George K. Spoor
American exhibitor, producer
George K. Spoor opened an early and successful exhibition service, ultimately named Kinodrome, in Chicago in 1897. Primarily servicing vaudeville accounts throughout the Midwest and down the Mississippi Valley, Spoor was energetically in competition with 'Colonel' William Selig and his Polyscope service, but instead of making his own films he relied on supplies of pictures from others; before 1900 Edward Amet and later a variety of sources including Georges Méliès. He opened his distribution service, the National Film Renting Bureau, in 1904, and the increased demands of the nickelodeon era finally pushed him into film production in early 1907, when he founded the Essanay Company with Gilbert Maxwell 'Broncho Billy' Anderson, an important firm that made popular westerns (starring Anderson), launched the careers of J. Walter Kerrigan and Francis X. Bushman, and briefly employed Charles Chaplin. Essanay ceased production in 1918, and during the 1920s Spoor spent much of his time developing the Natural Vision system for widescreen 3-D films, producing the feature Danger Lights in that process in 1930. In 1947 he was one of a small group of American pioneers (Thomas Armat, William Selig, Albert Smith) given a special Academy Award for their contributions to the development of motion pictures.