Jack Warner and the Rise of Warner Bros. Studios

On this day, August 2 in the year 1892, one of the earliest movie moguls of Hollywood was born in Ontario, Canada. His name was Jack Leonard Warner, the co-founder and longtime CEO of Warner Bros.

Jack Warner
Jack Warner (Credit: wiki commons)

Jack Warner was the youngest of 12 children of Jewish parents. In search of a better living condition, his father travelled with his family from Poland to Germany and then to New York. Later, the family moved to Baltimore, Maryland. They moved again to Canada and after two years, they finally settled in Youngstown, Ohio where they established a shoe repair shop, a meat and grocery store.

Life in the early days of Youngstown was tough and criminality was rampant. This was the environment where Jack grew up with. He worked briefly as singer and dancer but Sam, one of his brothers advised him that the actual money comes not from performing but from paying performers. Soon, he joined his brothers in their fledgling entertainment business which included theater operation and film distribution.

In 1912, the Warner brothers moved into film production with the released of Dante’s Inferno which was a commercial success. Soon they moved to California where the movie market was expanding fast. In 1918, they produced their first major film My Four Years in Germany. In 1923, Warner Brothers was incorporated by Harry, Albert, Sam and Jack. Jack became co-head of production together with his brother Sam. In 1927, Sam died two days before the company released the The Jazz Singers, the first movie to incorporate sound. The company went on to produce hundreds of movies in the succeeding years.

In 1957, through his machinations, Jack became the largest stockholder of the company and declared himself president. In 1966, he relinquished control of the company by selling his shares yielding $24 million. Although he retired from active involvement in the company in 1969, he continued to make movies as an independent producer in the 1970s.

Jack died in 1978. He had one son with his first wife and another with his second wife.



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