Saturday May 28, 2022
I'm reading Scott Eyman's book about 20th Century Fox, subtitled “Daryl Zanuck and the Creation of the Modern Film Studio,” but before Eyman gets to Zanuck he gives us the studio's founder, William Fox, born Wilhelm Fox in Tolcsva, Hungary in 1879, who was 9 months old when his family immigrated to America. Like Louis B. Mayer, Fox loved his mother and despised his ineffectual father. Fox was a real SOB who was an early innovator with sound and 70mm, and was set to become the most powerful man in Hollywood but overleveraged himself and his studio at the wrong time—just before the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Here's the timeline of his downfall:
- 1930: loses control of his studio
- 1936: declares bankruptcy
- 1936-38: bribes judge during his five bankruptcy trials
- 1941: sentenced to a year and a day in the federal pen for obstruction of justice, etc.
- 1942: serves time
- 1947: pardoned by Pres. Truman
Did he ever learn his lesson? Or a lesson? Nah.
He spent the years until his death in 1952 issuing bromidic plans for resuming film production interspersed with jeremiads against the men he insisted had euchred him out of the company that bore his name. Fox went to his grave believing that the only thing he was guilty of was being a bad judge of other people's character. William Fox never made another movie.
But his name lives on: Fox Studios, Fox TV, Fox News. Which makes me think Fox News should really be called Fuchs News. It's news by fuchs and for fuchs. Your spelling may vary.