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J. Arthur Rank was born in Kingston upon Hull, into a family environment which was dominated by his father Joseph Rank (1854-1943) who had built a substantial flour milling business.
Arthur was educated at The Leys School in Cambridge. Joseph is reported to have told his son Arthur that he was "a dunce at school" and that the only way that he could succeed in life would be in his father's flour mill. After school he had an apprenticeship in his father's milling business and was then moved to London.
1917 Married Ellen Marshall
After WW1: Arthur's father bought him a business called Peterkins Self-Raising Flour but when that failed he returned to work for his father where he took charge of the diversification into branded animal feeds. He remained a miller throughout his life.
1933 Founded the Religious Films Society to improve the quality of religious films. Became joint managing director of Joseph Rank Ltd on its flotation.
1934 Founded British National Films but founded he also needed to have control over distribution, especially to break the grip of the US (Hollywood) on cinema.
1935 Formed the General Cinema Finance Corporation, holding a 25% stake in Universal Pictures, an American production company, and a controlling interest in General Film Distributors (GFD) headed by Charles Woolf. Rank was chairman of GFD from 1937 and of General Cinema Finance from 1938. He also bought the Leicester Square Theatre cinema in central London.
1942 Acquired control of Odeon cinemas; also acquired Denham Studios, Pinewood Studios, Gainsborough Studios and Gaumont British studious.
1952 Became chairman of (Ranks Limited) on the death of his brother; this company eventually became Ranks Hovis McDougall. Settled a controlling interest in the film companies in the Rank Foundation, a charity.
1962 Retired as chairman of the Rank Organisation.
1969 Retired as chairman of (Ranks Limited).