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Montague Alexander Pyke (June, 1874 - 1935) was a cinema chain owner, entrepreneur, exhibitor.
He was born in Holborn, London, the son of Alfred Lionel Pyke and Alice Flora Pyke, and married Genevieve Alix Marie Pyke in 1905. Monty Pyke worked as a commercial traveller before his expensive lifestyle, gambling, and stock market losses sent him to jail for bankruptcy in 1905. Discharged in 1908, and deciding to try his luck in film exhibition, Pyke formed "Recreations Limited."
In 1907 General Schwabe died and left Maurice Schwabe £2.000 as his share of the estate. The same year Schwabe went into the penny slot machine business with Montagu Alexander Pyke, Lucky to his friends. Pyke was the son of a wealthy London jeweller who had spent time in the South African gold country. After his association with Scwabe, Pyke would convert shops into motion picture halls and become Britain's "cinema king."
Although, he later admitted, his assets were simply "a very nice name plate on the door, and some office furniture on the hire purchase," Pyke raised £10,000 from eager investors and opened the "Recreations Theatre" (one of the first permanent London cinemas) in 1909. Its success led him to establish another fourteen companies over the next three years, all designed to add cinemas to the "Pyke Circuit." As his income rose to £10,000 in 1911, he returned to an opulent lifestyle—until competition cut into his profits. He had a reputation as one of the best-dressed men in England, never seen without a new tie or monocle. At his peak, he spent about £300 a year on cigars alone. He would lose it all thanks to a bitter, highly publicized divorce and a charge of manslaughter for a fire caused by improperly stored film stock in one of his cinemas, the Cambridge Circus Cinematograph Theatre. He was described as a "larger than life figure" and also as "a charlatan and a crook" with "dubious methods of raising capital." He divorced in 1913. By 1914, all but two of Pyke's companies were closed down; by 1915, he was again bankrupt.
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