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Katharine Meyer Graham was once described as "the most powerful woman in America." She was not a government official or elected representative. She owned and published The Washington Post newspaper. Under her leadership, it became one of the most important newspapers in the country. Katharine Meyer was born in New York City in nineteen seventeen. She was the daughter of Eugene and Agnes Meyer. Her father was a successful investment banker. He became an important financial official. Her family was very rich. Katharine grew up in large houses in New York and Washington. Her parents were often away from home, traveling and working. Katharine was often lonely. Katherine Meyer graduated from the University of Chicago in Illinois in nineteen thirty-eight. She got a job as a reporter for a newspaper in San Francisco, California.

In nineteen thirty-three, Eugene Meyer had bought a failing newspaper, The Washington Post. It was the least successful of five newspapers in Washington. Katharine returned to Washington and got a job editing letters to the editor of her father's newspaper. She married Philip Graham. He was a lawyer and former assistant to two Supreme Court justices. Mister Graham soon accepted a job at his wife's father's newspaper.

In nineteen forty-six, Eugene Meyer left the newspaper to become the first president of the World Bank. Philip Graham became publisher of The Washington Post. Katherine Meyer graduated from the University of Chicago in Illinois in nineteen thirty-eight. She got a job as a reporter for a newspaper in San Francisco, California.

In nineteen thirty-three, Eugene Meyer had bought a failing newspaper, The Washington Post. It was the least successful of five newspapers in Washington. Katharine returned to Washington and got a job editing letters to the editor of her father's newspaper. She married Philip Graham. He was a lawyer and former assistant to two Supreme Court justices. Mister Graham soon accepted a job at his wife's father's newspaper. In nineteen forty-six, Eugene Meyer left the newspaper to become the first president of the World Bank. Philip Graham became publisher of The Washington Post.

Mister Graham improved The Washington Post. He bought Newsweek magazine and several television stations. He also established close ties with important political leaders. However, Mister Graham treated his wife badly. He made her feel unimportant. He had a sexual relationship with a young reporter. For many years, Mister Graham suffered from mental illness. He killed himself in nineteen sixty-three.

Katharine Graham had four children to raise and a newspaper to operate. At first, she was concerned only with finding a way to keep control of The Washington Post until her sons were old enough to supervise it. She was an insecure person. She did not think she had the ability to do an important job. She had no training in business or experience in operating a large company. In those days, it was unusual for a woman to be the head of a business. Women were expected to supervise only their homes and children.

Katharine Graham met with officials of The Post. She told them the paper would not be sold. She said it would remain in her family. She was elected president of The Washington Post Company. She had no idea about how to operate a newspaper. So she decided to learn. She began by hiring Benjamin Bradlee. He later became chief editor. Mister Bradlee improved the newspaper. He hired excellent reporters and editors. They began doing important investigative reporting. In nineteen sixty-nine, Missus Graham became publisher as well as president of The Washington Post Company.

In the nineteen seventies, The Washington Post became famous around the world because of two major successes. In nineteen seventy-one, The New York Times newspaper started publishing secret government documents about American involvement in the Vietnam War. They were known as the Pentagon Papers. The administration of President Richard Nixon appealed to the courts to stop the publication of the documents. It said publication would endanger national security. A temporary restraining order from a federal judge stopped The New York Times from publishing the documents.

Washington Post reporters also got a copy of the Pentagon Papers. They also wanted to publish the documents. Missus Graham had to decide if the paper would publish the stories and risk possible punishment by the government. The newspaper's lawyers advised her not to publish them. Yet she decided to publish the Pentagon Papers in The Washington Post. The Supreme Court finally decided the issue. They ruled against the judge's order restraining publication of the Pentagon Papers. That ruling was considered a major success for freedom of the press.

The next year, in nineteen seventy-two, The Washington Post had another major success reporting on a different story. Five men had been arrested after breaking into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate office building. Reporters at The Post began an intense investigation of the break-in. The Post published a series of stories by two young reporters, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. After much investigation, the reporters linked the Watergate break-in to President Nixon and his top advisers. Their stories proved that the Nixon administration directed a plot. Its goals were to illegally gather intelligence on the Democratic Party and dishonor opponents of the president.

Missus Graham supported her reporters and editors through the long Watergate investigation. The Post published the stories even though government officials threatened Missus Graham and her company. The newspaper was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for public service in nineteen seventy-three for its Watergate reporting. The next year, President Nixon resigned from office.

Katharine Graham was recognized around the world as an important leader in newspaper publishing. She was the first woman to head a major American company.

She successfully expanded The Washington Post Company to include newspaper, magazine, broadcast and cable companies.

Katharine Graham played an important role in supporting women in the workforce. More women were employed at The Post and at Newsweek magazine. Missus Graham also was active in groups seeking to improve public education in Washington. She traveled around the country to make many public speeches about news media issues. She also traveled around the world to meet with foreign leaders.

Katharine Graham was well known for having dinner parties at her home in Washington. She invited the most important people in the city. An invitation to one of her parties was almost as valuable as an invitation to dinner at the White House. Missus Graham was a close friend of American and world leaders. Her friends included leaders in government, media, business and entertainment. They included presidents, prime ministers and princesses.

In nineteen ninety-one, Donald Graham replaced his mother as publisher and the chief official of The Washington Post Company. At that time, the company was valued at almost two thousand million dollars.

When she was eighty years old, Katharine Graham wrote a book about her life. It was called "Personal History." She wrote about the struggles and tragedies of her life as well as the successes. She wrote about how she battled her own insecurities to move from a traditional job as homemaker to a position of power. Critics praised the book for its honesty. The book won a Pulitzer Prize for biography in nineteen ninety-eight. It was extremely popular.

Katharine Graham died of head injuries three years later after a fall. She was eighty-four. More than three thousand people attended her funeral. They included many government and business leaders. Friends of Katharine Graham said she would be remembered as a woman who had an important influence on events in the United States and the world. They said she used her intelligence and bravery to improve the American media. And they said everyone who cares about a free press would greatly miss her. Katharine Graham once wrote: "A world without newspapers would not be the same kind of world." After her death, the employees of The Washington Post wrote: "A world without Katharine Graham will not be the same at all."



When you hear the name Hollywood, you probably think of excitement, lights, cameras and movie stars. Famous actors are not the only important people in the entertainment business. Directors and producers are important, too. Today, Hollywood is full of producers and directors. However, very few are as famous and successful as Hollywood’s first motion picture businessmen, Cecil B. DeMille, Samuel Goldwyn and Louis Mayer.

Cecil Blount DeMille was born in Ashfield, Massachusetts in eighteen eighty-one. Both his parents were writers of plays. His father died when he was twelve years old. His mother kept the family together by establishing a theater company. Cecil joined the company as an actor.

He continued working in his mother’s theater company as an actor and a manager until nineteen thirteen. That year, he joined Jesse L. Lasky and Samuel Goldfish to form the Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company. Goldfish later changed his name to Samuel Goldwyn.

The three men started making motion pictures immediately. They loved working in the movie business. They were deeply interested in its creative and financial possibilities. DeMille, Lasky and Goldfish began working on a movie version of the popular American western play, “Squaw Man.” DeMille urged that the movie be made in the real American West. He chose Flagstaff, Arizona. DeMille and the company traveled to Flagstaff by train. When they arrived, DeMille thought the area looked too modern. They got back on the train and keep going until they reached the end of the line. They were in a quiet little town in southern California. The town was called Hollywood. DeMille decided this was the perfect place to film the movie.

“Squaw Man” was one of the first full-length movies produced in Hollywood. It was released in nineteen thirteen and was an immediate success. DeMille is considered the man who helped Hollywood become the center of the motion picture business. He quickly became a creative force in the new movie industry. His success continued with “Brewster’s Millions,” “The Call of the North” and “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine.”

Cecil B. DeMille was among the very few filmmakers in Hollywood whose name appeared above the title of his movie. His name was more important to movie-goers than the names of the stars in the movie. DeMille’s movies were known to be big productions. He combined a lot of action, realistic storytelling and hundreds of actors to make some of Hollywood’s best movies. He made many kinds of movies including westerns, comedies, romances and ones dealing with moral issues.

DeMille gained a great deal of fame with the kind of movie known as an epic. An epic tells a story of events that are important in history. DeMille’s epic movies were based on the settling of the American West, Roman history or stories from the Bible. His first version of the historic film “The Ten Commandments” was a huge success among silent films in nineteen twenty-three. In nineteen fifty-six, he released a new version of “The Ten Commandments” to include sound. It is broadcast still on American television during the Christian observance of Easter.

Cecil B. DeMille produced and directed seventy movies. In nineteen forty-nine he received a special Academy Award for “thirty-seven years of brilliant showmanship.” He died of heart failure in nineteen fifty-nine. One of DeMille’s last films was “The Greatest Show on Earth.” It won the Academy Award for best picture in nineteen fifty-two. It was about people who performed in the circus. Some people say it was a fitting subject because Cecil B. DeMille often was called the greatest showman in Hollywood.

In eighteen ninety-five, a thirteen year old boy from Warsaw, Poland found his way to the United States. Samuel Goldfish was alone. He had no money. He found work as a glove maker. He continued working in the glove-making industry until he was almost thirty years old.

In nineteen thirteen, Samuel and his wife’s brother, Jesse L. Lasky, and Cecil B. DeMille formed the Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company. It produced the movie “Squaw Man.”

In nineteen sixteen, Goldfish started a business with Edgar Selwyn. They combined their names Goldfish and Selwyn and called the new company Goldwyn. Samuel Goldfish liked the name and changed his to Samuel Goldwyn in nineteen eighteen. The Goldwyn Company made many successful motion pictures. Yet, the company was not a financial success. In nineteen twenty-two, Samuel Goldwyn was forced to leave the company. The Goldwyn Company then joined with Metro Pictures and Louis B. Mayer Productions to form Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, known as MGM. Samuel Goldwyn was not part of the deal. He promised never to be a joint owner of another company. He formed his own company Samuel Goldwyn Productions.

Samuel Goldwyn was one of the great independent producers during the “Golden Age” of Hollywood. Most of his films were successful financially and popular with critics. He insisted that his films be well made and of high quality. This became known as the “Goldwyn Touch.”

Goldwyn usually paid for his films himself. He bought the best stories and plays to be made into movies. He employed the best writers, directors and actors. And he discovered new actors including Lucille Ball, Gary Cooper, Susan Hayward and Will Rogers.

Goldwyn was extremely independent. He had a strong desire to control every element of the production and marketing of his films. He made all decisions concerning his films including choosing directors, actors and writers. His best films include “The Little Foxes,” “The Best Years of Our Lives” and “Porgy and Bess.” His movies received many Academy Awards. Samuel Goldwyn was known also for his sense of humor. He created funny expressions. In Hollywood they are known as Goldwynisms. One of his most famous expressions was “Include me out.” In nineteen forty-six, Goldwyn received the Irving Thalberg Memorial Award for his excellent movie productions during the Academy Award ceremonies that year. He died in nineteen seventy-four. Samuel Goldwyn was in the movie business for almost sixty years. He is considered one of the most influential film producers ever.

Louis B. Mayer began as a theater operator in Havermill, Massachusetts in nineteen-oh-seven. Over the next several years he bought more theaters. Soon he owned the largest group of theaters in New England. In nineteen seventeen, Mayer formed his own movie production company. In the early nineteen twenties, Louis B. Mayer Pictures joined two other companies to form Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Mayer was appointed vice president and general manager of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He had a strong fatherly way of supervising the company and actors. The company had some of the biggest names in show business including Judy Garland, Clark Gable, Katherine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor. A popular expression used at the time was MGM had “more stars than there are in heaven.” MGM produced some of the most popular movies of all time including “The Wizard of Oz,” “Gone with the Wind” and “The Philadelphia Story.”

In the nineteen thirties and nineteen forties, Louis B. Mayer was the most powerful businessman in Hollywood. He earned more than one million two hundred thousand dollars a year. He was paid more than anyone else in the United States. In nineteen fifty, Mayer received a special Academy Award for “excellent service to the Motion Picture industry.” He died in Hollywood, California in nineteen fifty-seven. He was seventy-two years old. Cecil B. DeMille, Samuel Goldwyn and Louis B. Mayer are remembered for their excellent movies and their continuing influence in the motion picture industry. They led the way for movie producers and directors of today and those still to come.

(Based on:media records)

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