Josef Shenk

Josef Shenk

American film producer
Date of Birth: 25.12.1878
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Joseph Schenck
  2. Early Life and Career
  3. Entrepreneurial Ventures
  4. Partnership with United Artists
  5. Leading Hollywood Figure
  6. Later Years and Legacy

Biography of Joseph Schenck

Joseph Schenck, an American film producer, played a significant role in the creation of Hollywood, the dream factory. Born in the modest town of Rybinsk, Russia, Joseph Schenck became one of the founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the United States.

Josef Shenk

Early Life and Career

Joseph Schenck was born on December 25, 1872, to Chaim (Mikhail) Schenck, a steamship clerk, and his wife. In 1892, Joseph and his brother Nikolay decided to move to the United States, settling in Harlem, New York. They worked various jobs, including selling newspapers, washing dishes, and eventually becoming assistants to a pharmacist. It was during this time that they entered the entertainment industry by buying a concession to sell draft beer in parks, which proved to be a profitable venture.

Josef Shenk

Entrepreneurial Ventures

While working in the parks, Joseph and Nikolay Schenck met Marcus Loew, the owner of amusement parks and cinemas. Recognizing the potential of the entertainment industry, the brothers and Loew bought a plot of land in 1909 and built the "Palisades" park, followed by several cinemas. This marked the beginning of Loews Corporation, where the Schenck brothers became influential figures in the world of cinema.

Josef Shenk

Partnership with United Artists

In 1916, Joseph Schenck met the beautiful actress Norma Talmadge, whom he became a producer for and later married. Together, they moved to Hollywood, the emerging center of the film industry. In 1924, when United Artists faced financial difficulties, Schenck took over the company and brought in talented producers such as Korda, Hughes, and Goldwyn, ensuring its success. United Artists expanded its operations to include film production, as well as the construction and leasing of theaters.

Leading Hollywood Figure

By 1927, Joseph and Nikolay Schenck had amassed a fortune of 20 million dollars, making them influential figures in the American film industry. Joseph Schenck's reputation and financial success allowed him to save the famous Fox Film studio from bankruptcy by incorporating it into the newly formed 20th Century Pictures Fox Corporation and becoming its chairman. The corporation ranked just below giants like Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Paramount in terms of profitability.

Later Years and Legacy

In 1941, Joseph Schenck was indicted for tax evasion, but he served only four months of his one-year sentence before being released on amnesty by President Truman. Schenck's later years were closely connected with the legendary Marilyn Monroe. They became close friends, and Schenck served as a producer and consultant for Monroe's films. In 1952, he received an Academy Award for his significant contribution to the development of American cinema. Schenck retired in 1957 but suffered a severe stroke shortly after. He passed away in 1961. Schenck's luxurious mansion in Los Angeles was purchased by Marilyn Monroe, who also tragically died soon after. His brother, Nikolay, survived Joseph by seven years and remained one of the wealthiest individuals in the United States.