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Volume 13 Number 4!
Spring/Summer 2016


Celebrating the 90th anniversary of the debut of Vitaphone with DON JUAN, the big annual Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival invited Project founder Ron Hutchinson to mark the event with a secial program at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. Fifteen early Vitaphone shorts, were screened, including including two just restored by Warner Bros in conjunction with The Library of Congress, UCLAS and the Project. Following Ron's ten minute overview of the coming of sound to films and the cooperative nature of the nearly 120 shorts restorations, the shorts were shown in 35mm on the Egyptian's huge screen. Despite a 9AM Saturday start time, nearly 600 people attended. For many, this was their first exposure to Vitaphone shorts.

Newly restored shorts by Molly Picon and celebrity imitator Zelda Santley joined fan favorites Shaw and Lee, Conlin & Glass, Georgie Price, Baby Rose Marie and Burns and Allen. Attendees included TCM's Scott McGee and chairman Charles Tabesh, Warner Home Video Senior VP George Feltensten, Warner Bros Chief Preservationist Ned Price and head of UCLA's film preservation team Todd Wiener. All marveled at the huge audience's enthusiastic response to the films

The Vitaphone Project's Ron Hutchinson presented a brief “Dawn of Sound 101” course for the audience at The Egyptian Theatre prior to the screening in 35mm of seven restored Vitaphone shorts. The event marked the 90th anniversary of Vitaphone's debut with the original DON JUAN program on August 6, 1926. The annual Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival attracts thousand of fans from all over the world, and this year featured over 60 screenings in multiple theatres on Hollywood Boulevard, including the just restored Marx Brother feature HORSE FEATHERS (Par/'32), and a restored print of SHANGHAI EXPRESS (Par/'32) with director Josef Von Sternberg's son interviewed.

Many long time friends of the Project turned out for the Vitaphone program. L to R: Vitaphone Project co-founder Sherwin Dunner, dancer and author of TAP! Rusty Frank, Ron Hutchinson and singer Richard Halpern. Also attending were actors and stars of the Mike Schlesinger new-old 2 reel “Biffle & Shooster” shorts Nick Santa Maria and Will Ryan, film historian Bob Birchard (who sadly passed away a few weeks later), famed singer Janet Klein (who has some of her own “Vitaphones” on YouTube), Take Two Records and supplier of many lost soundtrack Jim Bedoian, and many more.

Much of the group adjourned across the street for lunch at Musso & Frank restaurant, Hollywood's oldest, following the screening


As reported in earlier issues, the country's oldest purpose-built film studio complex in Brooklyn, constructed starting in 1907 by Vitagraph and then bought by Warner Bros in 1925 for production of sound shorts through 1939, was threatened with demolition. The developer plans to build condos on the site. Earlier attempts to attain landmark protection status from the City were denied. While the studio buildings could not be saved as these mid-July 2016 photos confirm, we still hold out hope that the 1907 smokestack emblazoned with “VITAGRAPH” can be saved. It is currently surrounded by scaffolding, and Prof. Melissa Friedling has been in regular contact with the developer regarding saving it. Stay tuned!


Since our last issue, quite a few more soundtrack discs have been found. From collector Gary Lacher comes this group of mainly early Van Beuren cartoon soundtracks: from the University of Southern California - Santa Barbara: Also:



Authors James Layton and David Pierce gave us the sumptuous and incredibly detailed book THE DAWN OF TECHNICOLOR 1915-35 two years ago, setting a high bar for quality and film research. Concurrent with the release of the restored 1930 Technicolor Universal feature KING OF JAZZ, the team will be publishing a new book about the making and restoration of the film.

A Kickstarter campaign pre-sold hundred of copies this spring, and expect the book to be available this fall. Details of the film's planning, false starts, production, re-release in 1933 and the complicated but very successful restoration of this $2 million production are covered, with countless never before published photos. Look for KING OF JAZZ: PAUL WHITEMAN'S TECHNICOLOR REVUE this fall! You can pre-order it now by clicking on the link below:


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


UCLA Film & Television Archive has, with the Project's assistance, located both picture (16mm) and soundtrack disks for two 1929 Home talkie shorts. These were made for the home market for use on 16mm silent projectors with attached and synchronized 16 inch turntables. Essentially these were Vitaphone systems for the home. They were expensive, and short-lived due to the Depression arriving less than a year after their introduction.

The restorable shorts are vaudevillian PHIL BAKER in ANN AND HER LITTLE SEDAN and pioneering recording artist, singer and vaudevillian ISABELLA PATRICOLA. Baker made a few shorts and feature film appearances, while Patricola made none.

Each short runs about 4 ½ minutes, and the UCLA restoration budget estimate for each is just under $6000. At this time, we are seeking funding support from one or two individuals, and anyone who is interested and financially able should email us at



Even if you are not currently on Facebook, we strongly urge you to join (it's free) if only to be able to check in on the regular posts at our page. Postings of discoveries, stills, recordings, questions, screenings announcements, film clips, and other info is posted often several times a day. We now have over 2300 followers! The material shared on this site greatly exceeds by many times what could be included in any single issue of VITAPHONE NEWS. Here's the link:

Just go to the page and click on “Join Group” to join.


August 6, 2016 marks the 90th anniversary of the premier of the first feature film accompanied by a synchronized Vitaphone soundtrack, John Barrymore in DON JUAN. The production had a full symphonic score as well as sound effects, but no dialog. It was Warner Bros intent to be able to supply even the smallest theatres with full synchronized musical accompaniment and thereby allow them to both present higher class musicianship, but to also allow theatres to eliminate the cost of live musicians. Talking pictures were never the brothers' primary interest.

A prologue of talking shorts, however, turned out to be the true hit and the public response to them prompted the studio to re-think Vitaphone's true potential. The DON JUAN prologue of shorts included ukulele player Roy Smeck, opera stars Anna Case, and an congratulatory introduction by MPAA President Will Hays.

The second Vitaphone program a few months later reflected the new studio focus on popular talking shorts. The prologue to the Vitaphone synchronized feature THE BETTER 'OLE starring Syd Chaplin, featured shorts starring Al Jolson, Willie & Eugene Howard and George Jessel. By the end of the decade, Warner Bros had produced nearly 1,000 one and two reel Vitaphone shorts and the silent film was essentially dead.

The DVD from contains BEFORE THE FEATURE - THE AUGUST 6, 1926 OPENING NIGHT VITAPHONE SHORTS PROGRAM: Will B. Hays Introduction to Vitaphone, Overture to Tannhauser - New York Philharmonic, Mischa Elman - Humoresque and Gavotte, Roy Smeck in His Pastimes, Marion Talley - Caro Nome, Efrem Zimbalist and Harold Bauer - Theme and Variations from The Kreutzer Sonata, Giovanni Martinelli - Vesti La Giubba, Anna Case - La Fiesta.

Order the DVD by clicking on the photo above!


Your generous donations help to keep our Project going. 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 now available is a two CD set of both the US and European soundtracks for the otherwise lost Sophie Tucker 1929 feature HONKY TONK.

Also available as thanks 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 TWENTY (!) 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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    Corresponding Secretary & Editor Ron Hutchinson 5 Meade Court
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