George K. Spoor

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George Kirke Spoor (born December 18, 1872 in Highland Park , Illinois , † November 24, 1953 in Chicago , Illinois) was an early film pioneer. Together with Gilbert M. Anderson , he founded the film company Essanay in Chicago in 1907 . Spoor and Anderson discovered and promoted a number of film stars, such as Wallace Beery , Francis X. Bushman , Ben Turpin , Gloria Swanson and Charlie Chaplin .


He left school at 16 and went to work for the North Western Railroad Company. In 1894, Spoor financed the completion of Edward Hill Amets Magniscope , one of the first American 35mm film projectors. A year before the Lumière brothers, Spoor and Amet used this device to professionally project films for a larger audience. As far as is known, only Jean Aimé LeRoy was in the business earlier, to which Eugène Augustin Lauste had joined.

In 1897 Spoor founded the successful sales company Kinodrome in Chicago. Spoor and Amet are considered to be the first news filmmakers in film history (Report from President William McKinley's inauguration in 1897). Amet had insisted that a projectionist familiar with the projector attend each screen. Joseph Bell was such a demonstrator from the very beginning. In 1899 Spoor bought the rights to the Kinodrome from Amet and they parted ways. In 1904 Spoor founded the National Film Renting Bureau , the first actual film rental company.

He tried to meet the ever increasing demand by founding the company Essanay . Together with Gilbert M. Anderson , he mainly produced the popular Broncho-Billy -Western and early slapstick films. In 1918 Essanay ceased sales and production. In the 1920s, Spoor and Fr. John Berggren invested time and money in the development of Natural Vision , an early widescreen and 3-D projection system that only shot four films, including Danger Lights in 1930 for RKO .

In 1948, Spoor received an honorary Oscar alongside William Nicholas Selig , Albert E. Smith and Thomas Armat as "a pioneer whose belief in a new medium and whose contributions to its development paved the way for film since then".

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Journal of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, February 1954, p. 185