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Flickering EmpireHow Chicago Invented the U.S. Film Industry$
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Michael Glover Smith and Adam Selzer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231174497

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231174497.001.0001

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Colonel William Selig

Colonel William Selig

(p.41) Chapter Four Colonel William Selig
Flickering Empire

Michael Glover Smith

Adam Selzer

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines the role of Colonel William Selig in the development of Chicago's film industry. Selig was one of the most successful, and colorful, motion-picture pioneers of the 1890s and early 1900s. A native Chicagoan and traveling magician, Selig conferred the title “Colonel” upon himself while touring the minstrel show circuit. It was while in Dallas that Selig first saw Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope, and he soon became obsessed with motion pictures and with finding his own way to create and exhibit them. Selig returned to Chicago, where he created, in collaboration with machinist Andrew Schustek, his own camera and projector based on the design of the Cinematographe. Selig named his camera the “Selig Standard Camera” and his projector the “Selig Polyscope.” In April 1897, Selig founded the first movie studio in Chicago, also one of the first such studios in the world: the Mutoscope and Film Company, which eventually became the Selig Polyscope Company.

Keywords:   film industry, William Selig, Chicago, camera, projector, Selig Polyscope, movie studio, Mutoscope and Film Company, Selig Polyscope Company

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