenadiers, courted Wilhelmina and married her in 1914, but he died soon afterwards, in July 1916, from injuries sustained during the First World War. Von Losch never adopted the Dietrich sisters, so Dietrich's surname was never von Losch, as has sometimes been claimed. Dietrich's family nicknamed her "Lena" and "Lene". Aged about 11, she combined her first two names to form the name "Marlene". Dietrich attended the Auguste-Viktoria Girls' School from 1907 to 1917 and graduated from the Victoria-Luise-Schule in Berlin-Wilmersdorf, in 1918.
She became interested in theater and poetry as a teenager. A wrist injury curtailed her dreams of becoming a concert violinist, but by 1922 she had her first job, playing violin in a pit orchestra for silent films at a Berlin cinema, she was fired after only four weeks. The earliest professional stage appearances by Dietrich were as a chorus girl on tour with Guido Thielscher's Girl-Kabarett vaudeville-style entertainments, in Rudolf Nelson revues in Berlin. In 1922, Dietrich auditioned unsuccessfully for theatrical director and impresario Max Reinhardt's drama academy, she did not attract any special attention at first. Dietrich's film debut was a small part in the film The Little Napoleon, she met her future husband, Rudolf Sieber, on the set of Tragedy of Love in 1923. Dietrich and Sieber were married in a civil ceremony in Berlin on 17 May 1923, her only child, daughter Maria Elisabeth Sieber, was born on 13 December 1924. Dietrich continued to work in film both in Berlin and Vienna throughout the 1920s.
On stage, she had roles of varying importance in Frank Wedekind's Pandora's Box, William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night's Dream, as well as George Bernard Shaw's Back to Methuselah and Misalliance. It was in musicals and revues such as Broadway, Es Liegt in der Luft, Zwei Krawatten, that she attracted the most attention. By the late 1920s, Dietrich was playing sizable parts on screen, including roles in Café Elektric, I Kiss Your Hand and The Ship of Lost Souls. In 1929, Dietrich landed her breakthrough role of Lola Lola, a cabaret singer who caused the downfall of a hitherto respectable schoolmaster, in the UFA production of The Blue Angel, shot at Babelsberg film studios. Josef von Sternberg thereafter took credit for having "discovered" Dietrich; the film introduced Dietrich's signature song "Falling in Love Again", which she recorded for Electrola and made further recordings in the 1930s for Polydor and Decca Records. In 1930, on the strength of The Blue Angel's international success, with encouragement and promotion from Josef von Sternberg, established in Hollywood, Dietrich moved to the United States under contract to Paramount Pictures, the U.
S. film distributor of The Blue Angel. The studio sought to market Dietrich as a German answer to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's Swedish sensation, Greta Garbo. Sternberg welcomed her with gifts, including a green Rolls-Royce Phantom II; the car appeared in their first U. S. film Morocco. Dietrich starred in six films directed by von Sternberg at Paramount between 1930 and 1935. Sternberg worked with Dietrich to create the image of a glamorous and mysterious femme fatale, he coached her intensively as an actress. She willingly followed his sometimes imperious direction in a way that a number of other performers resisted. In Morocco, Dietrich was again cast as a cabaret singer; the film is best remembered for the sequence in which she performs a song dressed in a man's white tie and kisses another woman, both provocative for the era. The film earned Dietrich her only Academy Award nomination. Morocco was followed by Dishonored, a major success with Dietrich cast as a Mata Hari-like spy. Shanghai
J. Pat O'Malley
James Patrick Francis O'Malley was an English singer and character actor, who appeared in many American films and television programmes from the 1940s to 1982, using the stage name J. Pat O'Malley, he appeared on the Broadway stage in Ten Little Indians and Dial M for Murder. A New York Times drama critic praised O'Malley's performance in Ten Little Indians, calling him "a rara avis, a comedian who does not gauge the success of his efforts by the number of laughs he induces at each performance". Born into an Irish family in Burnley, Lancashire, O’Malley began his career in entertainment in 1925 as a recording artist and as principal singer with Jack Hylton and his orchestra in the United Kingdom from 1930 to 1933. Known at that time as Pat O'Malley, he recorded more than four hundred popular songs of the day. In 1930 he sang Amy, Wonderful Amy, a song about aviator Amy Johnson, performed by Jack Hylton's band, he began a solo recording career in 1935 in parallel with his work with Hylton. At the end of 1935 Hylton and O'Malley came to the United States to record with a band composed of American musicians, thus emulating Ray Noble and Al Bowlly.
The venture was short-lived. O'Malley remained in the US, known professionally as J. Pat O'Malley. O'Malley guest-starred in 1951 as a sheriff on Bill Williams's syndicated western series, The Adventures of Kit Carson. From 1950-55, he appeared in five episodes of The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse. From 1951-57 he was cast in eight episodes of Robert Montgomery Presents. Other television work from this period include roles in Walt Disney's Spin and Marty film and serial as the always-faithful ranch steward, Perkins. In 1956 he guest-starred in one of the last episodes, "The Guilty", of the NBC legal drama Justice, based on case files of the Legal Aid Society of New York. In 1958 he was a guest star in "Peter Gunn" as Homer Tweed, he appeared in Rod Cameron's syndicated City Detective in the episode "Found in a Pawnshop". In 1960 O'Malley was cast in Coronado 9, set in San Diego. In 1959 and 1960 O'Malley portrayed a judge and a newspaper editor in three episodes of the ABC western series The Rebel, starring Nick Adams, as a roaming former Confederate soldier.
On January 6, 1959 O'Malley played a priest in the episode "The Secret of the Mission" on the syndicated adventure series Rescue 8, starring Jim Davis and Lang Jeffries. In the storyline the priest is trapped with a would-be thief named Carlos under the roof of a collapsed church. O'Malley was cast as Walter Morgan in the 1959 episode "The First Gold Brick" of the NBC western series The Californians. In 1959-1960 he made eight appearances as Judge Caleb Marsh in Black Saddle. In 1959 he was cast as Dr Hardy in an early episode of Hennesey. In season 3, Episode 10, titled "The Medicine Man", of the television series Wanted: Dead or Alive starring Steve McQueen, O'Malley played the character of Doc, he appeared in the role of a bank president in an episode of The Real McCoys titled "The Bank Loan", released 15 January 1959. In 1960 O'Malley made guest appearances on The Tab Hunter Show, The Law and Mr. Jones, Johnny Midnight, Johnny Staccato and Son, Adventures in Paradise, The Islanders, Going My Way, The Tall Man.
He made numerous guest appearances on CBS's Perry Mason, including as the defendant in the 1960 episode "The Case of the Prudent Prosecutor" and as the murderer in the 1961 episode "The Case of the Roving River". In 1961 O'Malley appeared in different roles. In the episode "The Has-Been" he had the title role, playing a fading entertainer grieving over the loss of his wife. In one poignant scene, O'Malley displayed his song and dance talent as he performed for an imaginary audience in an abandoned dance hall; that year he guest-starred in the television version of Bus Stop and the following year appeared in two episodes of The Twilight Zone, "The Fugitive" and "Mr. Garrity and the Graves", he guest-starred twice on The Lloyd Bridges Show in that series' 1962-1963 season. He co-starred with Spring Byington in the 1964 episode "This Train Don't Stop Till It Gets There" of The Greatest Show on Earth. During the 1963-1964 season O'Malley appeared in eight episodes of My Favorite Martian and returned to The Twilight Zone, playing a bit part in the episode "The Self-Improvement of Salvatore Ross".
In the 1964-1965 season, he was cast in Me. O'Malley appeared in the Hogan's Heroes episode "How to Cook a German Goose by Radar" in 1966, the 1967 episode "D-Day at Stalag 13". In 1966 he appeared as Ed Breck in the episode "Win Place and Die" of Jack Sheldon's short-lived sitcom Run, Run, he appeared as "Vince" in The Rounders. In the 1966 episode "The Four Dollar Law Suit" of the syndicated western series Death Valley Days, O'Malley played the lawyer for Alfred Hall, a country chicken farmer who sues an insurance company for underpaying him four dollars after his chicken coop burns to the ground. In 1969 O'Malley portrayed Carol Brady's father in the first episode of ABC's The Brady Bunch; the name "Fleming" was used in O'Malley's first two appearances on The Fugitive. In 1973 O'Malley starred with Shirley Booth in the short-lived comedy A Touch of Grace, he made several appearances on Maude between 1973 and 1975.
William Smith, known by the screen name Franklyn Farnum, was an American character actor and Hollywood extra who appeared in 1,100 films. Farnum appeared as an actor in more films to win the Academy Award for Best Picture than any other. Early in his career, he was billed as Frank Farnum. Farnum was born in 1878 in Boston and became a vaudeville actor at the age of twelve, he was featured in a number of theatre and musical productions by the time he entered silent films near the age of 40. His Broadway credits include Keep It Clean, Ziegfeld 9 O'clock Frolic, Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic, Somewhere Else. Farnum's career was dominated by westerns; some of his more famous films include the serial Vanishing Trails and the features The Clock, The Firebrand, The Drug Store Cowboy, The Gambling Fool. He left films in 1925 but returned five years at the advent of sound, only to find himself billed much further down the credits, if billed at all. However, he continued on in these obscure roles well into the 1950s.
One of his three wives was actress Alma Rubens, to whom he was married in 1918. The couple divorced in 1919, he had one daughter, Martha Lillian Smith, born in 1898. Farnum appeared in seven Academy Award for Best Picture winners, more than any other actor in history: The Life of Emile Zola, Going My Way, The Lost Weekend, Gentleman's Agreement, All About Eve, The Greatest Show on Earth, Around the World in Eighty Days. On July 4, 1961, Farnum died of cancer at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California, at the age of 83. List of actors who have appeared in multiple Best Picture Academy Award winners Franklyn Farnum on IMDb Franklyn Farnum at the Internet Broadway Database Franklyn Farnum at Find a Grave
Vivien Leigh was an English stage and film actress. She won two Academy Awards for Best Actress, for her iconic performances as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind and Blanche DuBois in the film version of A Streetcar Named Desire, a role she had played on stage in London's West End in 1949, she won a Tony Award for her work in the Broadway musical version of Tovarich. After completing her drama school education, Leigh appeared in small roles in four films in 1935 and progressed to the role of heroine in Fire Over England. Lauded for her beauty, Leigh felt that her physical attributes sometimes prevented her from being taken as an actress. Despite her fame as a screen actress, Leigh was a stage performer. During her 30-year career, she played roles ranging from the heroines of Noël Coward and George Bernard Shaw comedies to classic Shakespearean characters such as Ophelia, Cleopatra and Lady Macbeth. In life, she performed as a character actress in a few films. At the time, the public identified Leigh with her second husband, Laurence Olivier, her spouse from 1940 to 1960.
Leigh and Olivier starred together in many stage productions, with Olivier directing, in three films. She earned a reputation for being difficult to work with, for much of her adult life, she suffered from bipolar disorder, as well as recurrent bouts of chronic tuberculosis, first diagnosed in the mid-1940s and claimed her life at the age of 53. Although her career had periods of inactivity, in 1999 the American Film Institute ranked Leigh as the 16th greatest female movie star of classic Hollywood cinema. Leigh was born Vivian Mary Hartley on 5 November 1913 in British India on the campus of St. Paul's School, Darjeeling, she was the only child of Ernest Richard Hartley, a British broker, his wife, Gertrude Mary Frances. Her father was born in Scotland in 1882, while her mother, a devout Roman Catholic, was born in Darjeeling in 1888 and may have been of Irish and Armenian or Indian ancestry. Gertrude's parents, who lived in India, were Michael John Yackjee, a man of independent means, Mary Teresa Robinson, born to an Irish family killed during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and grew up in an orphanage, where she met Yackjee.
Ernest and Gertrude Hartley were married in 1912 in London. In 1917, Ernest Hartley was transferred to Bangalore as an officer in the Indian Cavalry, while Gertrude and Vivian stayed in Ootacamund. At the age of three, young Vivian made her first stage appearance for her mother's amateur theatre group, reciting "Little Bo Peep". Gertrude Hartley tried to instill an appreciation of literature in her daughter and introduced her to the works of Hans Christian Andersen, Lewis Carroll and Rudyard Kipling, as well as stories of Greek mythology and Indian folklore. At the age of six, Vivian was sent by her mother from Loreto Convent, Darjeeling, to the Convent of the Sacred Heart situated in Roehampton, southwest London. One of her friends there was future actress Maureen O'Sullivan, two years her senior, to whom Vivian expressed her desire to become "a great actress", she was removed from the school by her father, travelling with her parents for four years, she attended schools in Europe, notably in Dinard, the Sacred Heart in San Remo on the Italian Riviera, in Paris, becoming fluent in both French and Italian.
The family returned to Britain in 1931. She attended A Connecticut Yankee, one of O'Sullivan's films playing in London's West End, told her parents of her ambitions to become an actress. Shortly after, her father enrolled Vivian at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Vivian met Herbert Leigh Holman, known as Leigh Holman, a barrister 13 years her senior, in 1931. Despite his disapproval of "theatrical people", they married on 20 December 1932 and she terminated her studies at RADA, her attendance and interest in acting having waned after meeting Holman. On 12 October 1933 in London, she gave birth to a daughter, Suzanne Mrs. Robin Farrington. Leigh's friends suggested she take a small role as a schoolgirl in the film Things Are Looking Up, her film debut, albeit uncredited as an extra, she engaged an agent, John Gliddon, who believed that "Vivian Holman" was not a suitable name for an actress. After rejecting his many suggestions, she took "Vivian Leigh" as her professional name. Gliddon recommended her to Alexander Korda as a possible film actress, but Korda rejected her as lacking potential.
She was cast in the play The Mask of Virtue, directed by Sidney Carroll in 1935, received excellent reviews, followed by interviews and newspaper articles. One such article was from the Daily Express, in which the interviewer noted "a lightning change came over her face", the first public mention of the rapid changes in mood which had become characteristic of her. John Betjeman, the future poet laureate, described her as "the essence of English girlhood". Korda attended her opening night performance, admitted his error, signed her to a film contract, she continued with the play but, when Korda moved it to a larger theatre, Leigh was found to be unable to project her voice adequately or to hold the attention of so large an audience, the play closed soon after. In the playbill, Carroll had revised the spelling of her first name to "Vivien". In 1960 Leigh recalled her ambivalence towards her first experience of critical acclaim and sudden fame, commenting, "t
Una O'Connor (actress)
Una O'Connor was an Irish-American actress who worked extensively in theatre before becoming a character actress in film and in television. She portrayed comical wives and servants. O'Connor was born to a Catholic nationalist family in Ireland, her mother died. He soon left for Australia and McGlade was brought up by an aunt, studying at St Dominic's School, convent schools and in Paris. Thinking she would pursue teaching, she enrolled in the South Kensington School of Art. Before taking up teaching duties, she enrolled in the Abbey School of Acting, her career with the Abbey was between 1912 - 1934. She changed her name. One of her earliest appearances was in George Bernard Shaw's The Shewing-Up of Blanco Posnet in which she played the part of a swaggering American ranch girl; the production played in Dublin as well as in New York, opening 20 November 1911 at the Maxine Elliott Theatre, marking O'Connor's American debut. By 1913 she was based in London, where she appeared in The Magic Jug, The Starlight Express, Paddy the Next Best Thing.
In the early 1920s she appeared as a cockney maid in Plus Fours followed in 1924 by her portrayal of a cockney waitress in Frederick Lonsdale's The Fake. In a single paragraph review, an unnamed reviewer noted "Una O'Connor's low comedy hotel maid was handled." The latter show played in New York, opening 6 October 1924 at the Hudson Theatre. A review of the New York performances of The Fake recounts details of the plot, but mentions... two players of more than ordinary excellence. In the third act of The Fake occurs a scene between Una O'Connor and Godfrey Tearle, with Miss O'Connor as a waitress trying a crude sort of flirtation with Mr. Tearle, he does not respond at all and the longing, the pathos of this servant girl when she has exhausted her charms and receives no encouragement, is the epitome of what careful character portrayal should be. Miss O'Connor is on the stage for only this single act, but in that short space of time she registers an indelible impression. Rightly, she scored one of the best hits of the performance.
These two plays in which she portrayed servants and waitresses appear to have portended her future career. Returning to London, she played in The Ring o' Bells, Autumn Fire, Distinguished Villa, Quicksands of Youth; when Autumn Fire toured the U. S. opening first in Providence, Rhode Island, a critic wrote: "Una O'Connor, who plays Ellen Keegan, the poor drudge of a daughter, bitter against life and love, does fine work. Her excellence will undoubtedly win her the love of an American public."She made her first appearance on film in Dark Red Roses, followed by Murder! Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, an uncredited part in To Oblige a Lady. Despite her lengthy apprenticeship she had not attracted much attention. British critic Eric Johns recalled meeting her in 1931 in which she confessed "I don't know what I'm going to do if I don't get work... The end of my savings is in sight and unless something happens soon, I'll not be able to pay the rent", her luck changed when she was chosen by Noël Coward to appear in Cavalcade at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1933.
Expressing surprise that Coward noticed her, Coward responded that he had watched her for years and wrote the part with her in mind. She portrayed an Edwardian servant; when the curtain came down after a performance attended by Hollywood executives, they exclaimed to each other "We must have that Irish woman. That is obvious", her success led her to reprise her role in the film version of Cavalcade, released in 1933, with its success, O'Connor decided to remain in the United States. Among O'Connor's most successful and best remembered roles are her comic performances in James Whale's The Invisible Man as the publican's wife, in Bride of Frankenstein as the Baron's housekeeper, she appeared in The Informer and The Plough and the Stars for director John Ford. Feeling homesick, in 1937 she returned to London for twelve months in the hope of finding a good part but found nothing that interested her. While in England she appeared in three live BBC Television productions, including a play by Irish playwright Teresa Deevy called In Search of Valour in which she played the part of Stasia Claremorris.
After her return to America, the storage facility that housed her furniture and car was destroyed in one of The Blitz strikes, which she took as a sign to remain in America. Her film career continued with roles in Michael Curtiz's The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Sea Hawk, she appeared in supporting roles in various stage productions and achieved an outstanding success in the role of Janet McKenzie, the nearly deaf housemaid, in Agatha Christie's Witness for the Prosecution at Henry Miller's Theatre on Broadway from 1954–56. As one of the witnesses, in what was a serious drama, O'Connor's character was intended to provide comic relief, it was her final film performance. After a break from her initial forays in television, she took up the medium again by 1950. In 1952 she was able to state. In a rare article that she aut
The Academy Awards known as the Oscars, are a set of awards for artistic and technical merit in the film industry. Given annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the awards are an international recognition of excellence in cinematic achievements as assessed by the Academy's voting membership; the various category winners are awarded a copy of a golden statuette called the "Academy Award of Merit", although more referred to by its nickname "Oscar". The award was sculpted by George Stanley from a design sketch by Cedric Gibbons. AMPAS first presented it in 1929 at a private dinner hosted by Douglas Fairbanks in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel; the Academy Awards ceremony was first broadcast on radio in 1930 and televised for the first time in 1953. It is now seen live worldwide, its equivalents – the Emmy Awards for television, the Tony Awards for theater, the Grammy Awards for music – are modeled after the Academy Awards. The 91st Academy Awards ceremony, honoring the best films of 2018, was held on February 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre, in Los Angeles, California.
The ceremony was broadcast on ABC. A total of 3,072 Oscar statuettes have been awarded from the inception of the award through the 90th ceremony, it was the first ceremony since 1988 without a host. The first Academy Awards presentation was held on 16 May 1929, at a private dinner function at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel with an audience of about 270 people; the post-awards party was held at the Mayfair Hotel. The cost of guest tickets for that night's ceremony was $5. Fifteen statuettes were awarded, honoring artists and other participants in the film-making industry of the time, for their works during the 1927–28 period; the ceremony ran for 15 minutes. Winners were announced to media three months earlier; that was changed for the second ceremony in 1930. Since for the rest of the first decade, the results were given to newspapers for publication at 11:00 pm on the night of the awards; this method was used until an occasion when the Los Angeles Times announced the winners before the ceremony began.
The first Best Actor awarded was Emil Jannings, for his performances in The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh. He had to return to Europe before the ceremony, so the Academy agreed to give him the prize earlier. At that time, the winners were recognized for all of their work done in a certain category during the qualifying period. With the fourth ceremony, the system changed, professionals were honored for a specific performance in a single film. For the first six ceremonies, the eligibility period spanned two calendar years. At the 29th ceremony, held on 27 March 1957, the Best Foreign Language Film category was introduced; until foreign-language films had been honored with the Special Achievement Award. The 74th Academy Awards, held in 2002, presented the first Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Since 1973, all Academy Awards ceremonies have ended with the Academy Award for Best Picture. Traditionally, the previous year's winner for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor present the awards for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, while the previous year's winner for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress present the awards for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.
See § Awards of Merit categories The best known award is the Academy Award of Merit, more popularly known as the Oscar statuette. Made of gold-plated bronze on a black metal base, it is 13.5 in tall, weighs 8.5 lb, depicts a knight rendered in Art Deco style holding a crusader's sword standing on a reel of film with five spokes. The five spokes represent the original branches of the Academy: Actors, Directors and Technicians; the model for the statuette is said to be Mexican actor Emilio "El Indio" Fernández. Sculptor George Stanley sculpted Cedric Gibbons' design; the statuettes presented at the initial ceremonies were gold-plated solid bronze. Within a few years the bronze was abandoned in favor of Britannia metal, a pewter-like alloy, plated in copper, nickel silver, 24-karat gold. Due to a metal shortage during World War II, Oscars were made of painted plaster for three years. Following the war, the Academy invited recipients to redeem the plaster figures for gold-plated metal ones; the only addition to the Oscar since it was created is a minor streamlining of the base.
The original Oscar mold was cast in 1928 at the C. W. Shumway & Sons Foundry in Batavia, which contributed to casting the molds for the Vince Lombardi Trophy and Emmy Award's statuettes. From 1983 to 2015 50 Oscars in a tin alloy with gold plating were made each year in Chicago by Illinois manufacturer R. S. Owens & Company, it would take between four weeks to manufacture 50 statuettes. In 2016, the Academy returned to bronze as the core metal of the statuettes, handing manufacturing duties to Walden, New York-based Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry. While based on a digital scan of an original 1929 Oscar, the statuettes retain their modern-era dimensions and black pedestal. Cast in liquid bronze from 3D-printed ceramic molds and polished, they are electroplated in 24-karat gold by Brooklyn, New York–based Epner Technology; the time required to produce 50 such statuettes is three months. R. S. Owens i
United Artists Corporation doing business as United Artists Digital Studios, is an American film and television entertainment studio. Founded in 1919 by D. W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, the studio was premised on allowing actors to control their own interests, rather than being dependent upon commercial studios. UA was bought and restructured over the ensuing century; the current United Artists company exists as a successor to the original. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer acquired the studio in 1981 for a reported $350 million. On September 22, 2014, MGM acquired a controlling interest in Mark Burnett and Roma Downey's entertainment companies One Three Media and Lightworkers Media merged them to revive United Artists' TV production unit as United Artists Media Group. However, on December 14 of the following year, MGM wholly acquired UAMG and folded it into MGM Television. UA was revived yet again in 2018 as United Artists Digital Studios. Mirror, the joint distribution venture between MGM and Annapurna Pictures was renamed as United Artists Releasing in early February 2019 just in time for UA's 100th anniversary.
Pickford, Chaplin and Griffith incorporated UA as a joint venture on February 5, 1919. Each held a 25 percent stake in the preferred shares and a 20 percent stake in the common shares of the joint venture, with the remaining 20 percent of common shares held by lawyer and advisor William Gibbs McAdoo; the idea for the venture originated with Fairbanks, Chaplin and cowboy star William S. Hart a year earlier. Hollywood veterans, the four stars talked of forming their own company to better control their own work, they were spurred on by established Hollywood producers and distributors who were tightening their control over actor salaries and creative decisions, a process that evolved into the studio system. With the addition of Griffith, planning began; when he heard about their scheme, Richard A. Rowland, head of Metro Pictures said, "The inmates are taking over the asylum." The four partners, with advice from McAdoo, formed their distribution company. Hiram Abrams was its first managing director, the company established its headquarters at 729 Seventh Avenue in New York City.
The original terms called for each star to produce five pictures a year. By the time the company was operational in 1921, feature films were becoming more expensive and polished, running times had settled at around ninety minutes; the original goal was thus abandoned. UA's first film, His Majesty, the American, written by and starring Fairbanks, was a success. Funding for movies was limited. Without selling stock to the public like other studios, all United had for finance was weekly prepayment installments from theater owners for upcoming movies; as a result, production was slow, the company distributed an average of only five films a year in its first five years. By 1924, Griffith had dropped out, the company was facing a crisis. Veteran producer Joseph Schenck was hired as president, he had produced pictures for a decade, brought commitments for films starring his wife, Norma Talmadge, his sister-in-law, Constance Talmadge, his brother-in-law, Buster Keaton. Contracts were signed with independent producers, including Samuel Goldwyn, Howard Hughes.
In 1933, Schenck organized a new company with Darryl F. Zanuck, called Twentieth Century Pictures, which soon provided four pictures a year, forming half of UA's schedule. Schenck formed a separate partnership with Pickford and Chaplin to buy and build theaters under the United Artists name, they began international operations, first in Canada, in Mexico. By the end of the 1930s, United Artists was represented in over 40 countries; when he was denied an ownership share in 1935, Schenck resigned. He set up 20th Century Pictures' merger with Fox Film Corporation to form 20th Century Fox. Al Lichtman succeeded Schenck as company president. Other independent producers distributed through United Artists in the 1930s including Walt Disney Productions, Alexander Korda, Hal Roach, David O. Selznick, Walter Wanger; as the years passed, the dynamics of the business changed, these "producing partners" drifted away. Samuel Goldwyn Productions and Disney went to Wanger to Universal Pictures. In the late 1930s, UA turned a profit.
Goldwyn was providing most of the output for distribution. He sued United several times for disputed compensation leading him to leave. MGM's 1939 hit Gone with the Wind was supposed to be a UA release except that Selznick wanted Clark Gable, under contract to MGM, to play Rhett Butler; that year, Fairbanks died. UA became embroiled in lawsuits with Selznick over his distribution of some films through RKO. Selznick considered UA's operation sloppy, left to start his own distribution arm. In the 1940s, United Artists was losing money because of poorly received pictures. Cinema attendance continued to decline; the company sold its Mexican releasing division to Crédito Cinematográfico Mexicano, a local company. In 1941, Chaplin, Orson Welles, Selznick, Alexander Korda, Wanger—many of whom were members of United Artists--formed the Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers. Members included Hunt Stromberg, William Cagney, Sol L