By Bruce Edwin


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No form of art has more impact on the world than the motion picture. Through film and television, countries have been swayed, elections have been won, wars have been waged, and morals have been shaped and changed, molded or destroyed. It was through film that the Nazi psychiatrists and Hitler indoctrinated their propaganda of a master race, igniting World War II, and it was with the same method, film, that the U.S. used to bolster just hatred for the Nazi ideology. Film, like a hammer, is merely a tool. In the right hands, it can build monuments of iron and gold and lift life up. In the wrong hands, it can help destroy, kill, or subdue. It enables its makers to reach hundreds of thousands, even millions with its images, sounds, and ideas at once. And today, with the internet, its genesis morphs yet again in to a limitless new horizon to affect change and create or destroy culture.

Eadweard Muybridge helped usher in the creation of film with the first fast motion still camera of a horse running in 1878. Thomas Edison helped expand it with his kinetograph and kinetoscope, and the Lumiere Brothers expanded further with their cinematograph. Edison popularized the new nickelodeons, which cost a nickel for short peepshows, traveling city to city, and Georges Melies, and Eastman Kodak progressed it further. Louis B. Mayer emerged to found what is now MGM with some help from Samuel Goldwyn. Carl Laemmle founded the Universal Film Manufacturing Company, And four brothers, Harry, Sam, Albert, and Jack Warner started Warner Brothers in 1918.

Yet a man named Adolph Zukor, also with the help of Goldwyn, and Jessse Lasky, beat them all to the race first, as the founder of Paramount Pictures first incarnation as the Famous Players Film Company in 1912, and later Paramount Pictures in 1914. And it was Paramount's Cecil B. DeMille and D.W. Griffith who helped usher in the lady who would be called the most famous actress in the world, Mary Pickford, who later helped found United Artists and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, with a Paramount silent film named 'Wings' getting The Academy's first ever award hand out of best picture. Adolph Zukor, known as a humble, even self deprecating gentleman, despite his power and prestige, lived to be 103, passing away in his Century City flat of natural causes.

It is Mr. Zukor, his studio Paramount, and that silent motion picture called 'Wings,' that would influence and inspire a young boy from across America, at a mere 10 years of age, to watch that film twice, and become 'obsessed' with working for one of the founders of the motion picture industry, and its first major studio, Paramount. Less than 7 years later, at a mere 17, that young boy traveled alone by train coach across country, leaving Florida, and heading to the land of dreams, Hollywood. That boy would go on to be taken under the 'wings' of Adolph Zukor and Cecil B. DeMille themselves.

He would grow up to fulfill his dream as producer, and became friends and confidant to the greatest film legends and stars in the world, all of Paramount's own contracted 'famous players' including Claudette Colbert, Kay Francis, Gary Cooper, William Powell, Carole Lombard, W.C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, Marlene Dietrich, and Mae West among more. When he wasn't clubbing with Marilyn Monroe keeping her away from trouble, the handsome young man would grow his phenomenal social circle to become best friends with John Wayne, James Cagney, and a man named Ronald Reagan, who he urged to go knock on doors to run for governor. That boy who pursued his dreams with no doubt, is the man that just days ago stood before me in his impeccable, custom tailored European suit, with cuff links that once belonged to his friend, President Reagan. That man is the legend himself, called Mr. Hollywood, and Mr. Paramount by some, the giant of a legend who is as humble as his mentor Zukor was himself. That man is Mr. A.C. Lyles.

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®The Hollywood Sentinel