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Volume 11 Number 1
Spring/Summer 2012


Tina Rigart, second from left in back row, in Paree Paree!

Vince Angioli contacted the Project this Spring, seeking information on his 97 year old aunt. He said he thought she was a Rockette in the 1930's and mentioned working with a number of performers listed on The Vitaphone Project website. She performed as Tina Rigart. A few questions confirmed she had not been a Rockette, but a Warnerette. That is the name given to the dancers in the countless thirties Vitaphone two reel musicals. While there are no Vitaphone shorts listing Tina in the cast, it quickly became apparent she was in dozens, if not over a hundred.

Tina now lives in south Jersey, and her nephew Vince visits her every Wednesday. By learning which performers she recalled working with at the Brooklyn studios, we were able to determine that she was there from early 1933 (appearing in Arbuckle's TOMALIO and THE MILD WEST) through the close of the studio (working with Red Skelton and June Allyson. In between, she remembered such Vitaphone shorts stars as Hal LeRoy ("a doll and very respectful"), Georgie Price, Shemp Howard, Sylvia Froos, Bob Hope, Dorothy Dare, The Yacht Club Boys --- in fact just about everyone who worked there during this period. She fondly remembered Vitaphone directors Joseph Henabery ("Everyone called him 'Uncle Joe'") and musical shorts specialist Roy Mack.

Seven-plus decades later, Tina does not recall specific shorts she appeared in. But sending Vince many stills of Warnerettes in 1933-39 shorts confirmed she was in just about all of them.

Incredibly, another Warnerette, Mildred Green, is a friend of hers and at 103 now lives with her daughter in New York City. Mildred is the grandmother of pop singers Fiona Apple and Maude Maggart.

Tina Rigart, far right, in Syncopated City (1933).
Tina Rigart, far right, rehearsing a dance number on the roof of the Brooklyn Vitaphone studios in 1933. The ladders in the background help identify the film as SYNCOPATED CITY, starring Hal Leroy and Dorothy Dare. The dance director (center) is Allan K. Foster.

We were able to share over a dozen of her shorts with her, and Tina is amazed that any of them still survive. She remembered starting her Vitaphone career as an extra in two Roscoe Arbuckle shorts. Arbuckle died in 1933, so this helped to pinpoint the beginning of her studio career.

After the studio was winding down in 1938, Tina moved to Broadway, appearing with George M. Cohan in "I'D RATHER BE RIGHT". She shared a wonderful autographed photo of her and Cohan from that show.

Tina, third from the left in the first row, in Syncopated City (1933).
This is the all-girl fire company dance number as it appeared in SYNCOPATED CITY (Vitaphone/'33). Tina is third from the left in the first row.

Tina with George M. Cohan Tina Rigart today!
Left: In 1938, activity at the Brooklyn Vitaphone studios was winding down, with shorts production being shifted to Warner Brothers' Burbank, CA studios. Tina then joined the Broadway run of George M. Cohan's show "I'D RATHER BE RIGHT". His inscription to Tina in this photo reads: "Portrait of an Irishman and an Italian Colleen -- George M."
Right: Here is Tina Rigart, one of the original Vitaphone Warnerettes, celebrating her 97th birthday earlier this year. We are thrilled to have been able to connect with her and get a first hand look at what filmmaking in Brooklyn was like in the thirties!


As reported in the previous issues of VITAPHONE NEWS, the 1928-32 Victor soundtrack recording ledgers were discovered, thanks to the diligence and safekeeping of musicals historian and author Miles Kreuger. These ledgers document the hectic activity at Victor when talking pictures arrived. The company recorded music and effects tracks for silents, created soundtracks for early shorts and cartoons, and also transferred optical tracks to the disk format for the studios. Over 1200 pages, each entry brings with it new discoveries. As a sample, here's an April, 1929 log for the soundtrack of Charlie Chase's first Hal Roach talkie, THE BIG SQUAWK. Noteworthy is the fact that the musical director was noted bandleader Gus Arnheim, and that Chase himself took part in the ochestra!

Victor Ledger



There is still time to plan attending Capitolfest in Rome, NY. Each year, Kylie and Art Piece, with able support from Jack Theakston, assemble a unique three day film festival blending rare silents and early talkies. As always, this year's program will include the screening of several vintage Vitaphone shorts, as well as the world re-premiere of a reel from PARAMOUNT ON PARADE which had been mute for over 80 years. Two years ago, we reported that at CAPITOLFEST 2010, while test screening that feature, the reel with Harry Green singing "I'm Isadore The Toreador" had no sound. No disk was known, until the film's very projectionist, Bob Hodge, said HE had it!. UCLA subsequently restored this reel, and this year's program includes its first screening with sound since 1930. CAPITOLFEST is set this year for August 10th through 12th. For more information, go to or call (315) 337-6453.


Not a huge number this time, but since our last issue, here is what has turned up:


Publix Theatres logo Fleischer Studios advertisement Vitaphone Acts Advertisement


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


    A Warner Brothers employee in Chicago inspects Vitaphone disks before shipping them out Norma Shearer examines a Vitaphone disk in 1929.
    Left: A Warner Brothers employee in Chicago inspects Vitaphone disks before shipping them out. Note she is sitting on one of the wooden disk shipping crates!
    Right: Norma Shearer examines a Vitaphone disk c. 1929. Her brother Douglas was appointed Chief Sound Engineer at MGM in 1928.

    This is a Gaumont Chronophone early talkie apparatus which allowed showing of consecutive reels through the unique use of dual turntables. C. 1911 Vitaphone Project Co-Founder, bandleader Vince Giordano, with the Nighthawks and Liza Minelli recoding for the upcoming season of BOARDWALK EMPIRE Postcard from Warner Brothers announcing upcoming releases. They retained the Vitagraph name for their publicity arm and film exchanges
    Left: This is a Gaumont Chronophone early talkie apparatus which allowed showing of consecutive reels through the unique use of dual turntables. C. 1911
    Center: Vitaphone Project Co-Founder, bandleader Vince Giordano, with the Nighthawks and Liza Minelli recoding for the upcoming season of BOARDWALK EMPIRE
    Right: Postcard from Warner Brothers announcing upcoming releases. They retained the Vitagraph name for their publicity arm and film exchanges

    The lobby of the Warner Brothers Hollywood Theatre showing the revolving roulette wheel and stage coach used to exploit GIRL OF THE GOLDEN WEST A still from the film starring Ann Harding & James Rennie
    Stills promoting the lost Ann Harding/James Rennie film THE GIRL OF THE GOLDEN WEST (1930)

    The Captiol Theatre in Ottumwa, IA in 1927 The Captiol Theatre in Ottumwa, IA today
    Left: The Capitol Theatre in Ottumwa, Iowa, showing a Vitaphone film in 1927
    Right: What became of the Capitol Theater. See photos of it in decay, and click on Street View to see it today


    Scientific American, December 1927, article page 1 Scientific American, December 1927, article page 2
    Here is an interesting article on the Roxy Theatre - showing their Vitaphone projectors in the booth. This article is from the December 1927 issue of Scientific American. Click on the images to enlarge the articles.


    This Spring, Vince Giordano introduced the Project's Ron Hutchinson to Marty Cummins before one of Vince's Monday/Tuesday gig at Sofia's in NYC. Marty is the son of Walter Cummins, who sang with his brother Bernie's band in the twenties and thirties. Marty's mom (Walter's wife) is still living and even sang with the band for a while. Ron mentioned that the Library of Congress had a mute 35mm print of the 1929 Vitaphone short #752 BERNIE CUMMINS AND HIS BILTMORE ORCHESTRA. Marty was thrilled at the thought of being able to at least see his dad and uncle performing again, and knew it would mean a lot to his mom to see her late husband at such a young age.

    In an interesting Vitaphone connection, the star of the first short we were involved with getting restored --- BABY ROSE MARIE, THE CHILD WONDER ('29) --- told us it was Bernie Cummins who first put her on radio in 1930.

    Bernie Cummins

    Ron was able to assist Marty in obtaining a DVD copy of the mute film, with much thanks to LoC and to Julie Heath and Ned Price at Warner Brothers. After seeing the film, Marty said:

    "Wow, wow, wow! It is crystal clear - no blemishes. I am watching my Dad at 25 and my Uncle at 27 and they are gorgeous - full of life and having the time of their lives. Young, vibrant and having a ball. I never saw Uncle Bernie or Dad perform though I apparently was at the closing performance at the New Yorker in the early 50s as a 3 or 4 year old) and this is one of the most joyous moments of my life. Thank you so much for making this possible. I will take the DVD to Ohio next week to show it to my Mom and siblings. Uncle Bernie truly was the white Cab Calloway - stylish and beautiful beyond description!"


    Here's an update on what is in the restoration pipeline as of this issue. Ned Price at WB (see a great interview with Ned HERE!) is coordinating the many moving parts of the restoration of the next 50 (!) Vitaphone shorts. We listed the candidates in the last VITAPHONE NEWS. This is truly a cooperative effort, as work and contributions are being provided by Warner Brothers, The Library of Congress, UCLA, and The Vitaphone Project. This massive effort will take 12-18 months to complete but is well worth the wait.

    The Library of Congress continues to work on finalizing the restoration of six 1929-30 Columbia Victor Gems one reel talkie shorts. It is hoped these will be done by the end of 2012.

    George Eastman House is restoring at least one reel of the MGM Colortone short, THE DOLL SHOP, using disks the Vitaphone Project located.

    Eric Grayson is personally working on restoring as much of the first sound serial, KING OF THE KONGO (Universal/'29) as possible as many, but not all, of the soundtrack disks survive.


    The March 2012 CINEFEST in Syracuse boasted a number of first-time screenings, crowned by the first showing of the Technicolor 1930 Tiffany feature MAMBA in 80+ years. The film's "godfathers", Jonas Nordin and Paul Brennan, flew in from Sweden and Australia respectively, and provided a DVD of the synched-up film. It is hoped that one day a full film restoration can be done. The crowd was amazed at how vivid the surviving color nitrate film was.

    The Library of Congress, with much help from James Cozart and Rob Stone, provided their own digital synch-up of HIS CAPTIVE WOMAN (First National/'29) --- a part talkie starring Milton Sills and Dorothy Mackaill. This was its first screening in sound in over 80 years!

    And LoC's Katie Trainor generously assembled a digital presentation of recently discovered Clara Bow film fragments, many from otherwise lost Paramount features. Thanks to Cinefest organizers Rick Scheckman and Gerry Orlando for consistently topping themselves each year!


    We hope you'll "friend" The Vitaphone Project on it's Facebook page. Always interesting stuff and a nice way to bridge the time between issues of VITAPHONE NEWS. Go to this links to join us on Facebook:

    If you'd like to hear a little of the soundtrack to drummer Buddy Rich's 1929 Vitaphone short, BUDDY TRAPS , you can hear it here:

    The film is still missing, although rumor has it a clip --- with sound – was shown on a sixties TONIGHT show when Rich was a guest.

    The Project is working hard to hopefully generate interest in properly recognizing the 100th anniversary of the famed Palace Theatre in March 2013. The Palace was the ultimate destination of vaudevillians, and many of them appeared in Vitaphone shorts --- thereby speeding the demise of vaudeville itself!


    Left: More proof CONVENTION CITY was not recalled and destroyed after it's initial 1933-34 run. This is an ad from the 9/17/37 issue of the Rhinelander, Wisconsin newspaper.
    Right: And this one is from the San Antonio, TX market from 6/19/35, and shows no less than THREE theatres simultaneously showing this allegedly withdrawn/destroyed Pre-Code film!:


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    Corresponding Secretary & Editor Ron Hutchinson 5 Meade Court
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    (732) 463-8521
    FAX: (732) 463-8521
    Database: Patrick Picking
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    Sherwin Dunner
    Vince Giordano
    Vitaphone Project Web Page Designer Patrick Picking
    Vitaphone Project Web Page
    Leonard Maltin's Site
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    Sound insulated camera booth, to keep the noise of the camera from being picked up by the microphones

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