Immigration: How a Goldfish Achieved the American Dream

Samuel Goldwyn: “The harder I work, the luckier I get”

This is the inspirational story of Samuel Goldwyn.

Samuel Goldwyn was born Szmuel Gelbfisz in Warsaw, Poland, into extreme poverty. At an early age, he left Warsaw on foot and penniless. He made his way to Birmingham, England, where he remained with relatives for a few years using the name Samuel Goldfish.

In 1898, he emigrated to the United States, but fearing refusal of entry, he got off the boat in Nova Scotia, Canada, before hitchhiking and walking to New York in January 1899. He found work in upstate New York, in the bustling garment business. Soon his innate marketing skills made him a very successful salesman and after four years, as vice-president for sales, he moved back to New York City and settled at 10 West 61st Street.

In 1913, Goldfish along with his brother-in-law formed a partnership, The Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company, to produce feature length motion pictures. Shooting for the first feature film made in Hollywood began on December 29, 1913.

In 1916, Goldfish partnered with Broadway producers Edgar and Archibald Selwyn, using a combination of both names to call their movie-making enterprise Goldwyn Pictures. Seeing an opportunity, Samuel Gelbfisz then had his name legally changed to Samuel Goldwyn.

Goldwyn went on to be the founding contributor and executive of Paramount and several motion picture studios in Hollywood[1]. Samuel Goldwyn was a multi-millionaire, founder of feature length films in Hollywood and an all-round inspirational character.

The moral? Immigration can be incredible.

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