8 May 1912

Paramount Pictures is founded.

Paramount Pictures Corporation also known simply as Paramount is an American film studio based in Hollywood, California, that has been a subsidiary of the American media conglomerate Viacom since 1994. Paramount is the fifth oldest surviving film studio in the world, the second oldest in the United States, and the sole member of the “Big Six” film studios still located in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Hollywood.

In 1916, film producer Adolph Zukor put 22 actors and actresses under contract and honored each with a star on the logo. These fortunate few would become the first “movie stars.” In 2014, Paramount Pictures became the first major Hollywood studio to distribute all of its films in digital form only. The company’s headquarters and studios are located at 5555 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood, California, United States.

Paramount is the fifth oldest surviving film studio in the world after the French studios Gaumont Film Company and Pathé, followed by the Nordisk Film company, and Universal Studios. It is the last major film studio still headquartered in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles.

Paramount Pictures dates its existence from the 1912 founding date of the Famous Players Film Company. Hungarian-born founder Adolph Zukor, who had been an early investor in nickelodeons, saw that movies appealed mainly to working-class immigrants. With partners Daniel Frohman and Charles Frohman he planned to offer feature-length films that would appeal to the middle class by featuring the leading theatrical players of the time leading to the slogan “Famous Players in Famous Plays”. By mid-1913, Famous Players had completed five films, and Zukor was on his way to success. Its first film was Les Amours de la reine Élisabeth, which starred Sarah Bernhardt.

That same year, another aspiring producer, Jesse L. Lasky, opened his Lasky Feature Play Company with money borrowed from his brother-in-law, Samuel Goldfish, later known as Samuel Goldwyn. The Lasky company hired as their first employee a stage director with virtually no film experience, Cecil B. DeMille, who would find a suitable site in Hollywood, near Los Angeles, for his first feature film, The Squaw Man.

Paramount Pictures’ first logo, based on a design by its founder William Wadsworth Hodkinson, used from 1917 to 1967. Starting in 1914, both Lasky and Famous Players released their films through a start-up company, Paramount Pictures Corporation, organized early that year by a Utah theatre owner, W. W. Hodkinson, who had bought and merged several smaller firms. Hodkinson and actor, director, producer Hobart Bosworth had started production of a series of Jack London movies. Paramount was the first successful nationwide distributor; until this time, films were sold on a statewide or regional basis which had proved costly to film producers. Also, Famous Players and Lasky were privately owned while Paramount was a corporation.

23 January 1912

The International Opium Convention is signed at The Hague.

On 23 January 1912, the International Opium Convention was signed in the Hague by representatives from China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Persia (Iran), Portugal, Russia, Siam (Thailand), the UK and the British oversees territories (including British India). Three years later, it entered into force in five countries. The Convention gained, however, near-universal adherence after 1919 when all the countries signing the Peace Treaties of Versailles, St. Germain-en-Laye etc. also became party to the International Opium Convention. Thus by the mid 1920s close to 60 countries had – de jure – signed and ratified the Hague treaty and this number increased to 67 by 1949.

The International Opium convention consisted of six chapters and 25 articles. In addition to opium and morphine, which were already under extensive international discussion, the Hague Convention also included two new substances that had become problematic: cocaine and heroin.

Cocaine was first isolated by the German chemist Albert Niemann in 1860, and rapidly gained popularity for both medical and recreational use. Heroin was a relatively new drug at the time of the Hague Convention, as it had only become available as a pharmaceutical product in 1898. Ironically, it was originally marketed as a non-addictive alternative to morphine, which was proving problematic in many areas.

The 1912 Convention was far from perfect, but it contained many elements of a comprehensive drug control treaty. Moreover, as an official declaration on the dangerous practices of opium smoking and the non-medical trade in opium and other drugs, it had value as an advocacy tool. It also inspired national drug control legislation, such as the 1913 Harrison Act in the United States, the foundation of U.S. drug law in the 20th century.

8 May 1912

Paramount Pictures is established.

Paramount Pictures Corp. was established in 1914 by W.W. Hodkinson as a film distributor, offering Adolph Zukor’s Famous Players Film Company, the Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company, and other producers an outlet for their movies. In 1916 Zukor and Lasky merged their companies to form the Famous Players–Lasky Corporation and acquired Paramount to distribute their films. The new company, which continued to use the name Paramount as well, quickly rose to prominence by featuring such popular stars as Mary Pickford, Fatty Arbuckle, Gloria Swanson, Clara Bow, and Rudolph Valentino. Its early hits included the first “big western,” The Covered Wagon (1923), and The Ten Commandments (1923), a biblical epic directed by Cecil B. DeMille.

In the late 1920s and ’30s the studio added to its roster such stars as Claudette Colbert, Carole Lombard, Marlene Dietrich, Mae West, Gary Cooper, Maurice Chevalier, W.C. Fields, and Bing Crosby and such directors as Ernst Lubitsch, Josef von Sternberg, and Rouben Mamoulian. Although it continued to produce films that were artistically and financially successful, it suffered losses from its chain of theatres during the transition to sound, and Paramount was declared bankrupt in 1933. It was reorganized two years later as Paramount Pictures, Inc., and was soon profitable again. However, it suffered a setback in 1948 when the Supreme Court ruled that seven movie studios, including Paramount, were in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act by controlling both movie distribution and exhibition. As a result, the studios were forced to sell their theatres. No longer able to dictate where and when films would be played, Paramount and other studios began to make fewer—though more expensive—movies.

28 November 1912

Albania declares its independence from the Ottoman Empire.

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On November 28, 1912 Albanian nationalist leader Ismail Qemal, an Ottoman civil servant who rose to the position of President of the Ottoman National Assembly in Istanbul in 1909, returned to Albania with Austro-Hungarian support and at the head of a swiftly convened national assembly declared Albanian independence in the town of Vlora. The chairman, Ismail Kemal Bey, stated that although they had always been faithful to the Ottoman Empire, the Albanians had never forgotten their own language and nationality. The declaration, in Albanian and Turkish read:

“In Vlora, on the 15th/28th of November. Following the speech made by the President, Ismail Kemal Bey, in which he spoke of the great perils facing Albania today, the delegates have all decided unanimously that Albania, as of today, should be on her own, free and independent.”

This signaled the end of almost 500 years of Ottoman rule in Albania. The leaders raised the flag on the balcony of the two-story building in Vlora where the Declaration of Independence had just been signed.