Harry Cohn

Harry Cohn

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Harry Cohn

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Harry Cohn (July 23, 1891 – February 27, 1958) was the American president and production director of Columbia Pictures.Obituary Variety, March 5, 1958.


Cohn was born to a working-class German-Jewish family in New York City. In later years, he appears to have disparaged his heritage. After working for a time as a streetcar conductor, and then as a promoter for a sheet music printer, he got a job with Universal Pictures, where his brother, Jack Cohn, was already employed. In 1919, Cohn joined with his brother and Joe Brandt to found CBC Film Sales Corporation. The initials officially stood for Cohn, Brandt, and Cohn, but Hollywood wags noted the company's low-budget, low-class efforts and nicknamed CBC "Corned Beef and Cabbage." Harry Cohn managed the company's film production in Hollywood, while his brother managed its finances from New York. The relationship between the two brothers was not always good, and Brandt, finding the partnership stressful, eventually sold his third of the company to Harry Cohn, who took over as president. The firm was now known as Columbia Pictures Corporation.

Most of Columbia's early work was action fare starring rock-jawed leading man Jack Holt. Columbia was unable to shake off its stigma as a Poverty Row studio until 1934, when director Frank Capra's Columbia comedy It Happened One Night swept the Academy Awards. Exhibitors who formerly wouldn't touch Columbia product...
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