William Fox (producer)
William Fox (January 1, 1879 - May 8, 1952) was a pioneering American motion picture executive, who founded the Fox Film Corporation in 1915 and the Fox West Coast Theatres chain in the 1920s. Although, in 1936, Fox sold his interest in these companies to settle bankruptcy, his name lives on in the names of various media ventures, most notably the Fox Broadcasting Company and 20th Century Fox .
Early life 
Fox was born in Tolcsva, Hungary and originally christened Wilhelm Fried. His parents, Michael Fried and Anna Fuchs, were both German Jews. Eventually the family emigrated to the United States and settled in New York City. Wilhelm worked as a newsboy and in the fur and garment industry as a youth, then later changed his name to William Fox. In 1900, he started his own company which he sold in 1904 to purchase his first nickelodeon. In 1915, he started Fox Film Corporation.
Film career 
In 1925–26, Fox purchased the rights to the work of Freeman Harrison Owens, the U.S. rights to the Tri-Ergon system invented by three German inventors, and the work of Theodore Case to create the Fox Movietone sound-on-film system, introduced in 1927 with the release of F. W. Murnau's Sunrise. Sound-on-film systems such as Movietone and RCA Photophone soon became the standard, and competing sound-on-disc technologies, such as Warner Brothers' Vitaphone, fell into disuse. From 1928 to 1963, Fox Movietone News was one of the major newsreel series in the U.S., along with The March of Time (1935–1951) and Universal Newsreel (1929–1967).
In 1927, Marcus Loew, head of rival studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer died, and control of MGM passed to his longtime associate, Nicholas Schenck. Fox saw an opportunity to expand his empire, and in 1929, with Schenck's ascent, bought the Loew family's holdings in MGM. However, MGM studio bosses Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg were outraged, since, despite their high posts in MGM, they were not shareholders. Mayer used his political connections to persuade the Justice Department to sue Fox for violating federal antitrust law. During this time, in the middle of 1929, Fox was badly hurt in an automobile accident. By the time he recovered, the stock market crash in the fall of 1929 had virtually wiped out his financial holdings, ending any chance of the Loews-Fox merger going through even if the Justice Department had given its blessing.
Fox lost control of the Fox Film Corporation in 1930 during a hostile takeover. A combination of the stock market crash, Fox's car accident injury, and government antitrust action forced him into a protracted seven-year struggle to fight off bankruptcy. At his bankruptcy hearing in 1936, Fox attempted to bribe judge John Warren Davis and committed perjury. Fox was sentenced to six months in prison. After serving his time, Fox retired from the film business. Fox died in 1952 at the age of 73 in New York City. No Hollywood producers came to his funeral. William Fox is interred at Salem Fields Cemetery, Brooklyn.
In 1935, Fox Film Corporation, under new president Sidney Kent, merged with the upstart Twentieth Century Pictures to form 20th Century-Fox. (Darryl Zanuck, the driving force behind the creation of 20th Century-Fox, was married to actress Virginia Fox. This has led to some erroneous claims on Internet movie sites that Zanuck was William Fox's son-in-law. In fact, Virginia Fox and William Fox were not related.) 20th Century-Fox was itself merged into Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation in 1985. News Corporation, 20th Century Fox's corporate parent, continues to make movies and started the Fox Network, one of the four principal commercial broadcast television networks in the United States.
See also 
- Fox Theatres for a list of Fox Theatres, past and present, in U.S. cities
- An Empire of Their Own, 1988 book by Neal Gabler
- "William Fox". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
- Hames, Peter (2004). "Preface". The cinema of Central Europe. Wallflower Press. ISBN 978-1-904764-20-5.
- "William Fox". Calendar of Szabó Ervin Library, Budapest (in Hungarian). Retrieved 20 November 2009.
- "A 20th Century Fox is magyar alapította". Népszabadság. 2008-12-10. Retrieved 2009-04-19. (Hungarian)
- Solomon, Aubrey (April 1, 2011). The Fox Film Corporation, 1915-1935: A History and Filmography. McFarland & Company. ISBN 0786462868.
- "Twentieth Century Fox". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 26 March 2010.
- Gabler, Neal (1988). An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood. Crown. ISBN 0-385-26557-3.
- William Fox at the Internet Movie Database
- Historical Article on William Fox
- William Fox at Find a Grave