Jesse Lasky Sr., a name synonymous with the early days of Hollywood and one of its most famous figures during what became known as “The Golden Days Of Hollywood’ – or before the advent of talkies.
Lasky, whose film company, Lasky Famous Players, eventually became part of a fledgling Paramount Pictures, a studio which he co-founded with W.W. Hodkinson and Adolf Zukor, and established a legacy which went from 1912 until today.
Of course, during these early days of Film, it was different, a LOT different. The only thing similar was the nature of their business; cranking out as many Movies as possible, and coupled with the other studios springing up at the time, competition was fierce, even in the early years of the 20th century.
Jessy Lasky Jr. was born in 1910 and didn’t come of age until well into the period of Talking Pictures. He had, as of this interview
in 1975 with Film Critic and Historian Arthur Knight, just published an autobiography, Whatever Happened To Hollywood? in which he laments the change and the upheaval – going from the Dictatorial/Factory atmosphere to the Star-driven and then to the Director driven Studio.
It’s interesting, listening to this interview in 1975 that they spend some time discussing the advent of the Video Cassette Recorder and the Laser Disc Player and how that could have a possible impact on Hollywood and how it made films.
But even in 1975, Lasky decried the loss of importance of the writer in film, and how even the Director was beginning to take backseat to “the concept picture’. As a writer himself, former vice-President of the Writers Guild, with some 40 features to his credit, he was living in Europe, far away from the Hollywood of the 70s. But looking back on the early days of Hollywood and the early art of filmmaking, you can’t help but think it was an exciting time, as any new endeavor often is.
Jesse Lasky Sr. died in 1958 and Jesse Lasky Jr. died in 1988 – between the two of them they represented Hollywood’s circuitous, extreme and enlightening history.