Mitchel H. Mark

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Mitchel H. Mark aka Mitchell Mark aka Mitchell H. Mark (born as Mitchel Henry Mark) (1868-1918) was a pioneer of motion picture exhibition in the United States.

Biography[edit]

Mitchel Henry Mark and his brother Moe Mark founded the Vitascope Theater (a special attraction of his Edisonia Hall in the Ellicott Square Building), one of the first permanent, purpose-built movie theaters in the world. It opened Monday, October 19, 1896 (according to local papers), in Buffalo, New York.[1] It operated nearly two years, the longest run for any such theater at that time: comparable early theaters were temporary and lasted only days or weeks.

Although his name is often spelled "Mitchell", on his grave site it is spelled "Mitchel".[2]

An obituary notes that he was the first American to have a distribution arrangement with Pathé Frères to import Pathé films to the United States.[3] Indeed, nearly the entire Vitascope Theatre program of October 19, 1896, consisted of Lumiere films.

With his brother Moe Mark, Mitchel founded the Automatic Vaudeville Company in 1904 in New York City. Among their partners were Adolph Zukor (co-founder with Jesse Lasky of Paramount Pictures) and Marcus Loew (founder of Loew's Theatres). It was based in form on Edisonia Hall and the Vitascope Theatre in Buffalo.

The Mark brothers went on to build and operate dozens of important theaters in the United States after their auspicious start in Buffalo.

In 1914, Mark Brothers opened the Strand Theatre at 47th Street and Broadway in Times Square, New York City. Costing one million dollars, this theater may have been first real movie palace, specifically built only to show motion pictures. It was designed by Thomas W. Lamb and served as a model for many film theaters that soon followed it. The New York Times favorably reviewed the opening of this theater, helping to establish its importance. To manage the theater, Mark personally hired Samuel "Roxy" Rothafel, who went on to become the best known motion picture showman in New York City.

On December 31, 1917, Mark received a determination from the New York State Supreme Court that he had the sole right to use the name "The Strand" for a movie theater.[4]

The Mark Brothers owned and operated more than a dozen theaters in the United States and Canada called "Mark-Strand" or "Mark Strand".[5]

By 1917, Mark's importance in motion picture exhibition was such that when Cecil B. DeMille complained in his autobiography that exhibitors were protesting the high price of Hollywood movie rentals, he cited Mitchel Mark along with Thomas Lincoln Tally as the worst offenders.[6]

Mark is credited with installing the first church organ to be used for the movies, at Cleveland's Alhambra Theatre in 1907.[7]

Mark died of an infection at his family's home at 527 Richmond Avenue at the corner of Breckenridge in Buffalo in 1918. His body was buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ramsaye, Terry. A Million and One Nights: A History of the Motion Picture (Abingdon, UK: Frank Cass, 2012) [original edition: New York: Simon and Schuster, 1926]
  2. ^ "Mitchel H. Mark Mausoleum". Buffalo Architecture and History. Chuck LaChiusa. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  3. ^ "M. H. Mark's Sudden Death Shocks City" Buffalo Evening Times 21 March 1918 p. 1 col. 3. Buffalo Architecture and History website.
  4. ^ "Mitchel H. Mark Realty Corp. v. Major Amusement Co., Inc. et al." New York Supplement Vol. 168 (1918-01-28 through 1918-03-11) (St. Paul: West Publishing Co., 1918) p. 244
  5. ^ Mark Brothers Biographical Timeline
  6. ^ DeMille, Cecil B. Autobiography of Cecil B. DeMille. (New York: Prentice Hall, 1959)
  7. ^ Marmorstein, Gary. Hollywood Rhapsody (New York: Schirmer Books, 1997) p. 8

External links[edit]

Mitchel and Moe Mark and Early Movie History in Buffalo.
Summer, Edward; Sandhu, Ranjit. Mitchel and Moe Mark and Edisonia Hall in Buffalo.