Charles Skouras

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Charles P. Skouras (born 1889 – 1954) in Skourohorion, Greece, was an American movie executive and president of Fox West Coast. He and his two brothers, George Skouras and Spyros Skouras, came from Greece as poor sons of a sheep herder who rose to become top movie executives.

Life and career[edit]

The Skouras brothers arrived in St. Louis in 1908-11 from Greece. Living frugally on wages as busboys and bartenders in downtown hotels, they pooled their savings of $3500 in 1914 and in partnership with two other Greeks, they constructed a modest nickelodeon at 1420 Market Street on the site of today's Kiel Opera House. This initial property, named the Olympia, was quickly followed by the acquisition of other theaters.

The brothers incorporated in 1924 with $400,000 capital stock. By then more than thirty local theaters belonged to the Skouras Brothers Co. of St. Louis. The biggest moment for the Skouras empire came when their dream of building a world-class movie palace in downtown St. Louis was grandly realized in 1926 when the $5.5 million Ambassador Theatre Building opened (this theater re-opened in 1939 as the New Fox Theatre). In 1929, following the depression, the triumvirate sold their ownership to Warner Brothers and moved east to claim top executive places in the industry.

Charles became president of Fox Coast West. In a late 1950s suit, Goldwyn claimed that Twentieth Century-Fox, Fox West Coast Theatres, National Theatres, Charles P. Skouras, and several affiliated circuits including T & D Junior Enterprises had intentionally discriminated against independently produced films (that is, made outside of the studio production systems), and he sought compensation for years of perceived oppression. Charles died before the trial took place.

When Charles and his brothers were still trying to get ahead in Hollywood, he made a vow to God that he would build a majestic cathedral if God would grant him success in show biz. Charlie Skouras got his wish. He went on to become the head of National Pictures and a man of his word, built the Saint Sophia church in 1952, in what was then the Greek section of Los Angeles.

Bibliography[edit]

Chrissochoidis, Ilias (ed.). Spyros P. Skouras, Memoirs (1893-1953). Stanford, 2013. ISBN 0-615-76949-7.