George Kirke Spoor

George Kirke Spoor (December 18, 1871 – 24 November 1953) was an early film pioneer who, with Gilbert M. "Broncho Billy" Anderson, founded Essanay Studios in Chicago in 1907. He was a founding partner of V-L-S-E, Incorporated, a film distribution firm, in 1915.[1]

George Kirke Spoor
George Kirke Spoor - Mar 1919 MPW
Spoor in 1919
BornDecember 18, 1871
DiedNovember 24, 1953 (aged 81)[1]
Spouse(s)Ada May Thompson (1877–1951)
ChildrenGertrude Keith Spoor (1893–1975)
Parent(s)Marvin Spoor (1839–1927)
Catherine Stressinger (1853–1947)


Spoor and Anderson were responsible for discovering stars such as Wallace Beery, Francis X. Bushman, Ben Turpin, Gloria Swanson and Charlie Chaplin. Allan Dwan, who was hired as a screenwriter, went on to become a famous Hollywood director. Louella Parsons, also hired by Spoor as a screenwriter, later became a famous Hollywood gossip columnist.

In 1894, while box office manager of the Phoenix Opera House in Waukegan, Illinois, George K. Spoor teamed up with the inventor Edward Hill Amet (1860–1948) to build and exhibit "The Magniscope", the first practical 35 mm movie projector ever designed and used in a large audience display. Spoor and Amet made films and distributed them with this device before the 1895 device by the Lumière brothers of France. Thomas Edison's more famous Kinetoscope was exhibited in 1891, but was only able to be viewed by one person at a time through a peephole.

George Kirke Spoor & P John Berggren - Jan 1921 EH
George Kirke Spoor and P. John Berggren, 1921

Spoor and Amet are credited for having filmed: the world's first newsreel, a film of the first inauguration of President William McKinley in 1897; the first use of film miniatures (The Battle of Santiago Bay) in which tin replicas and cigar smoke created the illusion of live war footage; the first to experience local censorship (due to the graphic images of China's Boxer Rebellion); the first "fake newsreel" in which Spoor used neighbors to act out battles such as the Battle of San Juan Hill in a local park.

Spoor is also remembered for having produced, in 1918, the movie Men Who Have Made Love to Me by controversial feminist Mary MacLane, the first serious cinematic work to break the fourth wall. [2] and the first to unite writer, narrator, subject, and star.

In 1926, Spoor and P. John Berggren invented "Natural Vision", an early 65 mm widescreen process which was only used for a few films, including Niagara Falls (1926), Rollercoaster Ride (1926), The American (1927) and Danger Lights (RKO Radio Pictures, 1930). The trademark Natural Vision was later used for an unrelated system of making 3-D films in 1953.

In 1948, Spoor received an Oscar, specifically an Academy Honorary Award, for his contribution to developing motion pictures as entertainment.

He died on November 24, 1953.

Selected filmography

Spoor is credited with having been the producer of:[3]


  1. ^ a b "Biography for George K. Spoor," Accessed: December 16, 2012.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "George K. Spoor", Accessed: December 16, 2012.

External links

B. B. Kahane

Benjamin "BB" Kahane (November 30, 1891 – September 18, 1960) was an American film producer.

Broncho Billy Anderson

Gilbert M. "Bronco Billy" Anderson (March 21, 1880 – January 20, 1971) was an American actor, writer, film director, and film producer, who is best known as the first star of the Western film genre. He was a founder and star for Essanay studios. In 1958, he received a special Academy Award for being a pioneer of the movie industry.

Danger Lights

Danger Lights is a 1930 American Pre-Code drama film, directed by George B. Seitz, from a screenplay by James Ashmore Creelman. It stars Louis Wolheim, Robert Armstrong, and Jean Arthur.

The plot concerns railroading on the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, and the movie was largely filmed along that railroad's lines in Montana. The railway yard in Miles City, Montana was a primary setting, while rural scenes were shot along the railway line through Sixteen Mile Canyon, Montana. Additional footage was shot in Chicago, Illinois. The film was the first ever shot in the new Spoor-Berggren Natural Vision Process.

Daniel J. Bloomberg

Daniel J. Bloomberg (July 4, 1905 – August 14, 1984) was an Academy Award-winning audio engineer. Bloomberg's first Hollywood credit was in 1934, his last his Oscar-nominated work on John Ford’s The Quiet Man 18 years later. In the intervening time, he worked on several films in the Dick Tracy and Zorro series.

Although his work was mainly confined to B pictures, Bloomberg did enjoy the distinction of winning five technical awards from the Academy, as well as eight Academy Award nominations. He also won an Honorary Award in 1945 for designing and building a musical scoring auditorium with state-of-the-art acoustics.

Bloomberg was married to award-winning British actress and beauty queen Eugenie Prescott Bloomberg (born: 1909, Cheshire, England, UK) whose film credits include The Rising Generation (1928), The Flying Squad (1929) and Diggers (1931).

Edward H. Amet

Edward Hill Amet (November 10, 1860 – August 16, 1948) was an American inventor and electrical engineer, best known for his contributions to the early motion picture industry. His magniscope, first marketed in 1894, was one of the first devices that projected moving pictures on vertical surfaces. Along with George Kirke Spoor, Amet produced a series of war films.

Forbidden Games

Forbidden Games (French: Jeux interdits), is a 1952 French war drama film directed by René Clément and based on François Boyer's novel Jeux Interdits.

While not initially successful in France, the film was a hit elsewhere. It won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, a Special Award as Best Foreign Language Film in the United States, and a Best Film from any Source at the British Academy Film Awards.

Gate of Hell (film)

Gate of Hell (地獄門, Jigokumon, "Gate of Jigoku") is a 1953 Japanese jidaigeki film directed by Teinosuke Kinugasa. It tells the story of a samurai (Kazuo Hasegawa) who tries to marry a woman (Machiko Kyō) he rescues, only to discover that she is married. Filmed using Eastmancolor, Gate of Hell was Daiei Film's first color film and the first Japanese color film to be released outside Japan.

Hal Needham

Hal Brett Needham (March 6, 1931 – October 25, 2013) was an American stuntman, film director, actor and writer. He is best known for his frequent collaborations with actor Burt Reynolds, usually in films involving fast cars, such as Smokey and the Bandit, Hooper, The Cannonball Run and Stroker Ace.

Joseph A. Ball

Joseph Arthur Ball (August 16, 1894 – August 27, 1951) was an American inventor, physicist, and executive at Technicolor. He was the technical director of the first color movie Becky Sharp, and a recipient of an Academy Honorary Award at the 11th Academy Awards for his contributions to color film photography. He held many patents in color photography and was credited with creating the three-component process.

Josephine Rector

Josephine Rector (September 25, 1885, Indiana - October 1, 1958, Castro Valley) was an American scriptwriter and actress. Working for the Essanay company based in Oakland, Rector had a short career in the silent film period of cinema, with all her known films released from between 1911 and 1914 for the Essanay company. She is sometimes also referred to as Mrs. Hal Angus, after her second husband, Hal Angus, whom she married after leaving Essanay in 1914.She entered the film industry after discussing story ideas with the actor Jack O'Brien. She sold her first scripts to Essanay when it was located in Los Gatos in 1910-1911. She has also worked with George Kirke Spoor, distributor of screen equipment and Gilbert M. Anderson, or "Broncho Billy" Anderson, an actor, director and producer, who is the cowboy star in most of the films she worked in. Ultimately, Rector decided not to move to Hollywood, which became the centre of the film industry, and ran a flower shop in Hayward, California in later life. Most of her films are now lost, and none of her original scripts are known to survive.

Louis Mesenkop

Louis Mesenkop (February 6, 1903 – February 19, 1974) was an American sound engineer. He won two Academy Awards for Best Special Effects and was nominated for another in the same category. Mesenkop was part of the production team who received an Academy Honorary Award at the 11th Academy Awards for their efforts on the Paramount film Spawn of the North.

Monsieur Vincent

Monsieur Vincent is a 1947 French film about Vincent de Paul, the 17th-century priest and charity worker. It depicts his struggle to help the poor in the face of obstacles such as the Black Death.

In 1949, it won an honorary Academy Award as the best foreign language film released in the United States in 1948. The Vatican placed it amongst their list of approved films under the category of Religion due to its thematic nature in 1995. Pierre Fresnay portrayed Vincent.

Nathan Levinson

Nathan Levinson (July 15, 1888 – October 18, 1952) was an American sound engineer. He won an Oscar in the category Sound Recording for the film Yankee Doodle Dandy and was nominated for 16 more in the same category. He was also nominated seven times in the category Best Special Effects.

The Oscar statue that Levinson won for Yankee Doodle Dandy was sold for nearly $90,000 at an auction in Dallas in July 2011.

Ray Abrams (animator)

Ray Abrams (April 19, 1906 — June 4, 1981) was an American animator and director. Abrams worked on several major animations during the 1930s. He began his career as an animator at MGM Studios, Walter Lantz Productions and Hanna-Barbera.Abrams was born in 1906 and was raised on a property in Salt Leke City, Utah. He worked in various animations during the 1930s, he began his career as an animator and director of MGM Studios, Walter Lantz Productions and Hanna-Barbera. Around 1948, Abrams joined MGM, where he was an animator of What Price Fleadom (1948).

Between 1953 and 1955, he worked briefly in the studio of Walter Lantz Productions, "Woody Woodpecker" and "Chilly Willy".

Thomas Armat

Thomas J. Armat (October 25, 1866 – September 30, 1948) was an American mechanic and inventor, a pioneer of cinema best known through the co-invention of the Edison Vitascope.

W. Howard Greene

William Howard Greene (August 16, 1895, River Point, Rhode Island - February 28, 1956, Los Angeles, California) was an American cinematographer.

William Garity

William E. "Bill" Garity (April 2, 1899 – September 16, 1971) was an American inventor and audio engineer who attended the Pratt Institute before going to work for Lee De Forest around 1921. Garity worked with DeForest on the Phonofilm sound-on-film system until 1927, when Pat Powers hired Garity to develop a sound system that Powers called Powers Cinephone.

Garity is best known for his employment at Walt Disney Studios, which used the Cinephone system in the late 1920s and early 30s. In 1937, also at the Disney Studios, Garity developed the multiplane camera. Ub Iwerks, having left Disney to work at his own studio, developed an unrelated multiplane camera, during this same time period.In 1940, Garity developed Fantasound, an early stereophonic surround sound system for Disney's Fantasia. After leaving the Disney studio, Garity later became vice president and production manager for Walter Lantz Productions. He was inducted in the Disney Legends program in 1999.

Y. Frank Freeman

Young Frank Freeman (14 December 1890 – 6 February 1969) was an American film company executive for Paramount Pictures. Freeman was born in Greenville, Georgia, and graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1910. In addition to his work with Paramount, he also worked in the fields of banking, higher education, and athletics.He was the first winner of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1957. He was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960. He died in California and was buried at Westview Cemetery in Atlanta.


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.