Opinion

Carl Laemmle was no feminist, but the studio he founded has thrived under a woman's leadership

To the editor: As a Laemmle family member, I appreciate Kathleen Sharp’s article about Universal Studios and founder Carl Laemmle’s treatment of women a century ago. (“A hundred years ago, one Hollywood studio was a great, safe place for a woman to work,” Opinion, Nov. 12)

Yes, Laemmle hired women and minorities to direct and act in his films. But he also hired a lot of white men. He treated people fairly, “liked intelligent women” (as someone who knew him personally told me) and was not a lech — which does make him somewhat of a rarity in Hollywood.

But he was not a feminist either. He insisted that his daughter marry suitably and handed over the “keys to production” to his son. Still, today Universal continues as a place where women thrive.

Sadly, Sharp neglected to mention Donna Langley’s incredible success as chairman of Universal since 2013. It was the top grossing studio in 2015 largely because of Langley. And the women of “Pitch Perfect” — on the screen — are certainly my 12-year-old daughter’s idols.

Deborah Blum, Hollywood

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To the editor: I loved the article about how the Laemmles made feminism history by hiring women as directors and writers in the early 1900s.

They also made history in the late 1930s when they hired German Jews from the respected German entertainment industry. This allowed the new hires — including actors, camera technicians and others — to immigrate to the United States before World War II.

Roberta B. Gillerman, Los Angeles

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