Myrna Loy was an American film and stage actress. Trained as a dancer, Loy devoted herself to an acting career following a few minor roles in silent films, she was typecast in exotic roles as a vamp or a woman of Asian descent, but her career prospects improved following her portrayal of Nora Charles in The Thin Man. Born in Helena, Loy was raised in rural Radersburg throughout her early childhood, before relocating to Los Angeles with her mother in her early adolescence. There, she began studying dance, trained extensively throughout her high school education, she was discovered by production designer Natacha Rambova, who helped facilitate film auditions for her, she began obtaining small roles in the late 1920s portraying vamps. Her role in The Thin Man helped elevate her reputation as a versatile actress, she reprised the role of Nora Charles five more times. Loy's career began to slow in the 1940s, she appeared in only a few films in the 1950s, including a lead role in the comedy Cheaper by the Dozen, as well as supporting parts in The Ambassador's Daughter and the drama Lonelyhearts.
She would go on to appear in only eight films between 1960 and 1981, after which she formally retired from acting. Although Loy was never nominated for a competitive Academy Award, in March 1991 she was presented with an Honorary Academy Award in recognition of her life's work both onscreen and off, including serving as assistant to the director of military and naval welfare for the Red Cross during World War II, a member-at-large of the U. S. Commission to UNESCO. Loy died in December 1993 in New York City, aged 88. Loy was born Myrna Adele Williams on August 2, 1905, in Helena, the daughter of Adelle Mae and rancher David Franklin Williams, her parents had married in Helena in 1904, one year before Loy was born. She had David Frederick Williams. Loy's paternal grandfather, David Thomas Williams, was Welsh, immigrated from Liverpool, England to the United States in 1856, arriving in Philadelphia. Unable to read or write in English, he settled in the Montana Territory where he began a career as a rancher.
Loy's maternal grandparents were Swedish immigrants. During her childhood, her father worked as a banker, real estate developer, farmland appraiser in Helena, was the youngest man elected to the Montana state legislature, her mother had studied music at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, at one time considered a career as a concert performer, but instead devoted her time to raising Loy and her brother. Loy's mother was a lifelong Democrat, she was raised in the Methodist faith. Loy spent her early life in Radersburg, Montana, a rural mining community 50 miles southeast of Helena. During the winter of 1912, Loy's mother nearly died from pneumonia, her father sent his wife and daughter to La Jolla, California. Loy's mother saw great potential in Southern California, during one of her husband's visits, she encouraged him to purchase real estate there. Among the properties he bought was land he sold at a considerable profit to Charlie Chaplin so the filmmaker could construct his studio there.
Although her mother tried to persuade her husband to move to California permanently, he preferred ranch life and the three returned to Montana. Soon afterward, Loy's mother needed a hysterectomy and insisted Los Angeles was a safer place to have it done, so she and Loy's brother David moved to Ocean Park, where Loy began to take dancing lessons. After the family returned to Montana, Loy continued her dancing lessons, at the age of 12, Myrna Williams made her stage debut performing a dance she had choreographed based on "The Blue Bird" from the Rose Dream operetta at Helena's Marlow Theater. After the November 1918 death of Loy's father from the 1918 flu pandemic, Loy's mother permanently relocated the family to California, where they settled in Culver City. Loy attended the exclusive Westlake School for Girls while continuing to study dance in downtown Los Angeles; when her teachers objected to her extracurricular participation in theatrical arts, her mother enrolled her in Venice High School, at 15, she began appearing in local stage productions.
In 1921, Loy posed for Venice High School sculpture teacher Harry Fielding Winebrenner for the central figure "Inspiration" in his allegorical sculpture group Fountain of Education. Completed in 1922, the sculpture group was installed in front of the campus outdoor pool in May 1923 where it stood for decades. Loy's slender figure with her uplifted face and one arm extending skyward presented a "vision of purity, youthful vigor, aspiration", singled out in a Los Angeles Times story that included a photo of the "Inspiration" figure along with the model's name—the first time her name appeared in a newspaper. A few months Loy's "Inspiration" figure was temporarily removed from the sculpture group and transported aboard the battleship Nevada for a Memorial Day pageant in which "Miss Myrna Williams" participated. Fountain of Education can be seen in the opening scenes of the 1978 film Grease. After decades of exposure to the elements and vandalism, the original concrete statue was removed from display in 2002, replaced in 2010 by a bronze duplicate paid for through an alumni-led fundraising campaign.
Loy left school at the age of 18 to help with the family's finances. She obtained work at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre, where she performed in elaborate musical sequences that were related to and served as prologues for the feature film. During this period, she saw Eleonora Duse in the
Pre-Code Hollywood refers to the brief era in the American film industry between the widespread adoption of sound in pictures in 1929 and the enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code censorship guidelines, popularly known as the "Hays Code", in mid-1934. Although the Code was adopted in 1930, oversight was poor, it did not become rigorously enforced until July 1, 1934, with the establishment of the Production Code Administration. Before that date, movie content was restricted more by local laws, negotiations between the Studio Relations Committee and the major studios, popular opinion, than by strict adherence to the Hays Code, ignored by Hollywood filmmakers; as a result, some films in the late 1920s and early 1930s depicted or implied sexual innuendo, mild profanity, illegal drug use, prostitution, abortion, intense violence, homosexuality. Strong female characters were ubiquitous in such pre-Code films as Female, Baby Face, Red-Headed Woman. Gangsters in films like The Public Enemy, Little Caesar, Scarface were seen by many as heroic rather than evil.
Along with featuring stronger female characters, films examined female subject matters that would not be revisited until decades in US films. Nefarious characters were seen to profit from their deeds, in some cases without significant repercussions, drug use was a topic of several films. Many of Hollywood's biggest stars such as Clark Gable, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Blondell, Edward G. Robinson got their start in the era. Other stars who excelled during this period, like Ruth Chatterton and Warren William, would wind up forgotten by the general public within a generation. Beginning in late 1933 and escalating throughout the first half of 1934, American Roman Catholics launched a campaign against what they deemed the immorality of American cinema. This, plus a potential government takeover of film censorship and social research seeming to indicate that movies which were seen to be immoral could promote bad behavior, was enough pressure to force the studios to capitulate to greater oversight. In 1922, after some risqué films and a series of off-screen scandals involving Hollywood stars, the studios enlisted Presbyterian elder William H.
"Will" Hays, a figure of unblemished rectitude. Hays nicknamed the motion picture "Czar", was paid the then-lavish sum of $100,000 a year. Hays, Postmaster General under Warren G. Harding and former head of the Republican National Committee, served for 25 years as president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, where he "defended the industry from attacks, recited soothing nostrums, negotiated treaties to cease hostilities." Hollywood mimicked the decision Major League Baseball had made in hiring judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis as League Commissioner the previous year to quell questions about the integrity of baseball in wake of the 1919 World Series gambling scandal. Hays introduced a set of recommendations dubbed "The Formula" in 1924, which the studios were advised to heed, asked filmmakers to describe to his office the plots of pictures they were planning; the Supreme Court had decided unanimously in 1915 in Mutual Film Corporation v. Industrial Commission of Ohio that free speech did not extend to motion pictures, while there had been token attempts to clean up the movies before, such as when the studios formed the National Association of the Motion Picture Industry in 1916, little had come of the efforts.
In 1929, an American Roman Catholic layman Martin Quigley, editor of the prominent trade paper Motion Picture Herald, Father Daniel A. Lord, a Jesuit priest, created a code of standards, submitted it to the studios. Lord's concerns centered on the effects sound film had on children, whom he considered susceptible to their allure. Several studio heads, including Irving Thalberg of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, met with Lord and Quigley in February 1930. After some revisions, they agreed to the stipulations of the Code. One of the main motivating factors in adopting the Code was to avoid direct government intervention, it was the responsibility of the Studio Relations Committee, headed by Colonel Jason S. Joy, to supervise film production and advise the studios when changes or cuts were required; the Code was divided into two parts. The first was a set of "general principles" which concerned morality; the second was a set of "particular applications", an exacting list of items that could not be depicted.
Some restrictions, such as the ban on homosexuality or the use of specific curse words, were never directly mentioned but were assumed to be understood without clear demarcation. Miscegenation, the mixing of the races, was forbidden, it stated that the notion of an "adults-only policy" would be a dubious, ineffective strategy that would be difficult to enforce. However, it did allow that "maturer minds may understand and accept without harm subject matter in plots which does younger people positive harm." If children were supervised and the events implied elliptically, the code allowed what Brandeis University cultural historian Thomas Doherty called "the possibility of a cinematically inspired thought crime". The Code sought not only to determine what could be portrayed on screen, but to promote traditional values. Sexual relations outside of marriage could not be portrayed as attractive and beautiful, presented in a way that might arouse passion, nor be made to seem right and permissible. All criminal action had to be punish
A sound film is a motion picture with synchronized sound, or sound technologically coupled to image, as opposed to a silent film. The first known public exhibition of projected sound films took place in Paris in 1900, but decades passed before sound motion pictures were made commercially practical. Reliable synchronization was difficult to achieve with the early sound-on-disc systems, amplification and recording quality were inadequate. Innovations in sound-on-film led to the first commercial screening of short motion pictures using the technology, which took place in 1923; the primary steps in the commercialization of sound cinema were taken in the mid- to late 1920s. At first, the sound films which included synchronized dialogue, known as "talking pictures", or "talkies", were shorts; the earliest feature-length movies with recorded sound included effects. The first feature film presented as a talkie was The Jazz Singer, released in October 1927. A major hit, it was made with Vitaphone, at the time the leading brand of sound-on-disc technology.
Sound-on-film, would soon become the standard for talking pictures. By the early 1930s, the talkies were a global phenomenon. In the United States, they helped secure Hollywood's position as one of the world's most powerful cultural/commercial centers of influence. In Europe, the new development was treated with suspicion by many filmmakers and critics, who worried that a focus on dialogue would subvert the unique aesthetic virtues of soundless cinema. In Japan, where the popular film tradition integrated silent movie and live vocal performance, talking pictures were slow to take root. Conversely, in India, sound was the transformative element that led to the rapid expansion of the nation's film industry; the idea of combining motion pictures with recorded sound is nearly as old as the concept of cinema itself. On February 27, 1888, a couple of days after photographic pioneer Eadweard Muybridge gave a lecture not far from the laboratory of Thomas Edison, the two inventors met. Muybridge claimed that on this occasion, six years before the first commercial motion picture exhibition, he proposed a scheme for sound cinema that would combine his image-casting zoopraxiscope with Edison's recorded-sound technology.
No agreement was reached, but within a year Edison commissioned the development of the Kinetoscope a "peep-show" system, as a visual complement to his cylinder phonograph. The two devices were brought together as the Kinetophone in 1895, but individual, cabinet viewing of motion pictures was soon to be outmoded by successes in film projection. In 1899, a projected sound-film system known as Cinemacrophonograph or Phonorama, based on the work of Swiss-born inventor François Dussaud, was exhibited in Paris. An improved cylinder-based system, Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre, was developed by Clément-Maurice Gratioulet and Henri Lioret of France, allowing short films of theater and ballet excerpts to be presented at the Paris Exposition in 1900; these appear to be the first publicly exhibited films with projection of both image and recorded sound. Phonorama and yet another sound-film system—Théâtroscope—were presented at the Exposition. Three major problems persisted, leading to motion pictures and sound recording taking separate paths for a generation.
The primary issue was synchronization: pictures and sound were recorded and played back by separate devices, which were difficult to start and maintain in tandem. Sufficient playback volume was hard to achieve. While motion picture projectors soon allowed film to be shown to large theater audiences, audio technology before the development of electric amplification could not project satisfactorily to fill large spaces. There was the challenge of recording fidelity; the primitive systems of the era produced sound of low quality unless the performers were stationed directly in front of the cumbersome recording devices, imposing severe limits on the sort of films that could be created with live-recorded sound. Cinematic innovators attempted to cope with the fundamental synchronization problem in a variety of ways. An increasing number of motion picture systems relied on gramophone records—known as sound-on-disc technology. In 1902, Léon Gaumont demonstrated his sound-on-disc Chronophone, involving an electrical connection he had patented, to the French Photographic Society.
Four years Gaumont introduced the Elgéphone, a compressed-air amplification system based on the Auxetophone, developed by British inventors Horace Short and Charles Parsons. Despite high expectations, Gaumont's sound innovations had only limited commercial success—though improvements, they still did not satisfactorily address the three basic issues with sound film and were expensive as well. For some years, American inventor E. E. Norton's Cameraphone was the primary competitor to the Gaumont system. In 1913, Edison introduced a new cylinder-based synch-sound apparatus known, just like his 1895 system, as the Kinetophone; the phonograph was connected by an intricate arrangement of pulleys to the film projector, allowing—under ideal conditions—for synchronization. However, conditions were ra
Eva Le Gallienne
Eva Le Gallienne was a British-born American stage actress, director and author. A Broadway star by age 21, Le Gallienne consciously ended her work on Broadway to devote herself to founding the Civic Repertory Theatre, in which she was both director and lead actress. Noted for her boldness and idealism, she became a pioneering figure in the American Repertory Movement, which enabled today's Off-Broadway. A versatile and eloquent actress herself, Le Gallienne became a respected stage coach, director and manager. Ms. Le Gallienne consciously devoted herself to the Art of the Theatre as opposed to the Show Business of Broadway and dedicated herself to upgrading the quality of the stage, she ran the Civic Repertory Theatre Company for 10 years. She managed Broadway's 1100-seat Civic Repertory Theatre at 107 West 14th Street from 1926–32, home to her company whose actors included herself, Burgess Meredith, John Garfield, J. Edward Bromberg, Paul Leyssac, Florida Friebus, David Manners, Leona Roberts.
Le Gallienne was born in London to Richard Le Gallienne, an English poet of French descent, Julie Nørregaard, a Danish journalist. They married in 1897 and separated in 1903 divorcing. After Eva's parents separated when she was four years old and her mother moved to Paris, where she spent her childhood shuttling back and forth between there and Britain. While in Paris, she was taken backstage to meet Sarah Bernhardt, she said "made an enormous impression on me", she made her stage debut at the age of 15 with a walk-on role in a 1914 production of Maurice Maeterlinck's Monna Vanna spent several months in a drama school. She left to perform in a minor comedy as a cockney servant, "brought down the house", receiving excellent reviews; the next year, at the age of 16, Le Gallienne and her mother sailed for New York City, where her first few productions were not successful, she was released from another while it was performing in out of town tryouts. She spent a season performing on the road and in summer stock.
After travelling in Europe for a period of time, she returned to New York and became a Broadway star in several plays including Arthur Richman's Not So Long Ago and Ferenc Molnár's Liliom for the Theatre Guild. Le Gallienne consciously devoted herself to the "art of the theatre" as opposed to the "show business of Broadway", was a pioneer in the emerging American Repertory Theater, she ran the Civic Repertory Theatre Company for 10 years, backed by the financial support of one of her lovers, Alice DeLamar, a wealthy Colorado gold mine heiress, producing 37 plays during that time. She managed Broadway's 1100-seat Civic Repertory Theatre at 107 West 14th Street from 1926–32, home to her company whose actors included herself, J. Edward Bromberg, Paul Leyssac, Florida Friebus, Leona Roberts; as head of the Civic Repertory Theatre, she rejected the admission of Bette Davis, whose attitude she described as "insincere" and "frivolous". The Civic Rep disbanded at the height of the Depression in 1934.
Le Gallienne was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1986. Le Gallienne never hid her lesbianism inside the acting community, but was never comfortable with her sexuality, struggling with it, she briefly considered arranging for a "front" marriage with actor Basil Rathbone. During the early days of her career she was in the company of witty, libertine actresses Tallulah Bankhead, Estelle Winwood and Blyth Daly, with the four being dubbed "The Four Horsemen of the Algonquin", referring to the Algonquin Round Table. In 1918, while in Hollywood, she began an affair with the actress Alla Nazimova, at her height of fame, who at that time wielded much power in the acting community; the affair ended due to Nazimova's jealousy. Nonetheless, Nazimova liked Le Gallienne much, assisted in her being introduced to many influential people of the day, it was Nazimova who coined the phrase "sewing circles", to describe the intricate and secret lesbian relationships lived by many actresses of the day. Le Gallienne was involved for some time with actresses Tallulah Bankhead, Beatrice Lillie and Laurette Taylor during that time.
In 1920, she became involved with poet and playwright Mercedes de Acosta about whom she was passionate for several years. She and de Acosta began their romance shortly after de Acosta's marriage to Abram Poole which strained their relationship. Still, they vacationed and travelled together at times visiting the salon of famed writer and socialite Natalie Barney. De Acosta wrote two plays for Le Gallienne during Sandro Botticelli and Jehanne de Arc. Neither was successful, they ended their relationship after five years. In 1960, when de Acosta was ill with a brain tumour and in need of money, she published her memoir Here Lies the Heart; the reviews were positive and many close friends praised the book. Le Gallienne was furious, denouncing de Acosta as a liar and claiming she invented the stories for fame, but many of de Acosta's affairs, including that with Le Gallienne, are confirmed in personal correspondence. By early 1927, Le Gallienne was involved with married actress Josephine Hutchinson. Hutchinson's husband started divorce proceedings and named Le Gallienne in the divorce proceedings as "co-respondent".
The press began accusations that named Josephine Hutchinson as a "shadow actress", which at the time meant lesbian. Five months Le Gallienne performed in a play about Emily Dickinson, titled Alison's House; the play won a Pul
Frank Russell Capra was an Italian American film director and writer who became the creative force behind some of the major award-winning films of the 1930s and 1940s. Born in Italy and raised in Los Angeles from the age of five, his rags-to-riches story has led film historians such as Ian Freer to consider him the "American Dream personified."Capra became one of America's most influential directors during the 1930s, winning three Academy Awards for Best Director from six nominations, along with three other Oscar wins from nine nominations in other categories. Among his leading films were It Happened One Night, You Can't Take It with You, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. During World War II, Capra served in the U. S. Army Signal produced propaganda films, such as the Why We Fight series. After World War II, Capra's career declined as his films, such as It's a Wonderful Life, performed poorly when they were first released. In ensuing decades, however, It's a Wonderful Life and other Capra films were revisited favorably by critics.
Outside of directing, Capra was active in the film industry, engaging in various political and social issues. He served as President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, worked alongside the Writers Guild of America, was head of the Directors Guild of America. Capra was born Francesco Rosario Capra in a village near Palermo, Sicily, he was the youngest of seven children of Salvatore Capra, a fruit grower, the former Rosaria "Serah" Nicolosi. Capra's family was Roman Catholic; the name "Capra", notes Capra's biographer Joseph McBride, represents his family's closeness to the land, means "goat". He notes that the English word "capricious" derives from it, "evoking the animal's skittish temperament", adding that "the name neatly expresses two aspects of Frank Capra's personality: emotionalism and obstinacy."In 1903, when he was five, Capra emigrated to the United States with his family, who traveled in one of the steerage compartments of the steamship, the cheapest way to book passage.
For Capra, the journey, which took 13 days, remained in his mind for the rest of his life as one of his worst experiences: You're all together—you have no privacy. You have a cot. Few people have trunks or anything that takes up space, they have just what they can carry in a bag. Nobody takes their clothes off. There's no ventilation, it stinks like hell. They're all miserable. It's the most degrading place you could be. Capra remembers the ship's arrival in New York Harbor, where he saw "a statue of a great lady, taller than a church steeple, holding a torch above the land we were about to enter", he recalls his father's exclamation at the sight: Ciccio, look! Look at that! That's the greatest light since the star of Bethlehem! That's the light of freedom! Remember that The family settled in Los Angeles's East Side, which Capra described in his autobiography as an Italian "ghetto". Capra's father worked as a fruit picker and young Capra sold newspapers after school for 10 years, until he graduated from high school.
Instead of working after graduating, as his parents wanted, he enrolled in college. He worked through college at the California Institute of Technology, playing banjo at nightclubs and taking odd jobs, which included working at the campus laundry facility, waiting tables, cleaning engines at a local power plant, he studied chemical engineering and graduated in the spring of 1918. Capra wrote that his college education had "changed his whole viewpoint on life from the viewpoint of an alley rat to the viewpoint of a cultured person". Soon after graduating college, Capra was commissioned in the United States Army as a second lieutenant, having completed campus ROTC. In the Army, he taught mathematics to artillerymen at San Francisco, his father died during the war in an accident. In the Army, Capra contracted Spanish flu and was medically discharged to return home to live with his mother, he became a naturalized U. S. citizen in 1920, taking the name Frank Russell Capra. Living at home with his siblings and mother, Capra was the only family member with a college education, yet he was the only one who remained chronically unemployed.
After a year without work, seeing how his siblings had steady jobs, he felt he was a failure, which led to bouts of depression and abdominal pains discovered to have been an undiagnosed burst appendix. After recovering at home, Capra moved out and spent the next few years living in flophouses in San Francisco and hopping freight trains, wandering the Western United States. To support himself, he took odd jobs on farms, as a movie extra, playing poker, selling local oil well stocks. In his early twenties, Capra had to undergo a circumcision due to recurring bouts of STIs, which caused severe damage to his sex life, an affliction that lasted until his twilight years, it was during this time that the 24-year-old Capra directed a 32-minute documentary film titled La Visita Dell'Incrociatore Italiano Libya a San Francisco. Not only did it document the visit of the Italian naval vessel Libya to San Francisco, but the reception given to the crew of the ship by San Francisco's L'Italia Virtus Club, now known as the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club.
At 25, Capra took a job selling books published by American philosopher, Elbert Hubbard. Capra recalled that he "hated being a peasant, being a scrounging new kid trapped in the Sicilian
Universal Pictures is an American film studio owned by Comcast through the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group division of its wholly owned subsidiary NBCUniversal. Founded in 1912 by Carl Laemmle, Mark Dintenfass, Charles O. Baumann, Adam Kessel, Pat Powers, William Swanson, David Horsley, Robert H. Cochrane, Jules Brulatour, it is the oldest surviving film studio in the United States, the world's fifth oldest after Gaumont, Pathé, Nordisk Film, the oldest member of Hollywood's "Big Five" studios in terms of the overall film market, its studios are located in Universal City and its corporate offices are located in New York City. Universal Pictures is a member of the Motion Picture Association of America, was one of the "Little Three" majors during Hollywood's golden age. Universal Studios was founded by Carl Laemmle, Mark Dintenfass, Charles O. Baumann, Adam Kessel, Pat Powers, William Swanson, David Horsley, Robert H. Cochrane and Jules Brulatour. One story has Laemmle watching a box office for hours, counting patrons and calculating the day's takings.
Within weeks of his Chicago trip, Laemmle gave up dry goods to buy the first several nickelodeons. For Laemmle and other such entrepreneurs, the creation in 1908 of the Edison-backed Motion Picture Trust meant that exhibitors were expected to pay fees for Trust-produced films they showed. Based on the Latham Loop used in cameras and projectors, along with other patents, the Trust collected fees on all aspects of movie production and exhibition, attempted to enforce a monopoly on distribution. Soon and other disgruntled nickelodeon owners decided to avoid paying Edison by producing their own pictures. In June 1909, Laemmle started the Yankee Film Company with partners Abe Julius Stern; that company evolved into the Independent Moving Pictures Company, with studios in Fort Lee, New Jersey, where many early films in America's first motion picture industry were produced in the early 20th century. Laemmle broke with Edison's custom of refusing to give screen credits to performers. By naming the movie stars, he attracted many of the leading players of the time, contributing to the creation of the star system.
In 1910, he promoted Florence Lawrence known as "The Biograph Girl", actor King Baggot, in what may be the first instance of a studio using stars in its marketing. The Universal Film Manufacturing Company was incorporated in New York on April 30, 1912. Laemmle, who emerged as president in July 1912, was the primary figure in the partnership with Dintenfass, Kessel, Swanson and Brulatour. All would be bought out by Laemmle; the new Universal studio was a vertically integrated company, with movie production and exhibition venues all linked in the same corporate entity, the central element of the Studio system era. Following the westward trend of the industry, by the end of 1912 the company was focusing its production efforts in the Hollywood area. On March 15, 1915, Laemmle opened the world's largest motion picture production facility, Universal City Studios, on a 230-acre converted farm just over the Cahuenga Pass from Hollywood. Studio management became the third facet of Universal's operations, with the studio incorporated as a distinct subsidiary organization.
Unlike other movie moguls, Laemmle opened his studio to tourists. Universal became the largest studio in Hollywood, remained so for a decade. However, it sought an audience in small towns, producing inexpensive melodramas and serials. In its early years Universal released three brands of feature films—Red Feather, low-budget programmers. Directors included Jack Conway, John Ford, Rex Ingram, Robert Z. Leonard, George Marshall and Lois Weber, one of the few women directing films in Hollywood. Despite Laemmle's role as an innovator, he was an cautious studio chief. Unlike rivals Adolph Zukor, William Fox, Marcus Loew, Laemmle chose not to develop a theater chain, he financed all of his own films, refusing to take on debt. This policy nearly bankrupted the studio when actor-director Erich von Stroheim insisted on excessively lavish production values for his films Blind Husbands and Foolish Wives, but Universal shrewdly gained a return on some of the expenditure by launching a sensational ad campaign that attracted moviegoers.
Character actor Lon Chaney became a drawing card for Universal in the 1920s, appearing in dramas. His two biggest hits for Universal were The Phantom of the Opera. During this period Laemmle entrusted most of the production policy decisions to Irving Thalberg. Thalberg had been Laemmle's personal secretary, Laemmle was impressed by his cogent observations of how efficiently the studio could be operated. Promoted to studio chief, Thalberg was giving Universal's product a touch of class, but MGM's head of production Louis B. Mayer lured Thalberg away from Universal with a promise of better pay. Without his guidance Universal became a second-tier studio, would remain so for several decades. In 1926, Universal opened a production unit in Germany, Deutsche Universal-Film AG, under the direction of Joe Pasternak; this unit produced three to four films per year until 1936, migrating to Hungary and Austria in the face of Hitler's increasing domination of central Europe. With the advent of sound, these productions were made in the German language or Hungarian or Polish.
In the U. S. Universal Pictures did not distribute any of this subsidiary's films, but at least some of them were exhibited through othe
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. referred to as Warner Bros. and abbreviated as WB, is an American entertainment company headquartered in Burbank, California and a subsidiary of AT&T's WarnerMedia. Founded in 1923, it has operations in film and video games and is one of the "Big Five" major American film studios, as well as a member of the Motion Picture Association of America; the company's name originated from the four founding Warner brothers: Harry, Albert and Jack Warner. Harry and Sam emigrated as young children with their parents to Canada from Krasnosielc, Poland. Jack, the youngest brother, was born in Ontario; the three elder brothers began in the movie theater business, having acquired a movie projector with which they showed films in the mining towns of Pennsylvania and Ohio. In the beginning and Albert Warner invested $150 to present Life of an American Fireman and The Great Train Robbery, they opened their first theater, the Cascade, in New Castle, Pennsylvania, in 1903. When the original building was in danger of being demolished, the modern Warner Bros. called the current building owners, arranged to save it.
The owners noted people across the country had asked them to protect it for its historical significance. In 1904, the Warners founded the Pittsburgh-based Duquesne Amusement & Supply Company, to distribute films. In 1912, Harry Warner hired. By the time of World War I they had begun producing films. In 1918 they opened the first Warner Brothers Studio on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Sam and Jack produced the pictures, while Harry and Albert, along with their auditor and now controller Chase, handled finance and distribution in New York City. During World War I their first nationally syndicated film, My Four Years in Germany, based on a popular book by former ambassador James W. Gerard, was released. On April 4, 1923, with help from money loaned to Harry by his banker Motley Flint, they formally incorporated as Warner Bros. Pictures, Incorporated; the first important deal was the acquisition of the rights to Avery Hopwood's 1919 Broadway play, The Gold Diggers, from theatrical impresario David Belasco.
However, Rin Tin Tin, a dog brought from France after World War I by an American soldier, established their reputation. Rin Tin Tin debuted in the feature; the movie was so successful. Rin Tin Tin became the studio's top star. Jack nicknamed him "The Mortgage Lifter" and the success boosted Darryl F. Zanuck's career. Zanuck became a top producer and between 1928 and 1933 served as Jack's right-hand man and executive producer, with responsibilities including day-to-day film production. More success came. Lubitsch's film The Marriage Circle was the studio's most successful film of 1924, was on The New York Times best list for that year. Despite the success of Rin Tin Tin and Lubitsch, Warner's remained a lesser studio. Sam and Jack decided to offer Broadway actor John Barrymore the lead role in Beau Brummel; the film was so successful. By the end of 1924, Warner Bros. was arguably Hollywood's most successful independent studio, where it competed with "The Big Three" Studios. As a result, Harry Warner—while speaking at a convention of 1,500 independent exhibitors in Milwaukee, Wisconsin—was able to convince the filmmakers to spend $500,000 in newspaper advertising, Harry saw this as an opportunity to establish theaters in cities such as New York and Los Angeles.
As the studio prospered, it gained backing from Wall Street, in 1924 Goldman Sachs arranged a major loan. With this new money, the Warners bought the pioneer Vitagraph Company which had a nationwide distribution system. In 1925, Warners' experimented in radio, establishing a successful radio station, KFWB, in Los Angeles. Warner Bros. was a pioneer of films with synchronized sound. In 1925, at Sam's urging, Warner's agreed to add this feature to their productions. By February 1926, the studio reported a net loss of $333,413. After a long period denying Sam's request for sound, Harry agreed to change, as long as the studio's use of synchronized sound was for background music purposes only; the Warners signed a contract with the sound engineer company Western Electric and established Vitaphone. In 1926, Vitaphone began making films with music and effects tracks, most notably, in the feature Don Juan starring John Barrymore; the film was silent. To hype Don Juan's release, Harry acquired the large Piccadilly Theater in Manhattan, New York City, renamed it Warners' Theatre.
Don Juan premiered at the Warners' Theatre in New York on August 6, 1926. Throughout the early history of film distribution, theater owners hired orchestras to attend film showings, where they provided soundtracks. Through Vitaphone, Warner Bros. produced eight shorts in 1926. Many film production companies questioned the necessity. Don Juan did not recoup its production cost and Lubitsch left for MGM. By April 1927, the Big Five studios had ruined Warner's, Western Electric renewed Warner's Vit