The 36 Founding Members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS)

by cts-6 | created - 19 Jun 2015 | updated - 24 Nov 2017 | Public

In 1926, Louis B. Mayer wanted to short-circuit the growing labor union movement in Hollywood. He decided to create an umbrella organization whose membership would be open to all employees of the film industry, but which would actually be controlled by producers to serve their needs overall. Mayer and Fred Beetson -- the secretary-treasurer of the Association of Motion Picture Producers (the West Coast branch of the Hays Code organization, the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America) -- got together with actor Conrad Nagel and director Fred Niblo to develop the groundwork for what would become the Academy. One of the earliest decisions was to divide the Academy into five branches: Actors, Directors, Producers, Technicians, and Writers. Dozens of Hollywood dignitaries were invited to attend an organizing banquet at the Ambassador Hotel on January 11, 1927. Anybody who attended would be listed as founding members of the Academy. Thirty-six people attended and, in what would become an Academy tradition, were permanently locked into the one branch they chose for themselves that night, even though some of them were qualified to join multiple branches. Four founding members have no IMDb pages; Beetson and Paramount Pictures executive Milton E. Hoffman, who both joined the Producers Branch; and lawyers George W. Cohen and Edwin Loeb.

1. Richard Barthelmess

Actor | Only Angels Have Wings

Richard Barthelmess was born into a theatrical family in which his mother was an actress. While attending Trinity College in Connecticut, he began appearing in stage productions. While on vacation in 1916, a friend of his mother, actress Alla Nazimova, offered him a part in War Brides (1916), and ...

Actors Branch

2. Douglas Fairbanks

Actor | Robin Hood

Douglas Fairbanks was born Douglas Elton Thomas Ullman in Denver, Colorado, to Ella Adelaide (nee Marsh) and Hezekiah Charles Ullman, an attorney and native of Pennsylvania, who was a captain for the Union forces during the Civil War. Fairbanks' paternal grandparents were German Jewish immigrants, ...

Actors Branch

First President of the Academy (1927-29)

3. Jack Holt

Actor | San Francisco

Staunch, granite-jawed American leading man of silent and early talkie films, much associated with Westerns. A native of New York City, Holt often claimed to have been born in Winchester, Virginia, where he grew up. The son of an Episcopal minister, he attended Trinity School in Manhattan, then the...

Actors Branch

4. Harold Lloyd

Actor | Safety Last!

Born in Buchard, Nebraska, USA to Elizabeth Fraser and 'J. Darcie 'Foxy' Lloyd' who fought constantly and soon divorced (at the time a rare event), Harold Clayton Lloyd was nominally educated in Denver and San Diego high schools and received his stage training at the School of Dramatic Art (San ...

Actors Branch

5. Conrad Nagel

Actor | The Ship from Shanghai

Conrad Nagel was born on March 16, 1897 in Keokuk, Iowa, USA as John Conrad Nagel. He was an actor, known for The Ship from Shanghai (1930), Kongo (1932) and Quality Street (1927). He was married to Michael Coulson Smith, Lynn Merrick and Ruth Helms. He died on February 24, 1970 in New York City, ...

Actors Branch

Fourth President of the Academy (1932-33)

6. Mary Pickford

Actress | Coquette

Mary Pickford was born Gladys Louise Smith in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to Elsie Charlotte (Hennessy) and John Charles Smith. She was of English and Irish descent. Pickford began in the theater at age seven. Then known as "Baby Gladys Smith", she toured with her family in a number of theater ...

Actors Branch

7. Milton Sills

Actor | The Sea Hawk

American leading man of silent pictures. Born into affluence in Chicago, he attended the University of Chicago on scholarship and remained there as a professor of psychology and philosophy. A chance visit to the school by actor- manager Donald Robertson led to Sills abandoning his career and ...

Actors Branch

8. Cecil B. DeMille

Producer | The Ten Commandments

His parents Henry C. DeMille and Beatrice DeMille were playwrights. His father died when he was 12, and his mother supported the family by opening a school for girls and a theatrical company. Too young to enlist in the Spanish-American War, Cecil followed his brother William C. de Mille to the New ...

Directors Branch

9. Henry King

Director | The Song of Bernadette

For more than three decades, Henry King was the most versatile and reliable (not to mention hard-working) contract director on the 20th Century-Fox lot. His tenure lasted from 1930 to 1961, spanning most of Hollywood's "golden" era. King was renowned as a specialist in literary adaptations (A Bell ...

Directors Branch

10. Frank Lloyd

Director | Cavalcade

Frank Lloyd was an unpretentious, technically skilled director, who crafted several enduring Hollywood classics during the 1930's. He started out as a stage actor and singer in early 1900's London and was well-known as an imitator of Harry Lauder. After several years in music hall and with touring ...

Directors Branch

Sixth President of the Academy (1934-35)

Last of the original 36 to serve as President

11. Fred Niblo

The Artist

Fred Niblo entered films in 1917 after two decades as a touring actor in vaudeville and one-time manager of 'The Four Cohans' (he married Josephine Cohan, the sister of George M. Cohan). He made his film debut with two early Australian silent films in 1916. He worked for Thomas H. Ince from 1917 as ...

Directors Branch

12. John M. Stahl

Director | Leave Her to Heaven

John Stahl was the final executive in charge of Tiffany Pictures (located on the Talisman lot, later owned by Monogram Pictures), once a big fish in the pond of "Poverty Row", which in those days also included Columbia Pictures. With a B-movie history dating back to the silent era and after making ...

Directors Branch

13. Raoul Walsh

Director | Sadie Thompson

Raoul Walsh's 52-year directorial career made him a Hollywood legend. Walsh was also an actor: He appeared in the first version of W. Somerset Maugham's "Rain" renamed Sadie Thompson (1928) opposite Gloria Swanson in the title role. He would have played the Cisco Kid in his own film In Old Arizona ...

Directors Branch

14. Charles Christie

Director | 813

Charles H.V. Christie, the motion picture studio owner and real estate developer, was born on April 14, 1880 in London, Ontario, Canada. He emigrated to the United States with his younger brother Al to seek employment in the film industry. Al eventually became head of comedy production at Adolph ...

Producers Branch

15. Sid Grauman

Actor | Mad About Music

Sid Grauman was born on March 17, 1879 in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA as Sidney Patrick Grauman. He is known for his work on Mad About Music (1938), Hollywood (1923) and Screen Snapshots: The Great Showman (1950). He was married to Rose. He died on March 5, 1950 in Hollywood, California, USA.

Producers Branch

16. Jesse L. Lasky

Producer | Too Many Kisses

Lasky, one of the first pioneers of the Hollywood film industry and its first genuine 'mogul', was not only a consummate showman and entrepreneur, but a jack-of-all-trades. Born in San Francisco in September 1880, the son of a shoe salesman, he attended high school in San Jose and held down his ...

Producers Branch

17. M.C. Levee

Producer | Ruth of the Range

President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1931 to 1932

Producers Branch

Third President of the Academy (1931-32)

18. Louis B. Mayer

Producer | The Great Secret

Mayer was born Lazar Meir in the Ukraine and grew up in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada after his parents fled Russian oppression in 1886. He had a brutal childhood, raised in poverty and suffering physical and emotional abuse from his nearly-illiterate peddler father. In the early 1890s, he ...

Producers Branch

19. Harry Rapf

Producer | The Bad Man of Brimstone

Harry Rapf was born on October 16, 1880 in New York City, New York, USA. He is known for his work on The Bad Man of Brimstone (1937), The Night Is Young (1935) and Brown of Harvard (1926). He was married to Clementine Uhlfelder. He died on February 6, 1949 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

Producers Branch

20. Joseph M. Schenck

Sherlock Jr.

People liked Joseph M. Schenck. Anyone who knew both him and his brother Nicholas Schenck would comment on how different they were. He came to New York in 1893 and, with his younger brother, built a drugstore business. They risked some profits and made more money in amusement parks. Marcus Loew ...

Producers Branch

21. Irving Thalberg

Writer | The Trap

Irving Grant Thalberg was born in New York City, to Henrietta (Haymann) and William Thalberg, who were of German Jewish descent. He had a bad heart, having contracted rheumatic fever as a teenager and was plagued with other ailments all of his life. He was quite intelligent with a thirst for ...

Producers Branch

Following his death in 1936, the Academy established the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award to honor producers with distinguished careers. Unlike other Academy Awards, the award is not a "Class I" Oscar statuette or the discontinued "Class II" plaque, but is instead a bust of Thalberg.

22. Harry M. Warner

Producer | The Lost City

Harry M. Warner was born on December 12, 1881 in Krasnoshiltz, Russian Empire as Hirsz Mojzesz Wonsal. He was a producer, known for The Lost City (1920), My Four Years in Germany (1918) and Ship Ahoy (1920). He was married to Rea Levinson. He died on July 25, 1958 in Hollywood, California, USA.

Producers Branch

23. Jack L. Warner

Producer | My Fair Lady

With his brothers Harry M. Warner, Albert Warner, and Sam Warner, he founded Warner Bros. Pictures Inc. in 1923. They released the first motion picture with synchronized sound, The Jazz Singer (1927) with Al Jolson. In the 1930s they gave employment to a parade of stars, including Bette Davis, ...

Producers Branch

24. Arthur Ball

The Black Pirate

Died of carbon monoxide poisoning

Technicians Branch (cinematographer and Technicolor company supervisor)

Full name: Joseph Arthur Ball. Has a second IMDb profile under "J.A. Ball".

Technicians Branch (cinematographer and Technicolor company supervisor)

Full name: Joseph Arthur Ball. See Arthur Ball above.

26. Cedric Gibbons

Art_director | An American in Paris

After graduating from New York's Art Students League he worked for his architect father, then started film work at Edison Studios in 1915 assisting Hugo Ballin. In 1918 he moved to Goldwyn as art director and, in 1924, began his 32 year stint as supervising art director for some 1500 MGM films, ...

Technicians Branch (art director)

Designer of the Oscar statuette

27. Roy Pomeroy

Director | Inside the Lines

One of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS)

Technicians Branch (visual effects expert)

Listed as Roy J. Pomeroy

28. Joseph Farnham

Writer | The Trail of '98

Joseph Farnham was born on December 2, 1884 in New Haven, Connecticut, USA as Joseph White Farnham. He was a writer and editor, known for The Trail of '98 (1928), The Unknown (1927) and West Point (1927). He was married to Rose Alma LeCourt and Emily Ardis. He died on June 2, 1931 in Beverly Hills,...

Writers Branch

29. Benjamin Glazer

Writer | 7th Heaven

One of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS)

Writers Branch

30. Jeanie Macpherson

Actress | The Merchant of Venice

Born in Boston to Evangeline Tomlinson and John Sinclair Macpherson. Jeanie Macperson was educated at Madame de Facq's school in Paris, the Kenwood Institute in Chicago and took dancing lessons from Theodore Kosloff. Her stage experience began when she got the lead in a school play and was awarded ...

Writers Branch

31. Bess Meredyth

Writer | Wonder of Women

Bess Meredyth was born on February 12, 1890 in Buffalo, New York, USA as Helen Elizabeth MacGlashen. She was a writer and actress, known for Wonder of Women (1929), Metropolitan (1935) and Morgan's Raiders (1918). She was married to Michael Curtiz, Wilfred Lucas and Burton Leslie. She died on July ...

Writers Branch

32. Carey Wilson

Writer | Mutiny on the Bounty

Carey Wilson was born on May 19, 1889 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. He was a writer and actor, known for Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), The Private Life of Helen of Troy (1927) and He Who Gets Slapped (1924). He was married to Carmelita Geraghty and Nancy Everett. He died on February 1, 1962 in...

Writers Branch

33. Frank E. Woods

Writer | The Red Man's View

Frank E. Woods was born in 1860 in Linesville, Pennsylvania, USA. He is known for his work on The Red Man's View, Chalk Marks (1924) and Let Women Alone (1925). He was married to Ella Carter Woods. He died on May 1, 1939 in Hollywood, California, USA.

Writers Branch

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