Samuel Goldwyn - The Self-Made Man of Hollywood
Goldwyn was born in Warsaw, Congress Poland, Russian Empire, to a Hasidic family of Aaron David Gelbfisz, a peddler, and Hannah Reban. The date of his birth is up to debate: like many other Jews in Russia of that time, Aaron held the age of his child in secret to help the boy avoid conscription into the tzarist army.
After a childhood in extreme poverty (at one time the whole family of 8 people lived in one room, with three boys sharing one bed) and constant fear of pogroms, young Goldwyn left Warsow for England, on foot and penniless. From there he emigrated to Canada and later moved to Gloversville, New York. He managed to find the position of a salesman in the Elite Glove Company, where his innate marketing skills soon made him the vice-president for sales.
Having reached financial success, in 1913 Goldwyn formed a partnership with his brother-in-law Jesse L. Lasky: The Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company - the first of many movie production companies Goldwyn was destined to create. Next year, the company debuted with its first film - "The Squaw Man". A string of mergers followed, and finally Goldwyn's company became part of the Paramount Pictures Corporation, which would become one of Hollywood's major studios.
His next step and achievement was creation of the Goldwyn Pictures
in 1916, in partnership with Edgar and Archibald Selwyn, who created the iconic "Leo the Lion" trademark and the famous roaring lion visual cue. At that time he officially changed his name from Gelbfisz to Goldwyn. Only eight years later Goldwyn Pictures was acquired by Marcus Loew and merged into the famous Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio. Contrary to popular belief, Goldwyn had no role in managing MGM, headed by Louis Mayer
- he moved on to his next project - Samuel Goldwyn Productions
Goldwyn proved to be a genius when it came to hiring writers, directors and picking actors for the lead roles. His eye for talent helped the company create a string of movies, nominated for the Best Picture Oscar award: Arrowsmith (1931), Dodsworth (1936), Dead End (1937), Wuthering Heights (1939), The Little Foxes (1941) and The Best Years of Our Lives (1948) etc.
It was during that time that the term Goldwynisms came into existence; some of his most paradoxical sayings include: "I don't think anybody should write his autobiography until after he's dead" and "What? We can't show lesbians? That's all right, we'll make them Hungarians".
On March 27, 1971, Goldwyn was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Nixon. Three years later the self-made man of Hollywood passed away, aged (presumably) 94.