Paul Kohner

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Paul Kohner
Born (1902-05-29)May 29, 1902
Teplice, Czech Republic
Died March 16, 1988(1988-03-16) (aged 85)
Los Angeles, California US
Ethnicity Jewish
Citizenship American[1][2]
Occupation Producer
Talent agent
Years active 1927-1988
Spouse(s) Lupita Tovar
Children 2
Parent(s) Julius Kohner
Helene Kohner
Relatives Frederick Kohner (brother)
Kathy Kohner-Zuckerman (niece)
Walter Kohner (brother)
John Weitz (son-in-law)
Paul Weitz (grandson)
Chris Weitz (grandson)

Paul Kohner (May 29, 1902 – March 16, 1988)[3] was a successful talent agent and producer who managed the careers of many stars—like Ingmar Bergman, Maurice Chevalier, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, John Huston, Liv Ullmann and Billy Wilder—of the golden age of Hollywood, especially those who came from Europe before World War II.[4] He was married to the Mexican-American actress, Lupita Tovar. His brother was Frederick Kohner, a novelist and screenwriter, his daughter was the actress Susan Kohner.[5] His grandsons are the filmmakers, Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz.[6][7]

Early life[edit]

Kohner was born in Teplice, Czech Republic, which at the time of his birth was called Teplitz-Schönau through the merger of two towns, Teplitz and Lázně Šanov (Schönau). It was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in what is now modern-day Czechoslovakia.[8] His father was Julius "Kino" Kohner,[9] who managed the local movie theater and published a film industry newspaper, and his mother was Helene Kohner (née Beamt).[10] He had two brothers, Friedrich "Frederick" Kohner, a film and TV writer who created the character Gidget (based on his daughter, Kathy), and Walter Kohner,[11] a Hollywood agent whose wife, Hanna Kohner, in May 1953, was the first non-celebrity featured on the TV show, This Is Your Life, where she was the first Holocaust survivor to talk about her experience in concentration and death camps during the Holocaust on television.[12][13]

Career[edit]

Producer[edit]

As a young man, Kohner worked as a news reporter at his father's newspaper, which focused on the film industry, in Prague, Czech Republic. He met Carl Laemmle during an interview. In 1920, when he was 18 years old, and armed with the strength of this connection to Laemmle,[14][15][16] Kohner decided to move to the United States.[17] Kohner started out as an office errand boy at Laemmle's company, Universal Pictures, in New York. He moved to Hollywood and worked his way up the studio system, working in positions at Universal like unit production supervisor as well as casting director. Because of his knowledge of film production and background in Germany, Kohner went on to head Universal Pictures' European production offices located in Berlin, Germany in the late 1920s.[5][8] Kohner moved back to the United States in the early 1930s.[18] He worked as a producer, responsible for shepherding many Universal Pictures films like the Lon Chaney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, William Wyler's A House Divided that starred Walter Huston, among others.[5]

He went on to produce many alternate language versions of films that were often shot simultaneously with their English-language counterparts, sometimes shooting at night on the same sets, but with Spanish casts of actors and different costumes. Kohner's wife, Lupita Tovar, starred in some of these Spanish language film versions, most famously 1931's Drácula.

Talent agent[edit]

In 1938, Kohner founded the Paul Kohner Talent Agency and managed the careers of Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Dolores del Río, Maurice Chevalier, Billy Wilder, Liv Ullmann, Henry Fonda, David Niven, Erich von Stroheim, Ingmar Bergman, Lana Turner, and others. Many of his clients had left war-torn Europe, fleeing Nazi Germany.[5] John Huston was Kohner's client for over forty years.[5][19] The company was in business from 1935 to 1988.[20]

Paul Kohner's office was on the Sunset Strip in a building owned by a partner of his, Stanley Bergerman, who was Carl Laemmle's son-in-law. The facade of the building, located across the street from the now-defunct restaurant, the Cock and Bull, can be glimpsed in the film The Strip (1951) starring Mickey Rooney.

In 1976, Kohner partnered with agent Michael Levy to form the Paul Kohner-Michael Levy Agency.[21]

European Film Fund[edit]

see main article on European Film Fund

In 1938, Kohner co-founded the European Film Fund with Ernst Lubitsch, and Universal Pictures studio head, Carl Laemmle.[22] From 1938 to 1948, during World War II, the Fund worked in an effort to provide assistance to emigres trying to relocate to America.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Kohner and actress Lupita Tovar were married in Czechoslovakia on October 30, 1932, at Kohner's parents' home by a rabbi.[23]:226–227

In 1936, the couple had a daughter, Susan Kohner, a retired film and television actress, and, in 1939, a son, Paul Julius "Pancho" Kohner, Jr., a director and producer.[24][25] The family lived for many years in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, near filmmaker Alexander Korda.[26][27] Their grandsons, Chris and Paul Weitz, are successful film directors.

Kohner spoke six languages.[4]

In 1988, Kohner died of a heart attack in Los Angeles, California.[3][5]

Honors[edit]

Filmography[edit]

  • 1927: Surrender (Universal) – Supervisor
  • 1927: The Cat and the Canary (Universal) – Supervising producer (uncredited)
  • 1927: Love Me and the World Is Mine (Universal) (based on the book The Affairs of Hannerl) – Supervising producer; Writer, scenario[29]
  • 1927: A Man's Past (Universal) – Supervising producer (uncredited); Writer, adaptation
  • 1928: The Man Who Laughs (Universal) – Production supervisor
  • 1929: The Brandenburg Arch (Deutsche Universal-Film) – Producer
  • 1929: Frühlingsrauschen (Deutsche Universal-Film) – Producer
  • 1929: White Hell of Pitz Palu (Universal) (1930 sound film version in English, released by Universal internationally) – Associate producer
  • 1929: Die seltsame Vergangenheit der Thea Carter (English title: The Unusual Past of Thea Carter) (Deutsche Universal-Film) – producer
  • 1930: Ludwig der Zweite, König von Bayern (Deutsche Universal-Film) (English title: Ludwig II, King of Bavaria) – Producer
  • 1930: La Voluntad del Muerto (Universal) (Spanish language version of The Cat Creeps) – Producer
  • 1930: Oriente es Occidente (Universal) (Spanish language version of East Is West) – Producer
  • 1931: Don Juan Diplomático (Universal) (Spanish language version of the English and French films, The Boudoir Diplomat and Boudoir Diplomatique) – Production supervisor
  • 1931: Liebe auf Befehl (Universal) (German language version of the English and French films, The Boudoir Diplomat and Boudoir Diplomatique) – Production manager
  • 1931: Resurrección (Mexican) (Spanish language version of A Woman's Resurrection) – Production supervisor
  • 1931: El Tenorio del Harem (Universal) (Spanish language version of Arabian Knights) – Production supervisor
  • 1931: Drácula (Universal) (Spanish language version of Dracula) – Associate producer
  • 1931: East of Borneo (Universal) – Associate producer
  • 1931: A House Divided (Universal) – Associate producer
  • 1932: Doomed Battalion (Universal) – Associate producer
  • 1932: Der Rebell (Deutsche Universal-Film) (German language version of The Rebel) – Producer
  • 1933: The Rebel (Deutsche Universal-Film) – Producer
  • 1933: S.O.S. Eisberg (Deutsche Universal-Film) (German language version of S.O.S. Iceberg) – Associate producer
  • 1933: S.O.S. Iceberg (Universal Pictures) – Associate producer
  • 1934: Der Verlorene Sohn (Deutsche Universal-Film) (English title: The Prodigal Son) – Producer
  • 1935: Alas sobre El Chaco (Universal) (Spanish language version of Storm Over the Andes) – Producer
  • 1935: East of Java (Universal) – Producer
  • 1936: Next Time We Love (Universal) – Producer
  • 1978: Erich von Stroheim – Der Mann mit dem bösen Blick (TV movie) – Participation
  • 1986: Fast ein Jahrhundert – Luis Trenker – Participation
  • 1989: Wer war Arnold Fanck? – Participation

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Paul Kohner - California, Southern District Court (Central) Naturalization Index (1 of 2)". FamilySearch. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  2. ^ "Paul Kohner - California, Southern District Court (Central) Naturalization Index (2 of 2)". FamilySearch. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "Paul Kohner - United States Social Security Death Index". FamilySearch. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Muir, Frederick M. (18 March 1988). "Paul Kohner, 85; Agent to Legendary Hollywood Stars". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Yarrow, Andrew (19 March 1988). "Paul Kohner, Hollywood Agent And Film Producer, Is Dead at 85". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  6. ^ Holson, Laura M. (6 August 2015). "The Weitz Brothers Help Each Other Through Hollywood Hits and Misses". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 August 2015. 
  7. ^ Malanowski, Jamie (19 May 2002). "Film; Filmmaking as a Family Affair". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Paul Kohner Agency records, 1935-1988: Biography/History. Los Angeles, CA: Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 1988. OCLC 801267898. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  9. ^ Horak, Jan-Christopher (2005). "Sauerkraut & Sausages with a Little Goulash: Germans in Hollywood, 1927". Film History: An International Journal 17 (2): 241–260. doi:10.1353/fih.2005.0022. ISSN 0892-2160. OCLC 4647515787. 
  10. ^ "Paul Kohner - California Death Index". FamilySearch. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  11. ^ Kohner, Hanna; Kohner, Walter; Kohner, Frederick (1984). Hanna and Walter: A Love Story. (2008 ed.). New York: iUniverse. ISBN 978-0-595-46598-9. OCLC 745168573. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  12. ^ Rubin, Debra (14 April 2009). "This was her life: When a survivor told her tale. Los Angeles author remembers the night her mom was on TV". The New Jersey Jewish News. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  13. ^ Lipman, Steve (18 March 2013). "Giving The Holocaust A Human Face". The Jewish Week. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  14. ^ "Record: Kohner, Paul; Passenger ID 100287010043; La Savoie; Le Havre to New York". Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. 25 October 1920. p. Line 13. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  15. ^ "Ship Manifest - Page 1 of 2: Kohner, Paul; Passenger ID 100287010043; La Savoie; Le Havre to New York". Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. 25 October 1920. p. Line 13. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  16. ^ "Ship Manifest - Page 2 of 2: Kohner, Paul; Passenger ID 100287010043; La Savoie; Le Havre to New York". Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. 25 October 1920. p. Line 13. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  17. ^ "Paul Kohner - New York, Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island)". FamilySearch. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  18. ^ "Paul Kohner - United States Census, 1930". FamilySearch. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  19. ^ "Huston is Signed for 5-Film Deal". The New York Times. 28 July 1958. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  20. ^ Paul Kohner Agency records, 1935-1988. Los Angeles, CA: Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 1988. OCLC 801267898. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  21. ^ "Company News; CBS Widening the Role of its Feature-Film Unit". The New York Times. 10 March 1981. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  22. ^ Hoffman, Allison (20 February 2013). "Hollywood's Unknown Rescuer". Tablet. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  23. ^ Ankerich, Michael G. (2011). The Sound of Silence: Conversations with 16 Film and Stage Personalities Who Bridged the Gap between Silents and Talkies (Reprinted. ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co. ISBN 978-0-786-46383-1. OCLC 743217471. Retrieved 29 August 2015. 
  24. ^ "Susanna Kohner - California Birth Index". FamilySearch. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  25. ^ "Paul Julius Kohner - California Birth Index". FamilySearch. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  26. ^ "Paul Kohner - United States Census, 1940". FamilySearch. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  27. ^ "Paul Kohner - United States Census, 1940 - Image". FamilySearch. 4 April 1940. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  28. ^ Klady, Leonard (9 April 1997). "‘Gentleman Agent’ exhibit hails Kohner". Variety. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  29. ^ "Vienna Lives Again". The New York Times. 5 February 1928. p. 111. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]