The untold story of the innovative pioneers who helped make movies the preeminent art form of the twentieth century.
The founders of the now infamous Academy were a motley crew as individuals, but when they first converged in Hollywood, then just a small town with dirt roads, sparks flew and fueled a common dream: to bring artistic validity to their beloved new medium.
Who were these movers and shakers who would change movies forever? And what about Oscar, their famous son? He is fast approaching his hundredth birthday and is still the undisputed king of Hollywood. Yet with such dynamic parents, what else could we expect?
Pawlak, a contributor to Arcadia Publishing's "Making of America" series, traces the lives of the 36 key figures in the cinema community who launched the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1927, the same year talkies arrived with The Jazz Singer. An opening about 19th-century Hollywood and one-reel flickers leads into brief biographies of picture pioneers Sid Grauman, Louis B. Mayer, Jesse Lasky, Samuel Goldwyn, Cecil B. DeMille, and others involved in the early expansion of the film industry: "By 1908, about 8,000 neighborhood movie theaters had opened throughout the country." The book features such actors as Douglas Fairbanks and Harold Lloyd, and the roster of directors includes John Stahl, Fred Niblo and Raoul Walsh, followed by producers Harry Rapf and Irving Thalberg. Pawlak covers only three women among the 36 actress Mary Pickford, screenwriter Beth Meredyth, and actress-writer Jeanie Macpherson, who had herself imprisoned to research her 1922 Manslaughter screenplay. By skillfully weaving such highlights of Hollywood history throughout this Tinseltown tapestry, Pawlak succeeds in recreating that colorful era when flickers turned into features and silents converted to sound.