Warner Brothers


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Warner Brothers,

American movie studio executives and producers. Sons of poor E European Jewish immigrants, the brothers were Harry Morris (1881–1958), Albert (1884–1967), Samuel Louis (1887–1927), all b. Poland, and Jack Leonard (1892–1978), b. London, Ontario, Canada. The brothers opened (1903) a movie theater in Newcastle, Pa. and operated a film distribution business until 1912. Later Harry and Albert, who were responsible for the financial end of the business, went to New York and Sam and Jack, who managed the production and technical aspects, to California. The Warners made their first successful movie in 1917 and Warner's Hollywood studio opened the following year. In 1923 Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. was founded and in 1925 the brothers bought Vitagraph, with studios in New York and Los Angeles. With Sam's technical support, the brothers began experimenting with sound. In 1927 Warner Bros. released the first feature-length talking picture, The Jazz Singer starring Al JolsonJolson, Al
, 1888–1950, American entertainer, whose original name was Asa Yoelson, b. Russia. He emigrated to the United States c.1895. The son of a rabbi, Jolson first planned to become a cantor but soon turned to the stage.
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. During the 1930s the studio became known for a series of gangster films, action adventures, and melodramas. During World War II, it was active in the war effort and produced the masterpiece Casablanca (1942). In the late 1940s Warner Bros. was the first studio to begin television production. In 1956 the remaining three brothers sold the company, but Jack, through a secret deal, repurchased his shares and became president and the major stockholder. He sold control of the company in 1966 and stepped down as president in 1967. Among Warner Bros.'s most famous films are Little Caesar (1930), Mildred Pierce (1945), A Streetcar Named Desire (1952), Rebel Without a Cause (1955), and My Fair Lady (1964).

Bibliography

See Jack Warner's autobiography, My First Hundred Years in Hollywood (with D. Jennings, 1964), his biography by B. Thomas (1990, repr. 2002; studies by R. Behlmer (1985), C. Warner Sperling (1998), and R. Schickel (2008); The Brothers Warner (documentary dir. by C. Warner Sperling, 2008).

Warner Brothers (b. Eichelbaums)

movie executives; Harry (Morris) (1881–1958), born in Krasnashiltz, Poland; Albert (1884–1967), born in Baltimore, Md.; Samuel (1887–1927), born in Baltimore, Md.; Jack (Leonard) (1892–1978), born in London, Ontario, Canada. The parents immigrated to the U.S.A. in the mid-1880s. By 1903 the brothers and a sister had a nickelodeon in Newcastle, Pa., and then expanded into a movie distribution company; they moved into production with Perils of the Plains (1910) and in 1919 formed their own Hollywood production company, Warner Brothers Pictures (incorporated in 1923). Their firm grew slowly, but their gamble on the first sound feature movie with synchronized songs and dialogue, The Jazz Singer (1927), launched them as a major studio. Although Warner Brothers movies often had a relatively austere look, as the brothers were not especially noted for either financial extravagance or high style, they would produce some of the classic American films. During the 1930s the studio specialized in gangster films, musicals, and historical biographies; by the 1940s they were strong in adventure movies, melodramas, and mystery dramas. In the 1950s the company suffered from the loss of their theater chain (due to government action) and the growth of television, and by 1969 the surviving brother, Jack, had lost control.
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