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Volume 10 Number 4
Fall/Winter 2011



Ned Price, Chief Preservation Officer at Warner Brothers, has again secured funding to restore another large group of early Vitaphone sound-on-disk shorts. As with the batch of 53 restorations done by Warners in 2009-10, the studio will do the restoration in-house and does not require projectable 35mm prints. The Vitaphone Project's donors, primarily Dudley Heer, will provide funding to UCLA to make prints of each restored short, thereby allowing exhibition to theatre audiences. This partnership worked out well last time, and was quickly followed by a Warner Archive DVD set release (VITAPHONE VARIETIES), with sixty shorts.

At Ned's request, the Project updated the list of restorable Vitaphone shorts. That is, both mute 35mm prints (most at The Library of Congress) and matching soundtrack disks (from many sources) exist and can be married into a sound-on-film restoration print. In the process of updating the 'restorable' shorts, the Project found that nearly a dozen more shorts than previously known had both surviving elements. This was largely due to the fact that disks in the database might be titled differently than the surviving film list. For example, many of the vaudeville shorts have the titling format of JOHN DOE IN 'XXX XXXX'. The film might be cataloged that way, but the disk cataloged as just 'XXX XXXX'. Drilling down to the film number on each helped confirm new matches.

Work by Warner Brothers will begin in early 2012 and will likely continue throughout the year. It is not expected that any completed restorations will have available projectable prints until early 2013. After this batch of Vitaphones is restored, there will still be nearly another 50 more awaiting restoration. And that number will almost surely grow as more disks are located.

Here is a list of ALL restorable Vitaphone 1926-31 shorts as of this issue. A *Bolded title indicates a title that the Project has suggested be included in Ned's 2012 effort.


Optical tracks for following are also at LoC for:


Operatics & Classical shorts (disk soundtracks):


The Project heard from Francis Ford Coppola this summer, regarding the fact that his grandfather, Agostino, had been tapped by Bell Laboratories c. 1924 to help resolve some mechanical issues with their sound-on-disk equipment, and to create custom parts and equipment in his lower Manhattan machine shop. This is a Vitaphone connection we knew nothing about! Here are two stills Mr. Coppola provided, showing his grandfather in his Canal Street shop with prototype Vitaphone equipment:

Coppola's grandfather Vitaphone Equipment


Several performers who are also fans of early talkies have decided to make their own 'Vitaphone' shorts. While the sound is not recorded on a disk, the films still attempt to create the feel of those pioneering sound shorts. Fortunately, their work can be readily seen and heard on the Internet. Singer Janet Klein regularly performs in and around Hollywood, and specializes in tunes from the first three decades of the twentieth century. Janet also performs many tunes from actual Vitaphone shorts on her many CDs. She is backed up by her 'Parlor Boys' and can be seen in her very own 'JK Varieties' Vitaphone-style short, YIDDISH HULA BOY at:

West coast bandleader Dean Mora and his Modern Rhythmists performs twenties and thirties tunes, and have created what is essentially a Vitaphone newsreel. Blending vintage clips of flappers and Broadway, Dean's effort can be viewed at

And vaudeville aficionado, author and performer Trav S.D. has created an entire channel of newly made vaudeville shorts at his VAUDEPHONE site. He promises regular productions and postings of his Vitaphone-esque shorts at:

Unknown dolls
Here is a shot of an unknown c.1930 Vitaphone exchange and staff. The dolls are a mystery!


Your generous donations help to keep our Project going. Escalating printing and mailing costs make your support even more important than ever. While not tax-deductible, your donation allows us to continue spreading the word and seeking out disks and film elements for future restorations. Large donations for actual restorations go directly to UCLA Film and Television Archive (where support is tax deductible).

NEW!     NEW!    NEW!    NEW!    NEW!   NEW!

We've just added a new thank-you gift for a donation of $50. It's a set of twelve 3x5 note cards and envelopes, each with a terrific vintage Vitaphone short still. Twelve different cards include pictures of bands, vaudevillians, the Vitaphone camera booth guys, and more. A unique way to send your friends a note the old fashioned way. Just specify you'd like the note cards when contributing. If you've sent in a donation lately, thanks! If you are receiving Vitaphone News and have not made contribution lately --- or ever -- please consider doing so now. In addition to thank-you audio CDs listed below, we are adding a few new items:

Selected from the 70+ Vitaphone disks acquired earlier last year are two new CDs:

2011 DISK-OVERIES VOL. 1 -includes soundtracks for 1929 shorts by Molly Picon and Dave Apollon, Ruth Etting with Arden & Ohman, Phil Baker and more.

2011 DISK-OVERIES VOL. 2 includes tracks from REDSKIN, a Vitaphone 1929 theatre holiday promo, Charles King in the lost 1929 MGM Colortone CLIMBING THE GOLDEN STAIRS and Al Trahan, plus more.

The above 2 CDs are individually for a $50 contribution, both for $75.

Also new...
For a $50 donation receive our DVD of twenty band, singing and vaudeville excerpts from 1930-39 British Pathetone shorts. Includes the bands of Billy Cotton, Harry Roy and Jack Hylton (recording at HMV in 1932!), plus Sophie Tucker, two clips with Al Bowlly, and many fun music hall and vaude acts. Just request our PATHETONE DVD when contributing!

For donations of $50, you can choose from one of the listed CDs, or you can receive a great Shaw and Lee caricature T-shirt.

And the following audio CDs are still available as thank-you gifts. These are unique, non-professional (but highly listenable) recordings of rare early talkie material. No fancy notes or packaging, but we are sure you'll enjoy them. Just let us know your choice (number of CDs is in parentheses)

  • KRAZY KAT CARTOON '29-'30 SOUNDTRACK (total of 10 tracks) (1)
  • '29-'30 COLUMBIA VICTOR GEMS SOUNDTRACKS (Vol 1 & 2) (1 CD each)
  • "TALES FROM THE ATTIC" - VITAPHONE ON WDVR (11/09) with Vitaphone Project's Ron Hutchinson. Nearly 3 hours (2) Ron Hutchinson on the air!
  • BABY ROSE MARIE, THE CHILD WONDER ('29) - all known 1929-38 78's by this popular child star, plus tracks from her 3 Vitaphone shorts, features and even her 1938 radio show. (1)
  • WHY BE GOOD? Soundtrack - the complete jazzy Vitaphone discs for this soon to be restored 1929 silent starring Colleen Moore. Believed to feature Jimmy Dorsey, Phil Napoleon and Eddie Lang among others. (1)
  • MY MAN ('28) - all available discs from the lost Fanny Brice feature, plus trailer disc and contemporary 78's of film tunes. (2)
  • GOLD DIGGERS OF BROADWAY ('29) Vitaphone discs - 99% of the sound from this still substantially lost early Vitaphone feature. (1)
  • VITAPHONE SOUNDTRACKS - Vol 1-4 Selections from soundtrack discs from vaudeville, band and feature films. (4)
  • WHEELER & WOOLSEY TUNES (2 CD's) - includes virtually every one of the songs from their 1929-37 features. For real fans! (2)
  • Click on the button below to donate to The Vitaphone Project securely with any major credit card through PayPal!

    If you wish to send a check (not tax deductible) please make it payable to RON HUTCHINSON (NOT The Vitaphone Project) and send it to:

    Ron Hutchinson
    5 Meade Court
    Piscataway, NJ 08854


    Friend us on facebook 'The Vitaphone Project'


    UK: Malcolm Billingsley
    SCANDANAVIA: Jonas Nordin


    Work soon resumes on the next batch of Vitaphone shorts restorations. Cost is $4500 (fully deductible, payable to UCLA.) Interested? Contact us at


    Reports of soundtrack disks continue to be reported to the Project, bringing the total in our database to over 3,500. Patrick Picking continues to update our database, which is located for your review on our Project website at Since our last issue, here is what has turned up: