Spyros Skouras

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Spyros P. Skouras (born March 28, 1893August 16, 1971) was a Greek-American movie executive who was the chairman of the Twentieth Century Fox from 1942 to 1962. He resigned June 27, 1962 effective September 30. An immigrant to America from Greece, his accent was so pronounced that Bob Hope would joke "Spyros has been here twenty years but he still sounds as if he's coming next week."

The life of movie magnate Spyros P. Skouras is a classic rags to riches tale. Born in Skourochori, Elis prefecture, Greece, the son of an impoverished shepherd and one of ten children, Skouras came to the U.S. with his brothers, Charles and George, in 1910. Landing in St. Louis, the trio worked in a large hotel as busboys and sold newspapers until they were able to scrape together 4,000 dollars to invest in part of a local movie house. In short order, the financially astute brothers owned every movie theater in St. Louis. They sold them all to Warner Bros. in the late 1920s and Skouras was hired to manage all of the company's exhibition houses. Between 1930 and 1932, Skouras worked with Paramount, but left to save the Fox Metropolitan chain from destruction. Three years later, Skouras played a key role in the 20th Century Fox merger. He was appointed president of the new company in 1942, and with the assistance of Darryl Zanuck, turned it into one of Hollywood's most powerful studios. In the late '40s and early '50s, Skouras did much to save the movie industry from its newly invented competitor -- television. To this end, Skouras purchased the rights to the CinemaScope process of wide-screen projection and started a new trend in colorful epic films. His heretofore distinguished career with Fox abruptly nose-dived in 1963 with the disastrous release of Cleopatra, the big-budget epic starring Rex Harrison, Elizabeth Taylor, and Richard Burton. The film's box-office failure spelled ruination for the financially beleaguered Fox and Skouras was one of the prime scapegoats for the fiasco. As a result he was assigned as the company's board chairman and his control over films was largely taken away. He remained in that position in 1969 when he left to tend to his other enormous investments that included his own shipping line.

Source Link: http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/filmography.html?p_id=188017&mod=bio Publisher: New York Times

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