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This article is about Carl Laemmle, the founder of Universal Pictures. See also Carl Laemmle, Jr., for an article about his son.
Carl Laemmle
Born January 17, 1867(1867-01-17)
Laupheim, Württemberg, Germany
Died September 24, 1939 (aged 72)
Los Angeles, California
Years active 1909 - 1936
Birthplace of Carl Laemmle in Laupheim

Carl Laemmle (January 17, 1867 – September 24, 1939), born in Laupheim, Württemberg, Germany, was a pioneer in American film making and a founder of one of the original major Hollywood movie studios - Universal. Laemmle produced or was otherwise involved in over four hundred films.

Regarded as one of the most important of the early film pioneers, Laemmle was born on the Radstrasse just outside the former Jewish quarter of Laupheim, Germany. He emigrated to the United States in 1884, working in Chicago as a bookkeeper or office manager for 20 years. He began buying nickelodeons, eventually expanding into a film distribution service, the Laemmle Film Service.



On June 8, 1912, in New York, Carl Laemmle of IMP, Pat Powers of Powers Picture Company, Mark Dintenfass of Champion Films, and Bill Swanson of American Éclair, all signed a contract to merge their studios. The four formed a famous name in Hollywood production history, the Universal Motion Picture Manufacturing Company. They formed it in 1914 with the purchase of 235 acres (0.95 km2) of land in the San Fernando Valley.

Universal maintained two east coast offices:

The first located at 1600 Broadway, New York City. This building initially known as The Studebaker building...was razed sometime around 2004-5.

The second location to house Universal's executive offices was located at 730 Fifth Avenue, New York City.

Many years later 445 Park Avenue would be where Universals executives would hang their hats.

Purchased the home of film pioneer Thomas Ince, located on Benedict Canyon Drive, Beverly Hills, California. Sadly, the house was raised sometime during the early part of the 1940's. There is conjecture as to the specific address of the home........some sources list it as 1031, others as 1232. Would seem to be a moot point as it no longer exists. He maintained a large apartment for himself and his two children Rosabelle Laemmle (later Bergerman) and Carl Jr. located at 465 West End Avenue, New York City one block off Riverside Drive & the Hudson River.

In the early and mid-1930s Laemmle's son, Carl Laemmle, Jr., produced a series of expensive and commercially unsuccessful films for the studio, although there were occasional successes such as the 1932 Back Street, the 1936 Show Boat, and Universal's famous collection of 1930's horror classics. Carl and Carl Jr. were forced out of the company in 1936.

Laemmle remained connected to his home town of Laupheim throughout his life, by financial support and also by sponsoring hundreds of Jews from Laupheim and Württemberg to emigrate from Nazi Germany to the U.S. (which meant paying both emigration and immigration fees), thus saving them from the Holocaust. In order to ensure and facilitate their immigration Laemmle contacted American authorities, members of the House of Representatives and the Secretary of State, Cordell Hull. He also intervened in the fate of the refugees on board the SS St. Louis who were ultimately sent back from Havana to Europe in 1939.[1]

Following his death from cardiovascular disease on 24 September 1939, in Beverly Hills, California, at the age of 72, Laemmle was entombed in the Chapel Mausoleum at Home of Peace Cemetery.

Asked how to pronounce his name, he told The Literary Digest "The name means little lamb, and is pronounced as if it were spelled ‘lem-lee’." (Charles Earle Funk, What's the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936.)

The poet Ogden Nash observed the following about Laemmle's habit of giving his son and nephews the top executive positions in his studios:

"Uncle Carl Laemmle
Has a very large faemmle."[2]

The main character in the 1949 novel The Dream Merchants by Harold Robbins, a former Universal Studios employee, is based upon Carl Laemmle.

His niece, Rebekah Isabelle Laemmle, known professionally as Carla Laemmle appeared in several films until her withdrawal from filming at the end of the 1930s.

Laemmle was used as a character in The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones.

See also

Published in 1931 the book "The life and adventures of Carl Laemmle" by John Drinkwater contains tremendous information not available elsewhere.

Look for copies on e-bay.


  • Gabler, Neal (1988). An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood. Crown. ISBN 0385265573.  


External links



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