Vanda Krefft, author of The Man Who Made the Movies: The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox joins me today to talk about working as a journalist, learning story craft, working as an entertainment reporter, discovering an untold story, digging into the story of William Fox and determining to tell his story, the 10 year journey to uncovering the lost history of this movie legend, and much more.
A riveting story of ambition, greed, and genius unfolding at the dawn of modern America. This landmark biography brings into focus a fascinating brilliant entrepreneur—like Steve Jobs or Walt Disney, a true American visionary—who risked everything to realize his bold dream of a Hollywood empire.
Although a major Hollywood studio still bears William Fox’s name, the man himself has mostly been forgotten by history, even written off as a failure. Now, in this fascinating biography, Vanda Krefft corrects the record, explaining why Fox’s legacy is central to the history of Hollywood.
At the heart of William Fox’s life was the myth of the American Dream. His story intertwines the fate of the nineteenth-century immigrants who flooded into New York, the city’s vibrant and ruthless gilded age history, and the birth of America’s movie industry amid the dawn of the modern era. Drawing on a decade of original research, The Man Who Made the Movies offers a rich, compelling look at a complex man emblematic of his time, one of the most fascinating and formative eras in American history.
Growing up in Lower East Side tenements, the eldest son of impoverished Hungarian immigrants, Fox began selling candy on the street. That entrepreneurial ambition eventually grew one small Brooklyn theater into a $300 million empire of deluxe studios and theaters that rivaled those of Adolph Zukor, Marcus Loew, and the Warner brothers, and launched stars such as Theda Bara. Amid the euphoric roaring twenties, the early movie moguls waged a fierce battle for control of their industry. A fearless risk-taker, Fox won and was hailed as a genius—until a confluence of circumstances, culminating with the 1929 stock market crash, led to his ruin.
About Vanda Krefft:
Vanda Krefft is the author of The Man Who Made the Movies, the first serious, in-depth biography of Twentieth Century Fox founder William Fox. The book was inspired by her friendship with Angela Fox Dunn, William Fox’s niece and the last person alive who knew him well.
Involving more than ten years of research, The Man Who Made the Movies was supported by fellowships and grants from the Leon Levy Center for Biography, the Dedalus Foundation, the Lilly Library at Indiana University, the American Jewish Archives, the Hagley Museum and Library, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the Historical Society of Southern California.
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