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Mitchell Mark (born as Mitchel Mark) (1868-1918) was a pioneer of motion picture exhibition in the United States.

Biography

Michell Mark founded the Vitascope Theater (a special attraction of his Edisonia Hall in the Ellicott Square Buildingmarker) arguably one of the very first purpose-built movie theaters in the world. It opened Monday, October 19, 1896 (according to local papers) in Buffalo, New Yorkmarker. It operated nearly two years, the longest run for any such theater at that time.

Although his name is usually spelled "Mitchell", on his grave site it is spelled "Mitchel"

His obituary notes that he was the first American to have a distribution arrangement with Pathé Frères to import Pathé films to the United States. Indeed, nearly the entire Vitascope Theatre program of October 19, 1896 consisted of Lumiere films.

With his brother Moe Mark, Mitchell founded The Automatic Vaudeville Company in 1906 in New York Citymarker. Among their other partners were Adolph Zukor (co-founder with Jesse Lasky of Paramount Pictures) and Marcus Loew (founder of Loew's Theatres). It was based in form on Edisonia Hall and the Vitascope Theatre in Buffalo.

The Mark Brothers went on to build and operate dozens of important theaters in the United States after their auspicious start in Buffalo.

In 1914, Mark Brothers opened the Mark Strand Theatre at 47th Street and Broadway in Times Square, New York City. Costing $1 million, this theater may have been first real movie palace, specifically built only to show motion pictures. It was designed by Thomas W. Lamb and served as a model for many film theaters that soon followed it. The New York Times favorably reviewed the opening of this theater, helping to establish its importance. To manage the theater, Mark personally hired Samuel "Roxy" Rothafel, who went on to become the best known motion picture showman in New York City.

On December 31, 1917, Mark received a determination from the NY State Supreme Court that he had sole right to use the name "The Strand" for a movie theater.

By 1917, Mark's importance in motion picture exhibition was such that when Cecil B. DeMille complained in his autobiography that exhibitors were protesting the high price of Hollywood movie rentals, he cited Mitchell Mark along with Thomas L. Tally as the worst offenders.

Mark is credited with installing the first church organ to be used for the movies at Cleveland's Alhambra Theatre in 1907.

Mark suffered an accidental death at his family's home in Buffalo in 1918 and is buried there in Forest Lawn Cemeterymarker.

References

  1. A Million and One Nights by Terry Ramsaye, 1925
  2. New York Supplement, Mitchel H.Mark Realty Corp. v. Major Amusement Corp. Inc. et al. N.Y. Court Records 180 App Div 549
  3. Autobiography by Cecil B. Demille
  4. Hollywood Rhapsody by Gary Marmorstein, 1997


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