George K. Spoor

George K. Spoor

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George Kirke Spoor was an early film pioneer who, with Broncho Billy Anderson
Broncho Billy Anderson
Gilbert M. "Broncho Billy" Anderson was an American actor, writer, film director, and film producer, who is best known as the first star of the Western film genre.-Early life:...

, founded Essanay Studios
Essanay Studios
The Essanay Film Manufacturing Company was an American motion picture studio. It is best known today for its series of Charlie Chaplin comedies of 1915.-Founding:...

 in Chicago in 1907.


Spoor and Anderson were responsible for discovering stars such as Wallace Beery
Wallace Beery
Wallace Fitzgerald Beery was an American actor. He is best known for his portrayal of Bill in Min and Bill opposite Marie Dressler, as Long John Silver in Treasure Island, as Pancho Villa in Viva Villa!, and his titular role in The Champ, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor...

, Francis X. Bushman
Francis X. Bushman
Francis Xavier Bushman was an American actor, film director, and screenwriter. His matinee idol career started in 1911 in the silent film His Friend's Wife, but it did not survive the silent screen era....

, Ben Turpin
Ben Turpin
Ben Turpin was a cross-eyed American comedian and actor, best remembered for his work in silent films.-Personal life:...

, Gloria Swanson
Gloria Swanson
Gloria Swanson was an American actress, singer and producer. She was one of the most prominent stars during the silent film era as both an actress and a fashion icon, especially under the direction of Cecil B. DeMille, made dozens of silents and was nominated for the first Academy Award in the...

, and Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin
Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, KBE was an English comic actor, film director and composer best known for his work during the silent film era. He became the most famous film star in the world before the end of World War I...

. Allan Dwan
Allan Dwan
Allan Dwan was a pioneering Canadian-born American motion picture director, producer and screenwriter.-Early life:...

, who was hired as a screenwriter
Screenwriters or scriptwriters or scenario writers are people who write/create the short or feature-length screenplays from which mass media such as films, television programs, Comics or video games are based.-Profession:...

, went on to become a famous Hollywood director. Louella Parsons
Louella Parsons
Louella Parsons was the first American news-writer movie columnist in the United States. She was a gossip columnist who, for many years, was an influential arbiter of Hollywood mores, often feared and hated by the individuals, mostly actors, whose careers she could negatively impact via her...

, also hired by Spoor as a screenwriter, later became a famous Hollywood gossip columnist
Gossip columnist
A gossip columnist is someone who writes a gossip column in a newspaper or magazine, especially a gossip magazine. Gossip columns are material written in a light, informal style, which relates the gossip columnist's opinions about the personal lives or conduct of celebrities from show business ,...


In 1894, while box office manager of the Phoenix Opera House in Waukegan, Illinois
Waukegan, Illinois
Waukegan is a city and county seat of Lake County, Illinois. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 87,901. The 2010 population was 89,078. It is the ninth-largest city in Illinois by population...

, George K. Spoor teamed with inventor Edward Hill Amet (1860–1948) to build and exhibit The Magniscope, the first practical 35mm movie projector
Movie projector
A movie projector is an opto-mechanical device for displaying moving pictures by projecting them on a projection screen. Most of the optical and mechanical elements, except for the illumination and sound devices, are present in movie cameras.-Physiology:...

 ever designed and used in a large audience display. Spoor and Amet made films and distributed them with this device before the 1895 device by the Lumiere Brothers of France. Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison
Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. In addition, he created the world’s first industrial...

's more famous Kinetoscope
The Kinetoscope is an early motion picture exhibition device. Though not a movie projector—it was designed for films to be viewed individually through the window of a cabinet housing its components—the Kinetoscope introduced the basic approach that would become the standard for all cinematic...

 was exhibited in 1891, but was only able to be viewed by one person at a time through a peephole.

Spoor and Amet are credited for having filmed: the world's first newsreel, a film of the first Inauguration
An inauguration is a formal ceremony to mark the beginning of a leader's term of office. An example is the ceremony in which the President of the United States officially takes the oath of office....

 of President William McKinley
William McKinley
William McKinley, Jr. was the 25th President of the United States . He is best known for winning fiercely fought elections, while supporting the gold standard and high tariffs; he succeeded in forging a Republican coalition that for the most part dominated national politics until the 1930s...

 in 1897; the first use of film miniatures (The Battle of Santiago Bay) in which tin replicas and cigar smoke created the illusion of live war footage; the first to experience local censorship (due to the graphic images of China's Boxer Rebellion
Boxer Rebellion
The Boxer Rebellion, also called the Boxer Uprising by some historians or the Righteous Harmony Society Movement in northern China, was a proto-nationalist movement by the "Righteous Harmony Society" , or "Righteous Fists of Harmony" or "Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists" , in China between...

); and even the first "fake newsreel" in which Spoor used neighbors to act out battles such as the Battle of San Juan Hill
Battle of San Juan Hill
The Battle of San Juan Hill , also known as the battle for the San Juan Heights, was a decisive battle of the Spanish-American War. The San Juan heights was a north-south running elevation about two kilometers east of Santiago de Cuba. The names San Juan Hill and Kettle Hill were names given by the...

in a local park.

In 1926, Spoor and inventor P. John Berggren invented Natural Vision, an early 65mm widescreen process which was only used to film four movies, including Danger Lights
Danger Lights
Danger Lights is a 1930 film starring Louis Wolheim, Robert Armstrong, and Jean Arthur.The plot concerns railroading on the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, and the movie was largely filmed along that railroad's lines in Montana...

(RKO, 1930
1930 in film
-Events:* November 1: The Big Trail featuring a young John Wayne in his first starring role is released in both 35mm, and a very early form of 70mm film and was the first large scale big-budget film of the sound era costing over $2 million. The film was praised for its aesthetic quality and realism...

). The trademark Natural Vision was later used for an unrelated system of making 3-D
3-D film
A 3-D film or S3D film is a motion picture that enhances the illusion of depth perception...

 films in 1953.

In 1948, Spoor received an Oscar
Academy Awards
An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...

, specifically an Academy Honorary Award
Academy Honorary Award
The Academy Honorary Award, instituted in 1948 for the 21st Academy Awards , is given by the discretion of the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to celebrate motion picture achievements that are not covered by existing Academy Awards, although prior winners of...

 for his contribution to developing motion pictures as entertainment.

He died on 24 November 1953.

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