David O. Selznick
A creative-minded executive who broke the mold and became one of the first truly successful independent producers, David O. Selznick rose to prominence during a time in American cinema where the early pioneers were being squeezed out by the emerging studio system and replaced by paint-by-the-numbers administrators who saw efficiency and profitability as their main objectives. Selznick had his start working his way up through MGM before becoming a vaunted producer under B.P. Schulberg's Paramount Pictures. He moved on to executive positions at RKO Pictures where he produced a number of films featuring strong female leads like "A Bill of Divorcement" (1932), "What Price Hollywood?" (1932) and "Little Women" (1933), while also steering the groundbreaking "King Kong" (1933) through production. Back at MGM, he produced quality adaptations of "David Copperfield" (1935) and "Anna Karenina" (1935) before branching out on his own as an independent producer with Selznick International Pictures. Releasing through United Artists, Selznick produced a number of critically successful films while winning back-to-back Best Picture Oscars for "Gone with the Wind" (1939) and "Rebecca" (1940). The former became one of the highest-grossing movies of all time on its way to winning 10 Academy Awards and being recognized as one of the finest movies ever made. After producing Alfred Hitchcock's mesmerizing thriller "Spellbound" (1945), Selznick was forced to liquidate his company before winding down his producing career with just a handful more films. Something of a maverick during his day, Selznick revolutionized the business end of filmmaking by managing to independently make quality motion pictures now considered exemplars of the Golden Age of the studio system.