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Unbirthday

November 01, 1987|Steve Hanson and Patricia King Hanson

Amidst the ballyhoo over Hollywood's 100th birthday and Paramount's Diamond Jubilee . . . Universal's 75th slipped by unnoticed on June 8.

Turns out that studio execs don't think of 1912 as their starting date--because Universal didn't establish its Western headquarters (in what's now Universal City) until 1915. The Universal digs had been in NYC.

But Paramount also was based in NYC in its earliest days (then Famous Players). And it's celebrating.

So how come Universal--incorporated just seven days after Paramount--isn't having a party too?

Said a studio official, "We prefer to consider the facility here as the beginning of our company."

Well, OK, but the fact is that by the time Paramount brought culture to the movie houses with the likes of Sarah Bernhardt in "Queen Elizabeth" in 1912, Universal founder Carl Laemmle already had given the screen its first official movie star, Florence Lawrence, circa 1910.

Laemmle also was the man who released "Traffic in Souls," a 1913 blockbuster about prostitution--which proved to the industry that a lot of money could be made with exploitation films. The rest, to coin a phrase, is history.

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