TWO-SENTENCE HISTORY: Hollywood’s oldest surviving studio quickly earned a reputation for finding and signing the biggest stars of the day—from Mary Pickford and Douglass Fairbanks (who would go on to co-found United Artists) in the 1920s to Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper a decade later. Dogged by various legal and financial problems, Paramount was on the brink of insolvency by the late ’60s, until fortunes were reversed by a string of commercial and critical successes—the company is now part of Viacom.
MEMORABLE FILMS INCLUDE: Double Indemnity (1944), Roman Holiday (1953), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), the Godfather movies (1972-1990) and Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
THE LOGO: According to industry lore, Paramount’s enduring symbol—the “Majestic Mountain”—evolved from a sketch on a scrap of paper by “the Man Who Invented Hollywood,” W.W. Hodkinson. (Ben Lomond Mountain in Utah is thought to be the inspiration, though the latest versions are supposedly modeled on a peak in the Peruvian Andes. What’s also changed over the years is the number of stars that form the semi-circular constellation around the peak. The original logo had 24 stars (for each of the two dozen actors under contract in 1916)—the latest version now has 22.
VERSIONS: A history of the Paramount logo, from 1925 to 2011, can be found here. Steven Spielberg’s great use of the logo in Raider of the Lost Ark can be seen here.