American production executive and producer Jesse Lasky was the founder of the Jesse Lasky Feature Play Company which later merged with Adolph Zukor's Famous Players to form the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, one of the major studios of the silent era. Lasky did many interesting things before joining the film industry. He started out as a reporter then made failed plans to join the Alaska Gold Rush. Lasky, a talented musician, then went to work as a bandleader in Hawaii. Upon his return to the States, he and his sister Blanche formed a team and played coronet in vaudeville; this lead to his becoming a promoter of vaudeville.
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In 1913 he and his brother-in-law Samuel Goldfish (who later became Sam Goldwyn) formed the first studio with Goldfish functioning as president and Lasky as the vice-president. In 1914, their first film, The Squaw Man, became a great hit and an industry milestone in that it was the first epic western; its success also helped make Hollywood a center for filmmaking. Eventually his Famous Players-Lasky company merged and merged again until it became Paramount, another major studio in American cinema history. For an executive, Lasky was always well-liked and respected by his peers and employees. When the Depression hit, Lasky lost his job and began producing independently for other major studios. In 1935, he and former silent star Mary Pickford formed the Pickford-Lasky company, but it didn't last long. Later in the decade he began producing a radio talent show. In the late '50s, Lasky was so deeply indebted to the IRS that he returned to film production with Paramount. He died while his film was still in the pre-production stage. His sons were screenwriter Jess Lasky, Jr. and assistant director William Lasky. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi