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On this Day in Movie History, July 12, 1912: First Foreign-Made Film Shown in US

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On this day, July 12, 1912, the first foreign-made film to premiere in America, “The Loves of Queen Elizabeth”, was shown. The French film starred Sarah Bernhardt and Lon Tellegen.

Les Amours de la reine Élisabeth (The Loves of Queen Elizabeth), Les Amours d’Elisabeth, Reine d’Angleterre (The Loves of Elizabeth, Queen of England) or La reine Élisabeth (Queen Elizabeth) is a 1912 short 4-reel French silent film based on the love affair between Elizabeth I of England and the Earl of Essex. It was condensed from a play of the same name and directed by Louis Mercanton and Henri Desfontaines. It was shot in Paris and starred Sarah Bernhardt as Elizabeth and Lou Tellegen as Essex. Bernhardt (by then 68 – she said of the film “This is my last chance at immortality”) and Tellegen were already romantically involved, and this was their second film together.

Its production company, L’Histrionic Film, was forced into liquidation by Pathé Frères during the film’s production, but it was completed with funds from Adolph Zukor. Zukor also brought it to New York, where its US release (on State Rights basis, on 12 July 1912) was Famous Players Film Company’s first film release, and convinced other American companies that feature films were commercially viable. Famous Players advertised “Famous Players in Famous Plays”, later became Famous Players-Lasky, and then Paramount Pictures.

Queen Elizabeth had one of the earliest film scores, composed by Joseph Carl Breil for the production. However, the French film The Assassination of the Duke of Guise (1908), also known as La Mort du duc de Guise and L’Assassinat du duc de Guise, directed by Charles Le Bargy and André Calmettes, also had an original film score composed by Camille Saint-Saëns

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Birthdays
1908 – Milton Berle (Berlinger) (comedian: Uncle Miltie, Mr. Television: The Milton Berle Show, Texaco Star Theatre; actor: It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Oscar, Side by Side; died Mar 27, 2002)

1909 – “Curly” Joe DeRita (Joseph Wardell) (comedian: The Three Stooges: The Outlaw is Coming, Snow White and the Three Stooges, Have Rocket, Will Travel; died July 3, 1993)

1944 – Denise Nicholas (actress: Room 222, In the Heat of the Night, Ghost Dad)

1948 – Jay Thomas (Emmy Award-winning actor: Murphy Brown: Gold Rush [1991]; Mork & Mindy, Married People, Love & War, Cheers, Mr. Holland’s Opus, Straight Talk, Little Vegas, The Gig)

1951 – Cheryl Ladd (Cheryl Jean Stoppelmoor) (actress: Dancing with Danger, Changes, The Grace Kelly Story, One West Waikiki, Charlie's Angels, Poison Ivy)

1951 – Jamey Sheridan (actor: The House on Carroll Street, Shannon’s Deal)

1956 – Mel (Mary Ellen) Harris (actress: thirtysomething, Sharon's Secret, The Spider and the Fly, Raising Cain, Desperate Motives, Wanted Dead or Alive)

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