Tag Archives: United Artists

Jews of the Week: Mathilde and Arthur Krim

A Couple that Transformed the World

Mathilde Krim

Mathilde Galland (1926-2018) was born in Italy to Christian parents of Swiss and Italian heritage. While studying in medical school at the University of Geneva, she met an Israeli and converted to Judaism to marry him. She became passionate about her new faith, and the Zionist dream, working tirelessly to help Israeli fighters (especially the Irgun) acquire weapons and funds. After receiving her PhD in biology in 1953, the young family settled in Israel, and Mathilde became a researcher at the Weizmann Institute. During this time, she made important discoveries about viruses and cancer, and was part of the team that first developed a way to determine the gender of an embryo. Mathilde moved to New York after getting divorced, and joined a research team at Cornell University.

Arthur Krim

During this time, she met Arthur B. Krim (1910-1994), the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants. Krim graduated from Columbia Law School in 1932 at the top of his class, and worked at a law firm until the outbreak of World War II. He served for the War Department doing critical military work, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel. After the war, Krim launched a film studio start-up, Eagle-Lion Films. When it tanked, he became a manager at United Artists, and was given three years to turn a profit. He did it in six months, and went on to head United Artists for over two decades (producing hit films like Dr. No, which brought James Bond to America, and West Side Story, which won a record 10 Oscars). Krim and his partners made United Artists the largest movie producer in the world by 1967. Krim would later co-found Orion Pictures (Amadeus, Dances with Wolves). All in all, Krim was a film studio exec for 46 years – possibly the longest in Hollywood history – produced and distributed over 1000 films, and was called “the smartest man ever to work in the movie industry.” Aside from movies, Krim was an important member of the Democratic Party, and served as its finance chairman. He was a personal advisor to three presidents: Kennedy, Johnson, and Carter.

Arthur and Mathilde Krim with President John F. Kennedy

Mathilde and Arthur Krim were famous for their extensive philanthropy and the huge role they played in the civil rights movement, as well as in ending apartheid in South Africa and Zimbabwe, and advancing human rights all over the world. Mathilde continued to work as a researcher throughout her life, and ran the interferon lab at Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research between 1981 and 1985. During this time, she was one of the first to identify the grave dangers of HIV-AIDS, and did important research to understand the pathology of the disease. In 1983, she founded the AIDS Medical Foundation, and then co-founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research. Aside from her own research work, the Krims donated millions of dollars to the cause. In addition to 16 honourary doctorates, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2000, the highest civilian honour in America. Her husband had previously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969.

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Words of the Week

Every Hebrew should look upon his Faith as a temple extending over every land to prove the immutability of God and the unity of His purposes.
– Grace Aguilar

Jew of the Week: William Fox & Joseph Schenck

William Fox

Wilhelm Fried (1875-1952) was born in Hungary to German-Jewish parents that soon immigrated to the U.S. Growing up in New York City, Fried worked in various odd jobs in the fur and garment industry, and even as a newspaper boy. In 1904, having renamed himself William Fox, he purchased a “Nickelodeon” – the earliest kind of movie theatre (often just a converted store front) that showed short films for five cents (hence the term nickelodeon). In 1915 he founded Fox Film Corporation, which originally focused more on building theatres and studios than producing movies. In 1929, Fox attempted to buy out a major share in fellow company MGM. However, a scandal ensued and Fox’s opponents convinced the Justice Department to investigate him for violating anti-trust laws. At the same time, Fox was severely injured in a horrific car accident. Immediately after this, the stock market crashed (sparking the Great Depression). The combination of these three events drove Fox into total bankruptcy, and by 1930 he lost all control of his company. During his bankruptcy hearing several years later, Fox attempted to bribe the judge, and was thus sent to six months in prison. He never returned to the film industry, and died quietly with no Hollywood producers at his funeral.

Joseph Schenck

Fox Film would be taken over by Joseph Michael Schenck (1878-1961), a fellow Jew, born in Russia. Like Fox, Schenck’s family immigrated to New York City. While working at the concession stand of Fort George Amusement Park, Schenck saw the potential of film, and saved up money, together with his brother, to buy Palisades Amusement Park in 1909. Soon after, the brothers parted and Joseph headed to Hollywood for a fresh start. He rose to become president of United Artists (a company co-founded by Charlie Chaplin). He later founded his own company – 20th Century Pictures – in 1933, together with Darryl Zanuck. Two years later, they took over Fox Film to create ’20th Century Fox’. This giant production company is behind such classics as Star Wars, Die Hard, Planet of the Apes, the Simpsons, Family Guy, the X-Files and countless other hits

Words of the Week

Do not judge your fellow until you have stood in his place.
Pirkei Avot 2:4