Wihelm Fried, an Hungarian immigrant had began an arcade of cheap shops in Brooklyn, at the beginning of the century.
At the end of the First World War, he took the name of William Fox, founded a cinematic firm and settled in the West where he produced, rented and showed movies in Hollywood.
Among the stars who worked for him, there were Theda Bara, the fatal woman archetype, Annette Kellerman, the swimming champion, cow-boy Tom Mix, the gentle and frail Janet Gaynor (who obtained the first Academy Award for Best Actress) and at the beginning of the 30's, the little Shirley Temple.
In 1935, a serious accident, combined with the Depression effects, forced him to file a bankruptcy petition.
1935 : the Twentieth Century Fox was born because of the merger of Fox Film Corporation (founded by the Hungarian William Fox) and Twentieth Centruy Pictures (founded in 1933 by Joe Schenck and Darryl F.Zanuck).
Joe Schenck became director of the board of directors of the Twentieth Century Fox, and Darrym Zanuck, the vise president, in charge of the production.
Zanuck was the production director until 1956; Spyros Skouras remained President from 1942 to 1962.
In 1946 theFox was the main production company in Hollywood and at the climax of its history.
Recent success as "Laura", "The House on 92nd Street", "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn",
"The Keys of The Kingdom" and "Leave Her to Heaven" had brought more than 22 millions dollars.
The studio owed its success to briliant musicals, well-written detectice story, moving dramas and an impressive list of stars :Don Ameche, Anne Baxter, Alice Faye, Henry Fonda, Betty Grable, Carmen Miranda, Gregory Peck, Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney and Loretta Young.
The Fox would keep its prevailing situation during 20 years, introducing the Cinemascope (a process of projection on large screen) to anticipate the televison competition.
Link with Marilyn
The publicity head, Harry Brand and its team, concocted Marilyn a sweetened biography, making her officially an orphan , saying nothing about her mother; they also invented a story according which Marilyn would have been discovered one day, while she was a baby-sitter at a talent scout's home.
Publicity pictures, 40's
At producer Metzler's home
Strolling at the Fox
Marilyn mage many movies dor the Fox, 21 on her 29 movies.
For her first part, she pkayed a student in a B movie "Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hey" (1948).
September 1947, she had a small part in "You Were Meant to Me", which would be released in January 1948, butMarch 1948, Fox's young talents showcase, "Strictly for Kicks" () at the Fox Club Little Theater,
Her second movie was "Dangerous Years"(1948) but was the one to be released.
In 1948 she appeared in "Sitting Pretty" but is uncredited,,
Her two movies were'nt successful, and so the studio didn't extend her contract ().
She kept on posing as model; she made friends with Lucille Ryman and co-founder of the Fox, Joe Schenck.
A year at the Columbia brought her her 3rd movie and made her meet Natasha Lytess, drama teacher. She also met Johnny Hyde who gave to her career the necessary impulse to come back to the Fox. He managed to make her making 3 movies at the Fox, which released in 1950 : "A Ticket to Tomahawk", "The Fireball", "All About Eve".
Publicity pictures for Thanksgiving, on November 10, 1950
In March 1951, the Fox offered her a seven-year contract, 500$ a week, her salary guaranteed 40 weeks a year, either she was making movie or not.
If the studio would extend her contract, she would come up to 750$ the second year, 1250$ the third year, 1500$ the fourth year, 2000$ the fifth year, 2500$ the sixth year and 3500$ the seventh year.
The studio was allowed to terminate the contract at the end of each year without giving her any reason, and she could only work with the Fox, unless the studio lent her to another production. She also wasn't allow to have another job in every media without the studio permission; in addition to the standard clauses, she asked and obtained that thestudio hired Natasha Lytess.
In 1951-1952, she appeared in 7 movies and her name began to get the top billing. She played in "Love Nest".
she appeared in 5 movies :
June : "Clash By Night"
September : "Monkey Business"
October : "O'Henry's Full House".
1953 : the year Marilyn. "Niagara" confirmed her box-office success.
June 13, 1953, with the head of Fox's camera department, Sol Halprin, with the first Cinemascope lens
1953 shooting of "How To Marry a Millionnaire"
1953 : shooting of "River Of No Return". She began to feel frustrated by the parts assigned and the lean amount of money she earned. After "River Of No Return", the studio wanted to place her in "Pink Tights", but Frank Sinatra who had to play with her, at that time earned 5000$ a week while she only earned 1500$. She went on strike, alone; she didn't show up on the first day of the shooting. She ignored the studio threatening to suspend her (replaced by Sheree North). Regardless, she spent Christmas in San Francisco with DiMaggio.
Publicity pictures, 50's
Publicity pictures, 50's
"Don't Bother to Knock"
1954 : at the beginning of this year, she married DiMaggio and was spending their honeymoon when the Fox
suspended her (). Facing the risk to lose her major asset, the Fox gave up and accpeted to forget "Pink Tights", under the condition that she accept a supporting role in "There's No Business Like Show Business". To encourage her, the Fox promised her the leading role in Billy Wilder's project,"The Seven Year Itch". Her requests about a raise were considered in a new contract which began on August 1954 : a seven-year contract plus a 100 000$ bonus for Wilder's movie.
Summer 1954 : she went in New York City to make " The Seven Year Itch"; this shooting marked the break-up with DiMaggio; but she also secretly met Milton Greene to create her own production company, and lastly have a real control on money and parts.
January 1955 : press conference with Milton Greene to announce the creation of the Marilyn Monroe Productions.
As soon as the news were known by the studio, the Fox suspended her, while she had to come back to Los Angeles to end the shooting of "The Seven Year Itch".
The studio maintained that Marilyn had promised, with a contract, to exclusively work for it for the next four years. But the more the year passed, the more it was obvious that Milton Greene couldn't find enough funds for the Marilyn Monroe Productions to survive long enough to actually produce a movie.
December 31, 1955
: the Marilyn Monroe Productions and the Fox signed a new contract
which concerned 4 movies in 7 years, 100 000$ per movie and a
percentage on the takings. She was allowed to control the kind of movie
she wanted to make, to approve or not the screenwriter, the director
and the director of photography (which was an unprecedented
power to an actor). She was allowed to make an independant movie each
year, and could appear in 6 TV or radio programs. She also received an
annual advance of 100 000$ and also an annual salary for Greene of 75
The first movie she made with this new contract was
The first movie she made with this new contract was"Bus Stop" (1956) then "The Prince and The Showgirl" (1957), the only movie produced by the Marilyn Monroe Productions, before she fell out with Milton Greene. Then, "Some Like It Hot" (1959) for which the Fox "lent" Marilyn to United Artists, and she worked again for the studio when she made "Let's Make Love" (1960).
Letter to the MMProductions for the beginning of the shooting of "Time and Tide" scheduled on April 14, 1959
Publicity pictures for "Let's Make Love"
"The Misfits",in 1960,was again a plan where the Fox wasn't included.
In 1961, after the failure of her wedding with Arthur Miller, she came back in Los Angeles; she had just made 2 on the 4 movies for the Fox and her contract would end a year later.
In 1956 Darryl Zanuck had resigned from his position of head production and emigrated to Europe where he worked as an independant producer. He was replaced by Buddy Adler. In 1960 after Adler's death, Spyros Skouras took more and more responsabilities in production. The studio was in a perilous financial situation (huge cost overrun of "Cleopatra" and long and slow decline) and the Fox heads pressed on Skouras, who gave the presidency up, for the less influential position of president of the boards of directors.
Under the order of the financier council based in New York City, Robert Goldstein took briefly over as production director but was soon replaced by Peter Levathes.
It was in this atmosphere that began the shooting of
It was in this atmosphere that began the shooting of"Something's Got To Give", in 1962.
Letter dated February 5, 1962 from Henry Weinstein
Marilyn showed few enthusiasm for the screenplay, several times modified, but like the director George Cukor, by contract, she owed movies to the Fox.
"Cleopatra" having exceeded the limit of 30 millions dollars, the Fox get rid of its real estate societies, laid employees off and closed the studio facilities to save up. Levathes, exposed to an intense pressure, gave up "Something's Got To Give". He fired Marilyn for breach of contract, after she had sung for John Kennedy in New York City, reproaching her for her lack of assiduity on the set (she had only made 12 days on 33).
Her lawyer Milton Rudin and Dr Greenson met the Fox heads on June 8, 1962. Greenson spoke in favor of Marilyn, saying that a virus had prevented her from doing the movie, but that she was, from then on, ready and desirous to work. This made no impression to the studio which, the same day, let know to Milton Rudin that they sued the Marilyn Monroe Productions and started press charges for damage for an amount of 500 000$.
The Fox which had searched Marilyn's substitute, announced that the shooting was going on with Lee Remick.
Dean Martin, first masculine leading role, he had, with his contract, a say in about the feminine leading role; he refused to work with another actress than Marilyn. On his side, Skouras, who had to still exercise for 6 months, planned to re establish Marilyn in the movie.
Backstage, the studio and Marilyn's representatives started negotiations. Two weeks before her death, Levathes let her know that she was about to be re-engaged for an upper salary (250 000$ or 500 000$ according to the testimonies) and that every proceedings were about to be abandonned.
It is estimated that when she began the shooting of "Something's Got To Give", her former productions had brought on more than 60 millions dollars to the Fox.
Before the end of 1962,
Skouras was replaced by Zanuck who posted his son Richard as vice
president of the production.They both kept control on the company until
the beginning of the 70's.
Alan Ladd Jr led it with success until the end of the 70's; his most memorable production was "Star Wars".
In 1980, the company was liquidated and in 1985, Rupert Murdoch added it to his media empire.
Bibliography"Marilyn at Twentieth Century Fox", Lawrence Crown, Londres, Comet Books, 1987.