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Paul Kohner was a Bohemian film producer born in Teplitz-Schoenau, Austria-Hungary (now part of the Czech Republic) on May 29th, 1902. As a youth, her served as a news reporter in Prague before coming over to the United States in 1920. Once in Hollywood, he was discovered by Universal Pictures president Carl Leammle who appointed him the head of Universal's European division. Kohner's first professional film work was a producer on the 1927 adaptation of the John Willard play The Cat and the Canary.

In the late 1920s, Paul Kohner began a romantic relationship with actress Mary Philbin, who would gain reknown in the silent film industry for her portrayal of Christine Daae in The Phantom of the Opera and Dea in the Paul Leni film The Man Who Laughs (also produced by Kohner). The two were engaged to be married, but according to film historian Scott MacQueen, Philbin severed her relationship with Kohner at the request of her parents who did not wish for their Catholic daughter to wed a Czech Jew.

In the early days of talkie films, it was a common practice for studios to refilm an American movie for foreign distribution, usually with an alternate cast and production crew. Kohner co-produced several such films for Universal including La voluntad del muerto, a remake of The Cat Creeps, which in turn was a remake of The Cat and the Canary as well as the Spanish language version of Tod Browning's horror classic Drácula. Both of these films starred Mexican actress Lupita Tovar, whom Kohner would eventually marry in 1932. They remained married until his death in 1988 and were survived by two children, Susan Kohner, who would go on to become and actress and star in such films as Imitation of Life, The Gene Krupa Story and Freud. Their second child, Pancho Kohner, would go on to become a film producer and work on movies such as The Evil That Men Do, Murphy's Law and Death Wish 4: The Crackdown. Kohner's grandson, Paul Weitz, would go on to work as a producer on the 2009 film Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant. Kohner's second grandson, Chris Weitz is best known for directing the 2009 romantic vampire/werewolf thriller Twilight: New Moon.

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