The King of the Movies: Siegmund Lubin

The King of the Movies is a feature-length documentary film celebrating the life and career of America’s first Jewish movie mogul: Siegmund Lubin, of Philadelphia. One of the original film pioneers, Lubin was the very first of the legendary series of Polish Jews who helped to create and shape the American movie industry.


Lubin’s story is the tale of a complex visionary and entrepreneur, a daring investor with a gambler’s instinct who did more than anyone else to commercialize the early movie industry. Arriving in Philadelphia with a leather case full of eyeglasses in 1882, Lubin began experimenting with “Life Motion Pictures” in his backyard in 1897. By 1913, he was the head of America’s first movie empire. His string of studios was spread across the United States and produced hundreds of films that were shown quite literally around the world. He became America’s first movie mogul, living a lavish lifestyle, enjoying international fame, and claiming the title of “The King of the Movies.” Then he lost it all. By the time he died in 1923, he was impoverished and forgotten.
A seldom-mentioned, essentially forgotten, pioneer of the American cinema, Siegmund Lubin in fact made significant contributions to the movie industry in his lifetime.

He was:

· The first to mass-market moving picture equipment and films…
· The first to participate in all aspects of the movie industry at once…
· The first to build and operate a chain of movie theaters…
· The first to invest heavily in special effects…
· The first to attempt the commercial distribution of synchronized sound with films…
· The first to promote the idea of home movies…
· The first to employ commercial product placement in his films.

Lubin also helped launch the early careers of several well known figures of the early American movies industry, among them Oliver Hardy, Henry King, Florence Lawrence, Marie Dressler, Alan Hale, Sr., L. C. Shumway, Edward Sloman, and Albert Hackett.

Without his support and generous help, the careers of Sam Goldwyn, Cecil B. DeMille and the Warner brothers may have never gotten off the ground.


About the Filmmakers


A Philadelphia native and graduate of Temple University’s School of Communications and Theater, Henry Nevison is an Emmy-nominated producer, director and editor, internationally recognized for his achievements. His more than thirty years of experience includes programming for The History Channel, The Discovery Channel, A&E Biography, Mind TV, major museum installations, and a diverse list of clients representing Fortune 500 corporations and major cultural institutions.


Joseph P. Eckhardt, Professor Emeritus of History at Montgomery County Community College near Philadelphia, PA, has made it his passion to uncover the facts and the mystery behind this enterprising impresario. He is the author of The King of the Movies: Film Pioneer, Siegmund Lubin, (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1997) as well as several articles on the early movie industry. Through nearly thirty-five years of research, Eckhardt has collected hundreds of photographs and artifacts from the Lubin studios, and has located and studied scores of Lubin films in various international archives.

Donate to the Production of The King of the Movies


Send your contribution by check made out to The National Center for Jewish Film with "The King of the Movies" written in the memo line.

Send to: The National Center for Jewish Film
Brandeis University, Lown 102 MS053
Waltham, MA 02454


Call 781-736-8600 Monday through Friday from 9am-5pm EST with your Visa or Mastercard.



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