Sam Goldwyn: The SIMPP Years
Excerpt from Hollywood Renegades by J. A. Aberdeen
Goldwyn, studio portrait.
Samuel Goldwyn, for his sheer longevity as a successful independent producer,
remained a marvel in the industry, though his success was achieved on quite a
different level than that of Walt Disney. With only brief interruptions in his
production output over a 30-year span, Goldwyn released his seventy-eighth film Hans
Christian Andersen (1952) which became his last RKO release, and his final
production as a SIMPP member.
He remained landlord of the 18-acre Hollywood studio at Santa Monica
Boulevard and Formosa Avenue, the former Pickford-Fairbanks
studio which had been called the Samuel Goldwyn
Studio since 1939. During the 1940s, Mary Pickford still retained her share
of the property, which meant that neither independent had clear majority
control. The joint owners continued to bicker over the studio until their
disagreement created a deadlock that landed them in court, and put the lot up
for sale at auction in 1955.
Goldwyn, assisted by James Mulvey, outbid Pickford, and became sole owner of
the property. But despite Pickford's many frustrating encounters with Goldwyn
over the years, she still helped Goldwyn out as needed - as she did only a
couple years later with her appearance in the Fox
West Coast case in 1957. The lot provided a home for many independent
production companies over the years, and continued to be known as the Samuel
Goldwyn Studio until 1980 when Warner Bros. purchased the site as an auxiliary
to its Burbank headquarters, and renamed it the Warner Hollywood Studio. After
Warner sold the property to a private film company in 1999, it remained in
operation with a new identity called The Lot.
The 82 year-old Sam Goldwyn retired from active filmmaking after the $7
million musical Porgy and Bess (1959) starring Sidney
Poitier. He felt alienated by the promiscuity of the cinema in general;
though, interestingly, Goldwyn had spearheaded SIMPP's
successful anti-censorship movement in 1954 to modernize the 24 year old
production code to avoid it becoming outmoded. “I've tried to be honorable.
I've tried to behave decently,” Goldwyn declared in 1959. “I've never done a
picture that would offend anybody.” Goldwyn was one of many Hollywood veterans
who became distanced by the value shift in film as the censorship code eroded
completely during the following decade.
Samuel Goldwyn, who had been wheelchair-bound after a debilitating stroke in
1969, died on January 31, 1974 at the age of 95.
Samuel Goldwyn Studio-“History,” Warner Hollywood
In 1999, Warner Bros. agreed to sell the property to a real estate investment
firm for $65 million: Chris Gennusa and David Robb, “Warner Hollywood Sold,”
HR, December 9, 1999, pp. 1, 34.