38 Facts About RKO Pictures


RKO Pictures has long been renowned for its cycle of musicals starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the mid-to-late 1930s.

FactSnippet No. 447,198

RKO Pictures was responsible for notable co-productions such as It's a Wonderful Life and Notorious, and it distributed many celebrated films by animation producer Walt Disney and leading independent producer Samuel Goldwyn.

FactSnippet No. 447,199

The original RKO Pictures ceased production in 1957 and was effectively dissolved two years later.

FactSnippet No. 447,200

RKO Pictures spent heavily on the lavish Rio Rita, including a number of Technicolor sequences.

FactSnippet No. 447,201

RKO Pictures released a limited slate of twelve features in its first year; in 1930, that figure more than doubled to twenty-nine.

FactSnippet No. 447,202

RKO Pictures was left in a bind: it still had a contract with Technicolor to produce two more features with its system.

FactSnippet No. 447,203

Exceptions like Cimarron and Rio Rita aside, RKO Pictures's product was largely regarded as mediocre, so in October 1931 Sarnoff hired twenty-nine-year-old David O Selznick to replace LeBaron as production chief.

FactSnippet No. 447,204

One of his last acts at RKO Pictures was to approve a screen test for a thirty-three-year-old, balding Broadway song-and-dance man named Fred Astaire.

FactSnippet No. 447,205

One of the figures most responsible for that style was another Selznick recruit: Van Nest Polglase, chief of RKO Pictures's highly regarded design department for almost a decade.

FactSnippet No. 447,206

On June 13, 1935, RKO Pictures premiered the first feature film shot entirely in advanced three-strip Technicolor, Becky Sharp.

FactSnippet No. 447,207

RKO Pictures employed some of the industry's leading artists and craftsmen whose work was never seen.

FactSnippet No. 447,208

From 1937 to 1956, RKO distributed features and shorts from Walt Disney, and the studio he founded, before it, itself, became a distributor, with the creation of the Buena Vista Pictures Distribution division of Walt Disney Productions.

FactSnippet No. 447,209

RKO Pictures left the job before the decade's turn, but his brief tenure resulted in some of the most notable films in studio history, including Gunga Din, with Grant and McLaglen; Love Affair, starring Dunne and Charles Boyer; and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

FactSnippet No. 447,210

RKO Pictures filled the void by releasing independently produced features such as the Dr Christian series and the Laurel and Hardy comedy The Flying Deuces.

FactSnippet No. 447,211

RKO Pictures departed RKO in December 1939 after policy clashes with studio president George J Schaefer, handpicked the previous year by the Rockefellers and backed by Sarnoff.

FactSnippet No. 447,212

RKO Pictures departed a weakened and troubled studio, but RKO was about to turn the corner.

FactSnippet No. 447,213

In June 1944, RKO Pictures created a television production subsidiary, RKO Pictures Television Corporation, to provide content for the new medium.

FactSnippet No. 447,214

RKO Pictures became the first major studio to produce for television with Talk Fast, Mister, a one-hour drama filmed at RKO Pictures-Pathe studios in New York and broadcast by the DuMont network's New York station, WABD, on December 18, 1944.

FactSnippet No. 447,215

In collaboration with Mexican businessman Emilio Azcarraga Vidaurreta, RKO Pictures established Estudios Churubusco in Mexico City in 1945.

FactSnippet No. 447,216

Gary Cooper appeared in RKO releases produced by Goldwyn and, later, the startup International Pictures, and Claudette Colbert starred in a number of RKO coproductions.

FactSnippet No. 447,217

RKO Pictures bowed out after four Falcon films and was replaced by his brother, Tom Conway.

FactSnippet No. 447,218

RKO Pictures appeared in good shape to build on its recent successes, but the year brought a number of unpleasant harbingers for all of Hollywood.

FactSnippet No. 447,219

In 1952, RKO Pictures put out two films directed by Fritz Lang, Rancho Notorious and Clash by Night.

FactSnippet No. 447,220

RKO Pictures's starred in two suspense films with Robert Ryan—Nicholas Ray's On Dangerous Ground and Beware, My Lovely (1952), a coproduction between RKO and Lupino's company, The Filmakers.

FactSnippet No. 447,221

The deal that brought the team to RKO Pictures had called for them to produce sixty features over five years; in just shy of half that time, they succeeded in making four.

FactSnippet No. 447,222

Hughes soon found himself the target of no fewer than five separate lawsuits filed by minority shareholders in RKO Pictures, accusing him of malfeasance in his dealings with the Chicago group and a wide array of acts of mismanagement.

FactSnippet No. 447,223

New owners of RKO Pictures made an initial effort to revive the studio, hiring veteran producer William Dozier to head production.

FactSnippet No. 447,224

RKO Teleradio Pictures released Fritz Lang's final two American films, While the City Sleeps and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, but years of mismanagement had driven away many directors, producers, and stars.

FactSnippet No. 447,225

On January 22, 1957, RKO Pictures announced that it was closing its domestic distribution exchanges from February 1 with distribution to be taken over by Universal-International but it planned to retain foreign distribution and move production to its American Pathe lot in Culver City.

FactSnippet No. 447,226

Since it was the weakling of Hollywood's 'majors, ' RKO Pictures welcomed a diverse group of individualistic creators and provided them.

FactSnippet No. 447,227

In 1986, RKO Pictures had inked a distribution agreement with Paramount Pictures in order to distribute films for the next two years.

FactSnippet No. 447,228

In 1989, RKO Pictures, which had produced no films while under Wesray control, was spun off yet again.

FactSnippet No. 447,229

In 2003, RKO Pictures coproduced a Broadway stage version of the 1936 Astaire–Rogers vehicle Swing Time, under the title Never Gonna Dance.

FactSnippet No. 447,230

Two years before, RKO Pictures had announced the launching of a horror division, Roseblood Movie Company.

FactSnippet No. 447,231

RKO Pictures LLC is the owner of all the trademarks and logos connected with RKO Radio Pictures, Inc, as well as the rights concerning stories, screenplays, remakes, sequels, and prequels connected with the RKO library.

FactSnippet No. 447,232

The new owners of RKO Pictures allowed Turner to move forward with colorization of the library.

FactSnippet No. 447,233

Disney films originally distributed by RKO Pictures are owned and now fully controlled by The Walt Disney Company's distribution division, as is the 1940 film adaptation of Swiss Family Robinson which Disney purchased prior to producing its own film adaptation.

FactSnippet No. 447,234

The Hartley–Merrill RKO Pictures has created new versions of the Transmitter and the closing thunderbolt ident.

FactSnippet No. 447,235