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Carl Laemmle, Movie Pioneer in Chicago

Discover three reasons Carl Laemmle is a pioneer in film and Chicago.

Man standing next to wall
Carl Laemmle

Born in 1867 in southwestern Germany, Carl Laemmle immigrated to the U.S. in 1884, acquired U.S. citizenship in 1889, and worked in Chicago for more than two decades.⁣ In 1906, Carl Laemmle (pronounced LEM-LEE) entered a Chicago nickelodeon, an early storefront theatre that charged guests about a nickel to watch moving pictures.

Laemmle watched as customer after customer flowed in and out of the building. With all that traffic, the 40-year-old realized that investing his savings in this new motion picture business might be a lucrative idea. Laemmle was right. ⁣

title card for movie
Title card for 'The Hide-Out'

Three reasons Carl Laemmle is a pioneer in film and Chicago: ⁣

  1. He was among the first to open movie theaters in the city. His first theatre, The White Front, opened on Milwaukee Ave. ⁣

  2. ⁣He opened Laemmle Film Service and rented films to new theaters in major cities in the U.S. and, at one point, was the largest film distributor in America.⁣

  3. ⁣He and other independent film producers founded Universal Pictures, which continues to make films. ⁣

To read more about Laemmle’s life in the movie business — and his complicated relationship between American and German audiences — locate his profile within the German Historical Institute’s biography project.⁣ And to learn more about Jewish pioneers in Chicago, check out our virtual walking tour below!


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