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Vilmos Wilhelm Fox (Fuchs)

Also Known As: "Melech"
Birthplace: Tolcsva, Sárospataki, Borsod-Abauj-Zemplen, Hungary
Death: May 08, 1952 (73)
New York, New York County, NY, United States
Place of Burial: 775 Jamaica Avenue, Brooklyn, Kings County, NY, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Michael Fox and Anna Fox
Husband of Eva Fox
Father of Mona Fox and Belle Fox
Brother of Child 1 Fox; Child 2 Fox; Child 3 Fox; Child 4 Fox; Private and 6 others

Occupation: Movie producer
Managed by: Richard (Rick) Gary Simon
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About William Fox

Motion Picture Pioneer. Founder of the Fox Film Corporation.

"Find A Grave Index," database, FamilySearch ( : 13 December 2015), William Fox, 1952; Burial, Brooklyn, Kings (Brooklyn), New York, United States of America, Salem Fields Cemetery; citing record ID 9792883, Find a Grave,

Birth: Jan. 1, 1879 Death: May 8, 1952

Motion Picture Pioneer. Founder of the Fox Film Corporation. Fox was born in Tolcsva, Hungary and originally named Wilhelm Fried, Wilhelm Fuchs or Wilhelm Fried Fuchs. His parents, Michael Fuchs and Hannah Fried, were both German Jews. The family emigrated to the United States when William was nine months old and settled in New York City, where they had twelve more children, of whom only six survived. William left school at age 11 to help support his family. After years of toiling in the garment business, he saved enough money to buy a penny arcade in 1904 and was soon operating nickelodeons throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan. He then set up a film distribution branch, The Greater New York Rental Company. Along with fellow exhibitor Carl Laemmle, the pugnacious Fox opposed Thomas Edison's Motion Picture Patents Company in its quest to monopolize the budding movie industry. He successfully sued the MPPC when they revoked his distribution license in 190 and began producing his own films three years later. His first stars were the original screen vamp, Theda Bara, and cowboy hero Tom Mix. In 1915 he consolidated his holdings into the Fox Film Corporation and built it into a major Hollywood power. By the mid-1920s Fox was turning out 50 feature films and 100 short subjects a year and controlled a nationwide chain of over 1000 theatres. His greatest film of the period was director F.W. Murnau's "Sunrise" (1927), which was recognized at the first Academy Award ceremony for "Best Artistic Quality of Production" (a distinction subsequently absorbed into the "Best Picture" category). When rival Warner Bros. studios began experimenting with its Vitaphone sound-on-disc system in 1926, Fox countered with the Movietone system, which laid an audio track onto the film itself; this superior method quickly became the standard for talking pictures. Its initial use was in 1927 for Fox Movietone News, the first newsreel with sound. To accommodate this new technology, he constructed a state-of-the-art studio in what is now Century City, California. In 1929 Fox acquired a controlling interest in Loew's Inc., the parent company of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) studio, and was poised to become the world's most powerful movie mogul when the October 1929 stock market crash and a federal anti-trust investigation effectively ended the deal. At the same time he was critically injured in a car crash, which left him unable to fight off a hostile takeover bid from a group of bankers. With his finances hopelessly tangled, Fox was forced to sell his $200 million empire for $18 million in 1930. Continued litigation devoured his assets and he declared bankruptcy in 1936. In 1941 he was sentenced to a year in prison for bribing a judge in his bankruptcy proceedings; he was paroled after six months in a Pennsylvania penitentiary in 1943. When Fox died at 73, not a single Hollywood representative attended his funeral. His name remains today in the 20th Century-Fox studio (formed in 1935) and the Fox broadcast and cable television networks. In 1900, he started his own company, which he sold in 1904 to purchase his first nickelodeon. Always more of an entrepreneur than a showman, he concentrated on acquiring and building theaters. Beginning in 1914, New Jersey-based Fox bought films outright from the Balboa Amusement Producing Company in Long Beach, California, for distribution to his own theaters and then for rental to other theaters across the country. He formed the Fox Film Corporation on February 1, 1915, with insurance and banking money provided by the McCarter, Kuser and Usar families of Newark, New Jersey, and the small New Jersey investment house of Eisele and King. The company's first film studio was leased in Fort Lee, New Jersey, where many other early film studios were based at the beginning of the 20th century. He now had the capital to acquire facilities and expand his production capacity. In 1925–26, Fox purchased the rights to the work of Freeman Harrison Owens, the U.S. rights to the Tri-Ergon system invented by three German inventors (Josef Engl (1893–1942), Hans Vogt (1890–1979), and Joseph Massolle (1889–1957)), and the work of Theodore Case to create the Fox Movietone sound-on-film system, introduced in 1927 with the release of F. W. Murnau's Sunrise. Sound-on-film systems such as Movietone and RCA Photophone soon became the standard, and competing sound-on-disc technologies, such as Warner Brothers' Vitaphone, fell into disuse. From 1928 to 1963, Fox Movietone News was one of the major newsreel series in the U.S., along with The March of Time (1935–1951) and Universal Newsreel (1929–1967). In 1927, Marcus Loew, head of rival studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, died, and control of MGM passed to his longtime associate, Nicholas Schenck. Fox saw an opportunity to expand his empire, and in 1929, with Schenck's assent, bought the Loew family's holdings in MGM. However, MGM studio bosses Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg were outraged, since, despite their high posts in MGM, they were not shareholders. Mayer used his political connections to persuade the Justice Department to sue Fox for violating federal antitrust law. During this time, in the middle of 1929, Fox was badly hurt in an automobile accident. By the time he recovered, the stock market crash in the fall of 1929 had virtually wiped out his fortune, ending any chance of the Loews-Fox merger going through even if the Justice Department had given its blessing. Although he lost control of his movie empire in 1930, his name lives on in the names of various media ventures which are currently owned by Rupert Murdoch, most notably the Fox TV network, Fox News Channel, Foxtel, 20th Century Fox, and 21st Century Fox. He lost control of the Fox Film Corporation in 1930 during a hostile takeover. A combination of the stock market crash, Fox's car accident injury, and government antitrust action forced him into a protracted seven-year struggle to fight off bankruptcy. At his bankruptcy hearing in 1936, he attempted to bribe judge John Warren Davis and committed perjury, for which he was sentenced to six months in prison. After serving his time, Fox retired from the film business. He died more or less unnoticed in 1952 at the age of 73 in New York City. No Hollywood producers came to his funeral. He is interred at Salem Fields Cemetery, Brooklyn. In 1935, Fox Film Corporation, under new president Sidney Kent, merged with the upstart Twentieth Century Pictures to form 20th Century-Fox. (Darryl Zanuck, the driving force behind the creation of 20th Century-Fox, was married to actress Virginia Fox. This has led to some erroneous claims on Internet movie sites that Zanuck was William Fox's son-in-law. In fact, Virginia Fox and William Fox were not related.) 20th Century Fox was itself merged into Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation in 1985 (and in 2013, 20th Century Fox with most of News Corporation's entertainment assets were spun out into 21st Century Fox which also use William Fox's name). News Corporation (and subsequently 21st Century Fox), 20th Century Fox's corporate parent, continues to make movies and started the Fox Network, one of the four principal commercial broadcast television networks in the United States. Fox personally oversaw the construction of many Fox Theatres in US cities including Atlanta, Detroit, Oakland, San Francisco and San Diego. Fox was married to Eva Leo and had two daughters Mona and Isabella, who all survived him. Fox was jailed for bribery from 1941 to 1943. He died in 1952 and buried at Salem Fields Cemetery in Brooklyn.

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William Fox's Timeline

January 5, 1879
Tolcsva, Sárospataki, Borsod-Abauj-Zemplen, Hungary
November 17, 1900
Kings County, New York, United States
April 2, 1904
Bronx, Bronx County, NY, United States
May 8, 1952
Age 73
New York, New York County, NY, United States