top of page
  • Writer's pictureHenry K. Miller

Thursday 19 January

In the course of an apparently celebratory article about the success of two more recent Poole Street films in the US, Bioscope quotes Al Kaufman, Famous Players-Lasky’s head of European production, as saying that ‘we shall not start work on a new production until the early spring’.

L-R: Jesse Lasky, Adolph Zukor, Samuel Goldwyn, Cecil B. DeMille, Al Kaufman, c. 1915

Al Kaufman’s parents had emigrated to the US from Hungary in the 1880s, and he was born in South Dakota, where the family tried to start a farm before moving back to Chicago. Adolph Zukor, who would go on to found the Famous Players company, one half of what became Famous Players-Lasky, was connected to the family through the fur trade, and in 1897 married Kaufman’s sister, Lottie. After their father died, around 1904, Zukor had employed his teenage brother-in-law as a ticket taker in his first penny arcade in New York.

Union Square South c. 1910

A few years later, after a spell working in a lace factory, where Kaufman had been sent by his mother after he was found to be gambling and socializing with gangsters, Zukor made him house manager of the Comedy Theatre in Union Square, cornerstone of Zukor’s growing nickelodeon empire, and from that point onwards he was Zukor’s right-hand man. When Zukor moved from exhibition into production, Kaufman became studio manager.

Al Kaufman, photographed in his US Army uniform.

Kaufman served with the US Army in the First World War, and had barely returned stateside when Zukor sent him back to Europe to build Poole Street. By the late 1930s he was employed in Myron Selznick’s agency and was closely involved in arranging Hitchcock’s move to Hollywood.


bottom of page