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Harry Cohn

Hebrew: הארי כהן
Also Known As: "King Cohn"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Death: February 27, 1958 (66)
Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Joseph Cohn and Bella Cohn
Husband of Joan Perry
Ex-husband of Rose Cohn
Father of Rebecca Cohn; Samuel Cohn; Henry Cohn; Jobella Perry Cohn; Harrison Perry Cohn and 2 others
Brother of Maxwell Cohn; Jack Cohn; Annie Cohn and Nat Cohn

Occupation: Film Producer, Businessperson
Managed by: Michael Lawrence Rhodes
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Harry Cohn

Harry Cohn (July 23, 1891 – February 27, 1958) was the co-founder, president, and production director of Columbia Pictures Corporation.[1]

Cohn was born to a working-class Jewish family in New York City.[2] His father, Joseph Cohen, was a tailor from Germany, and his mother, Bella Joseph, was from Pale of Settlement, Russian Empire.[3][4] After working for a time as a streetcar conductor, and then as a song plugger for a sheet music printer,[5] he got a job with Universal Pictures, where his brother, Jack Cohn, was already employed. In 1919, Cohn joined his brother and Joe Brandt to found CBC Film Sales Corporation. The initials officially stood for Cohn, Brandt, and Cohn, but Hollywood wags noted the company's low-budget, low-class efforts and nicknamed CBC "Corned Beef and Cabbage." Harry Cohn managed the company's film production in Hollywood, while his brother managed its finances from New York. The relationship between the two brothers was not always good, and Brandt, finding the partnership stressful, eventually sold his third of the company to Harry Cohn, who took over as president, by which time the firm had been renamed Columbia Pictures Corporation.

Motion Picture Executive. Working as a sheet music printer for Universal Studios, Cohn joined with his brothers Jack and Joe Brandt to found CBC Film Sales Corporation in 1919. Harry Cohn managed the company's film production in Hollywood, while his brothers managed its finances from New York. Eventually Harry Cohn, took over as president of the Hollywood firm and renamed it, Columbia Pictures Corporation in 1924. There he signed signed a number of performers who went on to become stars, such as Barbara Stanwyck, James Stewart, Gary Cooper, Rosalind Russell, Glenn Ford, Judy Holliday and Rita Hayworth. Soon his films started having profitable success starting with “That Certain Thing” (1928). In 1934, his film “It Happened One Night”, won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. He continued to work with great success for the rest of his career with such classic films as “Lost Horizon” (1937), “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939), “From Here to Eternity” (1953), “On the Waterfront” (1954) and “The Bridge on the River Kwai” (1957). He died of a sudden heart attack at age 66.

Most of Columbia's early work was action fare starring rock-jawed leading man Jack Holt. Columbia was unable to shake off its stigma as a Poverty Row studio until 1934, when director Frank Capra's Columbia comedy It Happened One Night swept the Academy Awards. Exhibitors who formerly wouldn't touch Columbia product became steady customers. As a horizontally integrated company that only controlled production and distribution, Columbia had been at the mercy of theater owners. Columbia expanded its scope to offer moviegoers a regular program of economically made features, short subjects, serials, travelogues, sports reels, and cartoons. Columbia released a few "class" productions each year (Lost Horizon, Holiday, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,The Jolson Story, Gilda, All the King's Men, etc.), but depended on its popular "budget" productions to keep the company solvent. During Cohn's tenure, the studio always turned a profit.

Cohn did not build a stable of movie stars like other studios. Instead, he generally signed actors who usually worked for more expensive studios (Wheeler & Woolsey, Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Mae West, Humphrey Bogart, Dorothy Lamour, Mickey Rooney, Chester Morris, Warren William, Warner Baxter, Sabu, Gloria Jean, Margaret O'Brien, etc.) to attract a pre-sold audience. Columbia's own stars generally rose from the ranks of small-part actors and featured players (Jean Arthur, Rita Hayworth, Larry Parks, Julie Bishop, Lloyd Bridges, Bruce Bennett, Jock Mahoney, etc.). Some of Columbia's producers and directors also graduated from lesser positions as actors, writers, musicians, and assistant directors.

Cohn was known for his autocratic and intimidating management style. When he took over as Columbia's president, he remained production chief as well, thus concentrating enormous power in his hands. He respected talent above any personal attribute, but he made sure his employees knew who was boss. Writer Ben Hecht referred to him as "White Fang." An employee of Columbia called him "as absolute a monarch as Hollywood ever knew." It was said "he had listening devices on all sound stages and could tune in any conversation on the set, then boom in over a loudspeaker if he heard anything that displeased him." Throughout his tenure, his most popular moniker was "King Cohn."

Moe Howard of the Three Stooges recalled that Cohn was "a real Jekyll-and-Hyde-type guy... socially, he could be very charming." Cohn was known to scream and curse at actors and directors in his office all afternoon, and greet them cordially at a dinner party that evening. There is some suggestion that Cohn deliberately cultivated his reputation as a tyrant, either to motivate his employees or simply because it increased his control of the studio. Cohn is said to have kept a signed photograph of Benito Mussolini, whom he met in Italy in 1933, on his desk until the beginning of World War II. (Columbia produced the documentary Mussolini Speaks in 1933, narrated by Lowell Thomas). Cohn also had a number of ties to organized crime. He had a long-standing friendship with Chicago mobster John Roselli, and New Jersey mob boss Abner Zwillman was the source of the loan that allowed Cohn to buy out his partner Brandt. Cohn's brash, loud, intimidating style has become Hollywood legend and was reportedly portrayed in various movies. The characters played by Broderick Crawford in All The King's Men (1949) and Born Yesterday (1950), both Columbia pictures, are allegedly based on Cohn, as is Jack Woltz, a movie mogul who appears in The Godfather (1972).

In his own way, Harry Cohn was sentimental about certain professional matters. He remembered the valuable contributions of Jack Holt during Columbia's struggling years, and kept him under contract until 1941. Cohn hired the Three Stooges in 1934 and, according to Stooge Larry Fine, "he thought we brought him luck." Cohn kept the Stooges on his payroll until the end of 1957. Cohn was fond of what he termed "those lousy little 'B' pictures," and kept making them, along with two-reel comedies and serials, after other studios had abandoned them.

According to biographer Michael Fleming, Cohn forced Curly Howard of the Stooges to keep working after suffering a series of minor strokes, which likely contributed to a further deterioration of Howard's health and his eventual retirement and early death.[6]

Cohn expected, or at least asked for, sex from female stars in exchange for employment (although similar stories were connected to many producers in Hollywood at the time).[7][8] Harry Cohn's relationship with Rita Hayworth was fraught with aggravation. Hayworth's biography If This Was Happiness, describes how she refused to sleep with Cohn and how this angered him.[9] However, because Hayworth was such a valuable property Cohn kept her under contract because she made money for him. During the years they worked together, each did their best to irritate the other despite their lengthy work relationship which produced good results. Cohn wanted to groom Mary Castle as Hayworth's successor. When Joan Crawford was subjected to Cohn's advances after signing a three-picture contract with Columbia, she quickly stopped him by saying "Keep it in your pants, Harry. I'm having lunch with Joan and the boys [Cohn's wife and children] tomorrow."[10]

According to writer Joseph McBride, Jean Arthur quit the business because Cohn used to attack actresses.[11]

In a BBC documentary, Sammy Davis Jr - The Kid in the Middle, along with the titular star's episode of TVOne's Unsung Hollywood, it was disclosed that Cohn, in order to end Kim Novak's relationship with a black man, had mobsters threaten Sammy Davis, Jr. with blinding or having his legs broken if he did not marry a black woman within 48 hours. Cohn was married to Rose Barker from 1923 to 1941, and to actress Joan Perry (1911–1996) from July 1941 until his death in 1958. His niece was Leonore "Lee" Cohn Annenberg, the wife of billionaire publishing magnate Walter Annenberg of Philadelphia. Her father was Maxwell Cohn, brother of Harry and Jack Cohn. Cohn was the last Hollywood movie mogul of the studio system era, retaining power after the departures of such rivals as Darryl F. Zanuck and Louis B. Mayer.[12] He suffered a sudden heart attack in February 1958 at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona, shortly after having finished dinner, and died in an ambulance en route to St. Joseph's Hospital. Cohn's well-attended funeral was the subject of the famous (perhaps apocryphal) quote attributed to Red Skelton: "It proves what Harry always said: Give the public what they want and they'll come out for it."[13] He is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood.

He was crude, uneducated, foul and, even on his best behavior, abrasive. No major studio executive of the so-called "Golden Age" was more loathed (although at times the dictatorial Samuel Goldwyn and the hard-nosed Jack L. Warner came close) than Harry Cohn.

Born in the middle of 5 children to Joseph Cohn, a Jewish tailor, and Bella, a Polish émigré, Harry was raised on New York's rough lower-class East 88th St., where he followed his older brother Jack Cohn into show business. Harry's life and the origins of Columbia Pictures are closely associated with Jack, whose early career paved the way for Harry's own ambitions, despite the fact that the two brothers fought bitterly and each harbored deep resentment over the other's success. By 19 Jack had left a job with an advertising agency to work for Carl Laemmle's newly formed Independent Motion Picture Company (IMP), rapidly working his way from entry-level job in the processing lab and through various positions where he founded Universal Weekly, one of the first newsreel outfits, for Laemmle. Jack soon found himself in charge of IMP's shorts as an uncredited producer. He was involved in Laemmle's first stab at feature production, Traffic in Souls (1913), which returned a then-whopping $450,000 on a $57,000 negative cost, convincing Uncle Carl to head west and invest in his own studio, Universal City. During this period Jack had convinced Laemmle to hire Joe Brandt, an attorney he'd worked for in advertising. Brandt, who would become the head of Universal's East Coast operations, would later be a key factor in the brothers' success.

Harry had grown up in his brother's shadow, working for much of the first decade of the 20th century as a lowly shipping clerk for a music publishing company. In 1912 he teamed with Harry Ruby at a local nickelodeon, singing duo for $28 per week, with Ruby receiving the biggest slice of the pie. The act would split up within a year and, after a brief stint as a trolley-car fare collector, Harry hit on the idea of applying song plugging to motion pictures. He produced a handful of silent shorts in which popular songs were mimed by actors, inviting the audiences to join in. His relatively modest success at this greased the skids for his brother to recommend him for a job at Universal. At age 27 Harry was working for Laemmle.

By 1919 Jack was itching for a change and wanted to become an independent film producer--he produced a series of shorts called Screen Snapshots, which purported to show stars' lives off-screen. Their popularity encouraged Jack to jump ship and Harry, sensing an opportunity, went with him. With them went Joe Brandt. The three formed CBC Film Sales, which released shorts, mostly terrible--so terrible, in fact, they earned the studio the nickname "Corned Beef and Cabbage Productions" (Harry would explode into a rage whenever he heard this). Desperate to put distance between he and his brother, Harry headed for Hollywood to oversee CBC productions there. By design or opportunity he ended up working out of the old Balshofer Studio on Hollywood Boulevard and gradually created his own studio, renting out the Independent Studios lot on Sunset and Gower. This was the heart of "Poverty Row"--so-called because it was an area filled with the offices of low-budget production companies and fly-by-night producers, who ground out ultra-cheap programmers (mostly westerns) hoping to make a few bucks. Harry was home.

He began producing two-reelers cheaply and nearly everything he sent east made money for CBC. It soon dawned on him that the big money wasn't in shorts but features, and the company scraped $20,000 together and produced More to Be Pitied Than Scorned (1922). Through the then-complex system of exchange releasing and so-called states rights sales, CBC netted $130,000 on the picture and, even more importantly, scored a deal for five additional features. By the end of 1923 CBC had released ten features, none of which lost money--a remarkable event along Gower Gulch. Harry was extremely conscious of his place in Hollywood and took offense at the derision CBC films received. He finally had enough, and on January 10, 1924, the company's name became Columbia Pictures Corporation. The next year the company paid $150,000 for a property at 6070 Sunset Boulevard. The partners made a fateful decision about the same time: unlike most of the other major studios (and this definition certainly didn't include Columbia at the time), they opted to forego theater ownership. This decision would prove extremely wise over the next 3three decades. Under Harry, Columbia rose from the Gower Gulch ash heap. His releases rarely featured A-list stars but consistently made money. Columbia took its first tentative stab at A-list feature production with The Blood Ship (1927) (its first featuring the now-familiar torch lady logo), and even that was made using a faded star, Hobart Bosworth, who agreed to appear in the melodrama for free.

Fate smiled on Harry when former Mack Sennett writer/director Frank Capra became available, and he was able to initially secure Capra's services for $1000 per picture. Capra's importance to the fortunes of Columbia Pictures cannot be overstated and, to be fair to Cohn, he recognized it. With rare exceptions the studio utilized competent journeymen directors like Erle C. Kenton, Malcolm St. Clair or Edward LeSaint, usually assigned to projects starring capable B-level actors hired on a one-shot basis (every so often Columbia would splurge and hire an "A"-list director like Howard Hawks. With each of his features, Capra's significance to Columbia grew, and with each hit Capra was given increasing carte blanche; the congenitally tightfisted Cohn would still fight bitterly with his star director over budgets, but would usually relent to the demands of his productions. Strangely, Columbia's status as a Poverty Row outfit actually helped. The major studios loaned them temperamental stars who demanded pay raises or script approval--since working for a "low-rent" studio like Columbia was considered punishment in the class-conscious world of Hollywood--and Harry enthusiastically assigned them to Capra's pictures, a tactic that usually paid off big. A top actor from MGM or Warners was expected to suffer in the low-budget purgatory of Gower Gulch but usually left eagerly wanting to work for Capra again. One such production, It Happened One Night (1934), single-handedly propelled the studio into the ranks of the majors and garnered Columbia its first Oscars (although the studio had been nominated for productions infrequently since 1931). Cohn never looked back; signing directors to contracts was one thing, but hordes of potentially unruly actors was another thing entirely--he held firm to his long-standing belief that contract stars were nothing but trouble, after paying keen interest to Jack L. Warner's battles with James Cagney, Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland. In 1934 he signed The Three Stooges (who would enjoy a 22-year run at Columbia) and recent German émigré Peter Lorre (Cohn was at a loss on how to utilize him and Lorre would spent most of his time at Columbia being loaned out to other studios) to long-term contracts, but wouldn't begin to build a roster of contract stars in earnest until the late 1930s, beginning with Rosalind Russell, and always he kept their numbers comparatively small (William Holden, Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth were among the select few in the late 1930s and early 1940s).

The vast majority of Columbia's output remained at the B-level well into the 1950s, but most of its films were profitable. It took Columbia until 1946 to experience its first bona fide blockbuster with The Jolson Story (1946), which netted $8 million on a $2-million investment and resulted in a profitable sequel in 1949. Among the major studios only Paramount and Columbia eagerly welcomed the intrusion of television, and Columbia responded by creating a subsidiary, Screen Gems (created by Harry's nephew Ralph Cohn) in the early 1950s. The division would pay off handsomely over the next 20 years.

Harry and his brother Jack continued to fight fiercely over business matters until Jack's death in 1956. Harry himself died of a heart attack in 1958. Despite his undeniable crudeness--the boorish, thuggish, crooked, loudmouthed "Harry Brock" character in Garson Kanin's classic Born Yesterday (1950), memorably played by Broderick Crawford, was largely based on Cohn), Harry Cohn's Columbia Pictures never had a negative year during his 30-year-plus reign--a record only approached by Louis B. Mayer, who ruled MGM from 1924 through mid-1951. Columbia began from a far more disadvantaged position than MGM did, though, and it thrived due to Cohn's keen judge of talent and his near-fanatical adherence to early business policies that were originally ridiculed.

Appears in the novel "The Vertigo Murders: An Alfred Hitchcock Mystery", by J. Madison Davis. It was absolutely no secret that many people loathed Harry Cohn, but Cohn actually enjoyed his reputation of being the most hated man in Hollywood. In February 1958 when he died, the classic comment (usually attributed to Red Skelton) upon seeing the large number of people showing up for Cohn's funeral: "Give the people what they want, and they'll turn out for it!" When a member of the Temple asked the Rabbi to say "one good thing" about the deceased, he paused and said "He's dead".

The career of Oscar-winning screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, who achieved cinematic immortality writing Citizen Kane (1941) for Orson Welles, was effectively scuttled by his alcoholism. By the end of the 1930s he had been reduced to working for Columbia Pictures, a former Poverty Row studio turned into a major because of the huge success of movies directed by Frank Capra. Despite the wealth brought into the studio by Capra, it was a stingy place and the bottom of the barrel for a self-respecting screenwriter, a last stop before actually falling off the map in Hollywood. Mankiewicz had been fired by almost every other studio in Hollywood and was, by the late 1930s, a "ruined man," according to fellow screenwriter F. Scott Fitzgerald. Cohn was known for getting talent discarded by the major studios at bargain prices, and he signed Mankiewicz for $750 a week. On his part Mankiewicz was contrite, but Columbia producer William Perlberg, knowing Mankiewicz was an alcoholic with a sharp tongue who enjoyed baiting his bosses, banned him from the executive dining room in an effort to head off trouble. However, one day Mankiewicz defied the ban and wound up sitting at a table with Cohn and other executives. Cohn started the conversation with: "Last night I saw the lousiest picture I've seen in years." After mentioning the title, one producer reported that he had seen it with an audience and they had loved it. He suggested that maybe Cohn would have had a different reaction if he had seen it with an audience. Cohn replied, "That doesn't make any difference. When I'm alone in a projection room, I have a foolproof device for judging whether a picture is good or bad. If my fanny squirms, it's bad. If my fanny doesn't squirm, it's good. It's as simple as that." There was a momentary silence, which was broken by Mankiewicz. "Imagine," he said to the other members of the table. "The whole world wired to Harry Cohn's ass!" Mankiewicz was once again out of a job and eventually wound up writing scripts for Welles' Mercury Theater on the radio.

In the mid-'30s Cohn hired a relatively unknown cowboy actor, John Wayne, for a several-picture contract at Columbia with its "B" western unit. Cohn, a married man, soon got the idea that Wayne had made a pass at a Columbia starlet with whom Cohn was having an affair. When he confronted Wayne about it Wayne denied it, but Cohn called up executives at other studios and told them that Wayne would show up for work drunk, was a womanizer and a troublemaker and requested that they not hire him. Wayne didn't work for several months afterward, and when he discovered what Cohn had done, he burst into Cohn's office at Columbia, grabbed him by the neck and threatened to kill him. After he cooled off he told Cohn that "You son of a bitch, as long as I live I will never work one day for you or Columbia no matter how much you offer me." Later, after Wayne had become a major star, he received several lucrative film offers from Columbia, including the lead in The Gunfighter (1950) (which was later made by 20th Century-Fox with Gregory Peck in the role), all of which he turned down cold. Even after Cohn died in 1958, Wayne still refused all offers from Columbia Pictures, including several that would have paid him more than a million dollars.

His daughter, Jobella, was born in 1942 to his wife, Joan Perry. She died in infancy. They later had two sons, John Perry Cohn and Harrison Perry Cohn, and a daughter, Catherine Perry Cohn.

Under Harry Cohn's leadership, Columbia Pictures posted profits for 38 consecutive years (1920 to 1958), a record unmatched by any other Hollywood studio to date.

Cohn was the subject of countless epithets around Hollywood, but writer Ben Hecht gave him the nickname that stuck: "White Fang". Hecht got it from the titular character (a hybrid wolf-dog) of a Jack London novel.

Harry Cohn is interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Section 8, Lot 86, between the lake and the entrance to the Cathedral Mausoleum. He chose the large family property himself. "I picked out a great plot", he said. "It's right by the water, and I can see the studio [Columbia Pictures] from here". Cohn's above-ground tomb has a cross entwined with a Star of David. He was not religiously observant and there is no evidence he converted from Judaism to Christianity, but he had an attraction to Catholicism. Both his wives were Catholics, and he allowed his second wife, Joan Perry , to raise their two surviving children in the Catholic church. The inscriptions on his crypt were ordered by Perry.

Harry Cohn was rude and used obscene language with his employees but was very generous in the same time, never hesitating to pay hospital bills when one of his company members was sick or had a relative ill.

His favourite hobby was to fire loyal employees on Xmas Eve.

His women contract players were expected to be at his beck and call. Rita Hayworth, Joan Crawford and Kim Novak were 3 that rejected him. Joan is said, after signing a 3 picture deal, to have pushed him off her and stopped him by saying 'Harry I'm having lunch with Joan and the boys(his wife and sons) tomorrow. He used to slash a rising crop across his desk to terrify employees.

He was probably the model for the fictional film producer Jack Woltz in the film The Godfather who wakes up next to a severed horse's head.

He was known as the meanest mogul in Hollywood. When someone was told who had turned up for his funeral they commented 'They wanted to make sure that he was dead'.

[to actress Joan Perry, when he signed her and Rita Hayworth at the same time in 1935] Hayworth will be a star, and you'll be my wife [he married Perry six years later].

Gower Street [location of Columbia Studios] is paved with the bones of my executive producers.

If I wasn't the head of a studio, who would talk to me?

It's not a business, it's a racket.

If you want to send messages, use Western Union [Telegram Company].

Let me give you some facts of life. Every Friday, the front door of this studio opens and I spit a movie out onto

Gower Street . . . If that door opens and I spit and nothing comes out, it means a lot of people are out of work--drivers, distributors, exhibitors, projectionists, ushers, and a lot of other pricks . . . I want one good picture a year, and I won't let an exhibitor have it unless he takes the bread-and-butter product, the Boston Blackies, the Blondies, the low-budget westerns and the rest of the junk we make.

I kiss the feet of talent.

I don't have ulcers; I give them.

[on being a studio head] It's better than being a pimp.

I have never met a grateful performer in the movies.

All I need to make pictures is an office.

[Rejecting Peter Falk's screen test] For the same price I can get an actor with two eyes.

[on Julie Harris] She scares small children.

The word 'gratitude' is not part of the Hollywood dictionary.

I am the king here. Whoever eats my bread sings my song.

About Harry Cohn (עברית)

הארי כהן

''''''(באנגלית: Harry Cohn;‏ 23 ביולי 1891 - 27 בפברואר 1958) היה מפיק סרטים יהודי-אמריקאי, מייסד ומנהל אולפני קולומביה.

חייו כהן נולד למשפחה יהודית בניו יורק. בצעירותו התקבל לעבודה בחברת סרטי יוניברסל לצד אחיו ג'ק כהן.

בשנת 1919 הקים יחד עם אחיו ג'ק ועם ג'ו ברנדט חברה להפקת סרטים בשם "כהן-ברנדט-כהן מכירות סרטים", והיה אחראי על פעילות החברה בהוליווד.

בשנת 1922 הפיקה החברה את סרטה הראשון, ובשנת 1924 שונה שם החברה ל"סרטי קולומביה". כהן שימש כנשיא החברה, וכן כמנהל ההפקה.

בשנת 1934 ליהק לקומדיות שהפיקה החברה את שלישיית הקומיקאים "שלושת המוקיונים" (the Three Stooges), והסרטים הקצרים בהשתתפותם זכו להצלחה רבה.

בתפקידו נתפס על ידי עובדיו כמנהל קשוח ומאיים.

נפטר כתוצאה מהתקף לב בפיניקס, אריזונה.

קישורים חיצוניים ויקישיתוף מדיה וקבצים בנושא הארי כהן בוויקישיתוף IMDB Logo 2016.svg הארי כהן , במסד הנתונים הקולנועיים IMDb (באנגלית) הארי כהן , באתר "Find a Grave" (באנגלית) https://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%94%D7%90%D7%A8%D7%99_%D7%9B%D7%94...

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Harry Cohn (July 23, 1891 – February 27, 1958) was the co-founder, president, and production director of Columbia Pictures Corporation.[1]

Cohn was born to a working-class Jewish family in New York City.[2] His father, Joseph Cohen, was a tailor from Germany, and his mother, Bella Joseph, was from Pale of Settlement, Russian Empire.[3][4] After working for a time as a streetcar conductor, and then as a song plugger for a sheet music printer,[5] he got a job with Universal Pictures, where his brother, Jack Cohn, was already employed. In 1919, Cohn joined his brother and Joe Brandt to found CBC Film Sales Corporation. The initials officially stood for Cohn, Brandt, and Cohn, but Hollywood wags noted the company's low-budget, low-class efforts and nicknamed CBC "Corned Beef and Cabbage." Harry Cohn managed the company's film production in Hollywood, while his brother managed its finances from New York. The relationship between the two brothers was not always good, and Brandt, finding the partnership stressful, eventually sold his third of the company to Harry Cohn, who took over as president, by which time the firm had been renamed Columbia Pictures Corporation.

Most of Columbia's early work was action fare starring rock-jawed leading man Jack Holt. Columbia was unable to shake off its stigma as a Poverty Row studio until 1934, when director Frank Capra's Columbia comedy It Happened One Night swept the Academy Awards. Exhibitors who formerly wouldn't touch Columbia product became steady customers. As a horizontally integrated company that only controlled production and distribution, Columbia had been at the mercy of theater owners. Columbia expanded its scope to offer moviegoers a regular program of economically made features, short subjects, serials, travelogues, sports reels, and cartoons. Columbia released a few "class" productions each year (Lost Horizon, Holiday, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,The Jolson Story, Gilda, All the King's Men, etc.), but depended on its popular "budget" productions to keep the company solvent. During Cohn's tenure, the studio always turned a profit.

Cohn did not build a stable of movie stars like other studios. Instead, he generally signed actors who usually worked for more expensive studios (Wheeler & Woolsey, Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Mae West, Humphrey Bogart, Dorothy Lamour, Mickey Rooney, Chester Morris, Warren William, Warner Baxter, Sabu, Gloria Jean, Margaret O'Brien, etc.) to attract a pre-sold audience. Columbia's own stars generally rose from the ranks of small-part actors and featured players (Jean Arthur, Rita Hayworth, Larry Parks, Julie Bishop, Lloyd Bridges, Bruce Bennett, Jock Mahoney, etc.). Some of Columbia's producers and directors also graduated from lesser positions as actors, writers, musicians, and assistant directors.

Cohn was known for his autocratic and intimidating management style. When he took over as Columbia's president, he remained production chief as well, thus concentrating enormous power in his hands. He respected talent above any personal attribute, but he made sure his employees knew who was boss. Writer Ben Hecht referred to him as "White Fang." An employee of Columbia called him "as absolute a monarch as Hollywood ever knew." It was said "he had listening devices on all sound stages and could tune in any conversation on the set, then boom in over a loudspeaker if he heard anything that displeased him." Throughout his tenure, his most popular moniker was "King Cohn."

Moe Howard of the Three Stooges recalled that Cohn was "a real Jekyll-and-Hyde-type guy... socially, he could be very charming." Cohn was known to scream and curse at actors and directors in his office all afternoon, and greet them cordially at a dinner party that evening. There is some suggestion that Cohn deliberately cultivated his reputation as a tyrant, either to motivate his employees or simply because it increased his control of the studio. Cohn is said to have kept a signed photograph of Benito Mussolini, whom he met in Italy in 1933, on his desk until the beginning of World War II. (Columbia produced the documentary Mussolini Speaks in 1933, narrated by Lowell Thomas). Cohn also had a number of ties to organized crime. He had a long-standing friendship with Chicago mobster John Roselli, and New Jersey mob boss Abner Zwillman was the source of the loan that allowed Cohn to buy out his partner Brandt. Cohn's brash, loud, intimidating style has become Hollywood legend and was reportedly portrayed in various movies. The characters played by Broderick Crawford in All The King's Men (1949) and Born Yesterday (1950), both Columbia pictures, are allegedly based on Cohn, as is Jack Woltz, a movie mogul who appears in The Godfather (1972).

In his own way, Harry Cohn was sentimental about certain professional matters. He remembered the valuable contributions of Jack Holt during Columbia's struggling years, and kept him under contract until 1941. Cohn hired the Three Stooges in 1934 and, according to Stooge Larry Fine, "he thought we brought him luck." Cohn kept the Stooges on his payroll until the end of 1957. Cohn was fond of what he termed "those lousy little 'B' pictures," and kept making them, along with two-reel comedies and serials, after other studios had abandoned them.

According to biographer Michael Fleming, Cohn forced Curly Howard of the Stooges to keep working after suffering a series of minor strokes, which likely contributed to a further deterioration of Howard's health and his eventual retirement and early death.[6] Cohn expected, or at least asked for, sex from female stars in exchange for employment (although similar stories were connected to many producers in Hollywood at the time).[7][8] Harry Cohn's relationship with Rita Hayworth was fraught with aggravation. Hayworth's biography If This Was Happiness, describes how she refused to sleep with Cohn and how this angered him.[9] However, because Hayworth was such a valuable property Cohn kept her under contract because she made money for him. During the years they worked together, each did their best to irritate the other despite their lengthy work relationship which produced good results. Cohn wanted to groom Mary Castle as Hayworth's successor. When Joan Crawford was subjected to Cohn's advances after signing a three-picture contract with Columbia, she quickly stopped him by saying "Keep it in your pants, Harry. I'm having lunch with Joan and the boys [Cohn's wife and children] tomorrow."[10]

According to writer Joseph McBride, Jean Arthur quit the business because Cohn used to attack actresses.[11]

In a BBC documentary, Sammy Davis Jr - The Kid in the Middle, along with the titular star's episode of TVOne's Unsung Hollywood, it was disclosed that Cohn, in order to end Kim Novak's relationship with a black man, had mobsters threaten Sammy Davis, Jr. with blinding or having his legs broken if he did not marry a black woman within 48 hours. Cohn was married to Rose Barker from 1923 to 1941, and to actress Joan Perry (1911–1996) from July 1941 until his death in 1958. His niece was Leonore "Lee" Cohn Annenberg, the wife of billionaire publishing magnate Walter Annenberg of Philadelphia. Her father was Maxwell Cohn, brother of Harry and Jack Cohn. Cohn was the last Hollywood movie mogul of the studio system era, retaining power after the departures of such rivals as Darryl F. Zanuck and Louis B. Mayer.[12] He suffered a sudden heart attack in February 1958 at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona, shortly after having finished dinner, and died in an ambulance en route to St. Joseph's Hospital. Cohn's well-attended funeral was the subject of the famous (perhaps apocryphal) quote attributed to Red Skelton: "It proves what Harry always said: Give the public what they want and they'll come out for it."[13] He is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Cohn

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Harry Cohn's Timeline

1891
July 23, 1891
New York, New York, United States
1943
1943
1946
April 24, 1946
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, United States
1958
February 27, 1958
Age 66
Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona, United States
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