Samuel Goldwyn

Samuel Goldwyn (born Szmuel Gelbfisz; Yiddish: שמואל געלבפֿיש‎; c. July, 1879 – January 31, 1974), also known as Samuel Goldfish, was a Polish-American film producer. He was most well known for being the founding contributor and executive of several motion picture studios in Hollywood.[1] His awards include the 1973 Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award,[2] the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1947, and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1958.

Samuel Goldwyn
Samuel Goldwyn - Jul 1919 EH
A picture of Goldwyn from 1919
Szmuel Gelbfisz

c. July 1879
DiedJanuary 31, 1974 (aged 94)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California, U.S.
Other namesSamuel Goldfish
Years active1917–1959
Blanche Lasky
(m. 1910; div. 1915)

Frances Howard
(m. 1925)
Children2, including Samuel Goldwyn Jr.
RelativesTony Goldwyn (grandson)
John Goldwyn (grandson)

Early life

Goldwyn was born Szmuel Gelbfisz[3] in Warsaw to Polish Jewish Hasidic parents, Aaron Dawid Gelbfisz (1852–1895), a peddler, and his wife, Hanna Reban (née Jarecka; 1855–1924).[4]

He left Warsaw penniless after his father's death and made his way for Hamburg. There he stayed with acquaintances of his family where he was trained as a glove maker.[4] On 26 November 1898, Gelbfisz left Hamburg for Birmingham, England, where he remained with relatives for six weeks under the name Samuel Goldfish. On January 4, he sailed from Liverpool, arrived in Baltimore on 19 January 1899 and then came to New York in late January 1899. He found work in upstate Gloversville, New York in the bustling garment business. Soon his innate marketing skills made him a very successful salesman at the Elite Glove Company. After four years, as vice-president of sales, he moved back to New York City and settled at 10 West 61st Street.[5]


In 1913, Goldfish, along with his brother-in-law Jesse L. Lasky, Cecil B. DeMille, and Arthur Friend formed a partnership, The Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company, to produce feature-length motion pictures. Film rights for a stage play, The Squaw Man, were purchased for $4,000 and Dustin Farnum was hired for the leading role. Shooting for the first feature film made in Hollywood began on December 29, 1913.[6]

In 1914, Paramount was a film exchange and exhibition corporation headed by W. W. Hodkinson. Looking for more movies to distribute, Paramount signed a contract with the Lasky Company on June 1, 1914 to supply 36 films per year. One of Paramount's other suppliers was Adolph Zukor's Famous Players Company. The two companies merged on June 28, 1916 forming The Famous Players-Lasky Corporation. Zukor had been quietly buying Paramount stock, and two weeks prior to the merger, became president of Paramount Pictures Corporation and had Hodkinson replaced with Hiram Abrams, a Zukor associate.[7]

With the merger, Zukor became president of both Paramount and Famous Players-Lasky, with Goldfish being named chairman of the board of Famous Players-Lasky, and Jesse Lasky first vice-president. After a series of conflicts with Zukor, Goldfish resigned as chairman of the board, and as member of the executive committee of the corporation on September 14, 1916. Goldfish was no longer an active member of management, although he still owned stock and was a member of the board of directors. Famous Players-Lasky would later become part of Paramount Pictures Corporation, and Paramount would become one of Hollywood's major studios.[8]

Goldwyn Pictures

In 1916, Goldfish partnered with Broadway producers Edgar and Archibald Selwyn,[9] using a combination of both names to call their film-making enterprise Goldwyn Pictures. Seeing an opportunity, he then had his name legally changed to Samuel Goldwyn, which he used for the rest of his life. Goldwyn Pictures proved successful but it is their "Leo the Lion" trademark for which the organization is most famous.

On April 10, 1924, Goldwyn Pictures was acquired by Marcus Loew and merged into his Metro Pictures Corporation. Despite the inclusion of his name, Goldwyn had no role in the management or production at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Samuel Goldwyn Productions

Samuel Goldwyn The Hurricane Trailer screenshot
From the trailer for The Hurricane (1937)

Before the sale and merger of Goldwyn Pictures in April 1924, Goldwyn had established Samuel Goldwyn Productions in 1923 as a production-only operation (with no distribution arm). Their first feature was Potash and Perlmutter, released in September 1923 through First National Pictures. Some of the early productions bear the name "Howard Productions", named for Goldwyn's wife, Frances.

For 35 years, Goldwyn built a reputation in filmmaking and developed an eye for finding the talent for making films. William Wyler directed many of his most celebrated productions, and he hired writers such as Ben Hecht, Sidney Howard, Dorothy Parker, and Lillian Hellman. (According to legend, at a heated story conference Goldwyn scolded someone—in most accounts Mrs. Parker, who recalled he had once been a glove maker—with the retort: "Don't you point that finger at me. I knew it when it had a thimble on it!"[10])

During that time, Goldwyn made numerous films and reigned as the most successful independent producer in the US. Many of his films were forgettable; his collaboration with John Ford, however, resulted in a Best Picture Oscar nomination for Arrowsmith (1931). William Wyler was responsible for most of Goldwyn's highly lauded films, with Best Picture Oscar nominations for Dodsworth (1936), Dead End (1937), Wuthering Heights (1939), The Little Foxes (1941) and The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). Leading actors in several Goldwyn films, especially those directed by Wyler, were also Oscar-nominated for their performances. Throughout the 1930s, he released all his films through United Artists, but beginning in 1941, and continuing almost through the end of his career, Goldwyn released his films through RKO Radio Pictures.


In 1946, the year he was honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, Goldwyn's drama, The Best Years of Our Lives, starring Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Teresa Wright and Dana Andrews, won the Academy Award for Best Picture. In the 1950s Samuel Goldwyn turned to making a number of musicals including the 1952 hit Hans Christian Andersen (his last with Danny Kaye, with whom he had made many others), and the 1955 hit Guys and Dolls starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra, and Vivian Blaine, which was based on the equally successful Broadway musical. This was the only independent film that Goldwyn released through MGM.

In his final film, made in 1959, Samuel Goldwyn brought together African-American actors Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Pearl Bailey in a film rendition of the George Gershwin opera, Porgy and Bess. Released by Columbia Pictures, the film was nominated for three Oscars, but won only one. It was also a critical and financial failure, and the Gershwin family reportedly disliked the film and eventually pulled it from distribution. The film turned the opera into an operetta with spoken dialogue in between the musical numbers. Its reception was a huge disappointment to Goldwyn, who, according to biographer Arthur Marx, saw it as his crowning glory and had wanted to film Porgy and Bess since he first saw it onstage in 1935.



Goldwyn died at his home in Los Angeles in 1974. In the 1980s, Samuel Goldwyn Studio was sold to Warner Bros. There is a theater named after him in Beverly Hills and he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1631 Vine Street for his contributions to motion pictures on February 8, 1960.[12][13]


In 1910, Goldwyn married Blanche Lasky, a sister of Jesse L. Lasky. The marriage produced a daughter, Ruth. The couple divorced in 1915. In 1925, he married actress Frances Howard, to whom he remained married for the rest of his life. Their son, Samuel Goldwyn Jr., would eventually join his father in the business.


Samuel Goldwyn's grandchildren include:

  • Francis Goldwyn, founder of the Manhattan Toy Company and managing member of Quorum Associates.
  • Tony Goldwyn, actor, producer and director, currently starring as President Fitzgerald Grant III in the TV series Scandal.
  • John Goldwyn, film producer
  • Peter Goldwyn, the current president of Samuel Goldwyn Films
  • Catherine Goldwyn, created Sound Art, a non-profit organization that teaches popular music all over Los Angeles
  • Liz Goldwyn, has a film on HBO called Pretty Things, featuring interviews with queens from the heyday of American burlesque.[14] Her book, an extension of the documentary titled Pretty Things: The Last Generation of American Burlesque Queens, was published in October 2006 by HarperCollins.[15]
  • Rebecca Goldwyn (August 15, 1955 – September 1, 1955)


Goldwyn's relatives include Fred Lebensold, an award-winning architect (best known as the designer of multiple concert halls in Canada and the United States). Fred was the son of Sam's younger sister, Manya Lebensold (who, despite the best efforts of her brothers Sam and Ben in 1939 and 1940), could not be extricated from the Warsaw Ghetto and perished in the Holocaust.

The Samuel Goldwyn Foundation

Samuel Goldwyn's will created a multimillion-dollar charitable foundation in his name. Among other endeavors, the Samuel Goldwyn Foundation funds the Samuel Goldwyn Writing Awards, provided construction funds for the Frances Howard Goldwyn Hollywood Regional Library, and provides ongoing funding for the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital.

The Samuel Goldwyn Company

Several years after the senior Goldwyn's death, his son, Samuel Jr., initiated an independent film and television distribution company dedicated to preserving the integrity of Goldwyn's ambitions and work. The company's assets were later acquired by Orion Pictures, and in 1997, passed on to Orion's parent company, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Several years later, the Samuel Goldwyn Jr. Family Trust and Warner Bros. acquired the rights to all the Goldwyn-produced films except The Hurricane, which was returned to MGM division United Artists.


Goldwyn was also known for malapropisms, paradoxes, and other speech errors called 'Goldwynisms' ("A humorous statement or phrase resulting from the use of incongruous or contradictory words, situations, idioms, etc.") being frequently quoted. For example, he was reported to have said, "I don't think anybody should write his autobiography until after he's dead."[16] and "Include me out." Some famous Goldwyn quotations are misattributions. For example, the statement attributed to Goldwyn that "a verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on" is actually a well-documented misreporting of an actual quote praising the trustworthiness of a colleague: "His verbal contract is worth more than the paper it's written on". The identity of the colleague is variously reported as Joseph M. Schenck[17] or Joseph L. Mankiewicz[18] Goldwyn himself was reportedly aware of—and pleased by—the misattribution.

Upon being told that a book he had purchased for filming, The Well of Loneliness, couldn't be filmed because it was about lesbians, he reportedly replied: "That's all right, we'll make them Hungarians." The same story was told about the 1934 rights to The Children's Hour with the response "That's okay; we'll turn them into Armenians."[19]

In the Grateful Dead's "Scarlet Begonias", the line "I ain't often right but I've never been wrong" appears in the bridge—this is very similar to Goldwyn's "I’m willing to admit that I may not always be right, but I am never wrong."[20]


  1. ^ Obituary, Variety, February 6, 1974, p. 63.
  2. ^ Jang, Meena (January 31, 2015). "Samuel Goldwyn: Remembering the Movie Mogul on the Anniversary of His Death". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 8, 2015.
  3. ^ The sz-spelling is a not-uncommon Polish transliteration for the Yiddish sh-sound, which only requires a single letter in that language.
  4. ^ a b "Goldwyn". Google Biodata. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
  5. ^ A. Scott Berg, Goldwyn - A Biography, Penguin Putnam Inc; ISBN Riverhead Books, ©1989; ISBN 1-57322-723-4
  6. ^ Berg, pp. 31–35, 41.
  7. ^ Berg, pp. 49, 58.
  8. ^ Berg, pp. 58-59, 63.
  9. ^ Rogers, Will; Gragert, Steven K.; Johansson, M. Jane (May 1, 2001). "The Papers of Will Rogers: From vaudeville to Broadway : September 1908-August 1915". University of Oklahoma Press. Retrieved October 7, 2018 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ Silverstein, Stuart Y., ed. (1996). Not Much Fun: The Lost Poems of Dorothy Parker. New York: Scribner. p. 42, n. 75. ISBN 0-7432-1148-0.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  11. ^ Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Richard Nixon. 1971. p. 490. ISBN 0160588634. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  12. ^ "Samuel Goldwyn | Hollywood Walk of Fame". Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  13. ^ "Samuel Goldwyn". Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  14. ^ "Pretty Things". Liz Goldwyn Films. June 2, 2018. Retrieved 2013-04-02.
  15. ^ Goldwyn, Liz (2006). Pretty Things: The Last Generation of American Burlesque Queens. HarperCollins. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
  16. ^ Quoted in Arthur Marx, Goldwyn: The Man Behind the Myth (1976), prologue.
  17. ^ Paul F. Boller, John George, They Never Said It (1990), pg. 42.
  18. ^ Carol Easton, The Search for Sam Goldwyn (1976).
  19. ^ These Three film profile,; accessed June 2, 2018.
  20. ^ "The Annotated "Scarlet Begonias"". Retrieved June 2, 2018.

External links

Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing

The Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing is an Academy Award that recognizes the finest or most euphonic sound mixing or recording and is generally awarded to the production sound mixers and re-recording mixers of the winning film. Compare this award to the Academy Award for Best Sound Editing. In the lists below, the winner of the award for each year is shown first, followed by the other nominees.

For the second and third years of this category (the 4th Academy Awards, 5th Academy Awards) only the names of the film companies were listed. Paramount Publix Studio Sound Department won both years.

Destination Films

Destination Films is a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment currently specializing in action, thriller, niche, sci-fi and low-end to medium-end horror films.

The original Destination Films was founded by Brent Baum and Steve Stabler in 1998. The company made a deal with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment to have them distribute their films for video release. The company was shut down in February 2001 after failing to meet financial expectations. Remaining titles such as The Wedding Planner and Slackers were sold off to Sony Pictures for distribution.In 2002, Destination Films was revived as a division of Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, with the anime film Metropolis being scheduled for their first release, although the film Shiri would be released a couple weeks before. Many of the films released on home entertainment under Destination Films would receive a theatrical release beforehand from either other Sony Pictures divisions like TriStar Pictures and Screen Gems or third-party distributors like Samuel Goldwyn Films. In 2007, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions took over and has released some films under Destination Films' label, like Blood: The Last Vampire, Black Dynamite and Harry Brown.

Guys and Dolls (film)

Guys and Dolls is a 1955 American musical film starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra, and Vivian Blaine. The film was made by Samuel Goldwyn Productions and distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). It was directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who also wrote the screenplay. The film is based on the 1950 Broadway musical by composer and lyricist Frank Loesser, with a book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, which, in turn, was loosely based on "The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown" and "Blood Pressure", two short stories by Damon Runyon. Dances were choreographed by Michael Kidd, who had also staged the dances for the Broadway production.

At Samuel Goldwyn and Joseph L. Mankiewicz's request, Frank Loesser wrote three new songs for the film: "Pet Me Poppa", "(Your Eyes Are the Eyes of) A Woman in Love", and "Adelaide", the last written specifically for Sinatra. Five songs in the stage musical were omitted from the movie: "A Bushel and a Peck", "My Time of Day", "I've Never Been in Love Before" (although portions of these three songs are heard instrumentally as background music), "More I Cannot Wish You" and "Marry the Man Today".

Raffles (1930 film)

Raffles is a 1930 American pre-Code comedy-mystery film produced by Samuel Goldwyn. It stars Ronald Colman as the title character, a proper English gentleman who moonlights as a notorious jewel thief, and Kay Francis as his love interest. It is based on the play Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman (1906) by E. W. Hornung and Eugene Wiley Presbrey, which was in turn adapted from the 1899 short story collection of the same name by Hornung.

Oscar Lagerstrom was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Sound Recording.The story had been filmed previously as Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman (1917) with John Barrymore as Raffles, and again as Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman (1925) by Universal Studios. A 1939 film version, also produced by Goldwyn, stars David Niven in the title role.

Samuel Goldwyn Films

Samuel Goldwyn Films is an American film company that licenses, releases and distributes art-house, independent and foreign films. It was founded by Samuel Goldwyn Jr., the son of the Hollywood business magnate/mogul, Samuel Goldwyn. The current incarnation is a successor to The Samuel Goldwyn Company.

Samuel Goldwyn Jr.

Samuel John Goldwyn Jr. (September 7, 1926 – January 9, 2015) was an American film producer.

Samuel Goldwyn Productions

Samuel Goldwyn Productions was an American film production company founded by Samuel Goldwyn in 1923, and active through 1959. Personally controlled by Goldwyn and focused on production rather than distribution, the company developed into the most financially and critically successful independent production company in Hollywood's Golden Age.

As of 2012, the distribution rights of Samuel Goldwyn films from the library were transferred to Warner Bros., with Miramax managing global licensing, with the exception of The Hurricane, which is now back with its original distributor, United Artists.

Samuel Goldwyn Studio

Samuel Goldwyn Studio was the name that Samuel Goldwyn used to refer to the lot located on the corner of Formosa Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, California, as well as the offices and stages that his company, Samuel Goldwyn Productions, rented there during the 1920s and 1930s. At various times, the location was also known as Pickford–Fairbanks Studios, the United Artists Studio, Warner Hollywood Studios, and its name since 1999, The Lot.The site was acquired by Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks and dubbed Pickford–Fairbanks Studios in 1919. It was later renamed the United Artists Studio in 1928, as it was being used by several independent producers, including Samuel Goldwyn, that distributed through United Artists. Although Goldwyn did not control the deed for the land, he and Joseph Schenck built many of the facilities on the lot.Schenck left United Artists in 1935, leaving his share of the deed to Goldwyn, and Fairbanks died in 1939, leaving his share to Pickford. When Goldwyn left United Artists in 1940, he sought to rename the lot Samuel Goldwyn Studio. Pickford and Goldwyn fought over the name and ownership of the property until a court ordered that the lot be auctioned in 1955.

James Mulvey, Goldwyn's most trusted business confidant and president of Samuel Goldwyn Inc., outbid Pickford for the property. The lot officially became Samuel Goldwyn Studio and remained so until Warner Brothers purchased the site in 1980, naming it Warner Hollywood Studios.Warner Bros. sold the property in 1999 and the name was officially changed to its longtime unofficial nickname, The Lot.Across the street is the Formosa Cafe, a legendary Hollywood hangout.

Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions

Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions (SPWA) is a specialty film division of Sony Pictures. The company specializes in acquiring and producing films for a wide variety of distribution platforms.

Splendor (1935 film)

Splendor is a 1935 drama film starring Miriam Hopkins and Joel McCrea, produced by Samuel Goldwyn, and distributed by United Artists.

It is the third film made by Hopkins and McCrea after The Richest Girl in the World and Barbary Coast. The two would also star together in These Three and Woman Chases Man.

Stella Dallas (1925 film)

Stella Dallas is a 1925 American silent drama film that was produced by Samuel Goldwyn, adapted by Frances Marion, and directed by Henry King. The film stars Ronald Colman, Belle Bennett, Lois Moran, Alice Joyce, Jean Hersholt, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Prints of the film survive in several film archives.

Strike Me Pink (film)

Strike Me Pink is a 1936 American musical comedy film directed by Norman Taurog, starring Eddie Cantor and Ethel Merman, and produced by Samuel Goldwyn.

Cantor plays a nebbishy employee of an amusement park, forced to assert himself against a gang of slot-machine racketeers. The climax involves a wild chase over a roller coaster and in a hot-air balloon, filmed at The Pike in Long Beach, California.

The film was Eddie Cantor's sixth of six films for Goldwyn, all produced and released within seven years. The story derives from the novel Dreamland by the once-popular writer Clarence Budington Kelland, reworked as a 1933 stage musical comedy by Ray Henderson for Jimmy Durante.

The Bishop's Wife

The Bishop's Wife, also known as Cary and the Bishop's Wife, is a Samuel Goldwyn romantic comedy feature film from 1947, starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven in a story about an angel who helps a bishop with his problems. The film was adapted by Leonardo Bercovici and Robert E. Sherwood from the 1928 novel of the same name by Robert Nathan, and was directed by Henry Koster.

It was remade in 1996 as The Preacher's Wife starring Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston, and Courtney B. Vance.

The Devil Dancer

The Devil Dancer is a 1927 American silent romantic drama film directed by Fred Niblo and produced by Samuel Goldwyn.

For his work on this film, The Magic Flame and Sadie Thompson, cinematographer George Barnes was nominated for the first-ever Academy Award for Best Cinematography at the 1st Academy Awards ceremony in 1929.The Devil Dancer is now considered a lost film.

The Goldwyn Follies

The Goldwyn Follies is a 1938 Technicolor film written by Ben Hecht, Sid Kuller, Sam Perrin and Arthur Phillips, with music by George Gershwin, Vernon Duke, and Ray Golden, and lyrics by Ira Gershwin. Some sources credit Kurt Weill as one of the composers, but this is apparently incorrect. The Goldwyn Follies was the first Technicolor film produced by Samuel Goldwyn.

The movie, which features Adolphe Menjou, Vera Zorina, Edgar Bergen (with Charlie McCarthy), Andrea Leeds, Kenny Baker, Ella Logan, Helen Jepson, Bobby Clark and the Ritz Brothers, depicts a movie producer who chooses a simple girl to be "Miss Humanity" and to critically evaluate his movies from the point of view of the ordinary person. The style of the film is very similar to other musicals of its era, including the "Gold Diggers" series and others. The film is an effective satire on Hollywood and have some excellent numbers choreographed by George Balanchine.

Songs include:

"Our Love is Here to Stay"

"I Was Doing All Right"

"Spring Again"

"Love Walked In"

"I Love to Rhyme"This was the last film score written by George Gershwin before his death on 11 July 1937. The Goldwyn Follies was released on 20 February 1938. The movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Score and for Best Interior Decoration.

The Rescue (1929 film)

The Rescue is a 1929 American Pre-Code romantic adventure film directed by Herbert Brenon, and produced by Samuel Goldwyn. The screenplay was written by Elizabeth Meehan, based on the novel by Joseph Conrad. The music score is by Hugo Riesenfeld. The film stars Ronald Colman and Lili Damita.

The Samuel Goldwyn Company

The Samuel Goldwyn Company was an American independent film company founded by Samuel Goldwyn Jr., the son of the famous Hollywood mogul, Samuel Goldwyn, in 1978.

We Live Again

We Live Again is a 1934 film directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Anna Sten and Fredric March. The film is an adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's 1899 novel Resurrection (Voskraeseniye). The screenplay was written by Maxwell Anderson with contributions from a number of writers, including Preston Sturges and Thornton Wilder.

Producer Samuel Goldwyn made the film to showcase Russian actress Anna Sten, his newest discovery. It was Goldwyn who named the film "We Live Again", on the theory that it meant the same thing as "Resurrection" and was easier to understand. The first film adaptation of the Tolstoy novel was made in 1909 by D. W. Griffith, and ran 10 minutes. Numerous other film versions have been made since then.

Wonder Man (film)

Wonder Man is a 1945 musical film starring Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo. It is based on a short story by Arthur Sheekman, adapted for the screen by a staff of writers led by Jack Jevne and Eddie Moran, produced by Samuel Goldwyn, and directed by H. Bruce Humberstone. Mary Grant designed the film's costumes.

Films produced by Samuel Goldwyn

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