Entries in Entertainment

Berliner, Emile
Although he has been overshadowed in the public imagination by contemporaries Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison, German-American inventor and entrepreneur Emile Berliner actually improved two inventions associated closely with those other men, the telephone and the talking machine. Continue Reading »
Cohn, Harry
A Hollywood mogul, Harry Cohn founded Columbia Pictures and ran the studio for nearly four decades. Under his watch, Columbia grew quickly, earning a reputation for profitability and artistic achievement within the film community. Continue Reading »
DeVry, Herman
Herman Adolf DeVry was an inventor and manufacturer of cameras and portable projectors who eventually found fame and fortune as one of the leaders in the area of career-based education. Continue Reading »
Fey, Charles August
Over the course of a successful career, Charles August Fey made significant contributions to the development of America’s gaming industry. He is remembered today as the creator of the modern slot machine and as the “Thomas Edison of slots.” Continue Reading »
German Immigrants and J. P. Morgan’s Securities Underwriting Syndicates
The Immigrant Entrepreneurship project offers a transnational perspective on American history. Transaction records from the J. P. Morgan & Co. Syndicate Books help us understand how a transnational society of bankers networked funds around the world by forming syndicates to support the globalization process. Syndicate participation provided a way for many German immigrants and German-Americans to attain both economic success and social status in America. Continue Reading »
Herrmann, August
Between the end of the Gilded Age and the beginning of the Progressive Era, the name August “Garry” Herrmann was known throughout the United States. Herrmann was a man who had a humble beginning; he made millions of dollars during his lifetime through his political involvement and partial ownership of the Cincinnati Reds. As a local politician he served as the right-hand man to one of the most powerful political bosses of his era, George B. Cox of Cincinnati. As president of the Cincinnati Reds and chairman of baseball’s National Commission, he helped to usher in the modern World Series and is one of the most important early major league baseball executives. Continue Reading »
Kessel, Adam
Born in Brooklyn of a mother who emigrated from Bavaria and a father who was the son of German immigrants, Adam Kessel (sometimes “Ad” or “Addison”) would grow up to be a leading pioneer in the production and distribution of motion pictures in the early years of the film business. In time, he would employ many of the leading figures of the industry, including Charlie Chaplin and D. W. Griffith. Kessel’s power was most in evidence during the 1910s, as the film business organized itself around the twin axes of West Coast production and East Coast financing. Continue Reading »
Klaw, Marc
Marc Klaw and Abraham Lincoln Erlanger, children of Bavarian Jewish immigrants, began working in the lower echelons of the theatre business in the early 1880s. By the turn of the twentieth century, their firm, Klaw & Erlanger, ruled the American theatrical scene. It produced first-run plays and musicals in New York, and placed shows, both its own and others’, in hundreds of theatres nationwide. Continue Reading »
Laemmle, Carl
Carl Laemmle was the founder of Universal Pictures Company and one of the founding fathers of Hollywood and the studio system Continue Reading »
Lion, Alfred
Alfred Lion immigrated to the United States in 1936 and went on to found one of the world’s foremost jazz record labels, Blue Note Records with his longtime friend Francis Wolff. Continue Reading »
Loew, Marcus
As a pioneer of the mass-entertainment industry of the early twentieth century, Marcus Loew engaged in everything from penny arcades to nickelodeons, vaudeville, and silent film. Continue Reading »
Mengers, Sue
Sue Mengers emerged as a powerful Hollywood agent in the late 1960s and 1970s, a time of enormous challenges and transformation in the film industry, as independent-minded stars and directors took greater control over their projects, a tactic enhanced by the innovative work of agents like Mengers. Continue Reading »
Ringling, Albert C.
The eldest of the seven Ringling brothers, Albert (Al) C. Ringling was the founder and leader of the Ringling Bros. Circus, which grew from a small overland show into the country’s largest and most celebrated touring circus. Continue Reading »
Sousa, John Philip
Between 1893 and 1932, John Philip Sousa was the most commercially successful bandleader in the United States and one of the best-known American entertainers worldwide. The son of Portuguese and Bavarian immigrants, from 1880 to 1892 Sousa served as leader of the United States Marine Band, “The President’s Own,” in Washington, D.C. Continue Reading »
Strachwitz, Chris
Chris Strachwitz is a music producer and the founder of Arhoolie Records. Strachwitz and his family came to the United States in 1947, living first in Reno, Nevada, and later in California. After graduating, he became a high school teacher, but spent most of his time off searching out music in clubs. In 1962 he left teaching to concentrate on Arhoolie Records, which has become a Grammy-winning record label that specializes in roots music. Continue Reading »
Stratemeyer, Edward
The son of a 48er immigrant from Germany, Edward Stratemeyer built a career as a writer and a publisher of juvenile literature. At the peak of his career, he presided over a publishing syndicate whose most successful book series, the Rover Boys and Tom Swift, sold millions of copies. Other series created by the Stratemeyer Syndicate – the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, and the Hardy Boys – would make their mark on subsequent generations of readers (and writers). Continue Reading »
Thalberg, Irving
Irving Grant Thalberg, the son of German-Jewish immigrants, considered a career as a merchant and a lawyer before using kinship and ethnic networks to secure an entry-level position in the U.S. film industry. Continue Reading »
Ziegfeld, Florenz Jr.
Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. is recognized as an American icon who fundamentally changed show business in the United States. He established the modern Broadway show, used standardized beauty as an integrative marker of a rapidly changing immigrant society, and was fundamental for building American global leadership in entertainment. Continue Reading »