35 Facts About RKO


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

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RKO 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.

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

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

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

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

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The most popular RKO star of this pre-Code era was Irene Dunne, who made her debut as the lead in the 1930 musical Leathernecking and was a headliner at the studio for the entire decade.

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Exceptions like Cimarron and Rio Rita aside, RKO'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.

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

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

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

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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.

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RKO 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 .

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

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RKO 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.

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David O Selznick loaned out his leading contracted director for two RKO pictures in 1941: Alfred Hitchcock's Mr and Mrs Smith was a modest success and Suspicion a more substantial one, with an Oscar-winning turn by Joan Fontaine.

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

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

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

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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.

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

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

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

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

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The only smash hits released by RKO in the 1950s came out during this period, but neither was an in-house production: Goldwyn's Hans Christian Andersen was followed by Disney's Peter Pan .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Disney films originally distributed by RKO 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.

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

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