B. P. Schulberg

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B.P. Schulberg (January 19, 1892 – February 25, 1957) was an American pioneer film producer and movie studio executive.

Life and career[edit]

Born to Jewish parents as Percival Schulberg in Bridgeport, Connecticut, he took the name Benjamin from the boy in front of him when registering for school to avoid mockery for his British name. Schulberg, who started as a publicity manager at Famous Players-Lasky, but in the power struggle around the formation of United Artists ended up on the losing side and lost his job.[1] He was one of the founding members of the Associated Motion Picture Advertisers.[2]

In 1919, at age 27, he founded Preferred Pictures and built it around "American Beauty" actress Katherine MacDonald. In 1923, his old school-mate and associate Jack Bachman convinced him to offer a New York starlet, 18-year-old Clara Bow, a three-month trial contract.[3] Within days of her arrival, she was made part of the studio permanent stock.[4]

On October 21, 1925, Schulberg's Preferred Pictures filed for bankruptcy, with debts of $820,774 and assets of just $1,420.[5] Three days later it was announced that Schulberg would join with Adolph Zukor and became associate producer of Paramount Pictures, bringing his organization, i.e. Clara Bow.[6]

In an era when the film industry was filled with conservative studio executives, B.P. Schulberg was a "New Deal" liberal, described by Moving Pictures magazine as "a political liberal in the reactionary world of Mayer and Hearst." His wife Adeline Jaffe Schulberg founded a talent agency taken over by her brother, producer/talent agent Sam Jaffe. She spent little time with Hollywood society women, instead working for charities that supported progressive causes and promoting socialism. She subsequently had a literary agency in New York. They were the parents of renowned novelist and screenwriter, Budd Schulberg, producer Stuart Schulberg, and writer Sonya Schulberg O'Sullivan.

In 1931, Paramount top-star Clara Bow left the studio, and within a year Schulberg was "squeezed out" and went back to independent film-production.[7] In 1937, Paramount stopped distributing his films and he remained out of the business until 1940 when he began producing for Columbia Pictures. He produced six films for Columbia in three years until he retired in 1943. In 1950, he unsuccessfully offered his services in the film trade papers.[8]

A comprehensive part of his life was recorded in Budd Schulberg's book "Moving Pictures, Memoirs of a Hollywood Prince".

"I completely supported him for the last five-year of his life," his son Budd stated in 1981.[7] B.P. Schulberg died at his home in Key Biscayne, Florida in 1957.

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, B.P. Schulberg has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1500 Vine Street. The Paramount studios' "Directors Building" was renamed the "Schulberg Building" in his honor.

Partial filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Moving Pictures, Budd Schulberg, p.100, 1981, Allison & Busby, London UK, ISBN 0-7490-0127-5
  2. ^ "Movie Ad Men in Association". The Fourth Estate. August 5, 1916. Retrieved August 10, 2012. 
  3. ^ "My life, by Clara Bow". Told to and edited by Adela Rogers St. Johns. Published by Photoplay Magazine in February, March and April 1928
  4. ^ Morning Avalanche, August 5, 1923
  5. ^ NYT, October 22, 1925
  6. ^ Associated Press news-wire, October 24, 1925
  7. ^ a b The Post, October 2, 1981
  8. ^ Indiana Evening Gazette, p6, January 21, 1950

External links[edit]