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Final Resting Place of Harry Cohn.
Harry Cohn 21st July
1891 - 27th February 1958
Head and founder of Columbia Pictures. He was so hated in the film industry that people showed at his funeral to make sure he was really dead.
His tomb is opposite the great mausoleum in the Garden of Legends.
Harry Cohn was president and production director of Columbia Pictures.
Cohn was born to a working-class family in New York. Cohn's family was Jewish, although in later years, he appears to have been disparaging about his heritage. After working for a time as a streetcar conductor, and then as a promoter for a sheet music printer, he got a job with Universal Pictures, where his brother, Jack Cohn, was already employed. In 1924, Cohn joined with his brother and Harry Brandt to found CBC Film Sales Corporation, later renamed Columbia. Harry Cohn managed the company's film production in Hollywood, while his brother managed its finances from New York. The relationship between the two brothers was not always good, and Brandt, finding the partnership stressful, eventually sold his third of the company to Harry Cohn.
Under Cohn, Columbia Pictures was quite successful — initially, it produced mainly B-movies, but later, directors such as Frank Capra and stars such as Jean Arthur, The Three Stooges, Rita Hayworth, William Holden, and Kim Novak gave it credibility. It is said, in the industry, that while Harry Cohn ruled Columbia Pictures, the studio never ended a production year in the red.
Cohn was known for his autocratic and intimidating management style. An employee of Columbia called him "as absolute a monarch as Hollywood ever knew", and described him as running his studio "like a private police state". It was said "he had listening devices on all sound stages and could tune in any conversation on the set, then boom in over a loudspeaker if he heard anything that displeased him". There is some suggestion that Cohn deliberately cultivated his reputation as a tyrant, either to maximally motivate his employees or simply because it increased his control of the studio. Cohn is said to have kept a signed photograph of Benito Mussolini, whom he met in Italy in 1933, on his desk until the beginning of World War II (Columbia produced the documentary Mussolini Speaks in 1933, narrated by Lowell Thomas). Cohn also had a number of ties to the Mafia — he had a long-standing friendship with the John Roselli, and mob boss Abner Zwillman was the source of the loan that allowed Cohn to buy out his partner Brandt. Other claims made about Cohn include the rumor that he demanded sex from female stars in exchange for employment, although rumors such as this seem to have existed about many producers in Hollywood at the time. One interesting fact is that Lucille Ball regarded Cohn as her nemesis and vice/versa.
Cohn died in 1958. He was the subject of the famous quote from Red Skelton, who remarked of his well-attended funeral "It proves what they always say: give the public what they want and they'll come out for it." (Gossip columnist Hedda Hopper added, "You had to stand in line to hate him.").