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In 1925 at Astoria, Long Island, Famous Players-Lasky opened the Paramount Pictures School. The purpose was to manufacture movie stars.
Between a good-looking youth, a pretty girl, and stardom, the thinking went, stood only tutoring, training, dancing lessons. Tuition cost a negotiable $500. By the thousands, screen-struck Cinderellas—beauty queens, school teachers, department store clerks, even the nephew of a cough drop manufacturer—applied.
Paramount regional offices fielded thousands of applications, and each sent the best five to New York. The central office nixed half. Camera crews fanned out across America to shoot seventy five semi-finalist screen tests. Paramount assembled a class of eighteen. Two quickly left.
On first day of classes, July 20, 1925, Jesse Lasky, then Famous Players-Lasky vice-president and formerly producer of the first feature movie shot in Hollywood, greeted students with the solicitude of a mother cat carrying a kitten across the road: "I have seen players come and go: I have seen extra girls rise to the heights of stardom and I have seen the brightest stars lose their lustre and fade into obscurity. I am going to show you the other side of that great shining light which we call public favor."
July 29, 1925. Traffic halts on Centre Street, Manhattan for the transit of a mother cat. (Harry Warnecke photo).
Instructors taught how to sit and stand, how to mime, how to wear a costume, how to roll down stairs. Students learned swimming, fencing, etiquette, how cameras work, and the mysteries of lighting.
Most graduates passed into the business and out of it as footnote actors with a string of minor credits. A few had careers. One died in prison. Two students—Thelma Todd and Charles "Buddy" Rogers—actually did reach the first rungs of stardom. With the Marx Brothers, Thelma Todd starred in Horse Feathers, for instance.
Fascinating Youth (1926) featured all sixteen of the Paramount Pictures Junior Stars, as Paramount publicists dubbed them. It was the class project of the first (and only) Paramount Pictures School class.
Lasky deemed the Paramount Picture School unproductive and shut it in October 1926. He wrote later in his autobiography: "What I had failed to take into consideration was that looks and talent and training aren't enough by themselves. More important that all three is personality—and that's something you can't turn out by factory methods."

J.B. Kaufman tells the whole story in "Fascinating Youth: The Story of the Paramount Pictures School" (Film History, 4, pp. 131-151)