Media and communications corporation. It was founded (as Paramount Pictures Corp.) by W. W. Hodkinson in 1914 as a film distributor. It became a motion-picture company two years later and won attention with stars such as Mary Pickford, Gloria Swanson, and Rudolph Valentino. In the late 1920s and 1930s the studio added Claudette Colbert, Gary Cooper, and Marlene Dietrich to its roster. Forced to declare bankruptcy after its chain of theaters suffered losses during the transition to sound, the company was reorganized two years later as Paramount Pictures, Inc. Among its successes of the 1940s and '50s were the films of Preston Sturges and Billy Wilder. In 1966 Gulf & Western Industries took control of Paramount, and the new company later changed its name to Paramount Communications. In 1994 it was acquired by Viacom Inc., which in 2000 merged with CBS.
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