Neuschwanstein: A fairy tale darling's dark Nazi past

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Re: Neuschwanstein: A fairy tale darling's dark Nazi past

Postby admin » Fri Sep 27, 2019 9:31 am

Heinz Haber
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 9/27/19



In the mid-1950s Wernher von Braun cohosted and helped produce a series of Disney television shows on space exploration. "Man in Space" and the other Tomorrowland episodes on the topic were enormously popular and fueled public support for an American space program. At the time, von Braun was the U.S. Army's leading rocket scientist. He had served in the same capacity for the German army during World War II. He had been an early and enthusiastic member of the Nazi party, as well as a major in the SS. At least 20,000 slave laborers, many of them Allied prisoners of war, died at Dora-Nordhausen, the factory where von Braun's rockets were built. Less than ten years after the liberation of Dora-Nordhausen, von Braun was giving orders to Disney animators and designing a ride at Disneyland called Rocket to the Moon. Heinz Haber, another key Tomorrowland adviser - and eventually the chief scientific consultant to Walt Disney Productions - spent much of World War II conducting research on high-speed, high-altitude flight for the Luftwaffe Institute for Aviation Medicine. In order to assess the risks faced by German air force pilots, the institute performed experiments on hundreds of inmates at the Dachau concentration camp near Munich. The inmates who survived these experiments were usually killed and then dissected. Haber left Germany after the war and shared his knowledge of aviation medicine with the U.S. Army Air Force. He later cohosted Disney's "Man in Space" with von Braun. When the Eisenhower administration asked Walt Disney to produce a show championing the civilian use of nuclear power, Heinz Haber was given the assignment. He hosted the Disney broadcast called "Our Friend the Atom" and wrote a popular children's book with the same title, both of which made nuclear fission seem fun, instead of terrifying. "Our Friend the Atom" was sponsored by General Dynamics, a manufacturer of nuclear reactors. The company also financed the atomic submarine ride at Disneyland's Tomorrowland.

-- Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal [EXCERPT], by Eric Schlosser

Heinz Haber (left) and Wernher von Braun[1]

Heinz Haber (May 15, 1913 – February 13, 1990) was a German physicist and science writer who primarily became famous for his TV programs and books about physics and environmental subjects. His lucid style of explaining hard science has frequently been imitated by later popular science presenters in Germany.


After studying physics in Leipzig, Heidelberg and Berlin and obtaining his doctorate, Haber served in World War II for the German Luftwaffe as a reconnaissance aviator until 1942. He returned to the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Physik, where he headed a small Potsdam-based division constructing a diffraction spectrograph.[2]

After the end of the war Heinz Haber — as well as several other Germans involved in military research like Wernher von Braun — was targeted by the Operation Paperclip with the aim of denying scientific expertise and knowledge to the Soviet Union and bringing researchers and scientists to the United States; Ultimately this operation resulted in a considerable contribution to the development of NASA.[3] Haber at first stayed in the American occupied zone of Germany and lectured at Heidelberg. However, in 1946, he emigrated to the United States and joined the USAF School of Aviation Medicine at Randolph Air Force Base. Together with fellow German Hubertus Strughold, he and his brother Dr. Fritz Haber (April 3, 1912 – August 21, 1998) made pioneering research into space medicine in the late 1940s.[4][5][6] The brothers proposed parabolic flights for simulating weightlessness.[7]

Through his association with von Greim (Adolf Hitler's personal pilot), Strughold became acquainted socially with various high-ranking members of the Nazi regime and in April 1935, he was appointed Director of the Berlin-based Research Institute for Aviation Medicine, a medical think tank that operated under the auspices of Hermann Göring's Ministry of Aviation. Under Strughold's leadership, the Institute grew to become Germany's foremost aeromedical research establishment, pioneering the study of the medical effects of high-altitude and supersonic speed flight, along with establishing the altitude chamber concept of "time of useful consciousness".

Though Strughold was ostensibly a civilian researcher, the majority of the studies and projects his Institute undertook were commissioned and financed by the German armed forces (principally the Luftwaffe) as part of the ongoing German re-armament. With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Strughold's organization was absorbed into the Luftwaffe itself and was attached its medical service. It was renamed the Air Force Institute for Aviation Medicine, and placed under the command of Luftwaffe Surgeon-General (Generaloberstabsarzt) Erich Hippke. Strughold himself was also commissioned as an officer in the German air force, eventually rising to the rank of Colonel (Oberst).

In October 1942, Strughold and Hippke attended a medical conference in Nuremberg at which SS physician Sigmund Rascher delivered a presentation outlining various medical experiments he had conducted, in conjunction with the Luftwaffe, in which prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp were used as human test subjects. These experiments included physiological tests during which camp inmates were immersed in freezing water, placed in air pressure chambers and made to endure invasive surgical procedures without anesthetic. Many of the inmates forced to participate died as a result.[2] Various Luftwaffe physicians had participated in the experiments and several of them had close ties to Strughold, both through the Institute for Aviation Medicine and the Luftwaffe Medical Corps....

a 1946 memorandum produced by the staff of the Nuremberg Trials listed Strughold as one of thirteen "persons, firms or individuals implicated" in the war crimes committed at Dachau. Also, several of the former Luftwaffe physicians associated with Strughold and the Institute for Aviation Medicine (among them Strughold's former research assistant Hermann Becker-Freyseng) were convicted of crimes against humanity in connection with the Dachau experiments at the 1947 Nuremberg Doctor's Trial. During these proceedings, Strughold contributed several affidavits for the defense on behalf of his accused colleagues....

In 1947 Strughold was brought to the United States, along with many other highly valuable German scientists, as part of Operation Paperclip. With another former Luftwaffe physician, Richard Lindenberg, Strughold was assigned to the US Air Force School of Aviation Medicine at Randolph Field near San Antonio, Texas.[3] It was while at Randolph Field that Strughold began conducting some of the first research into the potential medical challenges posed by space travel, in conjunction with fellow "Paperclip Scientist" Dr. Heinz Haber.[4][5]...

"Aero Medical Problems of Space Travel", Journal of Aviation Medicine, December 1949, authored by Henry G. Armstrong, Heinz Haber, and Hubertus Strughold.

Between 1952 and 1954 he would oversee the building of the space cabin simulator, a sealed chamber in which human test subjects were placed for extended periods of time in order to view the potential physical, astrobiological, and psychological effects of extra-atmospheric flight....

Further questions about Strughold's activities during World War II emerged in 2004 following an investigation conducted by the Historical Committee of the German Society of Air and Space Medicine. The inquiry uncovered evidence of oxygen deprivation experiments carried out by Strughold's Institute for Aviation Medicine in 1943. According to these findings six epileptic children, between the ages of 11 and 13, were taken from the Nazi's Brandenburg Euthanasia Centre to Strughold's Berlin laboratory where they were placed in vacuum chambers to induce epileptic seizures in an effort to simulate the effects of high-altitude sicknesses, such as hypoxia.

-- Hubertus Strughold, by Wikipedia

In 1952, he became associate physicist at the University of California, Los Angeles; in the 1950s, Haber eventually became the chief scientific consultant to Walt Disney productions. He later co-hosted Disney’s Man in Space with von Braun. When the Eisenhower administration asked Disney to produce a show championing the civilian use of nuclear power, Heinz Haber was given the assignment. He hosted the Disney broadcast called Our Friend the Atom and wrote a popular children’s book with the same title, both of which explained nuclear fission and fusion in simple terms. General Dynamics, a manufacturer of nuclear reactors, sponsored Our Friend the Atom and the nuclear submarine ride at Disneyland’s Tomorrowland.[8]

In the 1960s and 1970s, he was well known in Germany as a popular science spokesperson and wrote magazine columns and numerous books and presented his own TV programs like Professor Haber experimentiert, Das Mathematische Kabinett, Unser blauer Planet, Stirbt unser blauer Planet?, Professor Haber berichtet, and WAS IST WAS mit Professor Haber. He was founding editor of the German science magazine Bild der Wissenschaft from 1964 to 1990. His memorable experiments included one where the onset of a nuclear chain reaction was simulated with hundreds of mousetraps, each one having been loaded with two ping pong balls.[9]

Heinz Haber had an unparalleled capability for presenting hard scientific facts in a manner and language which was understandable and entertaining for the layman without being sloppy. This won him many accolades, such as the Adolf-Grimme-Preis and the Goldene Kamera.

Heinz Haber had two children, Kai (born 1943) and Cathleen (born 1945), from his first marriage, and a third child, Marc (born 1969), from the second. His first wife Anneliese lives in Tucson, Arizona, his second wife Irmgard in Hamburg, Germany.


1. This image is a detail from a larger photograph, which may be seen at the article on Willy Ley.
2. James, Jeremiah; Steinhauser, Thomas; Hoffmann, Dieter; Bretislav, Friedrich (2011). One hundred years at the intersection of chemistry and physics: the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society, 1911-2011. Berlin: De Gruyter. pp. 117, 127. ISBN 3110239531.
3. Linda Hunt. (May 23, 1987). "NASA's Nazis". Literature of the Holocaust. ... nazis.html. Linda Hunt. Secret Agenda: The United States Government, Nazi Scientists, and Project Paperclip, 1945 to 1990. (New York: St.Martin's Press, 1991).
4. Buettner, K. J., & Haber, H. (1952). The aeropause. Science. 115: 656-657.
5. Editor. (19 November 1951). Science: The Unfriendly Aeropause. Time. New York.
6. White, C.S. & Benson, O.O. (1952). Physics and medicine of the upper atmosphere: a study of the aeropause. University of New Mexico Press, 1952.
7. Haber, Fritz; Haber, Heinz (1950). "Possible methods of producing the gravity-free state for medical research". Journal of Aviation Medicine. 21 (5). pp. 395–400. PMID 14778792. Summary of the article: Campbell, Mark R. (2009). "Classics in space medicine. Possible methods of producing the gravity-free state for medical research". Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine. 80 (12). p. 1077. doi:10.3357/ASEM.26010.2009. PMID 20027862.
8. Eric Schlosser. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001) pg. 39.
9. In Walt Disney's film Our Friend the Atom, Haber is the science presenter (see [1]). While explaining a chain reaction, the camera travels over a field of mousetraps, all ready to close and throw two ping pong balls in the process (see a resume in "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2004-12-28. Retrieved 2009-02-05.).

Further reading

• Linda Hunt (1991), Secret Agenda: The United States Government, Nazi Scientists, and Project Paperclip, New York: St. Martin's.
• Eric Schlosser (2001), Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
• Manfred Gross (2013), "Sterne, Menschen und Atome - Zum 100. Geburtstag von Heinz Haber" (German), Mannheim. Available at Karl-Friedrich-Gymnasium Mannheim, Stadtarchiv Mannheim - Institut für Stadtgeschichte, Planetarium Mannheim, Freundeskreis Planetarium Mannheim e.V.
External links[edit]
• VERHEXT — a 1960s puzzle game by Heinz Haber based on hexiamonds (Archived March 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine)
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Re: Neuschwanstein: A fairy tale darling's dark Nazi past

Postby admin » Sat Sep 28, 2019 3:09 am

Inside Hitler’s Plan To Build The “Capital Of The World”
by Daniel Rennie
Published April 21, 2018
Updated June 12, 2019



The city in 'Man In High Castle' may seem like a dystopian nightmare, but Hitler had plans to make it very real.

The Grand Hall, the monstrous centerpiece of the planned Nazi super-city Welthauptstadt Germania.

On Amazon’s alternative history thriller, The Man in the High Castle, viewers are taken into a CGI-world of a new Berlin that has grown in scale and grandeur to reflect its place as the center of a Thousand Year Reich that now covers most of the globe.

But rather than springing from the mind of filmmakers, this Nazi super-city is based on real plans conceived by Adolf Hitler and Albert Speer, the “General Building Inspector for the Reich Capital.” The project was started in 1937. A massive scale model was made, sections of Berlin were cleared, and its construction sites may have even initiated the Holocaust.

Hitler was determined this vision of a Nazi dystopia called Welthauptstadt Germania (World Capital Germania) would be finished by 1950. Speer had impressed Hitler with his work on buildings at Nuremberg, which were deliberate reinterpretations of classical architecture into massive, distinctly austere Nazi architecture designed to intimidate and overwhelm.

This aligned with Hitler’s vision to make Welthauptstadt Germania the grandest city of them all by taking the best monuments Europe had to offer and to super-size them. Most of these monuments would be placed along a seven-kilometer (4.3 miles) Boulevard of Splendours to create an overall narrative describing Nazi Germany’s superiority to citizens and visitors alike. At the south end of the boulevard, would sit the Triumphal Arch, designed to dwarf Paris’ Arc de Triomphe, which could fit inside Hitler’s planned arch six times. At the north end, the boulevard would open up into a parade ground featuring a colossal Fuhrer’s Palace, the Reich Chancellery, and the ridiculously massive Grand Hall.

The more elegant domed structures of Rome’s Pantheon and St Peter’s Basilica influenced the Grand Hall. But Hitler preferred size to elegance. It would cover 99,000 square meters and would be capped with a colossal dome that was 300 meters high and weighed 200,000 tons. Designed to be a sort of Nazi cult site and city focal point, it would be the largest enclosed space in the world, able to hold 180,000 people inside it. Apparently, the breath from the crowd would have created the building’s own rainfall as it precipitated from the ceiling.

Hitler’s scale-model of Germania. The Boulevard of Splendours connects the Grand Hall, in the distance, to the Triumphal Arch, a gargantuan, inelegant version of the Arc de Triomphe.

Only a handful of buildings were constructed. Hitler’s Reich Chancellery was one, with its Long Hall twice as long as Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors, which inspired it. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in the bombing of Berlin in 1945. Another building was the stadium for the 1936 Berlin Olympics, built five miles from Berlin’s center. It was the largest in Europe, modeled off the Roman Colosseum, but 200 meters longer. After the game’s success, Hitler decided he needed a more massive arena, which, was it planned, would house every Olympic Games hence. It was only partially built.

The rest of Welthauptstadt Germania would be new ring roads, autobahns, tunnels and living areas. The environment would have been hostile to citizens. Traffic lights and tramways would be a thing of the past, forcing pedestrians underground into a system of tunnels just to cross the roads and negotiate the complex roadways.

The architecture would literally and metaphorically oppress its people.

Areas of residential Berlin were marked for development. Speer and his cronies had 60,000 apartments bulldozed and 100,000 Germans became homeless. The real suffering was once again directed at the Jews. There would be no place for them in this new city, so 25,000 apartments were seized from Jews. Evicted, they were sent to ghettos, then concentration camps, while homeless Germans were crammed into their apartments.

The Jews became the laborers. Speer apparently remarked: “The Yids got used to making bricks while in captivity in Egypt.”

Many believe the “Night of Broken Glass” in Nov. 1938 was the beginning of the Holocaust but it started months earlier with Germania’s construction. Gross-Rosen, Buchenwald, and Mauthausen concentration camps were built near quarries, while Sachsenhausen was built near a brickworks. Speer signed a contract with the SS to have all bricks shipped to Germania’s construction sites. Sachsenhausen was 35 kilometers from Berlin’s center, so canals ferried the quarried stone to the Welthauptstadt Germania construction sites. These brickworks proved the harshest labor in all camps. Literally, tens of thousands were worked to death.

The Schwerbelastungskoerper, a structure built to see if Berlin’s weak ground could hold the heavy foundation of the planned arch.

The workforce of 130,000 included not only Jews but POWs. Then in June 1938, police started rounding up tramps, gypsies, homosexuals, and beggars off the streets to make up the labor force.

Hitler’s project was not without its critics. Speer’s number two, Hans Stefan drew a series of caricatures which parodied the overbearing nature of the Germania project in secret. Several drawings poke fun at the ridiculous size of the Grand Hall. One depicts Berlin’s largest building, the Reichstag, being accidentally moved by a crane during construction of the impossibly large Grand Hall.

Stefan does not hold back in criticising the changes to Berlin, which he sees as tampering with German history and culture. Hitler had the Victory Column relocated. Stefan’s response was to show the Goddess Victory, unhappy with Hitler’s decision, escaping via parachute from her fixture at the top of the column.

Construction on Welthauptstadt Germania finally ground to a halt as the Second World War progressed. Speer believed that Nazi victory was imminent and remarked that Allied air strikes on Berlin had helped to level the old city to pave way for Germania. They hadn’t.

Though Hitler committed suicide Albert Speer was luckier. At the Nuremberg Trials he charmed the court, and despite his heavy use of concentration camp labor, he denied knowledge of the Holocaust. Spared execution, he spent the next twenty years in Spandau prison.
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Re: Neuschwanstein: A fairy tale darling's dark Nazi past

Postby admin » Sat Sep 28, 2019 4:46 am

Disney animators' strike
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 9/27/19



Walt was not an easy man to work for. At night, he would go through employee desks to check their work and count the number of pens. It was studio policy not to pay animators for the time they spent not drawing. They had to punch out whenever they got up to use the bathroom, get a drink of water, or even sharpen a pencil. If that weren't enough, the animators who produced the cartoons never received screen credit.

-- Walt Disney, by

Striking Disney animators at Walt Disney Productions, Burbank, in May 1941
Date May 29, 1941
Location Burbank, California
Methods Striking
Parties to the civil conflict
Screen Cartoonist's Guild
Walt Disney Productions
Lead figures
Herbert Sorrell
(Union leader)
Walt Disney
(Owner of studio)
Labor disputes by sector
Service strikes

The Disney animators' strike was a labor strike by the animators of Walt Disney Productions. The strike began on May 29, 1941, and lasted roughly five weeks. Though it resulted in the studio officially recognizing labor unions, it resulted in many departures and had a permanent psychological impact on the studio and its founder, Walt Disney.


In the 1930s, a rise of labor unions took place in Hollywood in response to the Great Depression and subsequent mistreatment of employees by studios. Among these unions was the Screen Cartoonist's Guild (SCG), which formed in 1938 after the first strike at an animation studio occurred, at Fleischer Studios. By 1941, SCG president Herbert Sorrell had secured contracts with every major cartoon studio except Disney and Leon Schlesinger Productions. Schlesinger gave in to the SCG's requests to sign a contract after his own employees went on strike, but upon signing reportedly asked, "What about Disney?"[1]

Disney's animators had the best pay and working conditions in the industry, but were discontented.[2] Originally, 20% of the profits from short cartoons went toward employee bonuses, but Disney eventually suspended this practice.[3] Disney's 1937 animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was a financial success, allowing Disney to construct a new, larger studio in Burbank, California.[4] At the Burbank studio, a rigid hierarchy system was enforced where employee benefits such as access to the restaurant, gymnasium, and steam room were limited to the studio's head writers and animators, who also received larger and more comfortable offices. Individual departments were segregated into buildings and heavily policed by administrators.

The box-office failures of Pinocchio and Fantasia in 1940 forced Disney to make layoffs, although Disney rarely involved himself in the hiring and firing process with those who were not atop the pay chain. The studio's pay structure was very disorganized, with some high-ranking animators earning as much as $300 a week while others made as little as $12. Many employees, including Art Babbitt, grew dissatisfied and joined the SCG. Babbitt was one of Disney's best-paid animators, though he was sympathetic to low-ranking employees and openly disliked Disney.[4] Disney saw no problem with the structure, believing it was his studio to run and that his employees should be grateful to him for providing the new studio space.[4]

Sorrell, along with Babbitt and Bill Littlejohn,[5] approached Disney and demanded he unionize his studio,[1] but Disney refused. In February 1941, Disney gathered all 1,200 employees in his auditorium for a speech:

"In the 20 years I've spent in this business I've weathered many storms. It's been far from easy sailing. It required a great deal of work, struggle, determination, competence, faith, and above all unselfishness. Some people think we have a class distinction in the place. They wonder why some people get better seats in the theatre than others. They wonder why some men get spaces in the parking lot and others don't. I have always felt, and always will feel that the men that contribute most to the organization should, out of respect alone, enjoy some privileges. My first recommendation to the lot of you is this; put your own house in order, you can't accomplish a damn thing by sitting around and waiting to be told everything. If you're not progressing as you should, instead of grumbling and growling, do something about it."[4]

The assembly was poorly received, and more employees joined the SCG. Tensions between Disney and Babbitt reached a peak when Disney began to see Babbitt as having personally betrayed him by becoming a union leader.[4] Disney fired Babbitt along with 16 other employees who were members of the SCG. The next day on May 29, more than 200 members of the studio staff went on strike, during the production of the 1941 film Dumbo. Other studios' animators, such as those from Schlesinger, offered their support during the strike. Disney retaliated by depicting some of the striking employees in caricature in Dumbo as antagonistic circus clowns, and on one occasion even attacked a picketing Babbitt.[5]

One story, told by Arthur Babbitt, claims that Disney attempted to attack him on the picket line:

“Then I turned to the crowd and shouted, ‘There he is, the man who believes in brotherhood for everybody but himself!’” With that, the crowd broke out into loud, derisive boos. Walt lost all reserve and, red-faced and heaving, pulled up, got out of his car, ripped off his jacket, started after Babbitt, and was immediately restrained by security guards. He did, however, get close enough to warn the artist he was through, not just at Disney but everywhere in the industry. Walt then got back into his car and drove through the gates.

-- Walt Disney: Hollywood’s Dark Prince, by Marc Eliot (141)

The strike was resolved when the National Labor Relations Board asked Disney to sign a union contract and he agreed. Disney was returning from a goodwill tour of Latin America to produce animated films as part of the Good Neighbor policy, allowing tensions to cool in his absence. Saludos Amigos was released the following year in 1942, while The Three Caballeros was released in 1944.

Aftermath and notable departures

The strike left the studio with only 694 employees.[6] In addition to Babbitt, the studio lost Bill Tytla, Walt Kelly, Tyrus Wong, Virgil Partch, Volus Jones, Phil Duncan, Claude Smith, Bernie Wolf, Joey Lockwood, Alfred Abranz, William Hurtz, T. Hee, Howard Swift, Milt Schaffer, and Frank Fullmer. Stephen Bosustow, David Hilberman and John Hubley left to form United Productions of America. Kenneth Muse, Ray Patterson, Preston Blair, Ed Love, Walter Clinton, and Grant Simmons left for the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon studio. Frank Tashlin returned to Warner Bros. Cartoons, and was joined by Hawley Pratt, Bill Meléndez, Emery Hawkins, Basil Davidovich, Maurice Noble, Cornett Wood, Ted Bonnicksen, and Jack Bradbury.

In the years following World War II, Hee, Jones, Duncan, Schaffer, Hawkins, Davidovich, and Bradbury returned to the studio. Disney was forced to rehire Babbitt after he brought an unfair labor practices suit against the studio, though Babbitt eventually left for good.

Disney never forgave the participants and subsequently treated union members with contempt,[5] arguing in a letter that the strike "cleaned house at our studio" and got rid of "the chip-on-the-shoulder boys and the world-owes-me-a-living lads".[7] Testifying to the House Un-American Activities Committee, Disney alleged that communism had played a major role in the strike, and many of the participants were blacklisted.[5]


1. Isbouts, Jean-Pierre (Director) (2001). Walt: The Man Behind the Myth (Television documentary film). ABC/Walt Disney Home Video.
2. Thomas, Bob (1994). WALT DISNEY: AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL. Disney Editions. ISBN 0-7868-6027-8.
3. Barrier, Michael, Hollywood Cartoons (1999), Oxford University Press, UK
4. Grimberg, Sharon (Producer) (2015). American Experience, Walt Disney- Part One (Television documentary film). PBS.
5. Lowry, Sam (Nov 1, 2006). "The Disney cartoonists strike, 1941". Retrieved June 23, 2018.
6. SEP 16 Disney History
7. Garchik, Leah (22 February 2015). "Beauty only skin deep, so women are considering their history". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
• Sito, Tom. Drawing the Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky, 2006. ISBN 0-8131-2407-7

External links

• The Disney strike, on The Animation Guild's website
• Another look back at the 1941 Disney Studio strike; includes contemporary article from Screen Actor magazine
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Re: Neuschwanstein: A fairy tale darling's dark Nazi past

Postby admin » Sat Sep 28, 2019 6:12 am

1941 Disney Strike: Picket Lines in Paradise
by Jake S. Friedman
History Net
Accessed: 9/27/19



(Courtesy Barbara Babbitt)

THE STRIKE WAS in its third week. Picketers had plans to bombard non-striking colleagues at the front gate right at quitting time, 5:30 p.m. on Friday, June 13, 1941. But before that confrontation could be joined, the boss led loyalists off the company grounds to a nearby high school, where he held an impromptu meeting. By the time 400 picketers, waving placards and signs, realized what was up and raced to the school, most of the scabs had left. Except for a handful of allies, only the boss himself remained, sitting in his car and tipping his hat at the strikers in the style of President Roosevelt. Out of the crowd rushed the tall, steely-eyed strike leader. Art Babbitt shouted at his boss and former pal, “Walt Disney, you ought to be ashamed of yourself!” Disney scrambled from the vehicle, fists clenched, calling Babbitt a dirty sonofabitch. The crowd came between them, half booing, half cheering.

Before the 1941 strike at the Walt Disney Studios, Art Babbitt considered Walt Disney his friend. The men owed much to one other. Babbitt was unquestionably one of Disney’s star artists during the Golden Age of animation. And Walt Disney once entrusted Art Babbitt with the brand and the characters he guarded so dearly. Babbitt developed Goofy’s movements and personality. He contributed Oscar-winning animation to The Three Little Pigs and The Country Cousin. Walt had assigned the animator feature characters like the Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Geppetto in Pinocchio. Disney and Babbitt shared an ambition to elevate animation to fine art, and to that end Art helped Walt establish an in-house art school. Babbitt could claim to have been among the reasons Disney animation advanced exponentially between 1932 and 1941, Babbitt’s professional heyday. But now these creative titans were at war, and the Disney Studios’ fate was at stake.

Strikes were nothing new. Capitalizing on half a century of labor activism and the desperate years of the Depression, enthusiasm for organizing had unionized the Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors assembly lines and a host of other industries—albeit not without resistance and even violence. At first, unions enlisted assembly line workers and the manual trades, but now more and more creative types, like those in Hollywood, were standing together.

Across Hollywood, crafts had been unionizing through the 1930s. Actors, directors, writers, projectionists, electricians, musicians, background painters, secretaries, film processors—name any job in filmmaking, and it had a union, except for animators. And Disney Studios was the biggest employer of animators in Hollywood.

Walt Disney had grown up hearing all about labor and capital. His father, a naïve socialist, often brought home brochure illustrations of the bloated capitalist and the woebegone worker for his artistic son to copy.

The elder Disney “thought everybody was as honest as he was; he got taken many times because of that,” Walt said in adulthood. “I know the usual union methods. I’ve been brought up through my life with them. My dad was beat up by a bunch of union people one time.”

Walt, who as a volunteer drove an ambulance in France during the First World War, had a strong streak of practicality and drive to succeed. He was still a teenager in Missouri when he formed his first animation company, Laugh-O-Gram, which went bankrupt in 1923. He and brother Roy next built Disney Brothers Studio. In 1927, Walt created the cartoon character Oswald the Rabbit for Universal Pictures and distributor Charles Mintz. By 1928, when Walt traveled to Mintz’s New York office to negotiate a payment increase from $2,250 per short, Mintz had hired away most of Walt’s employees and told Walt he would be getting $1,400 per animation and giving Mintz half the profits. To escape the deal, Walt had to give up Oswald. He found himself with no contract, no character, and a barebones staff. On the train back to Hollywood, Walt sketched the character that became the fabulously popular Mickey Mouse. Enriched by Mickey’s global stardom and remembering Oswald’s sad fate, Walt branded all his studio’s creations with the Disney moniker. Walt was the studio, and the studio was Walt.

Mickey Mouse was as huge a star as Clark Gable, but Clark Gable did not need a team of dozens in order to come alive. At Disney Studios, directors met with storymen and storyboard artists to outline each cartoon short—and later, each full-length animated feature. Like actors making performance choices, supervising animators planned each character’s actions. These artists’ drawings went to assistants who filled in the frames between main poses with additional drawings. Assistant animators handed their work to in-betweeners who completed necessary drawings.

Once an animation passed a camera test for exposure and smoothness of movement, a stack of pencil drawings went to inkers. The inkers traced the drawings onto sheets of transparent celluloid, giving the “cels” to painters for color. Finally, one frame at a time, the production camera department shot a negative at a rate of 12 to 24 drawings per second. Each animation artist had a hand in bringing a cartoon star to the screen, and none belonged to a union.

The first try at organizing the artists at Disney arose because of racketeer Willie Bioff. Bioff, a member of mobster Al Capone’s gang, was also the West Coast head of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, in 1937 Hollywood’s biggest, most corrupt union. According to Variety, the show business trade magazine, it was “an open secret” that IATSE regularly made a practice of signing up entire departments at a studio, then threatening a strike there unless the studio’s management greased Bioff’s palm.

Art Babbitt (Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Archives)

Art Babbitt, filled with creative ambition, had nothing against empowering the workingman. Born in 1907, Arthur Babitsky grew up in Sioux City, Iowa, a son of poor Russian immigrants. To help support his family, he went to New York at 16, struggling as a commercial artist until 1929, when he landed an animation job at TerryToons Studio, later famous for Mighty Mouse. Babbitt animated for three years at TerryToons before applying to Disney—the only studio he saw as sharing his vision for animation’s future. A master at self-promotion, Babbitt hand-painted a letter on a sheet of paper 18 feet x 20 feet that he sent special delivery to Walt’s secretary. The gimmick earned him an interview with Disney, who hired Babbitt in July 1932 at $40 a week.

By 1936, Babbitt was making $200 a week as one of Disney’s top artists, and was in the thick of the action. That year the studio was making Snow White, a project so daunting that Walt and Roy went on a hiring spree, muscling up the animation staff from 80-odd to around 1,200.

In late 1937, with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs about to premiere, Babbitt read in Time magazine about Bioff’s corrupt influence on the motion picture industry. He wondered how long Disney could fend off IATSE and the mob. Babbitt conferred with Roy Disney, who sent him to Disney’s chief legal counsel, Gunther Lessing. Babbitt and Lessing outlined a “social organization,” the Federation of Screen Cartoonists, that Lessing said would serve their purposes. While Babbitt was arranging meetings and starting to draft a charter, Lessing encouraged him to enroll as many Disney employees as possible in the Federation.

Babbitt did not realize that the Federation was a “house union,” company-led and company-controlled. Babbitt just wanted to keep out Bioff. Lessing wanted to insulate Disney from all independent union activity.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered to ecstatic reviews, boffo box office returns, industry honors, and warm words from Disney. “Dear Art,” Walt wrote, “since the critics have voted Snow White best picture of 1938, I thought you might like to stow away the attached copy of Film Daily with all the other memoirs you may be receiving for your grandchildren.” Another of Babbitt’s keepsakes was a photo of the Snow White animation team.

Pending National Labor Relations Board certification, the Federation had to sit on its hands, frustrating Babbitt until July 22, 1939, when the NLRB declared the Federation the sole union for Disney employees. Babbitt and the rest of the Federation’s negotiating committee scheduled a meeting with Roy Disney in October, hoping to negotiate a contract. Another goal was a small raise for inkers and painters, who at $18 and $16 a week were the lowest-paid in the industry. Roy listened but shook his head, saying he “had no use for unions.” With no contract, the Federation was powerless. The negotiating committee voted to let the hollow union die.

Deploying profits from Snow White and a loan from Bank of America, Walt spared no expense constructing a campus-style studio in Burbank, over the hills from Hollywood. Intended to streamline the animation process, the new production house was rife with status symbols. Top artists enjoyed wall-to-wall carpeting; lesser animators got bare linoleum. Only those paid $100 a week or more could join the in-house exercise facility, “The Penthouse Club.” Babbitt would not use the gym. Walt asked why.

“As soon as you make it open to everybody,” said Babbitt, “I’d be delighted to join.”

Animators elsewhere were forming or joining real unions. The Screen Cartoon—later “Cartoonists”—Guild was organizing animation artists around Hollywood. By December 1940, the Guild had a contract with MGM, maker of the hit “Tom & Jerry” cartoons. MGM artists, especially the inkers, painters, in-betweeners, and assistants who occupied the lowest rungs of the production process, received raises. One by one, the Guild was signing up workers at all the animation studios, circling the biggest fish—Disney.

On December 11, 1940, Walt and Lessing summoned Babbitt and the other four men who had been the moribund Federation’s original negotiating committee. Walt showed the artists a letter from the Guild claiming that the union represented a majority of Disney artists, and demanding that Walt sign a contract. He called on the five to reanimate the Federation, subvert the Guild, and “stop this thing.”

“You know how I am, boys,” Babbitt quoted Walt as saying. “If someone tells me to do something, I will do just the opposite, and if necessary I will close the studio.”

Babbitt saw the request to revive the Federation as hypocritical. If the point was to empower employees, why block a bona fide union? Lessing talked vaguely about a contract, but revealed nothing concrete. The Federation had been demanding a contract for a year and half without any result. The negotiating committee members got together a week later to determine their next steps.

“I would have liked to have said to Walt, ‘Well, you’re the boss—whatever you say goes,’ and then I’d be a good boy,” Babbitt said at the Federation meeting. “But still at the same time, I feel I owe an obligation to all the people that have been foolish enough to follow me into this thing, and I can’t feel that it’s right.”

During that meeting, Babbitt expressed empathy for the man who had made him a prince of Hollywood animation. “As swell as Walt has been in the past, he’s never taken the trouble to see the other side,” Babbitt told his colleagues. “He’s firmly convinced that all unions are stevedores and gangsters. It has never occurred to him that he might find a decent person to deal with. If Walt had taken the trouble to find out what we were doing and why we were doing it, the contract would have been signed long ago.”

Babbitt quit the Federation and began attending Guild meetings. By March, he was chairing the Disney unit of the Screen Cartoonists’ Guild, Local 852. This infuriated Walt and Lessing. Lessing reactivated the Federation with replacement committee members and renewed force.

Disney had come off Snow White’s success to produce Pinocchio and Fantasia, both released in 1940. Each lost about $1 million because in September 1939, Europe went to war, slamming shut the international market.

To make his loan payments, Disney, now more than $3 million in debt, had to go public. When Walt and Roy asked Bank of America for more credit, the bank and Disney stockholders urgently suggested the company lay off personnel. Walt instead bore down on producing shorts, accelerating production and monitoring employee efficiency, which added to worker stress.

“In desperation I tried to keep these people employed by increasing their output,” Walt, on the verge of tears, recounted the following year. “I felt a responsibility to all these people. It was my mistake. I didn’t know it.” Some Disney employees empathized with the studio, others saw management as incompetent and top-heavy.

Walt doubted the company could survive the higher salaries that unionization would impose on Disney. On February 10 and 11, 1941, he addressed his entire staff in the studio theater. “There are certain individuals who would like to blame the executives of this company for not foreseeing this calamity that was caused by the war in Europe,” Walt said, referring obliquely to Babbitt. “I think that is unfair…how the hell can anyone hold us responsible?”

Walt closed by declaring that the studio wouldn’t have to resort to drastic measures “if every one of you would dig in and do his individual and collective damnedest to roll out production of the highest quality with the most economy.” The speech left the staff more polarized and drove many abstainers to sign with either the Guild or the Federation. Whichever collected a majority of Disney artists’ signatures would be the union at Disney, and the rival sides inundated the campus with fliers and petitions. In the halls, people were buttonholing one another to sign up. More than once, management demanded Babbitt shut down Guild recruitment at the studio.

“People on both sides are guilty,” Babbitt responded. “Everyone who is not on my side is bound to criticize me!”

Walt cornered Babbitt in a hallway.

“You don’t know what is going on in the rest of the studio,” Walt said, according to Babbitt in 1942 testimony. “If you don’t stop organizing my employees, I’m going to throw you right the hell out of the front gate!”

The simmer came to a boil May 16, when Disney laid off 24 Guild members, several of them committee chairmen. The Guild demanded Walt sit down with the union or face a strike. Walt refused. On Tuesday, May 27, 1941, the company abruptly fired Babbitt. Armed guards escorted him off the lot. That night the Guild unit voted to strike, and in the morning, more than 300 Disney artists were marching at the gates demanding that Disney recognize the Guild.

The strikers picketed 24 hours a day, carrying signs illustrated with Disney characters. Across from the studio, an outdoor cafeteria sponsored by sympathizers served three meals daily. Striking artists drew sketches distributed to the press. Teams of pickets rushed any theater screening a Disney picture. Other unions, including the Screen Actors Guild, lent support. Developers at Technicolor refused to process Disney film. Newspapers withheld Disney comic strips. RKO, which distributed Disney films, announced it would stall all Disney releases until the strike was settled. Union animators at Warner Bros., after ending shifts animating Bugs Bunny and other Looney Tunes characters, built parade floats and effigies they displayed in step with the Disney strikers. Dances, magic shows, fairs, and other benefits filled Buena Vista Street at night. Trade papers like Variety and the Hollywood Reporter, as well as publications across the spectrum, covered the strike in detail.

“We represent a majority of the cartoonists in the studio,” Babbitt told the Daily Worker. “We demand recognition of our field and a closed-shop contract. We demand wage adjustments and the betterment of working conditions. We want all bonuses previously promised but not paid; we want to get the company men off our necks every time we turn around.”

Walt Disney doubted the Guild actually had the enrollment that the union claimed. He met regularly with Guild members, trying to determine the true numbers. The Guild wanted to crosscheck union enrollment against Disney’s payroll. Walt refused, saying he would accept only the results of a secret-ballot vote deciding which union would represent his people. Both sides accused the other of coercion. The Guild had enough support among unions to make a credible threat to place Disney and all its productions on a “do not patronize” list unless Walt agreed to a crosscheck.

“I have never been a coward,” Walt replied. “When it comes to a compromise of this sort, to me it isn’t a compromise. It’s just laying down. To me it’s one of the most un-American things that can be done.” As the stalemate ground into a ninth week, strikers were edging closer to poverty. Nonetheless, violence never intruded.

On July 28, two NLRB mediators finally arrived from Washington, DC. The mediators’ August 2 ruling found in favor of the strikers. The studio would sign a closed-shop union contract with the Guild; wages would rise 25 percent to the industry’s peak; should the company propose layoffs, an independent joint committee would review them; each striker would get 100 hours in back pay.

The artists returned to work, but the studio was never the same. Walt, who valued loyalty above all, withdrew from the family unit he had created. Disney’s own involvement with his studio would be increasingly managerial, and never again would he experiment with animation the way he once had. The Golden Age of Disney animation had ended.

Back at the studio, Babbitt found himself short of assignments. On November 24, the company laid off its former star animator, ostensibly for lack of work. He and the union sued Walt Disney, and in October 1942, Babbitt appeared in court, offering testimony that clashed with representations by Walt, Gunther Lessing, and every director the animator ever worked with at Walt Disney Studios. The proceedings lasted seven days; Babbitt and the Guild won.

Though he was reinstated in his job, Babbitt immediately enlisted in the Marines. He served three years in intelligence in the Pacific, mustering out in October 1945 as a master technical sergeant. At Disney, which had grudgingly held his position for him, Babbitt was persona non grata. No non-striker, other than directors, dared to talk with him or even look his way.

On January 16, 1947, Babbitt quit. He went on to success at United Productions of America with Mr. Magoo and other UPA cartoons, and won dozens of awards for commercials. Still, nothing in post-strike, post-war life matched what Art Babbitt had achieved in his heyday at Disney. He was directing ads for Hanna Barbera in 1973 when Canadian animator Richard Williams rediscovered him. Williams, a connoisseur of classic animation, hired Babbitt to teach at his production house in London. Babbitt’s years of direct influence inspired Williams’s hand in Robert Zemeckis’s 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, a masterful blend of live action and animation that helped propel the big-screen renaissance in animation that continues today.

In 2007, 15 years after Babbitt died, Walt’s nephew, Roy E. Disney, inducted Babbitt into the company’s creative pantheon by honoring him as a Disney Legend. Roy noted that right up until his death, Babbitt kept the photo of the Snow White animation team, carefully labeling each person.

By his own face, Babbitt had written “the Troublemaker.”
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Re: Neuschwanstein: A fairy tale darling's dark Nazi past

Postby admin » Sat Sep 28, 2019 6:31 am

Disney and the Mob: Willie Bioff
by Jake Friedman
BabbittBlog: The Official Blog of an Animation Legend
Posted on October 9, 2016




Let’s talk about the mob for a minute.

There was a man named Willie Bioff. He was a member of Al Capone’s gang, as was his partner, George Browne. They were both top men of the Hollywood stagehands’ union, the IATSE (International Alliance for Theatrical Stage Employees). Browne, a tall Irishman, was the national head; Bioff, a stocky Russian man, was the head of the southern California branch. In the 1930’s, Bioff’s name became synonymous with Hollywood labor corruption. In the eyes of the Disney company, this man had the potential of being both villain and hero.

04 Nov 1955, Phoenix, Arizona, USA --- Original caption: Phoenix, Arizona: This is a copy photo of Willie Bioff, famous Chicago mobster of the Al Capone school. He was blown to bits today in Phoenix, Arizona, when he stepped on the starter of his truck and the vehicle exploded. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

So who was Willie Bioff?

Born in Odessa around 1900,...

Odessa is a city in western Texas.


Downtown, Jack Ben Rabbit is an 8-foot-tall statue of a jackrabbit. Another 37 Jamboree Jackrabbits dot the city. The Presidential Archives and Leadership Library exhibits presidential memorabilia.


The University of Texas of the Permian Basin's Stonehenge is a replica of the famous English site. To the southwest, meteorite fragments are on display at the Odessa Meteor Crater.

-- About Odessa, by

... young Willie Bioff moved with his family to the outskirts of Chicago. In 1922, he was charged with pandering – i.e. running a speakeasy/brothel – for mobster Jack Zuta,...


John U. "Jack" Zuta (February 15, 1888[1] – August 1, 1930) was an accountant and political "fixer" for the Chicago Outfit.

Zuta (also spelled as "Zoota") was born on February 18, 1888, in Russia to a peasant family of Jewish descent. He immigrated to the United States around 1913. Living in Chicago, Zuta worked as a junk dealer on the West Side before becoming involved in prostitution. He eventually operated several brothels on west Madison Street. However he was put out of business by competition from Mike "The Pike" Heitler and the Guzik Brothers, Harry and Jake "Greasy Thumb" Guzik.

Zuta began working for Al Capone in the mid-1920s. He helped contribute $50,000 of Capone's money to Chicago Mayor William Hale Thompson's reelection campaign in 1927. However, Zuta defected to Bugs Moran's North Side Gang during the gang war between Capone and Moran.

In June 1930, Zuta supposedly ordered the death of Chicago Tribune reporter Jake Lingle after Lingle tried to extort money from Moran's gambling operations. After the murder (for which Leo Vincent Brothers was convicted), Zuta was questioned by police. He was released the next day. While being given a police escort the police cruiser was fired on by several unidentified gunmen. The attackers killed two bystanders before being driven off by police. Zuta fled Chicago, moving to Upper Nemahbin Lake, west of Milwaukee, living the last month of his life under the name "J. H. Goodman". Zuta was shot to death on August 1, 1930, in a roadhouse in Delafield, Wisconsin. He is buried in the Jewish cemetery located in Middlesboro, Kentucky.

Zuta's death resulted in the uncovering of a large amount of corruption in Illinois. Zuta, a meticulous record keeper, had much information later found in various safe deposit boxes. This information lead to the capture of a large whiskey shipment to Moran and to information about police raids on several breweries, as well as detailing Mafia payoffs to state and city officials.

Some of the officials implicated were:

• Chicago Alderman Dorsey Crowe
• Board of Education executive Nate DeLue
• Judge Joseph W. Schulman
• ex-Judge Emanuel Eller
• Chicago Police sergeant Martin C. Mulvihill
• Evanston Police Chief William O. Freeman
• Illinois Senator Harry W. Starr

All denied involvement, however, particularly Crowe and Starr, who claimed the money was part of campaign contributions. The name, "Zuta", later became slang for revenge. In 1931, after a $50,000 bounty was placed on him, Capone said, "Nobody's gonna' 'Zuta' me."

-- Jack Zuta, by Wikipedia

... but he never served his jail time. In early 1933 he was arranging to limit the poultry market in Chicago (i.e. making sure some chicken vendors didn’t sell their wares, and getting a cut of those who did). Then he met George Browne. In 1933 Browne was a card-carrying member of the IATSE. They figured out if they could get enough projectionists from a local movie theater chain to threaten a strike, the owner would pay them off. To their reasoning, it would cost the theater more to endure a strike than to grease their palms. A lot more. Tens of thousands more.



July, 1934


New President of the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees and Motion Picture Machine Operators of the United States and Canada

At the recent convention of the I.A.T.S.E. & M.P.M.O. of the United States and Canada, George E. Browne, for many years business representative of Stage Hands Local No. 2, Chicago, was unanimously elected President of the I.A.T.S.E. and M.P.M.O. to succeed William Elliott.

Mr. Browne was formerly First Vice-President of the I.A.T.S.E. and M.P.M.O. during the administration of Former President Canavan. He resigned from that office at the I.A.T.S.E. and M.P.M.O. Convention, which met in Los Angeles several years ago, in order to give all his time to the affairs of his own Local.

Too much cannot be said in praise of the new President. He is a thorough Union man and is a master of the principles of Unionism. He particularly understand the problems of the great organization of which he had the honor to be the head and those who know him will say that he not only understand the problems, but that he has the courage, ability and vision to solve them.

He is firm. He is absolutely trustworthy. He is loyal to the body over which he presides and he demands loyalty in return. President Browne, though a man of decision and firm in his judgments, is nevertheless a diplomat and his reputation for fair dealing has done much to bring him the great popularity he enjoys.

Moreover, the new executive is a man of action and of ideas and he does not wait for anybody to take the initiative. In brief, he goes and he gets. The latch-string at 659 and at the International Photographer, President Browne, will always be hanging out if ever you come to our fair city. And – we hope you’ll be a long time President.

One of Al Capone’s top wiseguys, Frank Rio, got wind of this and enlisted them to the gang, kinda by force: It was either join Capone and get protection and a percentage, or drop it all together and get squat. So Bioff and Browne stayed on. In 1934, Rio helped Browne get elected as the national head of IATSE, and Browne hired Bioff as his West Coast representative.

Now Bioff and Browne did what they were doing before – threatening strikes for stagehands and projectionists unless theater owners and studio heads paid up – except on a much grander scale. In 1935, RKO and Leow’s paid Bioff and Browne $150k. In 1936, Bioff moved to Los Angeles, where he ran a Studio Basic Agreement meeting. It was there that representatives from every movie studio committed to paying him a total of $500k over two years. In 1937 RKO and Leow’s paid him $100k. By the end of 1937, IATSE local 37, the Hollywood branch of IATSE run by Bioff, had spent two years taking $200k from mere members in dues alone.

Whether this was blackmail (Bioff did this against studios’ wishes) or bribery (Bioff cooperated with studios to disenfranchise union members) is still a debate. In either case, Bioff had built up a reputation around Hollywood as the leader of both the absolute largest, and most corrupt, Hollywood union.

The way Babbitt tells it in 1942 is like this: It was in November 1937. His friend and colleague (and fellow liberal) Dave Hilberman showed him an article in Time magazine about Bioff increasing his hold on Hollywood unions. At the time Hilberman was an animation assistant under Babbitt’s best friend, Bill Tytla. Babbitt wanted to stop Bioff and the IATSE from signing up anyone in the Disney studio. At the behest of Bill Garity, the production control manager, Babbitt went to the top of the top: the business head and Walt’s brother, Roy O. Disney.

Roy pointed Babbitt to Gunther Lessing, the studio’s head legal council, board member, and future vice president of the company. Together Lessing and Babbitt formed a group called the FEDERATION OF SCREEN CARTOONISTS. For Lessing, this was an attempt for an informal social organization just to block the Bioff. For Babbitt, this was a chance to create a union to represent the Disney employees.

Blocking Bioff seemed like a great idea: renown columnist Westbrook Pegler published an exposé on Bioff in November 1939 that solidified his villainy in the public eye. This exposé, in part, led to Bioff’s and Browne’s federal indictment on May 23rd, 1941.

For Disney unionists, things went to shit in 1941.

The FEDERATION’s true position – keeping the management’s best interests at heart – became abundantly clear by early 1941. And a bona fide independent union, the SCREEN CARTOONISTS GUILD demanded union representation for the Disney employees.

And then the Disney strike hit on Wednesday, May 28, 1941.

According to many strikers, the energy of the first month of the strike was light. There were hopes for a quick outcome, and there was trust in the company. After a month, though, there was a serious shift.

Bioff was granted a delay of his trial in Washington, as well as permission to return to Los Angeles temporarily. Why?

In a twist befitting a scripted soap opera, the GUILD went into a negotiation meeting the evening of July 1 with Roy Disney, Gunther Lessing, and sitting between them was… Willie Bioff. Roy and Bioff had drafted a settlement deal at Bioff’s ranch earlier that day (some report the previous day), with hope that the strikers would sign.



1. THE NATIONAL AFL BOYCOTT IS STILL ON AND IS SPREADING. Disney film will have a dwindling market in the U.S. or Canada, even though it may be edited and developed. With a restricted market on Disney film, where will your future paychecks come from?

2. THE GUILD HAS NOT SPLIT INTO TWO FACTIONS. The membership of the Guild has never been stronger, and no Guild member is going to work in the studio until the strike is over.

3. THE GUILD HAS NO INTENTION OF JOINING THE C.I.O. The Guild is receiving full moral and financial support from the AFL and has no need to apply elsewhere for assistance. All branches of the Guild and all sympathizers are still aiding the strike in every way and will continue to do so.



1. Do you remember when Walt said employees could join any organization of their own choosing?

2. Did Walt have your consent and approval when he signed contracts placing you under Bioff’s jurisdiction?

3. Have you read the constitution and by-laws of your new union?

4. Will you be able to vote Bioff out of office?

5. Are you so sure of your job with Disney that you know you will work there forever? Remember all the other studios have signed closed shop contracts with the Guild you are now fighting.

Screen Cartoon Guild
1441 N. McCadden Pl.
Hollywood, Calif.

Babbitt remembered, probably on June 30, being “asked” to get in a car and being driven to Bioff’s ranch. There was Roy, Lessing, Bill Garity, and Bioff himself. Bioff made him a generous offer individually: a hefty payout to just disappear – to take a permanent camping trip, and continue to receive paychecks. Babbitt refused. “I already have more money than I know what to do with,” he said.

Besides Babbitt, the Guild negotiation committee included Dave Hilberman and Herb Sorrell. Sorrell was the business representative of the Guild’s parent union, the Moving Picture Painters Local 644, as well as the Disney Strike’s business manager.




For seven weeks Disney Artists on Strike have tried to get Disney to sit down and negotiate with them.

Instead Disney negotiated a deal with Bioff dominated Unions representing less than ten per cent (10%) of his employees in an effort to break the Strike of his Artists representing more than fifty per cent (50%) of his employees.





Screen Cartoonists Guild
Local 852
1441 McCadden Place
Hollywood, Calif.



Do you know the deal that was about to be perpetrated on the Disney employees – Guild and non-Guild alike!

Do you know at whose ranch-house Walt Disney spent last Sunday!

Do you know the proposals that the Disney unit was asked to countenance at its meeting Tuesday!

Do you know the agreement that Walt Disney was willing to enter into to save his face – but not yours!

Do you know about the “negotiation” meeting for which Walt and his new “chum” waited in vain last night!

Do you know WHO this chum of Walt’s is?

Let us tell you!

He is none other than Mr. Willie Bioff, convicted panderer, ex-convict who is at present out on $50,000 bail on a charge of extortion.


The meeting began with discussions about back pay, and re-hire discrimination, although there were “many inquiries as to why Bioff was in the picture.” Bioff attempted to dictate the terms of the final contract, and also demanded that Hilberman leave the negotiating committee. The Guild left the meeting understanding that an agreement would be further negotiated in the Roosevelt Hotel, a frequent meeting spot for the Strike. Then the company reps returned to advise the Guild that the meeting would not continue in the hotel – but at Bioff’s ranch.

Sorrell called a halt – and addressed the strikers en masse in a huge meeting, to a “thunderous ovation.” They voted unanimously to take no part in any negotiations that included Willie Bioff.



Last night the studio signed a blanket agreement with Willie Bioff!

In doing so the studio handed the whole personnel over to the most vicious racketeer in the history of the motion picture labor movement.

A man who has just finished a six months sentence for pandering. A man who is under Federal indictment for income tax evasion and extorting $550,000 from major film companies.

Walt promised to take care of you people inside.

Is this the way?

Last week Bioff told two of us that either we string along with him, OR he would “take over” our union and the WHOLE STUDIO.

In defiance of this threat, feeling that we were fighting for something more than a contract, feeling that we could not hand over the animated cartoon industry to this Chicago hoodlum, we turned down this or ANY deal that Willie was a party to.

We did this after five weeks of being on strike.

Then we tried to negotiate directly with the studio – and were turned down!

Yesterday Bioff made good half his threat.

He “took over” the studio.


We are fighting now! Harder than ever! We’ll stick out on this line – if it takes all summer – before we see this gangster rule the artists in the motion picture industry like he rules the technicians.

We’d like you to help us fight him.

The danger to you is as great as the danger to us.



The disappointment: discovery that the contract was a behind-the-scenes deal engineered with Walt Disney by William Bioff, a labor man who is being prosecuted by the government for alleged union racketeering, and that the Cartoonists negotiators were to accept it and sign it, but not to question any detail.

All strikers were called together in an emergency meeting to consider the proposed deal. Even the 24-hour picketlines were withdrawn from the Disney studio so that every striker might hear the terms offered. The strikers boood the intervention of Bioff and repudiated the undercover attempt to put over a contract without its democratic submission to the strikers.

The next day an ad appeared in the daily industry trade paper, Variety:


Walt Disney,
Burbank, Calif.

Dear Walt:

Willie Bioff is not our leader.

Present your terms to our elected leaders, so that they may be submitted to us and there should be no difficulty in quickly settling our differences.

Your Striking Employes.

On July 3, Roy Disney was left with no alternative but to contact Washington DC. At the end of his rope, he requested a federal arbitrator to settle the Strike once and for all.




Seven weeks ago, 472 members of the Screen Cartoonists, local 852, went on strike for:

1. Recognition of their union

2. Reinstatement of 19 Guild members fired for union activity.

3. A fair, honorable contract.


The studio has consistently refused to meet with its striking artists.

Last week Roy Disney and Gunther Lessing, studio vice-presidents, met with Willie Bioff, ex-convict now under Federal indictment for extorting $550,000. Through Bioff an offer was made to the Guild for the settlement of the strike.

That offer constituted then, and does now, a fair basis for negotiations. No honest, American trade union, however, could accept the conditions for acceptance that Bioff placed upon the Guild.

First, Willie attempted to dictate the terms of the contract.

Secondly, he demanded the right to hand-pick the members of the Guild negotiating committee.

Failure to accept these provisions, Bioff warned, would result in the withdrawal of IATSE support of the strike.

When the Bioff Deal was disclosed to the membership of the Guild, they voted unanimously, “NOT TO ENTER ANY AGREEMENT TO WHICH BIOFF WAS A PARTY.”


The Painters proved in their 1937 strike that workers united in an honest determination to win their legal rights could gain a victory – even in the motion picture business.

We intend to prove again that the workers in this industry CAN obtain their rights without the intervention of Willie Bioff.

We want to make it clear however, that our fight is primarily with Walt Disney. Willie is only secondary.

Walt can settle this strike tomorrow if he will bargain collectively with his employees as the Wagner Act requires him to do.


The fight of the Screen Cartoonists is the fight of every man and woman in the motion picture industry.

If Walt breaks this strike, the cause of militant trade unionism will be set back ten years. If contracts in Hollywood can be won only through the intercession of Willie Bioff – the day of honest unionism is done.

Bioff is not the voice of the IATSE nor of the organized labor movement in Hollywood.


It must and will be won!


Your donations are urgently needed by the 472 artists and their families on strike. Send them with your name and local to the SCREEN CARTOON GUILD headquarters, 1441 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood, Cal.

Arbitrators arrived at the Disney lot. The final agreement between Walt Disney Productions and the Disney Strikers was signed on July 30, 1941, with no help from Bioff. On September 16, work at the Disney company resumed.

So yes, the Walt Disney company briefly had dealings with an indicted felon – the very felon they were trying to defend against. Bioff and Browne were convicted for extortion on November 6 and sentenced to ten and eight years behind bars, respectively.

The Disney studio was able to eventually bounce back, as did Bioff, for a time. In 1942 he agreed to cooperate with federal investigators to lessen his sentence, and he was released in 1944. He joined the witness protection program, and moved with his wife to Phoenix under the surname “Wilson.”

Then on the morning of November 4, 1955 Bioff turned the ignition of his car in the driveway and blew up. The mob had finally caught up with him.

[For more on Bioff, check out Shadow of the Racketeer by David Witwer.]


Jake Friedman is an author and artist. He studied animation at NYU’s Tisch school of the Arts, and was an artist for animated television shows on Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel, as well as Saturday Night Live, the independent film Sita Sings the Blues and the 2013 feature from Blue Sky Studios, Epic. He has been the east coast correspondent for Animation Magazine, and has contributed over 60 articles for publications like the Huffington Post, the Philadelphia Daily News, Animation and Animation World Network. He currently splits his time between writing and teaching art in the college classroom.

In 2011 he was authorized by the estate of Art Babbitt to be Babbitt’s official biographer. His first book on animation will be on the shelves in 2014. His biography on Art Babbitt will be his second book.

(He is also the result of a “picket romance” between two striking school teachers)
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Re: Neuschwanstein: A fairy tale darling's dark Nazi past

Postby admin » Sat Sep 28, 2019 10:59 am

Part 1 of 2

RKO Pictures
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 9/28/19



RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Former type
Industry Motion pictures
Keith-Albee-Orpheum Corporation
Film Booking Offices of America
Founded October 23, 1928; 90 years ago (as RKO Productions Inc., subsidiary of Radio-Keith-Orpheum Corp.)
Founder David Sarnoff
Defunct 7 March 1959; 60 years ago (de facto)
Headquarters 1270 Avenue of the Americas, Manhattan, New York City, US
Radio Corporation of America (Technicolor SA)
Atlas Corporation
General Tire and Rubber Company (ARH)
TimberForest Pictures, Inc. (15%)
Website Edit this on Wikidata

RKO Pictures is an American film production and distribution company. In its original incarnation, as RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. (a subsidiary of Radio-Keith-Orpheum, aka: RKO)[1] it was one of the Big Five studios of Hollywood's Golden Age. The business was formed after the Keith-Albee-Orpheum (KAO) theater chain and Joseph P. Kennedy's Film Booking Offices of America (FBO) studio were brought together under the control of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in October 1928.[a] RCA chief David Sarnoff engineered the merger to create a market for the company's sound-on-film technology, RCA Photophone. By the mid-1940s, the studio was under the control of investor Floyd Odlum.

RKO has long been renowned for its cycle of musicals starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the mid- to late 1930s. Actors Katharine Hepburn and, later, Robert Mitchum had their first major successes at the studio. Cary Grant was a mainstay for years. The work of producer Val Lewton's low-budget horror unit and RKO's many ventures into the field now known as film noir have been acclaimed, largely after the fact, by film critics and historians. The studio produced two of the most famous films in motion picture history: King Kong and Citizen Kane. RKO was also responsible for notable co-productions such as It's a Wonderful Life and Notorious, and it also distributed many celebrated films by animation producer Walt Disney (from 1937 to the mid-50s) and leading independent producer Samuel Goldwyn.

Maverick industrialist Howard Hughes took over RKO in 1948. After years of disarray and decline under his control, the studio was acquired by the General Tire and Rubber Company in 1955. The original RKO Pictures ceased production in 1957 and was effectively dissolved two years later. In 1981, broadcaster RKO General, the corporate heir, revived the studio as a production subsidiary, RKO Pictures Inc. In 1989, this business, with its remaining assets, including the trademarks and remake rights to many classic RKO films, was sold to new owners, who now operate the small independent company RKO Pictures LLC.

Origin of company

In October 1927, Warner Bros. released The Jazz Singer, the first feature-length talking picture. Its success prompted Hollywood to convert from silent to sound film production en masse. The Radio Corporation of America (RCA) controlled an advanced optical sound-on-film system, Photophone, recently developed by General Electric, RCA's parent company. However, its hopes of joining in the anticipated boom in sound movies faced a major hurdle: Warner Bros. and Fox, Hollywood's other vanguard sound studio, were already financially and technologically aligned with ERPI, a subsidiary of AT&T's Western Electric division. The industry's two largest companies, Paramount and Loew's/MGM, with two other major studios, Universal and First National, were poised to contract with ERPI for sound conversion as well.[2]

Early Radio-Keith-Orpheum logo

Seeking a customer for Photophone, in late 1927 David Sarnoff, then general manager of RCA, approached Joseph P. Kennedy about using the system for Kennedy's modest-sized studio, Film Booking Offices of America (FBO). Negotiations resulted in General Electric acquiring a substantial interest in FBO—Sarnoff had apparently already conceived of a plan for the company to attain a central position in the film industry, maximizing Photophone revenue. Next on the agenda was securing a string of exhibition venues like those the leading Hollywood production companies owned. Kennedy began investigating the possibility of such a purchase. Around that time, the large Keith-Albee-Orpheum (KAO) circuit of theaters, built around the then-fading medium of live vaudeville, was attempting a transition to the movie business. In mid-1927, the filmmaking operations of Pathé (U.S.) and Cecil B. De Mille had united under KAO's control. Early in 1928, KAO general manager John J. Murdock, who had assumed the presidency of Pathé, turned to Kennedy as an adviser in consolidating the studio with De Mille's company, Producers Distributing Corporation (PDC). This was the relationship Sarnoff and Kennedy sought.[3][4]

After an aborted attempt by Kennedy to bring yet another studio that had turned to him for help, First National, into the Photophone fold, RCA was ready to step back in: the company acquired Kennedy's stock in both FBO and the KAO theater business. On October 23, 1928, RCA announced the creation of the Radio-Keith-Orpheum Corp. holding company, with Sarnoff as chairman of the board. Kennedy, who withdrew from his executive positions in the merged companies, kept Pathé separate from RKO and under his personal control.[3][5] RCA owned the governing stock interest in RKO, 22 percent (in the early 1930s, its share would rise as high as 60 percent).[6] On January 25, 1929, the new company's production arm, presided over by former FBO vice-president Joseph I. Schnitzer, was unveiled as RKO Productions Inc.[7] A week later, it filed for the trademark "Radio Pictures".[8] Looking to get out of the film business the following year, Kennedy arranged in late 1930 for RKO to purchase Pathé from him. On January 29, 1931, Pathé, with its contract players, well-regarded newsreel operation, and Culver City studio and backlot, was merged into RKO as Kennedy sold off the last of his stock in the company he had been instrumental in creating.[9]

[b]Golden Age studio

Early years

Rio Rita (1929), first smash hit for RKO (then releasing films under the "Radio Pictures" banner)

RKO began production at the small facility FBO shared with Pathé in New York City while the main FBO studio in Hollywood was technologically refitted.[10] In charge of production was William LeBaron, who had held the same position at FBO. The new company's two initial releases were musicals: The melodramatic Syncopation, which actually completed shooting before FBO was reincorporated as RKO, premiered on March 29, 1929.[11] The comedic Street Girl debuted July 30. This was billed as RKO's first "official" production and its first to be shot in Hollywood.[12][c] A few nonsinging pictures followed, but the studio's first major hit was again a musical. RKO spent heavily on the lavish Rio Rita, including a number of Technicolor sequences. Opening in September to rave reviews, it was named one of the ten best pictures of the year by Film Daily.[13] Cinema historian Richard Barrios credits it with initiating the "first age of the filmed Broadway musical".[14] By the end of the year, RKO was making use of an additional production facility—five hundred acres had been acquired near Encino in the San Fernando Valley as a movie ranch for exteriors and large-scale standing sets,[15], AKA; RKO Encino Movie Ranch.

RKO released a limited slate of twelve features in its first year; in 1930, that figure more than doubled to twenty-nine.[16] Initially organized as the distinct business entities RKO Productions Inc. and RKO Distributing Corp., by July the studio was making a transition into the new, unified RKO Radio Pictures Inc.[17] Encouraged by Rio Rita's success, RKO produced several costly musicals incorporating Technicolor sequences, among them Dixiana and Hit the Deck, both scripted and directed, like Rio Rita, by Luther Reed.[18] Following the example of the other major studios, RKO had planned to create its own musical revue, Radio Revels. Promoted as the studio's most extravagant production to date, it was to be photographed entirely in Technicolor.[19] The project was abandoned, however, as the public's taste for musicals temporarily subsided. From a total of more than sixty Hollywood musicals in 1929 and over eighty the following year, the number dropped to eleven in 1931.[20] RKO was left in a bind: it still had a contract with Technicolor to produce two more features with its system. Complicating matters, audiences had come to associate color with the momentarily out-of-favor musical genre due to a glut of such productions from the major Hollywood studios. Fulfilling its obligations, RKO produced two all-Technicolor pictures, The Runaround and Fanny Foley Herself (both 1931), containing no musical sequences. Neither was a success.[21]

Even as the U.S. economy foundered, RKO had gone on a spending spree, buying up theater after theater to add to its exhibition chain. In October 1930, the company purchased a 50 percent stake in the New York Van Beuren studio, which specialized in cartoons and live shorts.[22] RKO's production schedule soon surpassed forty features a year, released under the names "Radio Pictures" and, for a short time after the 1931 merger, "RKO Pathé". Cimarron (1931), produced by LeBaron himself, would become the only RKO production to win the Academy Award for Best Picture; nonetheless, having cost a profligate $1.4 million to make, it was a money-loser on original domestic release.[23][d] The most popular RKO star of this pre-Code era was Irene Dunne, who made her debut as the lead in the 1930 musical Leathernecking and was a headliner at the studio for the entire decade.[24] Other major performers included Joel McCrea, Ricardo Cortez, Dolores del Río, and Mary Astor. Richard Dix, Oscar-nominated for his lead performance in Cimarron, would serve as RKO's standby B-movie star until the early 1940s.[25] The comedy team of Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey, often wrangling over ingenue Dorothy Lee, was a bankable mainstay for years.[26] Constance Bennett, Ann Harding, and Helen Twelvetrees came over with Pathé.[27] The Pathé acquisition, though a defensible investment in the long term for its physical facilities, was yet another major expense borne by the fledgling RKO, particularly as Pathé's stock price had been artificially inflated by some prepurchase finagling.[28] After little more than a year of semiautonomous operation within RKO, Pathé was dissolved as a feature production unit.[29]

Success under Selznick

King Kong (1933), one of Hollywood's great spectacles

Exceptions like Cimarron and Rio Rita aside, RKO's product was largely regarded as mediocre, so in October 1931 Sarnoff hired twenty-nine-year-old David O. Selznick to replace LeBaron as production chief.[30] In addition to implementing rigorous cost-control measures, Selznick championed the unit production system, which gave the producers of individual movies much greater independence than they had under the prevailing central producer system. "Under the factory system of production you rob the director of his individualism", said Selznick, "and this being a creative industry that is harmful to the quality of the product made."[31] Instituting unit production, he predicted, would also result in cost savings of 30–40 percent.[31] To make films under the new system, Selznick recruited prize behind-the-camera personnel, such as director George Cukor and producer/director Merian C. Cooper, and gave producer Pandro S. Berman, aged twenty-six, increasingly important projects.[32] Selznick discovered and signed a young actress who would quickly be counted as one of the studio's big stars, Katharine Hepburn. John Barrymore was also enlisted for a few memorable performances.[33] From September 1932 on, print advertising for the company's features displayed the revised name "RKO Radio Pictures"; the Pathé name was used only for newsreels and documentaries.[e] That year, the New York City–based corporate headquarters moved into the new RKO Building, an Art Deco skyscraper that was one of the first Rockefeller Center structures to open.[34]

Selznick spent a mere fifteen months as RKO production chief, resigning over a dispute with new corporate president Merlin Aylesworth concerning creative control.[35] One of his last acts at RKO was to approve a screen test for a thirty-three-year-old, balding Broadway song-and-dance man named Fred Astaire.[36] In a memo, Selznick wrote, "I feel, in spite of his enormous ears and bad chin line, that his charm is ... tremendous".[37] Selznick's tenure was widely considered masterful: In 1931, before he arrived, the studio had produced forty-two features for $16 million in total budgets. In 1932, under Selznick, forty-one features were made for $10.2 million, with clear improvement in quality and popularity.[38] He backed several major successes, including A Bill of Divorcement (1932), with Cukor directing Hepburn's debut, and the monumental King Kong (1933)—largely Merian Cooper's brainchild, brought to life by the astonishing special effects work of Willis O'Brien.[39] Still, the shaky finances and excesses that marked the company's pre-Selznick days had not left RKO in shape to withstand the Depression; in early 1933, the studio sank into receivership, from which it did not emerge until 1940.[40]

Cooper at the helm

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the only performers ever to make the annual list of top box office stars while with RKO.[41] Top Hat (1935) was the third of the eight films in which they costarred between 1934 and 1939.

Cooper took over as production head after Selznick's departure and oversaw two hits starring Hepburn: Morning Glory (1933), for which she won her first Oscar, and Little Women (1933), director Cukor's second collaboration with the actress.[42] Among the studio's in-house productions, the latter was the biggest box-office success of the decade.[43] Ginger Rogers had already made several minor films for RKO when Cooper signed her to a seven-year contract and cast her in the big-budget musical Flying Down to Rio (1933).[44] Rogers was paired with Fred Astaire, making his movie debut. Billed fourth and fifth respectively, the picture turned them into stars.[45] Hermes Pan, assistant to the film's dance director, would become one of Hollywood's leading choreographers through his subsequent work with Astaire.[46][47]

Along with Columbia Pictures, RKO became one of the primary homes of the screwball comedy. As film historian James Harvey describes, compared to their richer competition, the two studios were "more receptive to experiment, more tolerant of chaos on the set. It was at these two lesser 'majors'...that nearly all the preeminent screwball directors did their important films—[Howard] Hawks and [Gregory] La Cava and [Leo] McCarey and [George] Stevens."[48] The relatively unheralded William A. Seiter directed the studio's first significant contribution to the genre, The Richest Girl in the World (1934).[49] The drama Of Human Bondage (1934), directed by John Cromwell, was Bette Davis's first great success.[50] Stevens's Alice Adams and director John Ford's The Informer were each nominated for the 1935 Best Picture Oscar—the Best Director statuette won by Ford was the only one ever given for an RKO production.[51] The Informer's star, Victor McLaglen, also took home an Academy Award; he would appear in a dozen movies for the studio over a span of two decades.[52]

Lacking the financial resources of industry leaders MGM, Paramount, and Fox, RKO turned out many pictures during the era that made up for it with high style in an Art Deco mode, exemplified by such Astaire–Rogers musicals as The Gay Divorcee (1934), their first pairing as leads, and Top Hat (1935).[53] One of the figures most responsible for that style was another Selznick recruit: Van Nest Polglase, chief of RKO's highly regarded design department for almost a decade.[54][55] Film historian James Naremore has described RKO as "chiefly a designer's studio. It never had a stable of important actors, writers, or directors, but ... it was rich in artists and special-effects technicians. As a result, its most distinctive pictures contained a strong element of fantasy—not so much the fantasy of horror, which during the thirties was the province of Universal, but the fantasy of the marvelous and adventurous."[56]

As a group, the studio's craft divisions were among the strongest in the industry.[54][57] Costumer Walter Plunkett, who worked with the company from the close of the FBO era through the end of 1939, was known as the top period wardrobist in the business.[58] Sidney Saunders, innovative head of the studio's paint department, was responsible for significant progress in rear projection quality.[59] On June 13, 1935, RKO premiered the first feature film shot entirely in advanced three-strip Technicolor, Becky Sharp. The movie was coproduced with Pioneer Pictures, founded by Cooper—who departed RKO after two years helming production—and John Hay "Jock" Whitney, who brought in his cousin Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney; Cooper had successfully encouraged the Whitneys to purchase a major share of the Technicolor business as well.[60] Although judged by critics a failure as drama, Becky Sharp was widely lauded for its visual brilliance and technical expertise.[61] RKO also employed some of the industry's leading artists and craftsmen whose work was never seen. From the studio's earliest days through late 1935, Max Steiner, regarded by many historians as the most influential composer of the early years of sound cinema, made music for over 100 RKO films.[47][62] Murray Spivak, head of the studio's audio special effects department, made important advances in the use of rerecording technology first heard in King Kong.[63]

Briskin and Berman

In October 1935 the ownership team expanded, with financier Floyd Odlum leading a syndicate that bought 50 percent of RCA's stake in the company; the Rockefeller brothers, also major stockholders, increasingly became involved in the business.[64] While RKO kept missing the mark in building Hepburn's career, major stars Cary Grant and Barbara Stanwyck joined the studio's roster—though Stanwyck would have little success during her few years there. Grant was a trendsetter, one of the first leading men of the sound era to work extensively as a freelancer, under nonexclusive studio deals, while his star was still on the rise.[65][f] Ann Sothern starred in seven RKO films between 1935 and 1937, paired five times with Gene Raymond.[66]

Katharine Hepburn's last film for RKO was a bomb. Today, Bringing Up Baby (1938) is regarded as one of the finest screwball comedies.[67]

Soon after the appointment of a new production chief, Samuel Briskin, in late 1935, RKO entered into an important distribution deal with animator Walt Disney (Van Beuren consequently folded its cartoon operations).[68] From 1936 to 1954, RKO distributed features and shorts from Walt Disney, and the studio he founded, before it, itself, became a distributor, with the creation of the Buena Vista Pictures Distribution division of Walt Disney Productions. In its initial release, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Disney's first feature, was the highest-grossing movie in the period between The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Gone with the Wind (1939).[69]

Following the change in print branding a few years earlier, the opening and closing logos on RKO movies, other than the Pathé nonfiction line, were changed from "Radio Pictures" to "RKO Radio Pictures" in 1936. In February 1937, Selznick, now a leading independent producer, took over RKO's Culver City studio and Forty Acres, as the backlot was known, under a long-term lease. Gone with the Wind, his coproduction with MGM, was largely shot there.[70][g] In addition to its central Hollywood studio, RKO production now revolved around its Encino ranch. While the Disney association was beneficial, RKO's own product was widely seen as declining in quality and Briskin was gone by the end of the year.[71][72]

Pandro Berman—who had filled in on three previous occasions—accepted the position of production chief on a noninterim basis. As it turned out, he would leave the job before the decade's turn, but his brief tenure resulted in some of the most notable films in studio history, including Gunga Din, with Grant and McLaglen; Love Affair, starring Dunne and Charles Boyer; and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (all 1939).[73] Charles Laughton, who gave a now fabled performance as Quasimodo in the latter, returned periodically to the studio, headlining six more RKO features.[74] For Maureen O'Hara, who made her American screen debut in the film, it was the first of ten pictures she would make for RKO through 1952.[75] After costarring with Ginger Rogers for the eighth time in The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939), Fred Astaire departed the studio.[76]

The studio's B Western star of the period was George O'Brien, who made eighteen RKO pictures, sixteen between 1938 and 1940. The Saint in New York (1938) successfully launched a B detective series featuring the character Simon Templar that would run through 1943.[77] The Wheeler and Woolsey comedy series ended in 1937 when Woolsey became ill (he died the following year). RKO filled the void by releasing independently produced features such as the Dr. Christian series and the Laurel and Hardy comedy The Flying Deuces (1939).[78] The studio soon had its own new B comedy star in Lupe Vélez: The Girl from Mexico (1939) was followed by seven frantic installments of the Mexican Spitfire series, all featuring Leon Errol, between 1940 and 1943.[77] The studio's technical departments maintained their reputation as industry leaders; Vernon Walker's special effects unit became famous for its sophisticated use of the optical printer and lifelike matte work, an art that would reach its apex with 1941's Citizen Kane.[79]

Kane and Schaefer's troubles

Orson Welles in the title role of Citizen Kane (1941), often cited as the greatest film of all time.[80]

Pan Berman had received his first screen credit in 1925 as a nineteen-year-old assistant director on FBO's Midnight Molly.[81] He departed RKO in December 1939 after policy clashes with studio president George J. Schaefer, handpicked the previous year by the Rockefellers and backed by Sarnoff.[82] With Berman gone, Schaefer became in effect production chief, though other men—including the former head of the industry censorship board, Joseph I. Breen—nominally filled the role.[83] Schaefer, announcing his philosophy with a new studio slogan, "Quality Pictures at a Premium Price", was keen on signing up independent producers whose films RKO would distribute.[84] In 1941, the studio landed one of the most prestigious independents in Hollywood when it arranged to handle Samuel Goldwyn's productions. The first two Goldwyn pictures released by the studio were highly successful: The Little Foxes, directed by William Wyler and starring Bette Davis, garnered four Oscar nominations,[85] while the Howard Hawks–directed Ball of Fire at last brought Barbara Stanwyck a hit under the RKO banner. However, Schaefer agreed to terms so favorable to Goldwyn that it was next to impossible for the studio to make money off his films.[86] David O. Selznick loaned out his leading contracted director for two RKO pictures in 1941: Alfred Hitchcock's Mr. and Mrs. Smith was a modest success and Suspicion a more substantial one, with an Oscar-winning turn by Joan Fontaine.[h]

That May, having granted twenty-five-year-old star and director Orson Welles virtually complete creative control over the film, RKO released Citizen Kane.[ i] While it opened to strong reviews and would go on to be hailed as one of the greatest movies ever made, it lost money at the time and brought down the wrath of the Hearst newspaper chain on RKO.[87] The next year saw the commercial failure of Welles's The Magnificent Ambersons—like Kane, critically lauded and overbudget—and the expensive embarrassment of his aborted documentary It's All True.[88] The three Welles productions combined to drain $2 million from the RKO coffers, major money for a corporation that had reported an overall deficit of $1 million in 1940 and a nominal profit of a bit more than $500,000 in 1941.[j] Many of RKO's other artistically ambitious pictures were also dying at the box office and it was losing its last exclusive deal with a major star as well. Rogers, after winning an Oscar in 1941 for her performance in the previous year's Kitty Foyle, held out for a freelance contract like Grant's; after 1943, she would appear in just one more RKO production, thirteen years later.[89] On June 17, 1942, Schaefer tendered his resignation.[90] He departed a weakened and troubled studio, but RKO was about to turn the corner. Propelled by the box-office boom of World War II and guided by new management, RKO would make a strong comeback over the next half-decade.[91]

Rebound under Koerner

By the end of June 1942, Floyd Odlum had taken over a controlling interest in the company via his Atlas Corporation, edging aside the Rockefellers and Sarnoff. Charles Koerner, former head of the RKO theater chain and allied with Odlum, had assumed the title of production chief some time prior to Schaefer's departure.[92] With Schaefer gone, Koerner could actually do the job. Announcing a new corporate motto, "Showmanship in Place of Genius: A New Deal at RKO", a snipe at Schaefer's artistic ambitions in general and his sponsorship of Welles in particular,[93] Koerner brought the studio much-needed stability until his death in February 1946.[94] The change in RKO's fortunes was virtually immediate: corporate profits rose from $736,241 in 1942 (the theatrical division compensating for the studio's $2.34 million deficit) to $6.96 million the following year.[95] The Rockefellers sold off their stock and, early in 1943, RCA dispensed with the last of its holdings in the company as well, cutting David Sarnoff's ties to the studio that was largely his conception.[96] In June 1944, RKO created a television production subsidiary, RKO Television Corporation, to provide content for the new medium. RKO became the first major studio to produce for television with Talk Fast, Mister, a one-hour drama filmed at RKO-Pathé studios in New York and broadcast by the DuMont network's New York station, WABD, on December 18, 1944. In collaboration with Mexican businessman Emilio Azcárraga Vidaurreta, RKO established Estudios Churubusco in Mexico City in 1945.[97]

Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in Notorious (1946). RKO made over $1 million profit on the coproduction with David O. Selznick's Vanguard Films.[98]

With RKO on increasingly secure ground, Koerner sought to increase its output of handsomely budgeted, star-driven features. However, the studio's only remaining major stars under anything like extended contracts were Grant, whose services were shared with Columbia Pictures, and O'Hara, shared with Twentieth Century-Fox.[99][100] Lacking in-house stars, Koerner and his successors under Odlum arranged with the other studios to loan out their biggest names or signed one of the growing number of freelance performers to short-term, "pay or play" deals. Thus RKO pictures of the mid- and late forties offered Bing Crosby, Henry Fonda, and others who were out of the studio's price range for extended contracts.[101] John Wayne appeared in 1943's A Lady Takes a Chance while on loan from Republic Pictures; he was soon working regularly with RKO, making nine more movies for the studio.[102] Gary Cooper appeared in RKO releases produced by Goldwyn and, later, the startup International Pictures,[103] and Claudette Colbert starred in a number of RKO coproductions.[104] Ingrid Bergman, on loan out from Selznick, starred opposite Bing Crosby in The Bells of St. Mary's (1945), a coproduction with director Leo McCarey. The top box-office film of the year, it turned a $3.7 million profit for RKO, the most in the company's history.[105] Bergman returned in the coproductions Notorious (1946) and Stromboli (1950), and in the independently produced Joan of Arc (1948).[106] Freelancing Randolph Scott appeared in one major RKO release annually from 1943 through 1948.[107]

In similar fashion, many leading directors made one or more films for RKO during this era, including Alfred Hitchcock once more, with Notorious, and Jean Renoir, with This Land Is Mine (1943), reuniting Laughton and O'Hara, and The Woman on the Beach (1947).[108] RKO and Orson Welles had an arm's-length reunion via The Stranger (1946), an independent production he starred in as well as directed. Welles would subsequently call it his worst film, but it was the only one he ever made that turned a profit in its first run.[109] In December 1946, the studio released Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life; while it would ultimately be recognized as one of the greatest films of Hollywood's Golden Age, at the time it lost more than half a million dollars for RKO.[110] John Ford's The Fugitive (1947) and Fort Apache (1948), which appeared right before studio ownership changed hands again, were followed by She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and Wagon Master (1950); all four were coproductions between RKO and Argosy, the company run by Ford and RKO alumnus Merian C. Cooper.[111] Of the directors under long-term contract to RKO in the 1940s, the best known was Edward Dmytryk, who first came to notice with the remarkably profitable Hitler's Children (1943). Shot on a $205,000 budget, placing it in the bottom quartile of Big Five studio productions, it was one of the ten biggest Hollywood hits of the year.[112][k] Another low-cost war-themed film directed by Dmytryk, Behind the Rising Sun, released a few months later, was similarly profitable.[43][113]

Focus on B movies

Film art at low budget: I Walked with a Zombie (1943), produced by Val Lewton and directed by Jacques Tourneur

Much more than the other Big Five studios, RKO relied on B pictures to fill up its schedule. Of the thirty-one features released by RKO in 1944, for instance, ten were budgeted below $200,000, twelve were in the $200,000 to $500,000 range, and only nine cost more. In contrast, a clear majority of the features put out by the other top four studios were budgeted at over half a million dollars.[114] A focus on B pictures limited the studio's financial risk; while it also limited the potential for reward (Dmytryk's extraordinary coups aside), RKO had a history of making better profits with its run-of-the-mill and low-cost product than with its A movies.[6] The studio's low-budget films offered training opportunities for new directors, as well, among them Mark Robson, Robert Wise, and Anthony Mann.[115][116] Robson and Wise received their first directing assignments with producer Val Lewton, whose specialized B horror unit also included the more experienced director Jacques Tourneur. The Lewton unit's moody, atmospheric work—represented by films such as Cat People (1942), I Walked with a Zombie (1943), and The Body Snatcher (1945)—is now highly regarded.[115][117] Richard Dix concluded his lengthy RKO career with the 1943 Lewton production The Ghost Ship.[118] Tim Holt was RKO's cowboy star of the era, appearing in forty-six B Westerns and more than fifty movies altogether for the studio.[119] In 1940, Chester Lauck and Norris Goff brought their famous comic characters Lum and Abner from radio to RKO for a six-film run.[120] The Falcon detective series began in 1941; the Saint and the Falcon were so similar that Saint creator Leslie Charteris sued RKO.[121] The Falcon was first played by George Sanders, who had appeared five times as the Saint. He bowed out after four Falcon films and was replaced by his brother, Tom Conway. Conway had a nine-film run in the part before the series ended in 1946. Johnny Weissmuller starred in six Tarzan pictures for RKO between 1943 and 1948 before being replaced by Lex Barker.[66]

Film noir, to which lower budgets lent themselves, became something of a house style at the studio, indeed, the RKO B Stranger on the Third Floor (1940) is widely seen as initiating noir's classic period.[122] Its cinematographer, Nicholas Musuraca, who began at FBO in the 1920s and stayed with RKO through 1954, is a central figure in creating the look of classic noir.[123] Design chief Albert D'Agostino—another long-termer, who succeeded Van Nest Polglase in 1941—and art director Walter Keller, along with others in the department, such as art directors Carroll Clark and Jack Okey and set decorator Darrell Silvera, are similarly credited.[124] The studio's 1940s list of contract players was filled with noir regulars: Robert Mitchum (who graduated to major star status) and Robert Ryan each made no fewer than ten film noirs for RKO.[125] Gloria Grahame, Jane Greer, and Lawrence Tierney were also notable studio players in the field.[126] Freelancer George Raft starred in two noir hits: Johnny Angel (1945) and Nocturne (1946).[127] Tourneur, Musuraca, Mitchum, and Greer, along with D'Agostino's design group, joined to make the A-budgeted Out of the Past (1947), now considered one of the greatest of all film noirs.[128] Nicholas Ray began his directing career with the noir They Live by Night (1948), the first of a number of well-received films he made for RKO.[129]

HUAC and Howard Hughes

Crossfire (1947) was a hit, but no American studio would hire blacklisted director Edward Dmytryk again until he named names to HUAC in 1951.[130] Producer Adrian Scott wouldn't get another screen credit for two decades. He died before he could see it.[131]

RKO, and the movie industry as a whole, had its most profitable year ever in 1946. A Goldwyn production released by RKO, The Best Years of Our Lives, was the most successful Hollywood film of the decade and won that year's Academy Award for Best Picture.[132] But the legal status of the industry's reigning business model was increasingly being called into doubt: the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Bigelow v. RKO that the company was liable for damages under antitrust statutes for having denied an independent movie house access to first run films—a common practice among all of the Big Five.[133] With profits at a high point, Floyd Odlum cashed in by selling off about 40 percent of his shares in the company to a group of investment firms.[134] After Koerner's death, Radio-Keith-Orpheum president N. Peter Rathvon and RKO Radio Pictures president Ned Depinet had exchanged positions, with Depinet moving to the corporate offices in New York and Rathvon relocating to Hollywood and doubling as production chief while a permanent replacement was sought for Koerner. On the first day of 1947, producer and Oscar-winning screenwriter Dore Schary, who had been working at the studio on loan from Selznick, took over the role.[135]

RKO appeared in good shape to build on its recent successes, but the year brought a number of unpleasant harbingers for all of Hollywood. The British government imposed a 75 percent tax on films produced abroad; along with similarly confiscatory taxes and quota laws enacted by other countries, this led to a sharp decline in foreign revenues.[136][137] The postwar attendance boom peaked sooner than expected and television emerged as a competitor for audience interest. Across the board, profits fell—a 27 percent drop for the Hollywood studios from 1946 to 1947.[138] The phenomenon that would become known as McCarthyism was building strength, and in October, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) began hearings into Communism in the motion picture industry. Two of RKO's top talents, Dmytryk and producer Adrian Scott, refused to cooperate. As a consequence, they were fired by RKO per the terms of the Waldorf Statement, the major studios' pledge to "eliminate any subversives". Scott, Dmytryk, and eight others who also defied HUAC—dubbed the Hollywood Ten—were blacklisted across the industry.[139] Ironically, the studio's major success of the year was Crossfire, a Scott–Dmytryk film.[140] Odlum concluded it was time to exit the film business, and he put his remaining RKO shares—approximately 25 percent of the outstanding stock—on the market.[141] Before the turn of the year, the Pathé-branded newsreel was sold to Warner Bros.[137] For her performance in The Farmer's Daughter (1947), a coproduction with Selznick's Vanguard Films, Loretta Young won the Best Actress Oscar the following March. It would turn out to be the last major Academy Award for an RKO picture.[142]

In May 1948, eccentric aviation tycoon and occasional movie producer Howard Hughes gained control of the company, beating out British film magnate J. Arthur Rank as the buyer of Odlum's interest.[143] Hughes bought Atlas Corporation's 929,000 shares for $8,825,000. Hughes promptly fired 700 employees, and RKO production, which had averaged 30 pictures per year, dwindled to 9 the first year Hughes took over.[144] During Hughes's tenure, RKO suffered its worst years since the early 1930s, as his capricious management style took a heavy toll. Production chief Schary quit almost immediately due to his new boss's interference and Rathvon soon followed.[145] Within weeks of taking over, Hughes had dismissed three-fourths of the work force; production was virtually shut down for six months as the conservative Hughes shelved or canceled several of the "message pictures" that Schary had backed. Once shooting picked up again, Hughes quickly became notorious for meddling in minute production matters, particularly the presentation of actresses he favored.[146] All of the Big Five saw their profits dwindle in 1948—from Fox, down 11 percent, to Loew's/MGM, down 62 percent—but at RKO they virtually vanished: from $5.1 million in 1947 to $0.5 million, a drop of 90 percent.[147] The production-distribution end of the RKO business, now deep in the red, would never make a profit again.[148]

Offscreen, Robert Mitchum's arrest and conviction for marijuana possession—he would serve two months in jail—was widely assumed to mean career death for RKO's most promising young star, but Hughes surprised the industry by announcing that his contract was not endangered.[149] Of much broader significance, Hughes decided to get the jump on his Big Five competitors by being the first to settle the federal government's antitrust suit against the major studios, which had won a crucial Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. Under the consent decree he signed, Hughes agreed to dissolve the old parent company, Radio-Keith-Orpheum Corp., and split RKO's production-distribution business and its exhibition chain into two entirely separate corporations—RKO Pictures Corp. and RKO Theatres Corp.—with the obligation to promptly sell off one or the other. While Hughes delayed the divorcement procedure until December 1950 and didn't actually sell his stock in the theater company for another three years, his decision to acquiesce was one of the crucial steps in the collapse of classical Hollywood's studio system.[150]

Turmoil under Hughes

Robert Mitchum, RKO's most prolific lead of the late 1940s and early 1950s,[99] costarred in Macao (1952) with Jane Russell, who was personally contracted to Howard Hughes.[151] Director Josef von Sternberg's work was combined with scenes shot by Nicholas Ray and Mel Ferrer.[152]

While Hughes's time at RKO was marked by dwindling production and a slew of expensive flops, the studio continued to turn out some well-received films under production chiefs Sid Rogell and Sam Bischoff, though both became fed up with Hughes's meddling and quit after less than two years. (Bischoff would be the last man to hold the job under Hughes.)[153] There were B noirs such as The Window (1949), which turned into a hit,[154] and The Set-Up (1949), directed by Robert Wise and starring Robert Ryan, which won the Critic's Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.[155] The Thing from Another World (1951), a science-fiction drama coproduced with Howard Hawks's Winchester Pictures, is seen as a classic of the genre.[156] In 1952, RKO put out two films directed by Fritz Lang, Rancho Notorious and Clash by Night. The latter was a project of the renowned Jerry Wald–Norman Krasna production team, lured by Hughes from Warner Bros. with great fanfare in August 1950.[157]

The company also began a close working relationship with Ida Lupino. She starred in two suspense films with Robert Ryan—Nicholas Ray's On Dangerous Ground (1952, though shooting had been completed two years earlier) and Beware, My Lovely (1952), a coproduction between RKO and Lupino's company, The Filmakers.[158] Of more historic note, Lupino was Hollywood's only female director during the period; of the five pictures The Filmakers made with RKO, Lupino directed three, including her now celebrated The Hitch-Hiker (1953).[159] Exposing many moviegoers to Asian cinema for the first time, RKO distributed Akira Kurosawa's epochal Rashomon in the United States, sixteen months after its original 1950 Japanese release.[160] The only smash hits released by RKO in the 1950s came out during this period, but neither was an in-house production: Goldwyn's Hans Christian Andersen (1952) was followed by Disney's Peter Pan (1953).[43][161]

In early 1952, Hughes fought off a lawsuit by screenwriter Paul Jarrico, who had been caught up in the latest round of HUAC hearings—Hughes had fired him and removed his name from the credits of The Las Vegas Story, then a recently released film noir starring one of his leading ladies at the studio, Jane Russell. The studio owner subsequently ordered 100 RKO employees on "leave of absence" while he established a "security office" to oversee an ideological vetting system. "We are going to screen everyone in a creative or executive capacity", he declared. "The work of Communist sympathizers will not be used."[162] As more credits were expunged, some in the industry began to question whether Hughes's hunt for subversives served primarily as a convenient rationale for further curtailing production and trimming expenses.[163]

In September, Hughes and his corporate president, Ned E. Depinet, sold their RKO studio stock to a Chicago-based syndicate with no experience in the movie business; the syndicate's chaotic reign lasted until February 1953, when the stock and control were reacquired by Hughes.[164] The studio's net loss in 1952 was over $10 million, and shooting had taken place for just a single in-house production over the last five months of the year.[165] During the turmoil, Samuel Goldwyn ended his 11-year-long distribution deal with RKO. Wald and Krasna escaped their contracts and the studio as well. The deal that brought the team to RKO had called for them to produce sixty features over five years; in just shy of half that time, they succeeded in making four.[166] The Encino ranch shut down permanently in 1953 and the property was sold off.[167] In November, Hughes finally fulfilled his obligations under the 1948 consent decree, divesting RKO Theatres; Albert A. List purchased the controlling interest in the business and renamed it List Industries.[168] Hughes soon found himself the target of no fewer than five separate lawsuits filed by minority shareholders in RKO, accusing him of malfeasance in his dealings with the Chicago group and a wide array of acts of mismanagement. "RKO's contract list is down to three actors and 127 lawyers", quipped Dick Powell.[169]

Looking to forestall the impending legal imbroglio, in early 1954 Hughes offered to buy out all of RKO's other stockholders.

Convinced that the studio was sinking, and after a dispute with Hughes over the distribution of his nature documentary series True-Life Adventures,[170] Walt Disney ended his arrangement with RKO and created his own distribution firm, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc., as a wholly owned subsidiary.[171]

By the end of the year, at a cost of $23.5 million, Hughes had gained near-total control of RKO Pictures, becoming the first virtual (but not actual) sole owner of a studio since Hollywood's pioneer days. However, Floyd Odlum reemerged to block Hughes from acquiring the 95 percent ownership of RKO stock he needed to write off the company's losses against his earnings elsewhere. Hughes had reneged on his promise to give Odlum first option on buying the RKO theater chain when he divested it, and was now paying the price.[172] With negotiations between the two at a stalemate, in July 1955, Hughes turned around and sold RKO Pictures to the General Tire and Rubber Company for $25 million.[173] For Hughes, this was the effective end of a quarter-century's involvement in the movie business. Historian Betty Lasky describes Hughes's relationship with RKO as a "systematic seven-year rape."[174]

General Tire and studio's demise

Jet Pilot, a Hughes pet production launched in 1949. Shooting wrapped in May 1951, but it was not released until 1957 due to his interminable tinkering. RKO was by then out of the distribution business. The movie was released by Universal-International.[175]

In taking control of the studio, General Tire restored RKO's links to broadcasting. General Tire had bought the Yankee Network, a New England regional radio network, in 1943.[176] In 1950, it purchased the West Coast regional Don Lee Broadcasting System,[177] and two years later, the Bamberger Broadcasting Service, owner of the WOR TV and radio stations in New York City.[178] The latter acquisition gave General Tire majority control of the Mutual Broadcasting System, one of America's leading radio networks.[179] General Tire then merged its broadcasting interests into a new division, General Teleradio.[180]

Thomas O'Neil, son of General Tire's founder William O'Neil and chairman of the broadcasting group, saw that the company's new television stations, indeed all TV outlets, were in need of programming. With the purchase of RKO, the studio's library was his, and rights to the 742 films to which RKO retained clear title were quickly put up for sale. C&C Television Corp., a subsidiary of beverage maker Cantrell & Cochrane, won the bidding in December 1955. It was soon offering the films to independent stations in a package called "MovieTime USA".[181][182] RKO Teleradio Pictures—the new company created from the merger of General Teleradio and the RKO studio—retained the broadcast rights for the cities where it owned TV stations. By 1956, RKO's classic movies were playing widely on television, allowing many to see such films as Citizen Kane for the first time. The $15.2 million RKO made on the deal convinced the other major studios that their libraries held profit potential—a turning point in the way Hollywood did business.[181][183]

The new owners of RKO made an initial effort to revive the studio, hiring veteran producer William Dozier to head production.[184][185] In the first half of 1956, the production facilities were as busy as they had been in a half-decade.[184][186] RKO Teleradio Pictures released Fritz Lang's final two American films, While the City Sleeps and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (both 1956), but years of mismanagement had driven away many directors, producers, and stars.[123] The studio was also saddled with the last of the inflated B movies such as Pearl of the South Pacific (1955) and The Conqueror (1956) that enchanted Hughes.[187] The latter, starring John Wayne, was the biggest hit produced at the studio during the decade, but its $4.5 million in North American rentals did not come close to covering its $6 million cost.[43]

On January 22, 1957, RKO announced that it was closing its domestic distribution exchanges from February 1 with distribution to be taken over by Universal-International but it planned to retain foreign distribution and move production to its Pathe lot in Culver City.[188] After a year and a half without a notable success, General Tire shut down production at RKO for good at the end of January 1957. The Hollywood and Culver City facilities were sold later that year for $6.15 million to Desilu Productions, owned by Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, who had been an RKO contract player from 1935 to 1942.[189] Desilu would be acquired by Gulf and Western Industries in 1967 and merged into G+W's other production company, Paramount Pictures; the former RKO Hollywood studio became home to Paramount Television (now CBS Television Studios), which it remains to this day. The renovated Culver City studio is now owned and operated as an independent production facility.[190] Forty Acres, the Culver City backlot, was razed in the mid-1970s.[191] List Industries, the former RKO Theatres Corp., was acquired by Glen Alden Corp. in 1959. After Glen Alden's 1967 acquisition of the Stanley Warner theater group, the two chains were merged into RKO–Stanley Warner Theatres. Cinerama purchased the exhibition circuit from Glen Alden in 1971.[192]

The final RKO film, Verboten!, a coproduction with director Samuel Fuller's Globe Enterprises, was released by Columbia Pictures in March 1959.[193] That same year, "Pictures" was stripped from the corporate identity; the holding company for General Tire's broadcasting operation and the few remaining motion picture assets was renamed RKO General.[194][l] In the words of scholar Richard B. Jewell, "The supreme irony of RKO's existence is that the studio earned a position of lasting importance in cinema history largely because of its extraordinarily unstable history. Since it was the weakling of Hollywood's 'majors,' RKO welcomed a diverse group of individualistic creators and provided them...with an extraordinary degree of freedom to express their artistic idiosyncrasies.... [I]t never became predictable and it never became a factory."[195] By July 5, 1957, RKO Japan, Ltd. was sold to Walt Disney Productions and British Commonwealth Film Corporation. In allocating the foreign film licenses to RKO Japan, Disney would use 5 and Commonwealth 8.[196]

RKO General

Main article: RKO General

One of North America's major radio and television broadcasters from the 1950s through the late 1980s, RKO General traces its roots to the 1943 purchase of the Yankee Network by General Tire. In 1952, the company united its newly expanded broadcasting interests into a division dubbed General Teleradio. With the tire manufacturer's acquisition of the RKO film studio in 1955, its media businesses were brought together under the rubric of RKO Teleradio Pictures. In 1959, following the breakup of the movie studio, the media division was given the name it would operate under for the next three decades, RKO General. In addition to its broadcasting activities, RKO General was also the holding company for many of General Tire's (and, after its parent company's reorganization, GenCorp's) other noncore businesses, including soft-drink bottling, hotel enterprises, and, for seventeen years, the original Frontier Airlines.[197]

The RKO General radio lineup included some of the highest rated, most influential popular music stations in North America. In May 1965, KHJ (AM) in Los Angeles introduced the Boss Radio variation of the top 40 format. The restrictive programming style was soon adopted by many of RKO's other stations and imitated by non-RKO broadcasters around the country.[198] RKO's FM station in New York pioneered numerous formats under a variety of call letters, including WOR and WXLO ("99X"); in 1983, as WRKS ("98.7 Kiss FM"), it became one of the first major stations to regularly program rap music.[199] In 1979, RKO General created the RKO Radio Network, reportedly the first broadcasting web linked via satellite.[200]

The company's television stations, for the most part non–network affiliated, were known for showing classic films (both RKO productions and many others) under the banner of Million Dollar Movie, launched by New York's WOR-TV in 1954.[201] In June 1962, RKO General and Zenith Electronics initiated what became the first extended venture into subscription television service: through early 1969, Hartford, Connecticut's WHCT-TV aired movies, sports, classical and pop music concerts, and other live performances without commercials, generating income from descrambler installation and weekly rental fees as well as individual program charges.[202] However, RKO General's most notable legacy is what may be the longest licensing dispute in television history. It began in 1965, when General Tire was accused of obliging vendors to buy advertising with one of its stations if they wanted to keep their contracts. More than two decades' worth of legal actions ensued, eventually forcing GenCorp (the parent company since 1983 of both General Tire and RKO General) to sell off its broadcast holdings under FCC pressure. RKO General exited the media business permanently in 1991.[197][203]

Later incarnations

Beginning with 1981's Carbon Copy, RKO General became involved in the coproduction of a number of feature films and TV projects through a subsidiary created three years earlier, RKO Pictures Inc.[204] In collaboration with Universal Studios, RKO put out five films over the next three years. Although the studio frequently worked with major names—including Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Jack Nicholson in The Border, and Nastassja Kinski in Cat People (all 1982)—it met with little success. Starting with the Meryl Streep vehicle Plenty (1985), RKO took on more projects as sole studio backer. Films such as the erotic thriller Half Moon Street (1986) and the Vietnam War drama Hamburger Hill (1987) followed, but production ended as GenCorp underwent a massive reorganization following an attempted hostile takeover.[197] With RKO General dismantling its broadcast business, RKO Pictures Inc., along with the original RKO studio's trademark, remake rights, and other remaining assets, was spun off and put up for sale. After a bid by RKO Pictures' own management team failed, the managers made a deal with Wesray Capital Corporation—under the control of former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury William E. Simon and Ray Chambers—to buy RKO through Entertainment Acquisition Co., a newly created purchasing entity.[205] The sale was completed in late 1987, and Wesray linked RKO with its Six Flags amusement parks to form RKO/Six Flags Entertainment Inc.[206]

RKO Pictures LLC
Limited liability company (LLC)
Industry Motion pictures
Founded 1989; 30 years ago
Headquarters L.A. Office: 9200 W. Sunset Blvd. Suite 600, West Hollywood, CA 90069
N.Y. Office: 750 Lexington Ave. Suite 2200, New York, NY 10022
Key people
Ted Hartley (Chairman and CEO)
Dina Merrill (Vice Chairman)
Vanessa Coifman (Executive Vice President of Production and Development)
Divisions Roseblood Movie Co.
RKO Distribution
Website Edit this on Wikidata

In 1989, RKO Pictures, which had produced no films while under Wesray control, was spun off yet again. Actress and Post Cereals heiress Dina Merrill and her husband, producer Ted Hartley, acquired a majority interest and merged the company with their Pavilion Communications. After a brief period as RKO/Pavilion, the business was reorganized as RKO Pictures LLC.[207][208][209] With the inaugural RKO production under Hartley and Merrill's ownership, False Identity (1990), the company also stepped into the distribution business. In 1992, it handled the well-regarded independent production Laws of Gravity, directed by Nick Gomez.[210] RKO's next significant production came in 1998 with Mighty Joe Young, a remake of 1949 RKO movie. The film was distributed by Disney's Buena Vista Pictures Distribution and released under the "Walt Disney Pictures" trademark.[211] In the early 2000s, the company was involved as a coproducer on TV movies and modestly budgeted features at the rate of about one annually. In 2003, RKO coproduced a Broadway stage version of the 1936 Astaire–Rogers vehicle Swing Time, under the title Never Gonna Dance.[212]

That same year, RKO Pictures entered into a legal battle with Wall Street Financial Associates (WSFA). Hartley and Merrill claimed that the owners of WSFA fraudulently induced them into signing an acquisition agreement by concealing their "cynical and rapacious" plans to purchase RKO, with the intention only of dismantling it. WSFA sought a preliminary injunction prohibiting RKO's majority owners from selling their interests in the company to any third parties.[213] The WSFA motion was denied in July 2003, freeing RKO to deal with another potential purchaser, In 2004, that planned sale fell through when apparently folded.[214] The company's minimal involvement in new film production continued to focus on its remake rights: Are We Done Yet?, based on Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948), was released in April 2007 to dismal reviews.[215] In 2009, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, a remake of a 1956 RKO film directed by Fritz Lang, fared even worse critically, receiving a 7% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[216] Two years before, RKO had announced the launching of a horror division, Roseblood Movie Company. By early 2010, Roseblood's mission had expanded, according to the RKO website, to encompass the "popular horror/thriller genre ... youth-oriented feature-length motion pictures that are edgy, sensuous, scary and commercial"[217] A stage version of Top Hat toured Great Britain in the second half of 2011.[218] The most recent RKO film coproductions are the well-received A Late Quartet (2012) and the 2015 flop Barely Lethal.
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Re: Neuschwanstein: A fairy tale darling's dark Nazi past

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Studio library

As copyright holder, RKO Pictures LLC is the owner of all the trademarks and logos connected with RKO Radio Pictures Inc., as well as the rights concerning stories, screenplays (including 800 to 900 unproduced scripts), remakes, sequels, and prequels connected with the RKO library.[219] Although RKO still holds the film library's copyright, the television, video, and theatrical distribution rights, however, are in other hands: The U.S. and Canadian TV—and consequently, video—rights to most of the RKO film library were sold at auction in 1971 after the holders, TransBeacon (a corporate descendant of C&C Television), went bankrupt. The auctioned rights were split between United Artists and Marian B. Inc. (MBI). In 1984, MBI created a subsidiary, Marian Pictures Inc. (MBP), to which it transferred its share of the RKO rights. Two years later GenCorp's subsidiaries, RKO General and RKO Pictures, repurchased the rights then controlled by MBP.[220]

In the meantime, United Artists had been acquired by MGM. In 1986, MGM/UA's considerable library, including its RKO rights, was bought by Turner Broadcasting System for its new Turner Entertainment division. When Turner announced plans to colorize ten of the RKO films, GenCorp resisted, claiming copyright infringement, leading to both sides filing lawsuits.[221] During RKO Pictures' brief Wesray episode, Turner acquired many of the distribution rights that had returned to RKO via MBP, as well as both the theatrical rights and the TV rights originally held back from C&C for the cities where RKO owned stations.[222] The new owners of RKO also allowed Turner to move forward with colorization of the library.[223] Early in 1989, Turner declared that no less than the historic Citizen Kane would be colorized; upon review of Welles's ironclad creative contract with RKO, however, that plan was abandoned.[224] In October 1996, Turner Broadcasting was merged into Time Warner (now WarnerMedia), which now controls distribution of the bulk of the RKO library in North America.[225]

Ownership of the major European TV and video distribution rights to RKO's library is divided on a virtual country-by-country basis: In the UK, many of the RKO rights are currently held by Universal Studios.[226] In 1981, RAI, the public broadcasting service, acquired the Italian rights to the RKO library, which it now shares with Silvio Berlusconi's Fininvest.[227] In France, the rights are held by Ariès.[228] The German rights were acquired in 1969 by KirchGruppe on behalf of its KirchMedia division, which went bankrupt in 2002.[229] EOS Entertainment's Beta Film purchased many of KirchMedia's rights in 2004, and the library is now distributed by Kineos, created in 2005 as a Beta Film–KirchMedia joint venture.[230]

The Disney pictures originally distributed by RKO are owned and fully controlled by The Walt Disney Company.[231] Rights to many other independent productions distributed by the studio, as well as some notable coproductions, are in new hands. Most Samuel Goldwyn films are owned by his estate and are administered by Warner Bros. in North America and Miramax internationally.[232] It's a Wonderful Life, coproduced by Frank Capra's Liberty Films,[233] and The Bells of St. Mary's, coproduced by Leo McCarey's Rainbow Productions,[234] are now owned by Viacom, through its indirect acquisition of Republic Pictures, the former National Telefilm Associates.[235] Notorious, a coproduction between RKO and David Selznick's Vanguard Films, is now owned by ABC (under Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)[236] while home video rights are currently controlled by The Criterion Collection.[237] The Stranger, from William Goetz's International Pictures, has been in the public domain since 1973.[238] Eighteen films produced by RKO itself in 1930–31, including Dixiana, were also allowed to fall into the public domain, as were several later in-house productions, including high-profile releases such as The Animal Kingdom, Bird of Paradise, Of Human Bondage, Love Affair, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and They Knew What They Wanted.[239] In the late 1950s, Hughes bought his beloved Jet Pilot and The Conqueror back from RKO Teleradio; in 1979, Universal acquired the rights to the latter.[240]


Classic closing ident of RKO Radio Pictures

Most of the films released by RKO Pictures between 1929 and 1957 have an opening ident displaying the studio's famous trademark, the spinning globe and radio tower, nicknamed the "Transmitter." It was inspired by a two-hundred-foot tower built in Colorado for a giant electrical amplifier, or Tesla coil, created by inventor Nikola Tesla.[241] Orson Welles referred to the design as his "favorite among the old idents, not just because it was so often a reliable portent. ... It reminds us to listen."[242] The studio's closing ident, a triangle enclosing a thunderbolt, was also a well-known trademark.[243] Instead of the Transmitter, many Disney and Goldwyn films released by the studio originally appeared with colorful versions of the RKO closing ident as part of the main title sequence. For decades, re-releases of these films had Disney/Buena Vista and MGM/Goldwyn ident replacing the RKO insignia, but the originals have been made available in some of the Blu-ray and DVD editions.[244] The Hartley–Merrill RKO Pictures has created new versions of the Transmitter and the closing thunderbolt ident.

See also

• List of RKO Pictures films


a. The current online edition of Encyclopædia Britannica erroneously claims that RKO resulted "from the merger of the Radio Corporation of America, the Keith-Albee-Orpheum theatre chain, and the American Pathé production firm." See RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. entry. Retrieved 2010-05-03. Many other online resources make the same false claim or similar ones (e.g., that the RCA Photophone business was made part of RKO).
Note also the following:
o Many sources incorrectly describe Keith-Albee-Orpheum as the union of three theater chains; in fact the name describes the union of just two chains, B. F. Keith Corp. (doing business as Keith-Albee) and Orpheum Circuit Inc. Edward F. Albee was Benjamin F. Keith's right-hand man. He took over the company after the deaths of its founder, in 1914, and his son, A. Paul Keith, four years later.[245]
o Many sources incorrectly give FBO's full name as "Film Booking Office of America"; the proper name is Film Booking Offices of America, which may be confirmed by examining its official logo.[246] As an example of the many erroneous descriptions of RKO's early history that are routine even in reputable sources, take the summary history of the company's origins in Grand Design: Hollywood as a Modern Business Enterprise, 1930–1939, by Tino Balio (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 1995 [1993]), p. 16. The following corrections must be made to a single paragraph:
o FBO's full name was not "Film Booking Office" (see above).
o RCA Photophone was not "amalgamated" with FBO and KAO under the Radio-Keith-Orpheum holding company.[247]
o The company did not "contain" anything close to "three hundred theaters" (see note b, below).
o Until its acquisition of Pathé in 1931, RKO did not "contain ... four studios" in either sense of the term—production company (it "contained" one: FBO) or permanent production facility (it had, even by a generous count, three: FBO's Hollywood studio, the small New York studio FBO shared with Pathé, and the Encino movie ranch RKO established in 1929).
b. The reference in Jewell (1982) to "the 700 K-A-O Theatres in the US and Canada" (p. 10) is inaccurate. Time (1927) indicates that as of May 1927, Keith-Albee (legally the B. F. Keith Corp.) had 50 theaters and Orpheum had 47. Crafton (1997) claims KAO had "200 theaters" at the time of RKO's founding (p. 141), though he references no contemporary source. He does cite Film Daily in a description of RKO as controlling 250 theaters in 1930, following a "buying binge" (p. 256). Schatz (1998) describes an "RKO chain of 161 theaters" around the time David O. Selznick became production chief in October 1931 (p. 128). Schatz (1999) writes that as of 1940, RKO had "slightly more than 100 theaters" (p. 17). He explains that "the figures on studio-affiliated theaters vary considerably, owing to the number of houses in which the studios held only partial interest—as little as 5 percent in some cases" (p. 484, n. 24). A 1944 book, Economic Control of the Motion Picture Industry, includes the table "Theater holdings of the major companies are approximately as follows"—RKO is listed as holding 222 theaters.[248] Lasky (1989) indicates that a 1953 Fortune article tallied the RKO circuit in 1948, at the time of Hughes's purchase, at "124 theaters, plus a share in about 75 others" (p. 205).
c. The standard history and reference guide to the studio's films, The RKO Story, by Richard B. Jewell, with Vernon Harbin (New York: Arlington House/Crown, 1982) is used as the final arbiter of whether specific films made between 1929 and 1957 were RKO solo productions, coproductions, or completely independent productions. Official year of release is also per The RKO Story.
d. Only one previous sound film had cost more than $1 million, and just barely: Noah's Ark (1929), from Warner Bros.[249]
e. For the switch to the RKO Radio Pictures brand at the beginning of the 1932–33 exhibition season for U.S. print advertising, see, e.g., this original poster for The Most Dangerous Game, which premiered September 9, 1932.[250]
f. Among still-ascendant male stars, Grant was preceded by the more established Fredric March as a freelancer. For other freelance Hollywood performers of the mid-1930s, see Balio (1995), p. 155.
g. By August 1940, the lease was no longer exclusive—see "Screen News Here and in Hollywood," New York Times, August 28, 1940. By mid-1949, Selznick had left the studio entirely—see two articles by Thomas F. Brady: "Republic to Make Film on Baseball," New York Times, April 8, 1949; and "Hollywood Buys More Stories," New York Times, May 1, 1949.
h. Schatz's (1999) brief description of Mr. and Mrs. Smith as a "critical and commercial failure" (p. 89) is evidently incorrect. According to historian Leonard Leff, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith had a happy ending: good reviews and modest box office success."[251] Ed Sikov agrees, calling it a "solid commercial hit".[252] Donald Spoto's report on its release lends further support to this position.[253]
i. Though Citizen Kane was technically structured through a set of three contracts originally drawn up in 1939 as a coproduction between RKO and Welles's then newly formed Mercury Productions Inc. (and, indeed, was billed on a title card as "A Mercury Production"), in bottom-line terms it was an RKO production: the studio provided the entire budget and production facilities, assumed all the financial risk, and held all the rights once Welles delivered his final, inviolable cut.[224][254]
j. Citizen Kane lost $150,000–$160,000 on original release (the production cost was precisely $805,527.53); The Magnificent Ambersons lost $624,000 (production cost $1.125 million); and the unreleased It's All True cost the studio an estimated $1.2 million.[255] Note that the studio operation itself was almost certainly a bigger money-loser than the cited figures suggest, with profits coming from the corporation's theatrical division.[256]
k. Jewell (1982) states that it "attracted $3,355,000 in film rentals" (p. 181); Lasky (1989) refers to an article in The Hollywood Reporter on the film, published seven months after its premiere, predicting it "would do better than $3 million in the U.S. alone" (p. 185). It is not listed in Schatz's (1999) appendix of annual top box-office films of the 1940s (p. 466), based on a 1992 Variety reckoning, perhaps because of its unusual production history. Assuming Jewell's figure is accurate, and the Schatz/Variety list is otherwise accurate and complete, Hitler's Children was the ninth biggest earner of 1943, a very impressive feat for a movie with a B budget and star (Tim Holt).
l. Many online sources give RKO General's year of inception as 1958, without evidence; O'Neill's 1959 dating is supported by the fact that there is no mention of RKO General in either the New York Times or the Los Angeles Times before February 1960.


1. "RKO Radio Pictures, Inc". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
2. Jewell (1982), p. 9; Lasky (1989), pp. 22–24; Gomery (1985), p. 60; Crafton (1997), pp. 129–31.
3. Goodwin (1987), pp. 375–79; Jewell (1982), pp. 9–10; Lasky (1989), pp. 25–27; Gomery (1985), pp. 63–65; Crafton (1997), pp. 136–39, 193–94.
4. "Cinemerger", Time, May 2, 1927 (available online).
5. Lasky (1989), pp. 28–29.
6. Crafton (1997), p. 210.
7. Jewell (2012), pp. 20, 18, 25.
8. "Radio Pictures Trademark Information". Trademarkia. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
9. Goodwin (1987), pp. 422–23; Jewell (1982), p. 32; Crafton (1997), pp. 208, 210.
10. Barrios (1995), p. 87; "$250,000 for Construction Program at RKO Studio". Film Daily. January 23, 1929. p. 6. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
11. Koszarski (2008), pp. 169–71; Barrios (1995), pp. 86–88, 209.
12. Jewell (1982), p. 20; Lasky (1989), pp. 46–47; Barrios (1995), pp. 209, 226.
13. Lasky (1989), pp. 42–47; Barrios (1995), pp. 225–29.
14. Barrios (1995), p. 225.
15. Jewell (2012), p. 22.
16. Jewell (1982), pp. 20, 24.
17. Catalogue of Copyright Entries (1930), p. 369 et al.
18. Barrios (1995), p. 127; Lasky (1989), p. 52.
19. Bradley (1996), p. 260; "R.-K.-O. Signs More Noted Names", Los Angeles Times, June 20, 1929; "Studios Plan Huge Programs", Los Angeles Times, July 21, 1929.
20. Bradley (1996), p. 279.
21. Jewell (1982), pp. 38, 41. For Technicolor contracts during this era, see Kalmus, Herbert (October 28, 1938). "Technicolor Adventures in Cinemaland". Widescreen Museum. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
22. Crafton (1997), p. 210; Barrier (2003), p. 169.
23. Crafton (1997), p. 552; Lasky (1989), p. 55.
24. Jewell (1982), p. 30.
25. Finler (2003), pp. 221, 223.
26. Finler (2003), p. 214.
27. Lasky (1989), p. 74.
28. Lasky (1989), pp. 58–59.
29. Jewell (1982), p. 44.
30. Lasky (1989), pp. 67–70.
31. Bordwell et al. (1985), p. 321.
32. Lasky (1989), pp. 74–76; Jewell (1982), p. 17.
33. Lasky (1989), pp. 77–80, 93.
34. Kroessler (2002), p. 219.
35. Schatz (1998), pp. 131–33; Lasky (1989), pp. 81–82.
36. Schatz (1998), p. 133; Lasky (1989), p. 83.
37. Mueller (1986), p. 7.
38. Schatz (1998), pp. 131.
39. Lasky (1989), pp. 78–79, 93–95; Jewell (1982), pp. 52, 60.
40. Lasky (1989), pp. 81–82.
41. Finler (2003), p. 221.
42. Lasky (1989), pp. 100–1.
43. Finler (2003), p. 219.
44. Lasky (1989), pp. 98–99.
45. Jewell (1982), p. 69.
46. Lasky (1989), p. 112.
47. Finler (2003), p. 229.
48. Harvey (1998), p. 290.
49. See, e.g., Di Battista (2001), p. 90.
50. Lasky (1989), pp. 109–10.
51. Finler (2003), p. 224.
52. Jewell (1982), pp. 71, 84, 103, 126, 128, 134, 168, 172, 196, 228, 241, 283.
53. Jewell (1982), pp. 77, 88; Lasky (1989), p. 117.
54. Finler (2003), p. 227.
55. Albrecht, Donald (June 2009). "The Art of RKO—Van Nest Polglase and the Modern Movie Set: A Pioneer Who Changed the Cinematic Landscape". Architectural Digest. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
56. Naremore (1989), pp. 17–18.
57. Rode (2007), pp. 58–59.
58. Morton (2005), p. 43.
59. Cotta Vaz and Barron (2002), p. 59.
60. "What? Color in the Movies Again?" Fortune, October 1934 (available online); Morton (2005), pp. 111–12; Lasky (1989), p. 104.
61. Jewell (1982), p. 87; Lasky (1989), pp. 115–16.
62. Finler (2003), p. 231.
63. Brunelle (1996); Morton (2005), pp. 75–77, 108–9.
64. Lasky (1989), pp. 118–19; Jewell (1982), p. 19.
65. McCann (1998), pp. 79–80, 144.
66. Finler (2003), p. 215.
67. Dickstein (2002), p. 48.
68. Barrier (2003), p. 170; Lasky (1989), p. 137; Jewell (1982), p. 92.
69. Finler (2003), pp. 36, 47, 319.
70. "News of the Screen," New York Times, February 16, 1937; Schatz (1998), p. 181.
71. Jewell (1982), pp. 18–19, 102.
72. "Briskin Resigns as RKO Radio Production Head". The Film Daily. November 4, 1937. p. 1. Retrieved November 9,2015.
73. Lasky (1989), pp. 154–57; Jewell (1982), pp. 19, 128–29, 138.
74. Jewell (1982), pp. 138, 152, 171, 178, 181, 246, 260.
75. Jewell (1982), pp. 138, 148, 150, 158, 178, 186, 206, 217, 235, 264.
76. Lasky (1989), pp. 153–54.
77. Finler (2003), pp. 214–15.
78. Jewell (1982), p. 136.
79. Bordwell et al. (1985), p. 349. For Walker's earlier work on King Kong: Morton (2005), pp. 30, 43, 52.
80. "100 Best Films of the 20th Century". Village Voice. 2001. Archived from the original on March 31, 2014. Retrieved August 29, 2009. "Top Ten Poll". Sight and Sound. BFI. 2002. Archived from the original on May 25, 2012. Retrieved August 29, 2009.
81. Kear (2009), p. 144.
82. Lasky (1989), pp. 152, 156–57; Jewell (1982), p. 116.
83. For Breen's position, see Jeff and Simmons (2001), pp. 119, 122–125.
84. Jewell (1982), p. 140.
85. Jewell (1982), p. 304.
86. Schatz (1999), p. 57; Jewell (1982), p. 142.
87. Lasky (1989), pp. 161–65.
88. Lasky (1989), pp. 167, 176–80.
89. For ambitious box office failures: Jewell (1982), pp. 144, 146 (Abe Lincoln in Illinois), 152 (They Knew What They Wanted), 156, 166 (All That Money Can Buy); Lasky (1989), p. 165; Schatz (1999), p. 57. For Rogers: Jewell (1982), p. 156; Schatz (1999), p. 57.
90. "Ned Depinet Heads RKO Pictures Unit; Ex-Vice President in Charge of Distribution Is Elected to Succeed G. J. Schaefer", New York Times, June 26, 1942.
91. Jewell (1982), pp. 142, 168.
92. Lasky (1989), pp. 167–68, 174–76.
93. McBride (2006), p. 63; Server (2002), p. 78.
94. Jewell (1982), pp. 142, 168, 208.
95. Jewell (1982), pp. 168, 178.
96. Lasky (1989), p. 187.
97. Fein (2000), passim; Lasky (1989), p. 228.
98. Jewell (1982), p. 213.
99. Finler (2003), p. 222.
100. Lasky (1989), p. 176.
101. Jewell (1982), pp. 200, 208, 226.
102. Jewell (1982), pp. 187, 198, 204, 211, 225, 241, 259, 286, 290, 295.
103. Jewell (1982), pp. 164, 168, 192, 203, 232.
104. Jewell (1982), pp. 209, 211, 241, 248, 283.
105. Jewell (1982), p. 206; Finler (2003), p 177.
106. Jewell (1982), pp. 212, 247, 232.
107. Jewell (1982), pp. 184, 196, 203, 211, 218, 229.
108. Jewell (1982), pp. 212, 178, 220.
109. Thomson (1997), p. 268; Brady (1990), pp. 378–81.
110. Jewell (1982), p. 215. For its later status, see, e.g., "100 Best Films of the 20th Century". Village Voice. 2001. Archived from the original on March 31, 2014. Retrieved January 11, 2018. (Sixteenth overall, fifth among Hollywood movies made between 1927 and 1959.)
111. Jewell (1982), pp. 228, 241, 248.
112. Jewell (1982), p. 181; Lasky (1989), pp. 184–85. For budgets of Big Five releases the following year: Schatz (1999), p. 173, table 6.3.
113. Jewell (1982), p. 186.
114. Schatz (1999), p. 173, table 6.3.
115. Schatz (1999), p. 232; Ballinger and Graydon (2007), p. 23.
116. For B films and slightly higher budgeted "intermediates" directed by Robson: Jewell (1982), pp. 187, 190, 195, 204, 211, 238. By Wise: Jewell (1982), pp. 193, 195, 201, 206, 215, 219, 231, 236. By Mann: Jewell (1982), pp. 202, 205, 212, 219.
117. Finler (2003), pp. 219–20.
118. Jewell (1982), p. 190.
119. Finler (2003), pp. 214–15, 221–22.
120. Jewell (1982), pp. 151, 171, 180, 186, 197, 211.
121. Jewell (1982), p. 164.
122. See, e.g., Ballinger and Graydon (2007), p. 19; Finler (2003), p. 216.
123. Finler (2003), p. 216.
124. Cook (2007), p. 22; Stephens (1995), p. 102; Jacobs (2007), pp. 315–16.
125. Ballinger and Graydon (2007), pp. 196–98, 205–6. For noir and noir-related films featuring Mitchum: Jewell (1982), pp. 216, 222, 223, 231, 237, 250, 255, 256, 259, 265, 267, 272, 274. Featuring Ryan: Jewell (1982), pp. 220, 222, 227, 236, 247, 248, 252, 255, 259, 262, 266.
126. Ballinger and Graydon (2007), pp. 100–2, 152, 189–90, 210; Lasky (1989), p. 198; Schwartz (2005), p. 60.
127. Jewell (1982), pp. 205, 216.
128. See, e.g., Ballinger and Graydon (2007), pp. 56, 151–52; Schatz (1999), p. 364; Ottoson (1981), p. 132.
129. Finler (2003), p. 225.
130. Dixon (2005), p. 112.
131. Langdon-Teclaw (2007), p. 168.
132. Finler (2003), p. 357; Jewell (1982), p. 214.
133. Glick, Reymann, and Hoffman (2003), pp. 35–36; Schatz (1999), pp. 16–17.
134. Lasky (1989), pp. 203–4.
135. Lasky (1989), pp. 192–93, 195.
136. Schatz (1999), pp. 299, 331; Lasky (1989), p. 202.
137. Jewell (1982), p. 216.
138. Schatz (1999), pp. 290–91.
139. Friedrich (1997), pp. 333–36; Lasky (1989), pp. 198–202.
140. Lasky (1989), pp. 194–98, 202.
141. Brown and Broeske (2004), p. 281.
142. Finler (2003), p. 231; Jewell (1982), pp. 306–7.
143. Lasky (1989), pp. 204–5.
144. Dietrich, Noah; Thomas, Bob (1972). Howard, The Amazing Mr. Hughes. Greenwich: Fawcett Publications, Inc. pp. 235–237.
145. Lasky (1989), p. 206, 216–17.
146. Lasky (1989), pp. 216–17, 221–22; Jewell (1982), p. 143.
147. Analysis based on Schatz (1999), p. 330, table 10.2. See Jewell (1982), pp. 216, 226, for confirmation of RKO figures.
148. Finler (2003), p. 220.
149. Jewell (1982), p. 226.
150. Lasky (1989), pp. 218–20, 223, 227; "Part 6: The Supreme Court Verdict That Brought an End to the Hollywood Studio System, 1948". The Independent Producers and the Paramount Case, 1938–1949. Society Of Independent Motion Picture Producers. Retrieved July 22, 2006. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)
151. Lasky (1989), pp. 205, 219.
152. Server (2002), pp. 219–22.
153. Jewell (1982), pp. 246, 254.
154. Jewell (1982), p. 237.
155. Ottoson (1981), p. 155.
156. See, e.g., Finler (2003), p. 216.
157. Lasky (1989), pp. 220–21.
158. Jewell (1982), pp. 262, 266.
159. Muller (1998), pp. 176–77; Jewell (1982), pp. 251, 257, 271.
160. Jewell (1982), p. 265.
161. Finler (2003), pp. 358–59.
162. Quoted in Lasky (1989), p. 224.
163. Jewell (1982), p. 243; Lasky (1989), pp. 223–24.
164. Jewell (1982), pp. 243–44, 262, 270; Lasky (1989), pp. 225–26; "An Old Flame Returns", Time, February 23, 1953 (available online).
165. Jewell (1982), p. 262.
166. Jewell (1982), pp. 246, 262; Lasky (1989), pp. 221, 223, 225.
167. Crosby (2009), p. 75.
168. Conant (1981), p. 567.
169. Quoted in Lasky (1989), p. 226.
170. Collins, Keith (October 26, 2003). "Disney timeline". Variety. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
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172. Jewell (1982), pp. 244–45; Lasky (1989), pp. 218–19, 223, 227–28.
173. Jewell (1982), p. 245; Lasky (1989), pp. 228–29.
174. Lasky (1989), p. 229.
175. Jewell (1982), p. 290; Lasky (1989), pp. 219, 221, 223, 228.
176. "Rubber Yankee," Time, January 18, 1943 (available online).
177. Howard (1979), p. 151; "Don Lee Sale Approval Asked," Los Angeles Times, November 21, 1950; "Sale of Don Lee System Approved: Cash Payment of $12,320,000 Involved in FCC Decision," Los Angeles Times, December 28, 1950.
178. "Radio-TV Merger Approved By F.C.C.; Deal Covers Macy's Transfer of WOR Interests to General Tire's Don Lee System," New York Times, January 18, 1952.
179. "General Tire Gets Control of M. B. S.; Shareholders at Meeting Vote 2-for-1 Stock Split—Company Buys More TV Stations," New York Times, April 2, 1952.
180. Howard (1979), pp. 150–52; "Earnings Fall 5% for Macy System; Television's High Cost for Subsidiary, General Teleradio, Cuts Consolidated Net," New York Times, October 11, 1950.
181. Segrave (1999), pp. 40–41.
182. "An Open Letter to TV Station Owners and Managers", Billboard, September 8, 1956.
183. Hilmes (1990), pp. 160–61; Boddy (1990), p. 138.
184. Jewell (1982), p. 245.
185. Jewell (1982), p. 280.
186. Jewell (1982), p. 284.
187. Jewell (1982), pp. 282, 286.
188. "RKO Shift to U Set for Feb. 1". Variety. January 23, 1957. p. 3. Retrieved June 12, 2019 – via
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191. "Initial Plans for Movie Studio Backlot Approved", Los Angeles Times, May 1, 1975.
192. Conant (1981), pp. 567–68.
193. Jewell (1982), p. 296.
194. O'Neill (1966), p. 180.
195. Jewell (1982), p. 15.
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198. Fong-Torres (2001), pp. 172–76; Denisoff (1986), pp. 242–51.
199. Keyes (2004), p. 99.
200. Cox (2009), p. 198.
201. For the early history of Million Dollar Movie and WOR's film programming, see Segrave (1999), pp. 40, 48; "News of TV and Radio; 'Studio One' Returns for the Winter Season", New York Times, September 19, 1954 (excerpted online); "WOR-TV Acquires 10 Selznick Films; It Pays Record $198,000 for 'Package'—Will Be Shown on 'Million Dollar Movie' Discord Theme of Show", New York Times, February 25, 1956; "2 Feature Films Bought By WOR-TV; Station Adds 'Champion' and 'Home of the Brave' to its 'Million Dollar Movie,'" New York Times, June 16, 1956.
202. "Fee-Vee," Time, July 6, 1962 (available online); "Payday, Some Day," Time, December 27, 1968 (available online); Mullen, Megan, "The Prehistory of Pay Cable Television: An Overview and Analysis," Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, vol. 19, no. 1 (January 1, 1999).
203. "Turning Off RKO's Licenses," Time, August 24, 1987 (available online); "RKO Appeals F.C.C. Ruling," New York Times, October 20, 1987 (available online); "KHJ Enveloped in Scandal". Metropolitan News-Enterprise. December 5, 2002. Retrieved April 12, 2010.
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234. "Rainbow Sold NTA by Para, Price 775G", Billboard, October 20, 1956, p. 17.
235. Slide (1998), p. 173; Jeffrey, Don (February 19, 1994), "Blockbuster Tops $2 Billion", Billboard, p. 62; Fitzpatrick, Eileen (September 6, 1997), "Shelf Talk: Spelling Ends Republic's Rentals", Billboard, p. 96; Holt (2011), p. 152
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237. Kehr, Dave (February 10, 2012), "In Hitchcock's World of Fallible Morals", New York times, p. AR18 (available online).
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239. Pierce, David (June 2007). "Forgotten Faces: Why Some of Our Cinema Heritage Is Part of the Public Domain". Film History: An International Journal. 19 (2): 133, 137. doi:10.2979/FIL.2007.19.2.125. JSTOR 25165419. OCLC 15122313.
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241. Deyo and Leibowitz (2003), pp. 5–6.
242. Quoted in Thomson (1997), p. 170.
243. Nye (1992), p. 157.
244. Culhane (1999), passim.
245. Haupert (2006), p. 17.
246. See also Sherwood (1923), pp. 150, 156, 158–59.
247. See, e.g., Lasky (1989), p. 120.
248. Huettig (1944), p. 296.
249. Crafton (1997), p. 549.
250. Senn (1996), p. 109.
251. Leff (1999), p. 92.
252. Sikov (1996), p. 152.
253. Spoto (1983), p. 250.
254. Carringer (1985), pp. 1, p. 151 n. I-1.
255. For Citizen Kane: Brady (1990), pp. 288, 311; Jewell (1982), p. 164. For The Magnificent Ambersons: Jewell (1982), p. 173. For It's All True: Brady (1990), p. 346. For corporate deficit and profit: Jewell (1982), pp. 144, 156.
256. Jewell (1982), p. 168.


• Ballinger, Alexander, and Danny Graydon (2007). The Rough Guide to Film Noir. London: Rough Guides. ISBN 1-84353-474-6
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• Bordwell, David, Janet Staiger, and Kristin Thompson (1985). The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style & Mode of Production to 1960. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-06054-8
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External links

• RKO Radio Pictures on IMDb
• RKO Pictures on IMDb

RKO Radio Pictures history

• The Early Sound Films of Radio Pictures comprehensive listing of RKO (and FBO sound) features through 1935, with stars and release dates—see also The Early Sound Films of Pathé for the RKO-Pathé films of 1931–32; both part of Vitaphone Video Early Talkies website
• RKO Theater Chain list of classic movie houses belonging to RKO chain; part of Cinema Treasures website

RKO Pictures LLC

• RKO Pictures the Hartley–Merrill company's website
• Ted Hartley personal website of RKO Pictures LLC's chairman and CEO
• "Newman Helms Doc" article by Michael Fleming on planned Hartley documentary,, September 11, 2003

RKO library and logos

• C&C RKO 16 mm Prints extensive discussion of RKO preservation and rights issues, by David Chierichetti; part of eFilmCenter website
• The RKO Logo essay by Rick Mitchell; part of Hollywood: Lost and Found website
• RKO Pictures Logos detailed descriptions by Nicholas Aczel and Sean Beard
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Re: Neuschwanstein: A fairy tale darling's dark Nazi past

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Supermob: How Sidney Korshak and His Criminal Associates Became America’s Hidden Power Brokers [Excerpt]
by Gus Russo



Cast of Characters

Antonino Leonardo Accardo (1906-1992) – aka “Tony,” “Joe Batters,” and “The Big Tuna.” Served as boss of Chicago’s Outfit, the most powerful underworld cartel in U.S. history, for over six decades in the twentieth century. A major force in national bookmaking, labor racketeering, the Teamsters Pension Fund, and Las Vegas casino gambling, Accardo treated Sid Korshak like a son.

Jacob “Jake” (or “Jack”) Arvey (1895-1977) – Chicago-born attorney/political kingmaker who built one of the most powerful patronage “machines” in America. He served as a mentor to many of Chicago’s most “well-connected” Jewish attorneys, and as a crucial vote deliverer for Democratic presidents such as FDR, Truman, and JFK. Key early supporter of the State of Israel.

David Lionel Bazelon (1909-1993) – Chicago Tax attorney, originally in law firm with college buddy Paul Ziffren, but left private practice to become Truman’s assistant attorney general in charge of the lands division, a position that he used to his advantage in his own real estate investments. He quickly advanced to become director of the Office of Alien Property, where he oversaw the disbursement of land (often to his Chicago pals) seized from the Japanese Americans sent to internment camps during World War II. Eventually became a chief judge in D.C.’s Court of Appeals.

Charles Bluhdorn (1926-1983) – aka “The Mad Austrian.” Austrian immigrant who parlayed a successful auto parts distributorship into a conglomerate comprising over a hundred firms, all consolidated in 1958 when he formed Gulf & Western Inc. In 1966, Bluhdorn purchased struggling Paramount Pictures, named Sid Korshak’s sycophant Bob Evans as production chief, then brought in the Mafia’s Vatican money launderer Michele Sindona as a major “silent” investor in the movie studio. Bluhdorn utilized Sid Korshak’s talents to oversee his Chicago racetracks’ labor issues; invested in Korshak’s mob retreat, The Acapulco Towers.

Albert Romolo Broccoli (1909-1996) – aka “Cubby.” One of Sidney Korshak’s closest Beverly Hills friends, and producer/owner of the James Bond movie franchise. When Broccoli produced Diamonds Are Forever in Las Vegas, Korshak was the “uncredited legal advisor” donating both his Riviera Hotel and his girlfriend Jill St. John to the production.

Edmund G. “Pat” Brown (1905-1996) – San Francisco-born attorney and respected governor of California (1959-67). Father of California governor Jerry Brown. Received important political and financial support early and often from Sid Korshak and friends. On board of directors of Bernie Cornfeld’s Investors Overseas Services (IOS), which bilked investors out of hundreds of millions, before imploding after allegations of being a fraudulent pyramid scheme and money launderer for the mob. (Founder Cornfeld served eleven months in a Geneva jail, before charges were dropped, allowing him to move to Beverly Hills and date Heidi Fleiss.)

Jerry Brown (Edmund G. Brown Jr.) (1938-) – aka “Governor Moonbeam.” Governor of California (1974-83) who received controversial labor support from Sid Korshak, allegedly in return for Brown’s favored treatment of Korshak’s California racetrack-owner clients. Later, a presidential candidate (1992) and mayor of Oakland, California. Dated Linda Ronstadt.

Delbert W. “Del” Coleman (1926-) – After selling his interest in Seeburg, Inc. (a jukebox manufacturer linked to the Outfit by the Chicago Crime Commission), the Chicago entrepreneur, an investor in Sid Korshak’s Acapulco Towers, connived with Korshak to take over the Parvin-Dohrmann company as part of a master plan to buy the Stardust and other Vegas casinos. The affair ended with Coleman, Korshak, and others being rebuked by the Securities and Exchange Commission for stock manipulation. The experience also led to a permanent falling-out between Korshak and Coleman.

Morris Barney “Moe” Dalitz (ne Dolitz) (1899-1989) – aka “Moe Davis” and “The Godfather of Las Vegas.” The leader of Cleveland’s Mayfield Road Gang, where he specialized in bootlegging and gambling. Moved to Las Vegas, where he owned mob-skimmed Desert Inn, before expanding into numerous other Vegas properties, and the formerly mob-friendly La Costa Resort in Southern California. Considered Sid Korshak his legal adviser.

Allen M. Dorfman (1924-1983) – For many years, did the Outfit’s (and Sid Korshak’s) bidding as manager of the Teamsters Pension Fund, disbursing over $500 million in low-interest loans, especially to Chicago hoods in Las Vegas. In return, he received kickbacks on the loans, and his insurance company was named carrier of the lucrative Teamsters’ Health Care Fund. Soon after his convictions on the kickbacks and the bribery of Nevada senator Howard Cannon, he was murdered in the Chicago suburbs, amid contentions that he had been “flipped” by the feds.

Bob Evans (ne Robert J. Shapera) (1930-) – Manhattan-born clothing salesman for his brother Charles’s Evan-Picone clothing line. After a brief flirtation with acting, named by Gulf & Western chief Charles Bluhdorn as production head at Paramount Studios, which he gave a new life after producing hits such as The Godfather and Love Story. Well-known abuser of narcotics, Evans fell out with his longtime “consigliere,” Sid Korshak, after being busted in 1980 for cocaine possession, narrowly escaping a trafficking charge. It was reported that he later came under suspicion when Roy Radin, an investor in Evans’ Cotton Club movie, was murdered in 1983, amid a haze of massive cocaine purchases and thefts. When the case came to trial in 1989, Evans, under the guidance of his attorney, Korshak friend Robert Shapiro, took the Fifth Amendment and refused to testify. Evans was a close friend and promoter of child rapist and director Roman Polanski. Dated _____ (fill in the blank with starlet names). Serial husband.

John Jacob Factor (189-1984) – aka “Jake the Barber.” British stock swindler, brother of Hollywood cosmetics baron Max Factor. After hiding out in Chicago, Factor faked his own kidnapping (with the Outfit’s help) to avoid extradition to the UK (sending an innocent “kidnapper” to jail for life). Later, Factor fronted for the Outfit at their Stardust Hotel in Las Vegas. In Sin City, Jake took orders from Sid Korshak, while in Los Angeles, brother Max Factor employed Korshak to keep labor in line. Noted philanthropist.

Charlie Gioe (ne Joye) (1904-1954) – aka “Cherry Nose.” Bookie in the Capone Syndicate, co-owner of Chicago’s Seneca Hotel (a key Supermob crossroads) with Alex Greenberg; convicted in the 1943 Hollywood extortion scandal, after which Sid Korshak, who had visited Gioe in prison twenty-two times, arranged for his parole supervision.

Alex Louis Greenberg (1891-1955) – aka “The Comptometer.” Chicago bootlegger and real estate investor for the Capone mob and the Outfit, loan shark, and part owner of the Seneca Hotel, Partnered with Paul Ziffren and others in California land investments.

Al Hart (1904-1979) -- Bootlegger in the Capone mob, distillery owner, backer of Bugsy Siegel in Las Vegas. After move to California, he owned the mob-friendly Del Mar Race Track and founded the mob-friendly City National Bank of Beverly Hills, later the largest independent bank in California. With Sid Korshak, an original investor in both the Bistro restaurant and Korshak’s gangster getaway, The Acapulco Towers.

Conrad Hilton (1887-1979) – New Mexico-born patriarch of the Hilton Hotel dynasty, partnered with mob-front Arnold Kirkeby to expand his empire, which utilized Sid Korshak as labor consultant. Paid for his long association with Korshak when his bid to obtain a New Jersey casino license was rejected in 1985, largely due to Korshak’s mob ties.

James Riddle “Jimmy” Hoffa (1913-1975?) – Rugged son of an Indiana coal miner who seemed predestined to head a violence-prone organization like the Teamsters, which he did from 1957 until his imprisonment for jury tampering in 1967. Hoffa was only able to attain his post thanks to the key backing of Outfit bosses such as Curly Humphreys, who had their sights fixed on the heavily endowed Pension Fund. When Hoffa allowed them Las Vegas loans, he had to answer to Sidney Korshak. Hoffa disappeared in 1975 after he announced he wanted to take back the Teamster presidency from a cabal that made Hoffa’s relationship with racketeers seem benign by comparison.

Howard Robard Hughes (1905-1976) – Texas-born aviation-industry pioneer, film producer, Las Vegas hotel magnate, recluse, and best-known sufferer of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Hughes tangled (successfully) with Sid Korshak over ownership of RKO studios in the fifties and unsuccessfully with Korshak’s Outfit pals in Las Vegas in the seventies.

“Murray” Llewelyn Morris Humphreys (1899-1965) – aka “Curly,” “The Hump,” “The Camel,” “John Brunswick,” “G. Logan,” “Mr. Lincoln,” “Dave Ostrand,” “Cy Pope,” “Einstein,” “Mr. Moneybags.” Labor-racketeering, corruption, and bribery genius of the Chicago Outfit. Sidney Korshak’s direct superior and liaison to “the Chicago boys” after Korshak was sent West.

Burton W. Kanter (1930-2001) – Abe Pritzker’s Chicago tax attorney, and a founder of the Castle Bank in the Bahamas, where the Pritzkers and other clients were able to dodge millions in taxes in the 1970s. Kanter, himself a multimillionaire, openly admitted to not paying taxes for decades. With the Pritzker dynasty, devised a kickback scheme involving Prudential Insurance and creative forms of offshore film financing used to bankroll some of Hollywood’s biggest hits. At the time of his death, after a complicated ten-year IRS investigation, he was awaiting sentencing for massive tax evasion. Noted philanthropist.

Kerkor “Kirk” Kerkorian (1917-) – California-born, hugely successful deal-maker and conglomerate builder. After an early profitable airline venture, he purchased MGM and numerous Las Vegas hotels, including the Hilton International, MGM Grand, The Mirage, and Mandalay Bay. In his early career, he was linked by telephone wiretaps to Genovese crime-family enforcer Charlie “the Blade” Tourine.

Arnold S. Kirkeby (1900-1962) – Chicago real estate speculator who partnered with Conrad Hilton (openly) in numerous hotels and restaurants, and with hoods such as Meyer Lansky and Longy Zwillman (covertly).

Morris Jerome “Marshall” Korshak (1910-1996) – Sidney’s kid brother and another Chicago-born attorney, one of the most successful elected politicians (liberal Democrat) in twentieth-century Chicago, and a lifelong supporter of the state of Israel.

Sidney Roy Korshak (1907-1996) – aka “The Fixer,” “The Myth,” “Mr. Silk Stockings,” and “The Duke.” Chicago-born attorney who was the point man in the Chicago Outfit’s power plays in Hollywood and Las Vegas, often conducting business from his table at the Bistro restaurant in Beverly Hills, where he had relocated in the fifties. Middleman between the mob-controlled Teamsters and legit corporations who curried its favor for labor peace. In Vegas, he was in charge of a number of hotel-casinos, most notably The Riviera. Frequent escort of actresses Jill St. John (Oppenheim) and Stella Stevens (Estelle Eggleston), among others.

Irv Kupcinet (1912-2003) – aka “Kup.” Iconic Chicago Sun-Times gossip columnist and Emmy Award-winning television host, Kup was a longtime friend of Sid Korshak’s, with whom he shared Table One in the Ambassador East’s Pump Room. Korshak came to Kup’s aid when Kup’s daughter was murdered in Hollywood in 1963.

Paul Dominque Laxalt (1922-) – Nevada-born U.S. senator (1974-87) and governor of Nevada (1967-71). Ronald Reagan’s closest pal, and his presidential campaign chairman, he was also close to his own chief fund-raiser, Ruby Kolod of Cleveland’s Mayfield Road Gang, and Chicago’s Sid Korshak. When Laxalt needed a loan to build his Ormsby House Casino in Carson City (soon to be skimmed by the Chicago Outfit), Korshak allegedly had him write a character reference letter on behalf of imprisoned Jimmy Hoffa to President Nixon; Korshak then set him up with a loan from a friendly Chicago banker. When these associations and allegations were reported in the Sacramento Bee, Laxalt’s long-planned presidential bid was torpedoed.

James Caesar Petrillo (1892-1984) – aka “Little Caesar” and “The Mussolini of Music.” Longtime Chicago president of the powerful American Federation of Musicians (AFM). Often linked to the Chicago Outfit, Petrillo gave favored-fee status to Stein’s fledgling MCA, enabling it to bury the competition. Target of three congressional investigations and two federal prosecutions for union corruption.

Abe Pritzker (1896-1986) – Chicago attorney (Pritzker, Pritzker and Clinton) and corporate mogul (Hyatt Hotel chain, the massive Marmon Group conglomerate). His firm’s Stanford Clinton was a trustee of the mob’s bank, aka the Teamsters Pension Fund, from which Hyatt made low-interest loans. Often linked to Chicago’s Outfit, and L.A.’s “Capone,” Jack Dragna, Pritzker employed lifelong friend Sid Korshak to keep labor unions in line. His company paid penalties of $460 million for a fraudulent bank failure and millions more to the IRS for tax evasion; the Pritzker empire was the largest depositor in the offshore Bahamian Castle Bank, which was developed by Pritzker’s tax attorney Burton Kanter as a vehicle for tax dodging. Noted philanthropist.

Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911-2004) – aka “Dutch,” “The Gipper,” and “The Great Communicator.” Sub-B actor from Iowa, who started out in Outfit-controlled joints before being promoted by his agents, MCA’s Stein and Wasserman, into the Screen Actors Guild presidency, the California governorship, and eventually the U.S. presidency. Lifelong hunter of commies, both real and imagined, and an informant on fellow actors for the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover. Told the Soviets, “Tear down this wall.”

Harvey Silbert (1912-2002) – Chicago-born attorney; moved to L.A., where he was a partner in the powerful law firm Wyman, Bautzer, Rothman, Kuchel, Christianson, and Silbert, which represented many A-list celebrities; personal attorney for Frank Sinatra. Silbert was a stockholder in Korshak’s heavily skimmed Riviera, which he managed for a time. (FBI sources alleged that Riviera skim was laundered through Silbert’s law firm.) Silbert was also a director of the beleaguered Parvin, Dohrmann Corporation. Prolific philanthropist, especially to Jewish causes.

Michele Eugenio Sindona (1920-1986) – aka “The Shark” and “St. Peter’s Banker.” Charlie Bluhdorn’s Sicilian alter ego, successful industrialist, banker, conglomerate builder; also a reputed made Mafioso who laundered Gambino-family heroin profits through the Vatican Bank (one of his clients), and a member of the secret Italian Masonic Lodge, known as P-2. After investing heavily in Bluhdorn’s Paramount Pictures, he was convicted of bank fraud in 1980 (sentenced to twenty-five years), then extradited to Italy, where he was convicted in 1986 of ordering the murder of an Italian prosecutor who was investigating Sindona’s vast Mafia entanglements. Two days after his murder conviction, Sindona died in an Italian prison, poisoned under mysterious circumstances.

Dr. Julius Caesar “Jules” Stein (1896-1981) – Chicago ophthalmologist and founder of Music Corporation of America (MCA) and universal Pictures, arguably the most powerful entertainment conglomerate in American history. Early friend of Al Capone, who helped Stein muscle his way into the business by smoke-bombing competitors. His MCA was continually investigated by the feds for six decades, with minimal repercussions. Noted philanthropist.

Lester Velie (1908-2003) – Classmate of Sid Korshak’s at the University of Wisconsin, preeminent award-winning investigative journalist for Collier’s and Reader’s Digest; a lifelong organized-crime gadfly and the first to crusade against Korshak, Ziffren, and the Supermob.

Louis “Lew” Wasserman (ne Weiserman) (1913-2002) – MCA president who, with Jules Stein, became one of the most powerful entertainment moguls in America. Tried hard to stay out of the public eye and was known as a brilliant visionary, tough businessman, and master of corporate tax avoidance through the use of the Dutch Sandwich scheme. Heavily reliant on Sid Korshak’s sway over Hollywood unions and guilds. Together with Ziffren and Korshak, known as the Three Redwoods. Wasserman was an important West Coast supporter of many Democratic presidents.

Paul Ziffren (1913-1991) – Chicago attorney (and possibly the illegitimate son of Jake Arvey), specializing in tax law. Frequent real estate speculator, especially in postwar California, with the likes of Alex Greenberg, David Bazelon, Fred Evans, and Sam Genis. In his twenty-year run as California’s Democratic national committeeman, Ziffren became, like his mentor Arvey in Illinois, a kingmaker for the Democratic Party in California in the mid-twentieth century. Brought both the 1960 Democratic convention (which nominated JFK) and the 1984 Olympics to L.A. His prestigioius L.A. lawfirm, Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, which specialized in tax matters, had a large celebrity clientele.

Abner Zwillman (1904-1959) – aka “Longy.” New Jersey’s most notorious gangster, founder of Murder Inc. Among his enterprises were gambling, prostitution running, and control of labor unions. Zwillman was possibly the first big gangster of “wash” his money in so-called legit businesses such as Kirkeby’s Hilton Hotels, casinos from Havana to Las Vegas, and in Hollywood movie studios, where his interests (and girlfriends such as actress Jean Harlow) were often watched over by Sid Korshak.

Supermob (soo-per-mahb) n. a group of men from the Midwest, often of Russian Jewish heritage, who made fortunes in the 20th century American West in collusion with notorious members of organized crime.


Chapter 3: Birds of a Feather [Excerpt]

The year 1940 got off to a bad start and only seemed to get worse, as Sidney Korshak became embroiled in two major scandals involving his Outfit-controlled union clients. Thanks to the efforts of crusading 132 paper syndicated columnist (and future Pulitzer Prize winner) Westbrook Pegler, the true agendas of Willie Bioff and George Scalise, president of the seventy-thousand-member Building Services Employees Union, would be revealed.

By sheer coincidence, Pegler, who had once worked the crime beat in Chicago, attended a 1939 party in Los Angeles where he was introduced to “Willie Bioff of IATSE.” But Pegler knew better – he remembered Bioff as the whore-beater of Maxwell Street, on the lam for an outstanding pandering indictment. In November 1939, Pegler outed Bioff, and in early 1940, Pegler gave his information to the Screen Actors Guild, which had an open investigation of Bioff and IATSE, the result of Bioff’s terrorizing of guild members with tire slashings – he also sought to control their union. SAG notified Chicago authorities, and Bioff was remanded to Chicago in April 1940 to answer the pandering charge. In the current vernacular, Bioff had been “Peglerized.”

It came out in later testimony that while Bioff was in Chicago waiting to be jailed for the pandering charge, he attended a series of conferences with Nitti, Ricca, Korshak, and Alex Greenberg, held at their various homes and at the Bismarck and Seneca hotels. At a Bismarck Hotel meet, Bioff was first introduced (or so he testified) to the Supermob’s Sid Korshak. Prosecutors doubted this was the first time the two had met, since Bioff admitted under oath that he was involved in the Scalise affair, which also involved Korshak. In any event, at the Bismarck powwow, Charles “Cherry Nose” Gioe introduced his Seneca Hotel-mate Korshak to Willie Bioff.

“Willie, meet Sidney Korshak. He is our man,” Gioe declared. “I want you to do what he tells you. He is not just another lawyer. He knows our gang and figures our best interest. Pay attention to him, and remember, any message you get from him is a message from us.”

Over the next few weeks, Bioff said, he met with Korshak about a dozen times at cafes and hotels. Years later, when a California friend asked if he had defended Bioff in court, Korshak exploded, “Are you nuts? Of course not! I only counseled the bastard!”1 In early April, Bioff began serving out his five months in Bridewell Prison, after which he returned to L.A. to continue IATSE thuggery.

But Westbrook Pegler had not yet finished his haunting of the Outfit and Sid Korshak. In his January 19, 1940 column, Pegler exposed George Scalise as another ex-convict and panderer. Pegler’s article revealed that Scalise was a convicted white slaver who had served four and a half years in prison on that charge and had long been associated with gangsters such as Lepke Buchalter and Jacob Shapiro of New York’s Murder, Inc.* [*Other associates were Peter Rienzi, Frankie Yale (Uale), Anthony Carfano, Joey Amberg, and James Plumieri. He had worked for both the Lucchese and Genovese crime families of New York.]

One week after Bioff’s imprisonment, George Scalise was arrested in New York and indicted on fifty-two counts of embezzlement. The new Scalise charges were based on the discovery of phony accounts set up to siphon union money to Scalise, and by implication, to the New York mob and its partner in the scheme, the Chicago Outfit (the union was headquartered in Chicago and taking orders from Murray Humphreys). Another part of the scheme involved the establishment of new bylaws that permitted Scalise to gerrymander the union locals in ways that would consolidate his power. It was learned that in the previous three years, over $1.5 million had found its way from the union treasury into Scalise’s private account. Not only was Sidney Korshak the union’s counsel, but, what was more telling, authorities found evidence that he had helped set up the phony accounts.

Grand juries were convened in both New York and Chicago on the Scalise matter, and in Chicago, Sidney Korshak caught a break, simultaneously experiencing firsthand the importance of political connections. Korshak must have had to stifle a grin as he took the witness stand before the Chicago grand jury, waiting to be grilled by none other than his great friend, and the man who had just sponsored him for alderman, State’s Attorney Tom Courtney.

Under less-than-hostile questioning, Sidney explained that the fees he had received -- $5,000 as retainer and $3,750 for drawing up the bylaws that established the phony accounts – were not, to his knowledge, for the furtherance of Scalise’s scheme. Thanks to Courtney’s “grilling,” Korshak emerged from the incident unscathed, whereas Scalise was ousted from the union, convicted on five counts, and sentenced to ten to twenty years in the federal penitentiary.2

But Korshak’s problems had just begun. In the fall of that year, one Louise Morris, a tenant of the Seneca, informed Chicago police captain John Howe that a group of men had been seducing underage girls in one of the building’s apartments, coercing them into “immoral and perverse sexual acts.” Upon further investigation, Howe learned that five men in the building had previously been arrested for sex offenses against two underage girls. The men were Lou Pelton, a Capone associate connected with the Bartenders Union, a restaurateur named Gibby Kaplan, Joel Goldblatt, owner of the sixteen-location Goldblatt Brothers Department Store chain, and lastly, law partners Harry Ash and Sidney Korshak.

The Domestic Relations and Delinquency Court scheduled the case to be heard before Judge Victor A. Kula on December 16, 1940. However, when the Chicago Crime Commission checked the court records over the next few weeks, the case had simply disappeared. Although the names of the alleged female victims were located, the five men’s named had vanished along with any record of how the case was resolved. It seemed apparent that, in this so-called most corrupt city in the world, money had changed hands in an amount that satisfied all concerned.3 (Ironically, Sidney’s brother Marshall would become chairman of the Illinois Sex Offenders Commission, which sought to determine – with input from consultant Dr. Alfred Kinsey – the best treatment for sex offenders and the prevention of sex crimes.)

No sooner had the vice charges been dealt with than it was back to the Bioff business, which was about to explode again, forcing Korshak to deliver another “message from us” to Willie Bioff. In 1940, as the result of an ongoing IRS probe, MGM’s Joe Schenck was indicted for tax evasion to the tune of $400,000. Facing 167 aggregate years for conspiracy and tax fraud, the movie honcho cut a deal and informed the authorities of the payoffs to Bioff and Browne.4 Schenck’s disclosures led to the May 23, 1941, indictments of Bioff, Browne, and Nick Circella, at whose Colony Club the plot was hatched; Circella also functioned at the Outfit’s watchdog over Bioff. While Bioff and Browne utilized legal stalling maneuvers, Circella went on the lam, only to be caught six months later hiding out with his girlfriend and Colony hostess, Estelle Carey. In late May, Sid Korshak, who was in Los Angeles pursuing his latest flame, a beautiful twenty-two-year-old Ice Capades skater named Bernice “Bee” Stewart, met with Bioff at the Ambassador Hotel to make certain he didn’t “give up” his Chicago bosses.

At the meeting, Korshak was accompanied by two young women, one of whom was believed to have been Bee Stewart. Excusing themselves, the men spoke in private. “You will admit to being Schenck’s bagman and do your time like a man,” Korshak explained to Bioff – there would be no mention of Nitti or the others. “He advised me to lie,” Bioff later testified.

Bioff knew that defying Korshak meant defying the Outfit. He accepted his fate and prepared for the trip back to New York to please guilty. Korshak obtained $15,000 from Gioe, which he delivered to Bioff to defray his attorney’s fees.

Bioff did exactly as Korshak had advised him when the trial convened later that year: yes, he took some money, but it wasn’t extortion, and it went no further than himself. Browne and Bioff were both found guilty of all charges and sentenced to ten years in federal prison, which Circella received eight. Prosecutors, however, knew the culpability went far beyond Bioff and Browne, since during the trial, studio head Harry Warner blurted out that Bioff had told him the money was “for the boys back in Chicago.” However, without a cooperating witness, prosecutors were unable to vet the lead.

On December 7, 1941, two months after the trial, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, forcing the United States into World War II. Although it couldn’t be known at the time, the effect of the conflict on Japanese Americans would prove fortuitous for the Supermob. In the meantime, prosecutors in New York spent all of 1942 prodding at Bioff, Browne, and Circella to try to learn more about “the boys in Chicago.” If their intuitions were correct, the truth about “the boys” could be a career-maker for all the young feds. After months of fruitless questioning, their luck changed, albeit in a most tragic way.

At 3:09 in the afternoon on February 2, 1943, Chicago firemen were called to an apartment at 512 Addison Street on the North Side near Lake Michigan, where neighbors had smelled smoke. Racing up the stairs to the third-floor apartment, they found on the dining room floor, the still-smoldering corpse of a redheaded young woman. Her remains were in a horrid state: she had been stabbed with an ice pick, beaten, and set afire after being doused with a flammable liquid. The “flash fire” had burned the flesh off her legs up to her knees. The apartment’s condition bespoke a fierce struggle. The woman’s blood and hair covered the walls and floors in the kitchen and dining room. In the kitchen, investigators found the bloody objects used to assault the women before she was set ablaze: a blackjack, ice pick, knife, electric iron, and broken whiskey bottle.

The police concluded that the crime had occurred just hours before their arrival. The victim, it was later learned, was known to have been alive just two hours earlier, as she had been on the phone with her cousin when she had to answer the door. “I’m expecting someone” were her last words as she hung up. Although two fur coats were missing, the victim’s much more valuable jewelry was untouched. Police wondered if the coats were taken to give the appearance of a robbery. Also, it was determined that the bottle of flammable liquid found in the ashes did not belong to the deceased or her roommate, and burglars are not typically known to carry combustibles with them to a heist.5 The last thing learned was the victim’s identity – Estelle Carey, Circella’s girlfriend.

Although it was far from certain that Carey’s murder had anything to do with Circella’s involvement with the extortion scheme – she maintained a slew of dangerous liaisons with jealous lovers – the three men held in stir were convinced of the connection.

“As soon as [Carey] was killed, that was the end of it,” prosecutor Boris Kostelanetz recalled. “[Circella] turned off, boom, just like an electric light.”6 When Murray Humphrey’s aide Ralph Pierce was questioned in connection with the Carey murder, Sid Korshak represented him. Unlike Circella, Willie Bioff, fearing for his beloved wife, Laurie, and their children, reacted with rage, saying, “While we do time for them, they are murdering our families.” Bioff proceeded directly to the prosecutor’s office, asking, “What do you want to know?” For his part, George Browne took the middle ground, cooperating only minimally with the investigators.

Within days, on March 18, 1943, conspiracy and extortion indictments were returned against Johnny Rosselli, Frank Nitti, Louis Campagna, Paul Ricca (De Lucia), and Charlie Gioe, as well as Phil D’Andrea, Frankie Diamond (Maritote), and a New Jersey union boss named Louis Kaufman, who’d helped engineer Browne’s takeover of the Kentucky IATSE convention.

Six hours after the indictments were delivered, Frank Nitti, who was ultimately responsible for the scheme, put a gun to his head rather than face prison time or the wrath of Outfit bosses Tony Accardo and Murray Humphreys. At the time of Nitti’s death, Alex Greenberg was in possession of $100,000 of Nitti’s money, which he eventually returned to Nitti’s estate. Indictments, brutal murders, sex scandals, suicides – Sid Korshak probably thought it was a good time to “get outta Dodge.” On April 4, luck appeared in the unlikely form of a draft notice. Five days later, Korshak showed up at seventh thirty a.m. and took his physical for induction into the U.S. army, in advance of being stationed at Camp Lee, Virginia, where he served throughout the war as a military instructor and a “paper-pushing” desk sergeant. One of his duties included vetting prospective candidates for officer candidate school (OCS), where he promoted one recruit by the name of Morris Dalitz, who would play a large role in the future success of Korshak.

Sergeant Korshak took a leave on August 17, 1943, to marry Bee Stewart at the Ambassador Hotel in New York City, before returning to active duty.

While Sidney was off learning how to break down an M1 rifle (and likely shopping in Arvey’s PXes), the trial of the original “Chicago Seven” commenced on October 5, 1943. During the New York trial Bioff told the court that Sid Korshak was “our man in Hollywood.” In Chicago, the headlines hit: CHICAGO LAWYER “OUR MAN” SAYS BIOFF AT MOVIE TRIAL, declared the Sun. BIOFF NAMES SID KORSHAK AS MOB AIDE, echoed the Herald-American. The reportage would nag at Korshak for the rest of his life.

Eventually, Ricca, Campagna, Rosselli, D’Andrea, Maritote, and Gioe were sentenced to ten years in prison plus $10,000 fines. Louis Kaufman, the New Jersey union strong-arm, was given seven years.

After Korshak was discharged as a corporal in 1945, he and Bee set up their first home at the Seneca, and together they threw the best parties in pre-Hugh Hefner Chicago, where their female party guests presaged a Playboy Club-like atmosphere. As a former judge told the New York Times, “Sidney always had contact with high-class girls. Not your $50 girl, but girls costing $250 or more.” Rumors of Sidney’s associations with “working girls” would follow him for decades.

The marriage put nary a dent in Korshak’s prewar bachelor lifestyle, as he became a regular at the coveted Table On in the Ambassador East Hotel’s Pump Room, and Outfit-attended boites like the Chez Paree and Eli’s Restaurant. He struck up a lifelong friendship with Chicago Sun-Times entertainment/gossip columnist Irv Kupcinet, with whom he often shared Table One. The relationship between the two former Lawndale Russian Ashkenazim was symbiotic: Kup made certain Sidney and the rest of the Korshaks were portrayed in a good light in his daily “Kup’s Column,” while Sidney, after his eventual move to Beverly Hills, helped Kup gain access to Hollywood celebrities and gossip. “Irv Kupcinet was always kissing Sidney’s ass,” said former Chicago FBI man Fran Marracco. “Irv got his free meal. I’d bet a pension check that Sidney probably helped get Irv’s son Jerry started as a director out in Hollywood.”*[*Jerry Kupcinet directs the television series Judge Judy and Judge Joe Brown.]8

“When Sidney sat at Table One in the Pump Room, you’d see him with city politicians,” recalled Labor Department Chicago investigator Tom Zander.9 “At the Ambassador East, they treated Sid like he owned the place,” echoes Joel Goldblatt’s widow, M.J.10 And while Sid schmoozed, his wife, Bee, was teaming up with Gussie Alex’s gorgeous professional-model wife, the former Marianne Ryan, to produce fashion shows in the Chicago area.

In hindsight, it now appears that Korshak was being groomed – the mob had decided to use the Supermob to help them go legit. What Willie Bioff had told the court about the Outfit’s recruitment of George Browne could just as easily have applied to Sidney Korshak: “They said they could use a man like him. He has a nice clean background, and they need a front man like him – it is very important to them.”12 Conversely, and perhaps more importantly, the Supermob was using the mob to further ITS own agenda. The symbiosis, or mutual parasitism, had its roots across the street from City Hall, where a number of Supermob associates, including Sidney Korshak, had recently moved their offices.
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Re: Neuschwanstein: A fairy tale darling's dark Nazi past

Postby admin » Sun Sep 29, 2019 8:03 am

George Van Horn Moseley
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 9/29/19



George Van Horn Moseley
MG George Van Horn Moseley
Born September 28, 1874
Evanston, Illinois
Died November 7, 1960 (aged 86)
Fulton County, Georgia
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch Emblem of the United States Department of the Army.svg United States Army
Years of service 1899–1938
Rank US-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Commands held Third United States Army
1st Cavalry Division
Battles/wars Spanish–American War
Pancho Villa Expedition
World War I
Awards Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Legion of Honor
Croix de guerre
Order of the Bath
Belgian Order of the Crown
Order of the Crown of Italy

George Van Horn Moseley in 1919

George Van Horn Moseley (September 28, 1874 – November 7, 1960) was a United States Army general. Following his retirement in 1938, he became controversial for his fiercely anti-immigrant and antisemitic views.


Moseley was born in Evanston, Illinois, on September 28, 1874. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1899 and was commissioned second lieutenant in the cavalry. He served in the Philippines twice, from 1900 to 1903 and 1906 to 1907, where his assignments included commanding a troop of the 1st Cavalry and serving as Aide-de-Camp to Generals J. M. Bell and J. M. Lee. In 1901 Moseley, accompanied by only one other officer, without escort and under conditions of great danger, penetrated a major Philippine insurgent stronghold. 2nd Lt. Moseley and 1st Lt. George Curry convinced Brigadier General Ludovico Arejola to sign the peace agreement in Taban, Minalabac (Philippines) on 25 March 1901.

The honor graduate of the Army School of the Line in 1908, he also graduated from the Army Staff College in 1909 and the Army War College in 1911. During World War I, Moseley served as assistant chief of staff for logistics (G-4) on the staff of the American Expeditionary Force headquarters.

Moseley married Mrs. Florence DuBois in July 1930.[1]

He held camp and Washington assignments from 1920–1929. He was a member of several important commissions, including the Harbord Commission to investigate Armenian issues. After commanding the Second Field Artillery Brigade, in 1921 he was detailed as assistant to General Dawes in organizing the newly created Bureau of the Budget. In 1921 he was promoted brigadier general, Regular Army. Commanding the 1st Cavalry Division (1927–1929), he successfully interceded, under fire, with principals in a 1929 Mexican insurrection. His actions stopped stray gunfire from Juarez, Mexico, from endangering life and property in adjacent El Paso, Texas, and precluded further incidents. In 1931 he was promoted major general, Regular Army.

Senior assignments

He was the executive for the Assistant Secretary of War, from 1929 to 1930 and Deputy Chief of Staff of Army from 1930 to 1933.[2] He served as General Douglas MacArthur's Deputy Chief of Staff during the 1932 Bonus March on Washington, D.C., in the course of which he recorded his fears of a Communist conspiracy against the United States and his identification of Jews with radicals and undesirables. He wrote in a private letter:[3]

We pay great attention to the breeding of our hogs, our dogs, our horses, and our cattle, but we are just beginning to realize the ... effects of absorbing objectionable blood in our breed of human beings. The pages of history give us the tragic stories of one-time leading nations which ... imported manpower of an inferior kind and then ... intermarried with this inferior stock. ... Those nations have either passed out of separate existence entirely, or have remained as decadent entities without influence in world affairs.

In 1934, he asked MacArthur to consider the immigration issue in terms of military manpower, contrasting a group of "southern lads" of "good Anglo-Saxon stock" with their counterparts from the North with names "difficult to pronounce" that "indicated foreign blood". Moseley linked the latter to labor problems and "so much trouble in our schools and colleges." MacArthur expressed skepticism in response to Moseley's argument that "It is a question of whether or not the old blood that built this fine nation ... is to continue to administer that nation, or whether that old stock is going to be destroyed or bred out by a lot of foreign blood which the melting pot has not touched."[4]

In a mimeographed paper issued by the American nazi youth movement, Hitler is termed "the prophet of a new and nobler chapter in the course of human events." His creed is world-wide, youthful Americans are told.

He leads the struggle for race preservation against the melting pot idea of international-minded dabblers in theoretical concepts of the "brotherhood" of all races.

The setting up of a nation in order; clean and strong, free and unified, is a miracle which only proves the prophet is divinely inspired with God-given powers and insight.

The slumbering embers Adolf Hitler has fanned into fire in the hearts of Aryan men will break out into a mighty blaze that will consume the enemy when he raises his red rags.

The world quivers with the convulsions of an approaching earthquake that will shake each nation to its bedrock, bury everything corrupt, and outmoded, and clear away to leave a world of virile, progressive, race-conscious nations.

-- Investigation of Un-American Propaganda Activities in the United States: Appendix, Part IV: German-American Bund: Three Documents on the German-American Bund, by Special Committee on Un-American Activities

He was Commanding General of the 5th Corps Area, from 1933 to 1934 and 4th Corps Area from 1934 to 1936. His final assignment was as commander of the Third United States Army from 1936 to 1938.


While still on active service, Moseley expressed controversial opinions in public. In 1936, he proposed that the Civilian Conservation Corps be expanded "to take in every 18-year-old youth in the country for a six-month course in work, education and military training."[5] In the late 1930s, when admitting refugees from Nazi persecution was a matter of national controversy, Moseley supported admitting refugees but added the proviso "that they all be sterilized before being permitted to embark. Only that way can we properly protect our future."[6]


Moseley retired from the Army in October 1938 with a statement that described the New Deal as a growing dictatorship: "We do not have to vote for a dictatorship to have one in America ... We have merely to vote increased government responsibility for our individual lives, increased government authority over our daily habits, and the resultant Federal paternalism will inevitably become dictatorship."

On February 20, 1939, Kuhn held the largest and most publicized rally in the Bund's history at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Some 20,000 people attended and heard Kuhn mock President Franklin D. Roosevelt as "Frank D. Rosenfeld", calling his New Deal the "Jew Deal" and denouncing what he called Bolshevik-Jewish American leadership. Kuhn also stated:"The Bund is fighting shoulder to shoulder with patriotic Americans to protect America from a race that is not the American race, that is not even a white race ... The Jews are enemies of the United States."

-- Fritz Julius Kuhn, by Wikipedia

Secretary of War Harry Woodring called his statement "flagrantly disloyal."[7] In April 1939 he attacked Jews and said that he foresaw a war fought for their benefit. He attacked President Franklin D. Roosevelt for appointing Felix Frankfurter to the U.S. Supreme Court. He predicted that the U.S. army would not follow the orders of FDR's leftist Administration if they "violate all American tradition." He described fascism and nazism as good "antitoxins" for the United States, adding that "the finest type of Americanism can breed under their protection as they neutralize the efforts of the Communists."[8]

Time reported his view that "more money should be spent on syphilis prevention and less on national defense"[7] Two months after leaving the military, he questioned the President's proposed increases in military spending: "Much of our present weakness is in the fear and hysteria being engendered among the American people for ... political purpose. ... A nation so scared and so burdened financially is not in a condition to lick anybody. And then, who in hell are we afraid of? With Japan absorbed ... with the balance of power so nearly equal in Europe, where is there an ounce of naval or military strength free to threaten us?"[9] He became increasingly more outspoken and instead of the language of Social Darwinism expressed anti-Semitic and conspiratorial views overtly. In Philadelphia, he told the National Defense Meeting that Jewish bankers had financed the Russian Revolution and that "The war now proposed is for the purposes of establishing Jewish hegemony throughout the world." He said that Jews controlled the media and might soon control the federal government.[10]

In June 1939, Moseley testified for five hours before the House Un-American Activities Committee. He said that a Jewish Communist conspiracy was about to seize control of the U.S. government. He believed the President had the authority to counteract the planned coup and could do so "in five minutes" by issuing an order "to discharge every Communist in the government and everyone giving aid and comfort to the Communists." He said the President could use the army against "the enemy within our gates" but did not seem willing to do so. He said he held no anti-Semitic views and that "the Jew is an internationalist first ... and a patriot second." He praised the "impressively patriotic" German-American Bund and said its purpose was to "see that Communists don't take over the country." Among Moseley's supporters who attended the hearing were Donald Shea, head of the American Gentile League and James True of America First Inc.[11] The Committee found a prepared statement he read into the record so objectionable it was deleted from the public record.[12][13] A few days later, Thomas E. Stone, head of the Council of United States Veterans, charged Moseley with treason and wrote that his praise of the Bund "abets a foreign government in the preparation of disruption against the eventuality of possible future hostilities, and that this he is acting in treason to our national safety."[14]

Moseley held anti-immigrant views throughout his life. In his unpublished autobiography, he quoted approvingly from Madison Grant's The Passing of the Great Race.[15] He used the language of Social Darwinism to describe the problem the United States faced:[16]

Watch a herd of animals. If a member of the herd becomes unfit ... the unfortunate is recognized at once and driven out of the herd, only to be eaten by the timber wolves. That seems hard–but is it, in fact? The suffering is thus limited to the one. The disease is not allowed to attack the others. ... With us humans, what we call civilization compels us to carry along the unfit in ever increasing proportions.

He described the Jew as a permanent "human outcast." They were "crude and unclean, animal-like things ... something loathsome, such as syphilis."[13] Following the Nazi invasion of France he wrote that in order to match the Nazi threat, the U.S. needed to launch a program of "selective breeding, sterilization, the elimination of the unfit, and the elimination of those types which are inimical to the general welfare of the nation."[10] In December 1941, Moseley wrote that Europe's Jews were "receiving their just punishment for the crucifixion of Christ ... whom they are still crucifying at every turn of the road." He proposed a "worldwide policy which will result in bleeding all Jewish blood out of the human race."[13]

In 1947, he said of his years as a West Point cadet, "there was one Jew in my class, a very undesirable creature, who was soon eliminated."[17]

In 1951, the president of Piedmont College in Georgia invited Moseley to speak. Students and faculty protested because of his racist views. TIME called him a "trumpeter for Aryan supremacy." One faculty member was fired for speaking in opposition to the speaking engagement.[18] Calls for the president's resignation followed.[19] Almost the entire faculty and 9 trustees resigned in the next two years and enrollment fell by two thirds.[20]

In 1959, Moseley was one of the founders of Americans for Constitutional Action, an anti-Semitic successor to America First.[21]

In retirement he lived at the Atlanta Biltmore Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. He died on November 7, 1960.


General Moseley's awards included the Distinguished Service Medal (one oak leaf cluster); Commander, Order of the Crown (Belgian); Companion, Order of the Bath (British); Commander, Legion of Honor, and Croix de Guerre with Palm (French); Commander, Order of the Crown of Italy. He was also a recipient of the Philippine Campaign Medal, Mexican Service Medal and the World War I Victory Medal.


Moseley had three sons. He married Alice Dodds in 1902 and married Florence DuBois in July 1930.[1] Alice was mother to George & Francis, Florence was mother to James.

• Colonel George Van Horn Moseley, Jr. led the 502d Parachute Infantry Regiment into Normandy in 1944.
• Francis L. Moseley was an inventor and Vice President at the Hewlett-Packard Company.
• James W. Moseley was a longstanding figure in the UFO enthusiast community.


1. TIME: "Milestones, Jul. 7, 1930, accessed March 26, 2011
2. Weintraub, 12
3. Bendersky, 202-3
4. Bendersky, 216
5. TIME: "Conservation: Poor Young Men," February 6, 1939, accessed March 26, 2011
6. Bendersky 250
7. TIME: "Moseley's Day Off," October 10, 1938, accessed March 26, 2011
8. TIME: "National Affairs: Moseley Roars," April 10, 1939, accessed March 26, 2011
9. TIME "National Affairs: Rearmament v. Balderdash," December 19, 1938, accessed March 26, 2011
10. Bendersky, 255
11. New York Times: "Moseley Proposes Use of the Army to Drive out Reds," June 1, 1939, accessed April 4, 2011
12. New York Times: "The News of the Week in Review," June 4, 1939, accessed April 4, 2011
13. Bendersky, 256
14. New York Times: "Treason' Charged by Moseley Critic," June 7, 1939, accessed April 4, 2011
15. Bendersky, 26
16. Bendersky, 27
17. Bendersky, 38
18. TIME: "Education: Give It Back," March 12, 1951, accessed March 26, 2011
19. TIME "Education: Piedmont Uprising,"April 2, 1951, accessed March 26, 2011
20. TIME: "Education: For Outstanding Services," June 29, 1953, accessed March 26, 2011
21. Bendersky, 410
• World War I portal


• Bendersky, Joseph W., The Jewish Threat (Basic Books, 2002)
• James, D. Clayton, The Years of MacArthur, vol. 1: 1880–1941 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1970)
• Smith, Richard Norton, An Uncommon Man: The Triumph of Herbert Hoover (NY: Simon & Schuster, 1981, ISBN 978-0-9623-3331-6)
• Weintraub, Stanley, 15 Stars: Eisenhower, MacArthur, Marshall, Three Generals Who Saved the American Century (NY: Simon & Schuster, 2007, ISBN 0-7432-7527-6)
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Re: Neuschwanstein: A fairy tale darling's dark Nazi past

Postby admin » Sun Sep 29, 2019 10:56 am

[Henry] Ford and the Führer
Research assistance provided by the Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute.
by Ken Silverstein
The Nation
January 6, 2000



We have sworn to you once,
But now we make our allegiance permanent.
Like currents in a torrent lost,
We all flow into you.

Even when we cannot understand you,
We will go with you.
One day we may comprehend,
How you can see our future.
Hearts like bronze shields,
We have placed around you,
And it seems to us, that only
You can reveal God’s world to us.

This poem ran in an in-house magazine published by Ford Motor Company’s German subsidiary in April of 1940. Titled “Führer,” the poem appeared at a time when Ford maintained complete control of the German company and two of its top executives sat on the subsidiary’s board. It was also a time when the object of Ford’s affection was in the process of overrunning Western Europe after already having swallowed up Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland in the East.

I found “Führer” among thousands of pages of documents compiled by the Washington law firm of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, which sought damages from Ford on behalf of a Russian woman who toiled as a slave laborer at its German plant. This past September, a judge in New Jersey, Joseph Greenaway Jr., threw the case out on the grounds that the statute of limitations had expired. Greenaway, who did not exonerate Ford, did accept the company’s argument that “redressing the tragedies of that period has been–and should continue to be–a nation-to-nation, government-to-government concern.”

Ford argues that company headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, lost control of its German plant after the United States entered the war in 1941. Hence, Ford is not responsible for any actions taken by its German subsidiary during World War II. “We did not do business in Germany during the war,” says Lydia Cisaruk, a Ford spokeswoman. “The Nazis confiscated the plant there and we lost all contact.” She added that Ford played a “pivotal role in the American war effort. After the United States entered the war, Ford threw its entire backing to the war effort.”

That Ford and a number of other American firms -- including General Motors and Chase Manhattan -- worked with the Nazis has been previously disclosed. So, too, has Henry Ford’s role as a leader of the America First Committee, which sought to keep the United States out of World War II. However, the new materials, most of which were found at the National Archives, are far more damning than earlier revelations. They show, among other things, that up until Pearl Harbor, Dearborn made huge revenues by producing war matériel for the Reich and that the man it selected to run its German subsidiary was an enthusiastic backer of Hitler. German Ford served as an “arsenal of Nazism” with the consent of headquarters in Dearborn, says a US Army report prepared in 1945.

Moreover, Ford’s cooperation with the Nazis continued until at least August 1942 -- eight months after the United States entered the war -- through its properties in Vichy France. Indeed, a secret wartime report prepared by the US Treasury Department concluded that the Ford family sought to further its business interests by encouraging Ford of France executives to work with German officials overseeing the occupation. “There would seem to be at least a tacit acceptance by [Henry Ford’s son] Mr. Edsel Ford of the reliance…on the known neutrality of the Ford family as a basis of receipt of favors from the German Reich,” it says.

The new information about Ford’s World War II role comes at a time of growing attention to corporate collaboration with the Third Reich. In 1998 Swiss banks reached a settlement with Holocaust survivors and agreed to pay $1.25 billion. That set the stage for a host of new Holocaust-related revelations as well as legal claims stemming from such issues as looted art and unpaid insurance benefits. This past November NBC News reported that Chase Manhattan’s French branch froze Jewish accounts at the request of German occupation authorities. Chase’s Paris branch manager, Carlos Niedermann, worked closely with German officials and approved loans to finance war production for the Nazi Army. In Germany the government and about fifty firms that employed slave and forced labor during World War II–including Bayer, BMW, Volkswagen and Daimler-Chrysler–reached agreement in mid-December to establish a $5.1 billion fund to pay victims. Opel, General Motors’ German subsidiary, announced it would contribute to the fund. (As reported last year in the Washington Post, an FBI report from 1941 quoted James Mooney, GM’s director of overseas operations, as saying he would refuse to do anything that might “make Hitler mad.”) Ford refused to participate in the settlement talks, though its collaboration with the Third Reich was egregious and extensive. Ford’s director of global operations, Jim Vella, said in a statement, “Because Ford did not do business in Germany during the war -- our Cologne plant was confiscated by the Nazi government -- it would be inappropriate for Ford to participate in such a fund.”

The generous treatment allotted Ford Motor by the Nazi regime is partially attributable to the violent anti-Semitism of the company’s founder, Henry Ford. His pamphlet The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem brought him to the attention of a former German Army corporal named Adolf Hitler, who in 1921 became chairman of the fledgling Nazi Party. When Ford was considering a run for the presidency that year, Hitler told the Chicago Tribune, “I wish that I could send some of my shock troops to Chicago and other big American cities to help.” (The story comes from Charles Higham’s Trading With the Enemy, which details American business collaboration with the Nazis.) In Mein Kampf, written two years later, Hitler singled Ford out for praise. “It is Jews who govern the stock exchange forces of the American Union,” he wrote. “Every year makes them more and more the controlling masters of the producers in a nation of one hundred and twenty millions; only a single great man, Ford, to their fury, still maintains full independence.” In 1938, long after the vicious character of Hitler’s government had become clear, Ford accepted the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the Nazi regime’s highest honor for foreigners.

Ford Motor set up shop in Germany in 1925, when it opened an office in Berlin. Six years later, it built a large plant in Cologne, which became its headquarters in the country. Ford of Germany prospered during the Nazi years, especially with the economic boom brought on by World War II. Sales increased by more than half between 1938 and 1943, and, according to a US government report found at the National Archives, the value of the German subsidiary more than doubled during the course of the war.

Ford eagerly collaborated with the Nazis, which greatly enhanced its business prospects and at the same time helped Hitler prepare for war (and after the 1939 invasion of Poland, conduct it). In the mid-thirties, Dearborn helped boost German Ford’s profits by placing orders with the Cologne plant for direct delivery to Ford plants in Latin America and Japan. In 1936, as a means of preserving the Reich’s foreign reserves, the Nazi government blocked the German subsidiary from buying needed raw materials. Ford headquarters in Dearborn responded -- just as the Nazis hoped it would -- by shipping rubber and other materials to Cologne in exchange for German-made parts. The Nazi government took a 25 percent cut out of the imported raw materials and gave them to other manufacturers, an arrangement approved by Dearborn.

According to the US Army report of 1945, prepared by Henry Schneider, German Ford began producing vehicles of a strictly military nature for the Reich even before the war began. The company also established a war plant ready for mobilization day in a “‘safe’ zone” near Berlin, a step taken, according to Schneider, “with the…approval of Dearborn.” Following Hitler’s 1939 invasion of Poland, which set off World War II, German Ford became one of the largest suppliers of vehicles to the Wehrmacht (the German Army). Papers found at the National Archives show that the company was selling to the SS and the police as well. By 1941 Ford of Germany had stopped manufacturing passenger vehicles and was devoting its entire production capacity to military trucks. That May the leader of the Nazi Party in Cologne sent a letter to the plant thanking its leaders for helping “assure us victory in the present [war] struggle” and for demonstrating the willingness to “cooperate in the establishment of an exemplary social state.”

Ford vehicles were crucial to the revolutionary Nazi military strategy of blitzkrieg. Of the 350,000 trucks used by the motorized German Army as of 1942, roughly one-third were Ford-made. The Schneider report states that when American troops reached the European theater, “Ford trucks prominently present in the supply lines of the Wehrmacht were understandably an unpleasant sight to men in our Army.” Indeed, the Cologne plant proved to be so important to the Reich’s war effort that the Allies bombed it on several occasions. A secret 1944 US Air Force “Target Information Sheet” on the factory said that for the previous five years it had been “geared for war production on a high level.”

While Ford Motor enthusiastically worked for the Reich, the company initially resisted calls from President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Churchill to increase war production for the Allies. The Nazi government was grateful for that stance, as acknowledged in a letter from Heinrich Albert to Charles Sorenson, a top executive in Dearborn. Albert had been a lawyer for German Ford since at least 1927, a director since 1930 and, according to the Treasury report, part of a German espionage ring operating in the United States during World War I.
“The ‘Dementi’ of Mr. Henry Ford concerning war orders for Great Britain has greatly helped us,” Albert wrote in July of 1940, shortly after the fall of France, when England appeared to be on the verge of collapse before the Führer’s troops.

Ford’s energetic cooperation with the Third Reich did not prevent the company’s competitors from seeking to tarnish it by calling attention to its non-German ownership. Ford responded by appointing a majority-German board of directors for the Cologne plant, upon which it bestowed the politically correct Aryan name of Ford Werke. In March of 1941, Ford issued new stock in the Cologne plant and sold it exclusively to Germans, thereby reducing Dearborn’s share to 52 percent.

At the time, the Nazi government’s Ministry of Economy debated whether the opportunity afforded by the capital increase should be taken to demand a German majority at Ford Werke. The Ministry “gave up the idea” -- this according to a 1942 statement prepared by a Ford Werke executive -- in part because “there could be no doubt about the complete incorporation, as regards personnel, organization and production system, of Ford Werke into the German national economy, in particular, into the German armaments industry.” Beyond that, Albert argued in a letter to the Reich Commission for Enemy Property, the abolition of the American majority would eliminate “the importance of the company for the obtaining of raw materials,” as well as “insight into American production and sales methods.”

As 1941 progressed, the board of Ford Werke fretted that the United States would enter the war in support of Britain and the government would confiscate the Cologne plant. To prevent such an outcome, the Cologne management wrote to the Reich Commission that year to say that it “question[ed] whether Ford must be treated as enemy property” even in the event of a US declaration of war on Germany. “Ford has become a purely German company and has taken over all obligations so successfully that the American majority shareholder, independent of the favorable political views of Henry Ford, in some periods actually contributed to the development of German industry,” Cologne argued on June 18, 1941, only six months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

In May of 1942, the Superior Court of Cologne finally put Ford Werke in “trusteeship,” ruling that it was “under authoritative enemy influence.” However, the Nazis never nationalized Ford’s German property -- plant managers feared it would be turned over to Mercedes or the Hermann Goering Werke, a huge industrial network composed of properties seized by the Reich -- and Dearborn maintained its 52 percent share through the duration of the war. Ford Werke even set aside dividend payments due to Dearborn, which were paid after the war. Ford claims that it received only $60,000 in dividend payments. It’s not possible to independently verify that -- or anything else regarding Dearborn’s wartime economic relationship with Cologne -- because Ford of America was privately held until 1956, and the company will not make available its balance sheets from the period.

Labor shortages caused by the war -- millions of men were at the front and Nazi ideology was violently opposed to the idea of women working -- led the Reich to deport millions of people from occupied lands to Germany to work in factories. German companies were encouraged to bid for forced laborers in order to meet production quotas and increase profits. By 1943 half of Ford Werke’s work force comprised foreign captives, including French, Russians, Ukrainians and Belgians. In August of 1944 a squad of SS men brought fifteen prisoners from the Buchenwald concentration camp to Ford Werke. The German researcher Karola Fings, co-author of Working for the Enemy, a book on Nazi slave- and forced-labor programs, to be published this spring, says Ford’s worker-inmates toiled for twelve hours a day with a fifteen-minute break. They were given 200 grams of bread and coffee for breakfast, no lunch and a dinner of spinach and three potatoes or soup made of turnip leaves.

An account by Robert Schmidt, the man appointed to run Ford Werke in 1939, states that the company used forced laborers even before the Nazis put the plant in trusteeship.
His statement, sent to a Ford executive in England immediately after Germany’s surrender, says that as of 1940 “many of our employees were called to the colours and had to be replaced by whatever was available…. The same applies to 1941. Some 200 French prisoners of war were employed.” In a statement to the US Army in 1945, Schmidt said that the Gestapo began to play an important role at Ford Werke after the first foreign workers arrived. With the assistance of W.M. Buchwald, a Ford employee since the mid-thirties, the Gestapo carefully monitored plant activities. “Whenever there was the slightest indication of anti-Nazi feeling, be it amongst foreigners or Germans, the Gestapo tramped down as hard as possible,” Schmidt told the Army.

Meanwhile, Ford Werke offered enthusiastic political support for Hitler as well. The fraternal ties between Ford and the Nazis is perhaps best symbolized by the company’s birthday gift to the Führer of 35,000 Reichsmarks in April of 1939. Ford Werke’s in-house publication couldn’t have been more fanatically pro-Nazi if Josef Goebbels had edited it.
“Führer,” the poem printed at the top of this story, ran in the April 1940 issue, which celebrated Hitler’s 51st birthday by running his picture on the cover. The issue carried an excerpt of a speech by Hitler in which he declared that “by natural law of the earth, we are the supreme race and thus destined to rule.” In another section of the speech, the Führer declared that communism was “second in wretchedness only to Judaism.” The issue from April of the following year–this at roughly the high point of the Third Reich’s military victories–featured a photograph of a beaming Hitler visiting with German soldiers on the front lines. “The management of the Ford-Werke salutes our Führer with grateful heart, honesty, and allegiance, and–as before–pledges to cooperate in his life’s work: achieving honor, liberty and happiness for Greater Germany and, indeed, for all peoples of Europe,” reads the caption.

Robert Schmidt so successfully converted the plant to a war footing that the Nazi regime gave him the title of Wehrwirtschaftsführer, or Military Economic Leader. The Nazis also put Schmidt in charge of overseeing Ford plants in occupied Belgium, Holland and Vichy France. At one point, he and another Cologne executive bitterly argued over who would run Ford of England when Hitler’s troops conquered Britain.

Schmidt’s personal contributions to Ford Werke’s in-house organ reflect his ardently pro-Nazi views. “At the beginning of this year we vowed to give our best and utmost for final victory, in unshakable faithfulness to our Führer,” he wrote in December of 1941, the same month as Pearl Harbor. “Today we say with pride that we succeeded if not in reaching all our goals, nevertheless in contributing to a considerable extent in providing the necessary transportation for our troops at the front.” The following March, Schmidt penned an article in which he declared, “It depends upon our work whether the front can be supplied with its necessities…. therefore, we too are soldiers of the Fuhrer.”

The Ford family and company executives in Dearborn repeatedly congratulated the management of Ford Werke on the fine work they were doing under the Nazis. In October of 1940 Edsel Ford wrote to Heinrich Albert to say how pleased he was that the company’s plants in occupied lands were continuing to operate. “It is fortunate that Mr. Schmidt is in such authority as to be able to bring out these arrangements,” said Edsel, who died of cancer during the war. The same letter indicates that Ford was quite prepared to do business with the Nazis if Hitler won the war. Though it was difficult to foresee what would happen after the fighting ended, Edsel told Albert, “a general rearrangement of the ownership of our continental businesses may be required. You will no doubt keep as close to this subject as possible and we will have the benefit of your thoughts and suggestions at the proper time.”

“To know that you appreciate our efforts in your and the company’s interests is certainly a great encouragement,” Albert replied the following month. He went on to praise Schmidt, who had been forced to shoulder immense responsibilities after war broke out. “In fulfilling his task his personality has grown in a way which is almost astonishing.” Indeed, Schmidt grew to such a great degree that the Nazis kept him in charge of Ford Werke after they put the company in trusteeship. In February of 1942, when the question of who would run the Cologne plant was still up in the air, a local Nazi official wrote to Hitler’s Chancellery in Berlin to put in a good word for Ford’s man. The official said he saw “no reason to appoint a special custodian for the enterprise” since Schmidt was “a Party member [who] enjoys my confidence and…the confidence of the German Armed Forces.”

Ford’s behavior in France following the German occupation of June 1940 illustrates even more grotesquely its collaborationist posture. As soon as the smoke had cleared, Ford’s local managers cut a deal with the occupation authorities that allowed the company to resume production swiftly–“solely for the benefit of Germany and the countries under its [rule],” according to a US Treasury Department document. The report, triggered by the government’s concern that Ford was trading with the enemy, is sharply critical of Maurice Dollfus, a Ford director in France since 1929 and the company’s manager during the Vichy period. “Mr. Dollfus was required by law to replace directors, and he selected the new directors exclusively from the ranks of prominent collaborationists,” says the Treasury report. “Mr. Dollfus did this deliberately to curry favor with the authorities.” The report refers to another Ford employee, a certain Amable Roger Messis, as “100% pro-German.”

The Treasury Department found that Ford headquarters in Dearborn was in regular contact with its properties in Vichy France. In one letter, penned shortly after France’s surrender, Dollfus assured Dearborn that “we will benefit from the main fact of being a member of the Ford family which entitles us to better treatment from our German colleagues who have shown clearly their wish to protect the Ford interest as much as they can.” A Ford executive in Michigan wrote back, “We are pleased to learn from your letter…that our organization is going along, and the victors are so tolerant in their treatment. It looks as though we still might have a business that we can carry on in spite of all the difficulties.”

The Ford family encouraged Dollfus to work closely with the German authorities. On this score, Dollfus needed little prodding. “In order to safeguard our interests–and I am here talking in a very broad way–I have been to Berlin and have seen General von Schell himself,” he wrote in a typed note to Edsel in August of 1940. “My interview with him has been by all means satisfactory, and the attitude you have taken together with your father of strict neutrality has been an invaluable asset for the protection of your companies in Europe.” (In a handwritten note in the margin, Dollfus bragged that he was “the first Frenchman to go to Berlin.”) The following month Dollfus complained about a shortage of dollars in occupied France. This was a problem, however, that might be merely temporary. “As you know,” he wrote Dearborn at the time, “our [monetary] standard has been replaced by another standard which–in my opinion–is a draft on the future, not only in France and Europe but, maybe, in the world.” In another letter to Edsel, this one written in late November of 1940, Dollfus said he wanted to “outline the importance attached by high officials to respect the desires and maintain the good will of ‘Ford’–and by ‘Ford’ I mean your father, yourself and the Ford Motor Company, Dearborn.”

All this was to the immense satisfaction of the Ford family. In October of 1940, Edsel wrote to Dollfus to say he was “delighted to hear you are making progress…. Fully realize great handicap you are working under.” Three months later he wrote again to say that Ford headquarters was “very proud of the record that you and your associates have made in building the company up to its first great position under such circumstances.”

Dearborn maintained its communication with Ford of France well after the United States entered the war. In late January of 1942, Dollfus informed Dearborn that Ford’s operations had the highest production level of all French manufacturers and, as summed up by the Treasury report, that he was “still relying on the French government to preserve the interests of American stockholders.”

During the following months, Dollfus wrote to Edsel several times to report on damages suffered by the French plant during bombing runs by the Royal Air Force. In his reply, Edsel expressed relief that American newspapers that ran pictures of a burning Ford factory did not identify it as a company property. On July 17, 1942, Edsel wrote again to say that he had shown Dollfus’s most recent letter to his father and to Dearborn executive Sorenson. “They both join me in sending best wishes for you and your staff, and the hope that you will continue to carry on the good work that you are doing,” he said.

As in Germany, Ford’s policy of sleeping with the Nazis proved to be a highly lucrative approach. Ford of France had never been very profitable in peacetime–it had paid out only one dividend in its history–but its service to the Third Reich soon pushed it comfortably into the black. Dollfus once wrote to Dearborn to boast about this happy turn of events, adding that the company’s “prestige in France has increased considerably and is now greater than it was before the war.”

Treasury Department officials were clearly aghast at Ford’s activities. An employee named Randolph Paul sent the report to Secretary Henry Morgenthau with a note that stated, “The increased activity of the French Ford subsidiaries on behalf of the Germans received the commendation of the Ford family in America.” Morgenthau soon replied, “If we can legally and ethically do it, I would like to turn over the information in connection with the Ford Motor Company to Senator [Harry] Truman.”

Lydia Cisaruk, the Ford spokeswoman, says that Ford Werke’s pre-Pearl Harbor support for the Third Reich was largely unknown to company headquarters. Neither of the two Dearborn executives on Ford Werke’s board, Edsel Ford and Charles Sorenson, attended board meetings after 1938. “By 1940, Dearborn was becoming less and less involved in day-to-day operations,” she says. “There was a gradual loss of control.” Asked about Ford Werke’s political support for the Nazis, as seen in its in-house newsletter, she replied: “Looking at the years leading up to the war, no one could foresee what was going to happen. A number of countries were negotiating with Germany and Germany was repeatedly saying that it was interested in peaceful solutions. The United States was talking to Germany until the two countries went to war.” She concedes that some “foreign” labor was employed at the plant beginning in 1940, but says Dearborn had no knowledge of that at the time. Ford is currently conducting an exhaustive investigation into Ford Werke, she says. When the research is completed this year, the company will make available all of the documentary evidence it has accumulated, including financial records. While Ford did not take part in the German slave-labor talks, Cisaruk says it is in preliminary discussions with Deputy Treasury Secretary Stuart Eizenstat to establish a humanitarian US-based fund for Holocaust survivors. “We do want to help people who suffered at the hands of the Nazis,” she says.

Production at Ford Werke slowed at the end of the war, in part because of power shortages caused by Allied bombing runs, but activity never came to a halt. Soon after Germany’s capitulation, Ford representatives from England and the United States traveled to Cologne to inspect the plant and plan for the future. In 1948 Henry Ford II visited Cologne to celebrate the 10,000th truck to roll off the postwar assembly line there. Two years later, Ford of Germany rehired Schmidt–who had been arrested and briefly held by US troops at the war’s end–after he wrote a letter to Dearborn in which he insisted that he had fervently hated the Nazis. He was one of six key executives from the Nazi era who moved back into important positions at Ford after 1945. “After the war, Ford did not just reassume control of a factory, but it also took over the factory’s history,” says historian Fings. “Apparently no one at Ford was interested in casting light upon this part of history, not even to explicitly proclaim a distance from the practices of Ford Werke during the Nazi era.” Schmidt remained with Ford until his death in 1962.

The high point of Ford’s cynicism was yet to come. Before its fall, the Nazi regime had given Ford Werke about $104,000 in compensation for damages caused by Allied bombings (Ford also got money for bombing damages from the Vichy government). Dearborn was not satisfied with that amount. In 1965 Ford went before the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission of the US to ask for an additional $7 million. (During the hearings, commission attorney Zvonko Rode pointed to the embarrassing fact–which Ford’s attorney did not dispute–that most of the manufactured products destroyed during the bombings had been intended for the use of the Nazi armed forces.) In the end, the commission awarded the company $1.1 million–but only after determining that Ford had used a fraudulent exchange rate to jack up the size of the alleged damages. The commission also found that Dearborn had sought compensation for merchandise that had been destroyed by flooding.

Ford’s eagerness to be compensated for damages incurred to Ford Werke during the Nazi era makes its current posture of denying any association with the wartime plant all the more hypocritical. These new revelations may force Ford to reconsider its responsibilities with regard to slave labor. In the meantime, new legal developments could also create problems for the company. Last year California passed a law that extends the statute of limitations on Holocaust-related claims. In November Senator Charles Schumer of New York introduced a bill in Congress that would do the same thing at the federal level.

Ken Silverstein is a Washington, DC–based investigative reporter.
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