United Artists

Unlike the other major motion picture companies, United Artists (UA) never owned a studio or had actors and directors under contract. It functioned throughout its life solely as a distribution company for independent producers. The history of the company can be conveniently divided into three periods: (1) from 1919 to 1950, when the company was owned by Mary Pickford (1893– 1979), Charles Chaplin (1889–1977), and their partners and functioned mainly as a boutique distributor of quality films; (2) from 1951 to 1981, when the company was rescued from near bankruptcy by a new management team headed by Arthur Krim (1910–1994) and Robert Benjamin, who transformed UA into a modern business enterprise; and (3) from 1981 to 2004, when the company was acquired by Kirk Kerkorian (b. 1917), who merged it with MGM and sold off and reacquired parts of both companies several times until he finally disposed of the remains to Sony in 2004.

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