Adolph Zukor book dedication #89

Adolph Zukor, founder of Paramount Pictures, one of the creators of Hollywood filmmaking, was born in the small east Hungary village of Ricse, Borsod county, on 7 January 1873. He lost both his parents early on and at the age of just 15 he emigrated – alone – to the United States where initially he worked in the stores of fur merchants in New York and Chicago before opening his own furrier business. He was one of the first to recognize the huge opportunities inherent in film: in 1904 he teamed up to open a penny arcade where 3-minute motion pictures could be viewed. In 1912 he founded the Famous Players Film Company (later Paramount), which initially operated as a distribution company but soon went into film production as well. His business methods – use of famous actors, distribution techniques, corporate structure – were the foundations on which Hollywood as we know it today was built.

A comprehensive monography titled The House That Shadows Built on his extraordinary career was published in 1928. A copy was added to the library of the Film Archive in 1958, complete with handwritten dedication by Adolph Zukor:

-NFI – Filmarchívum Könyvtár
Copy of The House that Shadows Built signed by Adolph Zukor (Photo: NFI – Film Archive Library)
-Budapest Főváros Levéltára
Aladár Gárdos (Photo: Budapest Főváros Levéltára)

Adolph Zukor dedicated the volume to Aladár Gárdos. The sculptor Gárdos came into contact with Zukor, who was then in his fifties, when the magnate wanted to gift Ricse, the village of his birth, with a well. The world-famous producer and studio founder made several trips to Hungary from 1923, including visits to his birthplace. When he was in Ricse in 1927 he realized that the village had no secure source of drinking water, thus he decided to pay for an artesian well to be dug in a spot designated by the community. The well was finished in 1928 and it had a sculpture of a shepherd placed above it – this was carved by Gárdos. He was the artist commissioned to do the relief on the façade of Budapest’s Gellért Hotel, the side figure of the pagan being converted on St. Gellért’s statue in the capital, several tombs in Kerepesi cemetery and around the country as well as the Kossuth and Deák memorials. He fell victim to fascism in 1944.

Shepherd’s Well in Ricse built using a donation from Adolph Zukor (Photo: Szoborlap)

Adolph Zukor aged 18

The prosperous businessman

To mark the 20th anniversary of the foundation of Paramount Pictures, a feature compilation film was put together titled The House That Shadows Built (1931), which covers key moments in the history of the studio.