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Universal Studios – Dale’s Daily Data

Universal Studios entrance (photo by Edward Beavers@flickr)

How does a clothing store owner end up creating a major movie studio?  His name was Carl Laemmele, a German-born Jewish immigrant who opened a clothing store in Oshgosh, Wisconsin.   During a trip to Chicago he was amazed at the number of people buying tickets to see movies.  One story says he watched for hours calculating how much money the theatre was taking in and decided that was the business he had to be in.  So he gave up the clothing business and with two partners created the Yankee Film Company.  A year later his company merged with 8 other small movie companies and moved to California to become the Universal Film Manufacturing Company. 

The studio bought 230-acres of farm land and founded Universal City in the San Fernando Valley where they made films starring Rudolph Valentino, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, and others.  Its early horror films like Frankenstein and Dracula, were huge successes, but the studio struggled in the mid-1930s until a string of musicals put the company back in the black. Then came the blockbuster Arabian Nights movies and Abbott and Costello comedies.  

Over the decades, the company has put out of string of box office hits, including Psycho and To Kill A Mockingbird in the 60’s, The Sting, American Graffiti, Dirty Harry and Jaws in the 1970s, and ET: The Extra-Terrestrial, Back to the Future, and Jurassic Park in the 1980s.  

Universal Studios was created on this date in 1909.

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