Birth: 08-06-1912, Los Angeles, California, USA

Universal Pictures (sometimes called Universal City Studios or Universal Studios for short), a subsidiary of NBCUniversal, is one of the six major movie studios.

Founded in 1912 by Carl Laemmle, it is one of the oldest American movie studios still in continuous production. On May 11, 2004, the controlling stake in the company was sold by Vivendi Universal to General Electric, parent of NBC. The resulting media super-conglomerate was renamed NBC Universal, while Universal Studios Inc. remained the name of the production subsidiary. In addition to owning a sizable film library spanning the earliest decades of cinema to more contemporary works, it also owns a sizable collection of TV shows through its subsidiary NBC Universal Television Distribution. It also acquired rights to several prominent filmmakers' works originally released by other studios through its subsidiaries over the years.

Its production studios are at 100 Universal City Plaza Drive in Universal City, California. Distribution and other corporate offices are in New York City. Universal Pictures is the second-longest-lived Hollywood studio; Viacom-owned Paramount Pictures is the oldest by a month.

In 1928, Laemmle, Sr. made his son, Carl, Jr. head of Universal Pictures as a 21st birthday present. Universal already had a reputation for nepotism—at one time, 70 of Carl, Sr.'s relatives were supposedly on the payroll. Many of them were nephews, resulting in Carl, Sr. being known around the studios as "Uncle Carl." Ogden Nash famously quipped in rhyme, "Uncle Carl Laemmle/Has a very large family." Among these relatives was future Academy Award winning director/producer William Wyler.

In 1928, Laemmle, Sr. made his son, Carl, Jr. head of Universal Pictures as a 21st birthday present. Universal already had a reputation for nepotism—at one time, 70 of Carl, Sr.'s relatives were supposedly on the payroll. Many of them were nephews, resulting in Carl, Sr. being known around the studios as "Uncle Carl." Ogden Nash famously quipped in rhyme, "Uncle Carl Laemmle/Has a very large family." Among these relatives was future Academy Award winning director/producer William Wyler.

In 1945, the British entrepreneur J. Arthur Rank, hoping to expand his American presence, bought into a four-way merger with Universal, the independent company International Pictures, and producer Kenneth Young. The new combine, United World Pictures, was a failure and was dissolved within one year. Rank and International remained interested in Universal, however, culminating in the studio's reorganization as Universal-International. William Goetz, a founder of International, was made head of production at the renamed Universal-International Pictures Inc., which also served as an import-export subsidiary, and copyright holder for the production arm's films.

By the late 1950s, the motion picture business was in trouble. The combination of the studio/theater-chain break-up and the rise of television saw the mass audience drift away, probably forever. The Music Corporation of America (better known as MCA), mainly a talent agency, had also become a powerful television producer, renting space at Republic Studios for its Revue Productions subsidiary.

Anxious to expand the company's broadcast and cable presence, longtime MCA head Lew Wasserman sought a rich partner. He located Matsushita Electric (AKA Panasonic), the Japanese electronics manufacturer, which agreed to acquire MCA for $6.6 billion in 1990. Around this time, the production subsidiary was renamed Universal Studios Inc. Matsushita provided a cash infusion, but the clash of cultures was too great to overcome, and five years later Matsushita sold an 80% stake in MCA/Universal to Canadian liquor distributor Seagram for $5.7 billion.

Burdened with debt, in 2004 Vivendi Universal sold 80% of Vivendi Universal Entertainment (including the studio and theme parks) to General Electric, parent of NBC. The resulting media super-conglomerate was renamed NBC Universal, while Universal Studios Inc. remained the name of the production subsidiary.