Share this website!

E-Mail this story to a friend

Volume 13 Number 2!
Spring/Summer 2015


This past May, extensive demolition began on the Vitaphone studio building Warner Bros constructed in 1931 to accommodate two new large soundstages and a swimming pool for water scenes. The building is directly across the street from the original 1907 Vitagraph silent studio complex which Warners purchased in 1925 and converted to sound in 1928. That complex still stands untouched, although it is, itself, being threatened with demolition to make way for for condominium construction.

The entire inside of the building has been completely gutted, with original catwalks, a spiral staircase, c. 1931 signage and all equipment removed. The building will soon be renovated into offices for the nonprofit Ohel Children's Home and Family Services. One story has been removed from the top of the building already. After Warner Bros discontinued shorts production in Brooklyn in 1939, the entire studio complex laid largely dormant until purchased by NBC for television use in the early fifties. It was then operated by JC Studios for filming AS THE WORLD TURNS in the nineties. Sold several years ago, the successor went bankrupt in 2013 and efforts to interest another production company failed.

During the 2000 shooting af a Turner documentary on short subjects, JC's owner told the Project's Ron Hutchinson that a large male ghost was periodically seen by the night watchman. Our guess is it was Roscoe Arbuckle, who died one night after working in the building.

Workers dismantled the 84 year old studio rooftop wooden fire water tank as part of the gutting process. Also removed was everything inside the building completely to the brick walls, and one story of the roof.

Inside the gutted 1931 former Vitaphone studios in Brooklyn.

This spiral staircase is visible in a number of 1930's Vitaphone shorts that have a studio or theatre setting. Initially pegged for scrap, the Project was able to reach the demolition contractor and convince them to sell it to an architectural firm for use in new home construction.


The National Society of Film Critics bestowed their "Film Heritage Award" to the Project's co-founder, Ron Hutchinson, earlier this year. This unexpected recognition was given to acknowledge Ron and The Vitaphone Project, "which, since 1991 has collected and restored countless original soundtrack discs of early sound short films and features, including the recent Warner Bros restoration of William A. Seiter's "WHY BE GOOD?"


Recent discoveries and restorations have been receiving many public screenings, with audiences enjoying them on the big screen as originally intended. The Museum of Modern Art's Technicolor series in June and July, curated and presented by James Layton and David Pierce, has had sell out attendance. Their program includes shorts, features and fragments, and has been presented in various forms worldwide during the last year. Most exciting were Technicolor debuts of the full reel of the "My Sister" number from SHOW OF SHOWS (WB/'29) and an extended musical number from the still largely lost aborted 1930 MGM musical THE MARCH OF TIME (with old timers Weber and Fields, Fay Templeton and others. MOMA also ran an equally well attended series of restore 3D shorts and features hosted by 3D curator and expert Bob Furmanek.

Here are Helene and Dolores Costello from the "My Sister" Technicolor number of SHOW OF SHOWS (WB/'29) Featuring many show business sisters, the long lost reel was screened in eye-popping color at Cinefest and MOMA by David Pierce and James Layton.

WHY BE GOOD? received additional screenings in Scotland and elsewhere, as did SYNTHETIC SIN. And the recently rediscovered and restored (by UCLA) jazz short ME AND THE BOYS (Wardour/'29) with members of Ben Pollack's Orchestra, was shown at the final Cinefest, UCLA, the Association of Recorded Sound Collectors (ARSC), and the Annual Jazz Record Collectors' Bash. The just-restored Alice White silent feature with Vitaphone score, SHOW GIRL (FN/'28) is scheduled to be screened at the Pordenone Film Festivalin October 2015.

Frame from ME AND THE BOYS (Wardour/'29)

NOTE: Turner Classic Movies will be showing WHY BE GOOD? on September 28. 2015, introduced By Leonard Maltin


Since our last issue, the following soundtrack disks have been discovered:


The primary purpose of The Vitaphone Project when it was founded in 1991 was to collect information worldwide on movie soundtrack disks held by collectors such that if any corresponding mute film survived, a restoration marrying both could be pursued. At the beginning, disk holdings information was collected by solicitations in record collecting publications and verbal networking in the collectors community. This was at the infancy of the Internet.

From the outset, the database was set up as an Excel spreadsheet with basic information on each disk, including film title, studio, reel number, with any additional information provided to us by the collector. Contact information on the holder of each disk has, by design, always been kept private and is used only when a restoration possibility develops. As of this issue, the database contain entries on 3,828 individual shorts and features disks and represents over 6,500 individual disks. It is maintained and updated regularly by the Project's Patrick Picking. The latest version of the database, minus the private holder contact information, is posted on the Vitaphone Project's website at

Please note that the listed disks are held by collectors and archives throughout the entire world and are not in one place. They are also not available for listening as that is not the purpose of the database. The presence of a disk on the spreadsheet does not imply the survival of the picture portion of a film.


Here are some recent early talkie DVD releases by Warner Archives for your consideration at

Plus all the VITAPHONE VARIETIES(2 vol), VITAPHONE COMEDY (2 vols), VITAPHONE MUSICAL AND COMEDY and BIG BANDS (most pre-'38) are still available


Universal has announced that the long awaited and very costly restoration of KING OF JAZZ is moving ahead with a 4K scan using drastically better elements than circulating faded prints, and that completion is expected by the end of this year. Screenings and a DVD would follow at some point thereafter.

Assisting the studio are THE DAWN OF TECHNICOLOR authors James Layton and David Pierce, film historian and KOJ researcher Prof. Richard Koszarski, and Ron Hutchinson of The Vitaphone Project. The Project had worked vigorously with others to get successfully added to the National Film Registry in 2013.

Under Universal's newly recharged Film Preservation group, other announced restorations include the 4 Paramount Marx Brothers features, and the silents OUTSIDE THE LAW, THE LAST WARNING, and OH DOCTOR! Stay tuned!


As a result of locating Colleen Moore's final two Vitaphone-scored silents in an Italian archive, other lost or long-missing late First National features have been found in Italy. Warner Bros has forged a strong and cooperative relationship with the archive and has committed to restoring and screening new finds as was done with the Moore features.

An early benefit of the relationship is the securing of the lone 35mm print of the long unseen Alice White debut starring vehicle, SHOW GIRL ('28). This jazz age tale of a chorus girl's rise was writtten by J.P McAvoy, and served as the template for the sequel, SHOWGIRL IN HOLLYWOOD ('30), Alice's last starring feature for First National.

As with WHY BE GOOD?, SHOW GIRL features a synchronized Vitaphone score of jazzy pop tunes of the period, including "Buy, Buy For Baby" and the theme, "She's One Sweet Show Girl". Stills confirm it had strong production values and heavy art d├ęco sets in keeping with First National's practices of the time.

As we go to press, it has been announced that SHOW GIRL will make its appearance in October 2015 at the annual Pordenone Film Festival. We will keep you posted regarding subsequent screenings.


VITAPHONE NEWS debuted in 1991, and every year we have mailed out two issues with the latest news of early talkie discoveries, videos, screenings, and performers. Each issue is posted on our website at, and our Vitaphone Project Facebook page features almost daily updates, pictures, recordings and discussions.

While we plan to continue to issue a hard copy of VITAPHONE NEWS for the forseeable future, the cost is very high. Over 450 copies of each issue are mailed twice a year, internationally. We only hear from about 10% of the recipients, so we need to hear from you now if you wish to continue receiving the hard copy of the newsletter.

This does NOT apply to any of you who have contributed or contacted us in the last year. Thanks to you! BUT, if we've never heard from you ever, or not in the past few years, this will be your last issue, unless we do.

It is not necessary to send a contribution to continue receiving your hard copy (although that will be appreciated and can easily be done on PayPal at the button at page, or by mailing a check payable to Ron Hutchinson to 5 Meade Court, Piscataway, NJ 08854).

To let us know you want to continue receiving your hard copy, you can contribute,or send an email to Thanks!


The National Film Registry of The Library of Congress now includes hundreds of essays on films in the registry. Ron Hutchinson of the Project was asked to write two, one for THE JAZZ SINGER (WB/'27) and the other for LAMBCHOPS (Vitaphone/'29). These join essays by other notable film historians including Mike Schlesinger, Steve Massa, and Randy Skretvedt. The main page listing al Registry film essays can be reached at this link:


Clear vinyl Vitaphone stickers are available NOW! Perfect for your car windows, black guitar cases, your mirrors, just tons of places you can put these! The sticker is clear except for the Vitaphone logo which is white and meant for the outside of the window, so all you see is the Vitaphone logo. These stickers are durable, waterproof, and made for all seasons! Cost is $3.00 per sticker. Shipping is $.75 in the USA (no matter how many you purchase) and $1.50 for all regions outside the USA (no matter how many you purchase). Payments will be handled securely though PayPal (the email address to send the payment to is where you can use your account. Credit card payments can also be accepted through this method.

He can also accept money orders and personal checks. Please email him ( for his address & when using personal checks, Ships after check has cleared the bank. Orders will ship as soon as they are received.

And they're here! A new batch of beautiful Vitaphone T-shirts are now available. Here's how to order from Tim Reed:

2-color silkscreen logo on Royal Blue tee. Port and Company 100% cotton shirt. Sizes: S M L XL $14 + USPS Priority shipping.

Shipping cost: 1-3 shirts:$6, 4-6 shirts:$12, 2XL add $2, 3XL add $3, 4XL add $4, 5XL add $5, 6XL add $6. Larger orders, $6 for every three shirts.

Sizing (L x H): S: 27"x18" M: 29"x20" L: 30"x22" XL: 31"x24" 2XL: 33"x26" 3XL: 34"x28" 4XL: 35"x30" 5XL: 36"x32" 6XL: 37"x34"

If your order isn't in the drop down below, Please order from Tim Reed via PayPal to and specify "Vitaphone Shirt". These are not stock items, so Tim must take orders for a short time and then have the shirts manufactured. Delivery times will be affected accordingly.



Friend us on facebook 'The Vitaphone Project'


Movies and books related to Vitaphone can be purchased through by clicking on the items here!

Share this website!

E-Mail this story to a friend


Add me to the Vitaphone Project E-Mail List!

Friend us on FaceBook:

Corresponding Secretary & Editor Ron Hutchinson 5 Meade Court
Piscataway, NJ 08854
(732) 463-8521
FAX: (732) 463-8521
Database: Patrick Picking
Co-Founders: John Newton
Sherwin Dunner
Vince Giordano
Vitaphone Project Web Page Designer Patrick Picking
Vitaphone Project Web Page
Jeff Cohen's "Vitaphone Varieties" Site
Leonard Maltin's Site
Talkie King
"The Vitaphone Project" Friend us on facebook


Malcolm Billingsley

Paul Brennan

Jonas Nordin

This web site is maintained by Patrick Picking:
Copyright 1996-2015