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Volume 13 Number 3!
Fall/Winter 2015


As the new year begins, we already know that it promises a number of exciting restorations, screenings and early talkie projects, along with the usual unpredicted discoveries. Here are a few of the “knowns" as we go to press...


In 1993, shortly after The Vitaphone Project began, Gary Lacher of Portland, OR contacted us. He had gone to the local library's book sale and was surprised to find an entire 1929 “home talkie" projector along with disks and film for about 30 Pathe, Universal and Columbia shorts and features. The film was 16mm safety as required for home safety reasons. The projector had one motor running both the 16mm projector and a 16 inch turntable whose sound head played the synchronized soundtrack. Essentially it was a home Vitaphone system. The films included Pathe 1929-30 one and two reel shorts, Aesops Fables cartoons, and one Pathe feature, PARIS BOUND ('29). One of the films was the long lost TWO PLUS FOURS (Pathe/'30) which starred Bing Crosby and The Rhythm Boys. Because the film was safety, it survived while its 35mm nitrate counterparts did not. The short was subsequently restored at UCLA with funding by Crosby fan Hugh Hefner.

Gary exhibited his home talkie equipment and films at the 2015 Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) conference. A number of his home talkie shorts are now being sold by Grapevine Video. He is also now working with UCLA by arranging for them to borrow original soundtrack disks for Laurel & Hardy's 1930 short BRATS.


Vitaphone Disc
Vitaphone disc from 1926.

A great article on The Evolution of Film Sound Technology features a Q&A with Film Preservationist and 'A Century of Sound' Co-Creator Robert Gitt. Read the article here!


Early soundtrack disks found since our last issue:



The Project can strongly recommend several recently published film-related books as well as two that will be released in 2016.



L to R: Ron Hutchinson of The Vitaphone Project, Curator of Film at MOMA Dave Kehr, Bow author David Stenn, silent comedy expert Steve Massa, Mike Mashon – head of The Library of Congress's Motion Picture Division


Work began on restoration of the 1930 all-Technicolor musical KING OF JAZZ in the spring of 2015. NBC Universal is doing the work, and drawing from recently rediscovered 35mm Technicolor material with vivid color. Universal has significantly expanded its restoration efforts over past 18 months, and is also working on their owned Paramount Marx Brothers features and a number of silents. Like Warner Bros, the team is also reaching out to collectors to assist in tracking down needed materials.

The KOJ restoration is not only visual, but also involves improving the soundtrack through the use of better available optical and disk elements. Universal has drawn on support from Professor Richard Koszarski, who has made a 30 year study of the making of the film, along with DAWN OF TECHNICOLOR authors James Layton and David Pierce and our Project.

Work is expected to be completed on the KING OF JAZZ restoration by mid-year 2016. We will of course post any announcements regarding screenings and any DVD release on our Facebook page as well as in our next issue.


As our article on home talkies and Gary Lacher describes, studios like Pathe, Universal, and Columbia issued some of their shorts and cartoons (even a few features) to the home market during 1929-31. Gary has restored some of these films that he acquired, and they are now available through Grapevine Video at this link:

Volume 1 of “Pathe Talkie Shorts" features sound two reelers by James Gleason, Buck and Bubbles, Evalyn Knapp and director George LeMaire. More to come! Also for sale through Grapevine are the home talkie restorations of Pathe features PARIS BOUND ('29) with Frederic March and Ann Harding and SAILOR'S HOLIDAY with Alan Hale and Sally Eilers.


In 1929, several companies, including DeVry, QRS and Bell & Howell, began marketing “home talkie" equipment and films which were essentially Vitaphone systems for the home. A single silent 16mm projector was interlocked with a 16 inch turntable and sound head. As with Vitaphone in theatres, the home operator placed a designated “start' frame in the projector's film gate and the needle at the precise starting spot on the disk. Film was safety stock rather than nitrate. In most cases, shorts and cartoons sold on the home talkie market were issued concurrently with their theatrical release. Disks were identical to those used in theatres.

The company which took the name of “Home Talkie" filmed their own shorts, made exclusively for the home system. These starred vaudevillians, small time performers and bands. UCLA is planning to restore two of these productions using disks and film they have acquired. One stars comedian and radio comic Phil Baker and the other s by vaudeville star and recording artist Isabella Patricola. The Project is now working with UCLA to raise the $7000 needed for their restoration.


They just don't do advertising like they used to. This signage must have cost a lot of money!



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!

For a $50 contribution, we've assembled an all new Vitaphone Sampler CD! Contents include the just-found Irving Aaronson '28 disk, Vitaphone soundtracks for shorts by Ben Pollack's Californians ('29). vaudevillian Ed Lowry ('28), Winnie Lightner ('28), Seger Ellis and Orchestra ('29), Pauline Alpert ('27) and the surviving reel of sound for SYNTHETIC SIN ('29)The Three Brox Sisters (Univ/'29).

Also new with this issue is a CD of 24 Victor 78s recorded on the Hal Roach Studios lot in 1929-30 during the period Victor set up a studio there for recording commercial 78s. Artists include the bands of George Olsen, Gus Arnheim and Herman Kenin as well as Donald Novis and Van & Schenck.

We now are also offering EIGHTEEN (!) CDs of peppy, hot dance and personality 78s from the early talkie era. If you ordered our “hot and peppy 78s" CD last time there are still 16 more new ones now available! (Let us know which ones you have already)You can email us at for content. First CD for a $50 donation, $75 for two, $100 for 4 and get all 18 CDs for a contribution of $300! Checks must be made payable to Ron Hutchinson, not The Vitaphone Project.

You may pay via check (see above) or via PayPal at the button on our website's fist page at Thanks!

We also still offer each for a $50 donation (2 for $75 or all 3 for $100 ):

Two BRITISH PATHETONE VIDEO DVDs, featuring sound clip of bands and vaudeville. Includes Duke Ellington, Gracie Fields, Sophie Tucker, Casani Club Orchestra, Bert Lahr and Buddy Rogers, the Roy Fox, Jack Payne and Teddy Brown bands, and more. An hour each of unseen material.

A CD of hot and peppy 1928-32 78's that will keep your feet tapping. Great tunes from the early talkie era.

Selections from the unique early studio recording disks reported in this issue. Includes actual on-set recordings with studio chatter before and after from early MGM shorts and features, Cliff Edwards, and unissued material from GOLDWYN FOLLIES

A fantastic compilation of 1930-37 Warner Brothers opening titles music, many by musical director Ray Heindorf. Assembled by Peter Mintun.

2012 VITAPHONE ACQUISITIONS - has the newly found audience entrance, exit and intermission music for HOLLYWOOD REVUE OF 1929, MAL HALLETT AND HIS ENTERTAINING ORCHESTRA (Vitaphone, 1929), Vitaphone #427 FRED WARING AND HIS PENNSYLVANIANS (1927) and the Overture disk for WARMING UP (Par/1928) (with Billy Murray).

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.

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)
  • 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


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