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James Dixon Williams (1877 – August 28, 1934) was an early film producer who started First National Pictures Corporation in 1917 with Thomas L. Tally. He signed a $1,000,000 contract with Charles Chaplin for 8 pictures, the largest dollar contract signed at the time. [1] [2]

Williams was born in Ceredo, West Virginia most likely to and Harriett and O. H. Williams. [3]He worked in live theater, selling tickets and later playing the house organ. He then worked as a traveling picture showman. From around 1897 until 1908 he toured with his show across the United States, ending up in Spokane, Seattle, and Vancouver. [2] He went to Australia in 1910, and in 1912, he opened Luna Park in Melbourne (illuminated by 15,000 electric lights, 22,300 people came on the first night). Live entertainment was the main attraction with high wire artists, trick cyclists, unicyclists and others. He married Ethel Hope in 1916. Williams started First National Pictures Corporation in 1917. [1]

He died in Manhattan Hospital in 1934. [1]


  1. ^ a b c "J. D. Williams, Film Pioneer, Dies. Sponsor of Charlie Chaplin. Organized First National Pictures Corp. in 1917. Founded British Concern. Signed First $1,000,000 Contract With Screen Star. Started His career in Australia.". New York Times. August 29, 1934, Wednesday.  
  2. ^ a b "The multi-continental career of J. D. Williams". Retrieved 2007-08-26.  
  3. ^ 1880 US Census for Ceredo, West Virginia

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