Beautifully engraved certificate from the Selznick Corporation
issued in 1921. This historic document was printed by the American Banknote Company and has an ornate border around it with the company name centered on the top. This item has the signatures of the Company’s President, Lewis J. Selznick and Vice-President.
The impresario and movie pioneer Lewis J. Selznick (1870-1933) was bankrupted the following year. He will long be remembered for his memorable maxim: "There's no business in the world in which a man needs so little brains as in the movies." His sons were Myron and David O. Selznick. Folds, vertical fold touches 2 letters of Lewis. Lightly creased Overall, fine condition.
Lewis J. Selznick
Born Lewis Zeleznik May 2, 1870
Died January 25, 1933 (aged 62) Los Angeles, California Occupation presenter, producer Years active 1916 - 1923 Spouse(s) Florence Flossie Sachs (1896-1933) Lewis J. Selznick (May 2, 1870 - January 25, 1933) was a Jewish-Ukrainian-English-American film producer born Lewis Zelznick.
Fascinated with the fledgling motion picture business, and recognizing a business opportunity with great potential, he made his way to New York City, where he joined a film production company. In 1914 he founded World Pictures Corporation, a film distribution company in Fort Lee, New Jersey. He soon merged with the Peerless Pictures Studios and the Shubert Brothers, Shubert Pictures Co. Selznick's company became very successful, in 1915 hiring Sidney Olcott away from Kalem Studios plus the French director Maurice Tourneur away from the American arm of the giant, Pathé. By 1916, personality conflicts with his partners saw him ousted from the firm by the Board of Directors.
When Lewis J. Selznick Production, Inc. (Selznick Corporation ), became financially troubled during the production glut of 1923 that roiled the industry, he had no one to turn to. His company went bankrupt in 1923 due to over-expansion, done in by the machinations of a vengeful Zukor. He never produced another movie, or as he'd prefer it, his days as a "presenter" were through. (Lewis J. Selznick Production's pictures were opened with a title card that read: "Selznick Presents." The slogan "Selznick Pictures Make Happy Hours" was, by the end of the second decade of the new 20th Century, the best-known slogan in the entertainment industry.)
Lewis Selznick continued in film on the East Coast until 1920 when he moved to Hollywood, California where he teamed up with Adolph Zukor and Jesse L. Lasky. However, within a few years his company, Lewis J. Selznick Production, Inc., experienced severe financial difficulties and went bankrupt in 1925. He retired from the business and died in Los Angeles, California in 1933.
With his wife of thirty-seven years, Florence Sachs, Lewis J. Selznick had four children. His son Myron Selznick (1898-1944) would work as a producer and studio executive until establishing a successful talent agency. His other son, David O. Selznick (1902-1965), became one of Hollywood's greatest filmmakers.
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Lewis J. Selznick has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6412 Hollywood Blvd.
Rupert of Hentzau (1923) (presenter) One Week of Love (1922) (presenter) Love Is an Awful Thing (1922) (presenter) Under Oath (1922) (presenter) John Smith (1922) (presenter) The Referee (1922) (presenter) Evidence (1922) (presenter) Channing of the Northwest (1922) (presenter) Reported Missing (1922) (presenter) Reckless Youth (1922) (presenter) Love's Masquerade (1922) (presenter) A Wide Open Town (1922) (presenter) The Prophet's Paradise (1922) (presenter) Why Announce Your Marriage? (1922) (presenter) Shadows of the Sea (1922) (presenter) Conceit (1921) (presenter) A Man's Home (1921) (presenter) The Way of a Maid (1921) A Man of Stone (1921) (presenter) Clay Dollars (1921) (presenter) After Midnight (1921) (presenter) Handcuffs or Kisses (1921) (presenter) Remorseless Love (1921) (presenter) The Fighter (1921) (presenter) Who Am I? (1921) (presenter) Is Life Worth Living? (1921) (presenter) The Girl from Nowhere (1921) (presenter) The Last Door (1921) (presenter) Bucking the Tiger (1921) (presenter) The Miracle of Manhattan (1921) (presenter) Poor, Dear Margaret Kirby (1921) (presenter) The Chicken in the Case (1921) (presenter) Worlds Apart (1921) (presenter) The Greatest Love (1920) (presenter) The Pleasure Seekers (1920) (presenter) The Dangerous Paradise (1920) (presenter) Everybody's Sweetheart (1920) (presenter) Out of the Snows (1920) (presenter) The Poor Simp (1920) (presenter) Darling Mine (1920) (presenter) The Desperate Hero (1920) (presenter) Whispers (1920) (presenter) Blind Youth (1920) (presenter) Youthful Folly (1920) (presenter) Sooner or Later (1920) (presenter) The Amazing Woman (1920) (presenter)
Happiness a la Mode (1919) (presenter) The Veiled Adventure (1919) (presenter) Experimental Marriage (1919) (presenter) ... aka Saturday to Monday Who Cares? (1919) (presenter) A Lady's Name (1918) (presenter) Mrs. Leffingwell's Boots (1918) (presenter) Sauce for the Goose (1918) (presenter) A Pair of Silk Stockings (1918) (presenter) Good Night, Paul (1918) (presenter) The Lesson (1918) (presenter) The Honeymoon (1917) (presenter) The Common Law (1916) (presenter)
Cheating Cheaters (1919) (producer) The Studio Girl (1918) (producer) Vera, the Medium (1917) (producer) War Brides (1916) (producer)
Biography for Lewis J. Selznick
Birth 2 May 1870, Kiev, Czarist Russia (now Ukraine)
Date of Death 25 January 1933, Los Angeles, California, USA
Birth Name Lewis Zeleznik
Mini Biography Lewis J. Selznick, one of the pioneers of studio film production and the father of Oscar-winning Gone with the Wind (1939) producer David O. Selznick, was born Lewis Zeleznik in Kiev, Ukraine in the Russian Empire, into a poor Jewish family of eighteen. Selznick migrated to London at the age of twelve, and then to the United States, eventually winding up as a small-time jeweler in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Fate intervened in Selznick's life in the guise of John P. Harris, who opened up the first dedicated cinema in Pittsburgh in 1905. (Pennsylvania officials claim that Harris' nickelodeon was the country's first, but there were dedicated theaters in the U.S. for at least three years before Harris' theater, as a dedicated cinema had opened in Los Angeles in 1902.) Harris called his new theater, which he opened with a 20-minute, one-reel film from Lumiere, a "nickel-odeon," even though his admission price was ten cents ("odeon" is the Greek word for "theater," and "melodeon" had been a name given to music halls), which raises doubts over his claim to have invented the word, as well as the concept. Before the nickelodeon, movies had been shown in makeshift auditoriums and between variety acts in vaudeville houses as "chasers," so-called as they chased lingering patrons out of the theaters. Two merchants with shops near Harris' nickelodeon became intrigued with the potential of the new industry, Harry Warner and Lewis J. Selznick. Both would go on to be the founders of major studios.
'Time' magazine, in a story about his son David O. Selznick in its July 1, 1935 issue, claimed that Lewis J. became a producer by walking into the headquarters of Universal Film Manufacturing in 1917, commandeering an abandoned desk, and putting a sign labeled "General Manager" over it. The truth may be more mundane, but it is nonetheless fascinating and elucidates the evolution of the motion picture industry.
Selznick became general manager of the East Coast Universal Film Exchange, and eventually started Equitable Pictures with financial backing from Chicago mail-order magnate Arthur Spiegel and a Wall Street investment firm. In a familiar pattern of that time, Selznick created Equitable with the aim of raiding Vitagraph for Clara Kimball Young, a huge draw at the box office. Selznick was one of the investors behind World Pictures, headquartered in Ft. Lee, New Jersey, the first American movie capital. World had been created in 1914 to import foreign-made features and to distribute the movies of several newly-established feature-film companies, including Selznick's Equitable Pictures. Selznick then merged his company with Shubert Pictures, which was the movie production arm of Shubert Theatrical Co., and Peerless Pictures, the movie production company created by motion picture raw film stock magnate Jules Brulatour.
World Pictures, now under the effective control of Selznick, released movies produced by Equitable, Peerless, and Shubert Pictures, as well as those produced by independent companies, including the California Motion Picture Corp. of San Francisco. Movie production was centered at the Peerless Studio in Fort Lee, which had been built by Brulatour in 1914, and at the Paragon Studio, which was built in 1916. Gradually, World Pictures began to dominate the companies whose movies it distributed. World Film Corp. was incorporate in February 1915, with mail-order magnate Arthur Spiegel as president, and Selznick as vice president and general manager.
Photoplay Magazine reported in 1915 that World Film was a large feature film company, both producing and distributing movies through its own exchanges. Its market capitalization totaled $2,000,000 in stock with a par value of $5.00 a share, of which approximately $1,500,000 was outstanding. For the fiscal year ending June 27, 1915, World Film reported a net profit of $329,000, which was equivalent to return of a little over a 20% on the outstanding stock. At the time of the Photoplay article, World Film had yet to pay a dividend, and its stock was active on the New York Curb Market at prices both above and below its par value.
World Film's market staples were traditional romances, comedies, and dramas starring the likes of Lillian Russell, Alice Brady, 'Marie Dressler', and Lew Fields. Maurice Tourneur, who came over from Éclair America, proved to be World's top filmmaker. Other World Film employees who went on to greater careers included Josef von Sternberg, who worked as a film cutter, and Frances Marion, the future Oscar-winning screenwriter. Famed Broadway caricaturist Al Hirschfeld was appointed head of the art department by Selznick when he was still in his teens.
Lewis Selznick was ousted as general manager of World Film in 1916. Three years later, he left World, taking Clara Kimball Young with him, and formed his own production company, the Clara Kimball Young Film Corp. The company leased studios from the Solax Co., which had been founded in Fort Lee by Alice Guy Blache and her husband, Herbert. (Blanche was not only one of the first women movie executives, but one of the first women directors, as well.) Selznick's company also released movies produced by the Schenck brothers, Joseph and Nicholas Schenck, who were partners with theater-owner Marcus Lowe in his chain of movie houses, as well as in the Palisades Amusement Park in the Fort Lee/Cliffside Park area.
The early days of the film studios saw a constant spate of mergers and acquisitions as the industry underwent consolidation and individual moguls jockeyed for position. Samuel Goldfish was ousted from two companies he co-founded in the 1910s, Famous Players-Lasky and Goldwyn Pictures (from which he took his name, becoming known as the independent producer Samuel Goldwyn). Selznick merged with Adolph Zukor's Famous Players Pictures, in 1917, creating Select Pictures, later reorganized as Selznick Film Co. He eventually bought out Zukor and merged his two companies into Selznick-Select, then acquired World Pictures' film exchanges, which he renamed Republic Distributing Corp. He shifted his operation to California, completing the move in 1920, where he again linked up with Zukor and Jesse Lasky's Paramount-Artcraft, the successor to Famous Players-Lasky.
Colorful and flamboyant, a quote of Selznick's became one of the most famous aphorisms about the motion picture industry: "There's no business in the world in which a man needs so little brains as in the movies." He also showed a wicked sense of humor. As a Jew growing up in Czarist Russia, a land famous for its anti-Semitic pogroms, Selznick suffered persecution before he emigrated to England. When Nicholas II was overthrown by the Bolshevik Revolution of November 1917, Selznick sent a cable to him: When I was a poor boy in Kiev some of your policemen were not kind to me and my people stop I came to America and prospered stop Now hear with regret you are out of a job over there stop Feel no ill will what your policemen did so if you will come New York can give you fine position acting in pictures stop Salary no object stop Reply my expense stop Regards you and family.
Unlike most of the other moguls, Lewis J. Selznick didn't take the movie business too seriously. The other movie magnates were outraged by his cavalier attitude toward the industry and the moguls themselves. Among the immigrant businessmen who created Hollywood and the American motion picture industry, it was the cultured and introspective ones who failed. Selznick had a self-deprecating cynicism that eventually diluted his ambition. It was said that in the early 20s, Selznick would rather stay at home surrounded by his ojects d'art. Apparently, he eschewed schmoozing with other industry insiders at their favorite haunts, the track, the polo grounds, the skeet range, and the speakeasies. Lacking their tastes and world view, Selznick wound up distrusted by the other movie magnates.
When Lewis J. Selznick Production, Inc., became financially troubled during the production glut of 1923 that roiled the industry, he had no one to turn to. His company went bankrupt in 1923 due to over-expansion, done in by the machinations of a vengeful Zukor. He never produced another movie, or as he'd prefer it, his days as a "presenter" were through. (Lewis J. Selznick Production's pictures were opened with a title card that read: "Selznick Presents." The slogan "Selznick Pictures Make Happy Hours" was, by the end of the second decade of the new 20th Century, the best-known slogan in the entertainment industry.)
His son, David O. Selznick, learned the ropes as a young man at Lewis J. Selznick Production. As an independent producer, David O. later surpassed Lewis J., winning back-to-back Oscars for Gone with the Wind (1939) and Rebecca (1940). After his father went bankrupt, David O. quit Columbia and moved to California to get back into the industry, without any help from his father. getting a proofreaders job at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Famous for his facility with words and his writing ability, David O. quickly worked his way up to story editor, then became an assistant producer in Harry Rapf's unit. He began a secret romance with Irene Mayer, daughter of M.G.M. boss Louis B. Mayer, and he eventually decided to quit and take a lower-paying job with better prospects at Paramount.
When he became betrothed to Louis B. Mayer's daughter Irene, L.B. was skeptical due to his being a "traitor" by leaving M.G.M. Actually, he respected David O. for striking out on his own and avoiding charges of nepotism. Louis B.'s real objection, it seemed, was rooted in his hatred of David O.'s dad, a renegade who had tried to horn in on the original "Ben-Hur" (1925), claiming he had rights to the stage play. David O. apologized for his father, admitting it wasn't right for Lewis J. to have pulled such a con, and the two healed their rift, with David O. eventually working for his father-in-law after the death of central producer Irving Thalberg. (The news of the elevation of David O. Selznick to supervising producer at M.G.M. was the source of the famous newspaper headline "The Son-in-Law Also Rises.")
Lewis J. Selznick died on January 25, 1933, in Los Angeles, California. World Film and Lewis J. Selznick Production, Inc. no longer exists, and many of the films he produced are lost or forgotten, so his son David O.'s output of great motion pictures remains Lewis J.'s Hollywood legacy. For it was at World Film Corp. that the banner "Quality Not Quantity" had first been unfurled.
History from Wikipedia and OldCompany.com (old stock certificate research service).