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Jack L. Warner

AKA John Eichelbaum

Born: 2-Aug-1892
Birthplace: London, Ontario, Canada
Died: 9-Sep-1978
Location of death: Los Angeles, CA
Cause of death: Heart Failure
Remains: Buried, Home of Peace Memorial Park, East Los Angeles, CA

Gender: Male
Religion: Jewish
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Business, Film/TV Producer
Party Affiliation: Republican

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Co-Founder, Warner Bros.

Military service: US Army Signal Corps (Col.)

Born John Eichelbaum, he became John or 'Jack' Warner at 15, when his father, a Polish-Jewish immigrant, changed the family's last name. His brother Sam was the first in the family to go into the movie business, working as a kinetoscope projectionist, and he soon pooled his funds with two other brothers, Albert and Harry Warner, to purchase their own projector, and they went into the travelling movie business. The three brothers opened their own theater, the Le Bijou nickelodeon in Newcastle, Pennsylvania in 1903. Eleven years of age, young Jack got involved in the business by singing on stage between the short featurettes.

Frustrated by high rental costs for film bookings, the four brothers decided to make their own movies, begining with 1910's Perils of the Plains. Eventually, Albert and Harry established a film distribution office in New York, while Jack and Sam came to Los Angeles, where the land was cheap and the weather would allow outdoor filming all year round. My Four Years in Germany (1918) was the brothers' first major success -- made for about $50,000, it grossed more than $1,500,000. In 1927, Warner Bros released the first all-talking motion picture, The Jazz Singer.

Over subsequent decades, as Warner Bros (the company's official spelling) remained a dominant force in movies, Jack Warner served as the studio's production chief, while Harry was the company's president and Albert the treasurer. Jack earned a reputation for frugality and iron-fisted tactics, demanding the most for the least from producers, writers, and stars, and for his public clashes with Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Bette Davis, and other stars. He oversaw the introduction of Bugs Bunny, co-founded the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, hired Darryl F. Zanuck as a writer for the Rin Tin-Tin movies, and supervised the production of about 5,000 features and shorts. Warner wholeheartedly supported the blacklisting of supposed Communist sympathizers, and opened his testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities by saying, "Ideological termites have burrowed into many American industries, organizations, and societies. Wherever they may be, I say let us dig them out and get rid of them."

Jack was the last of the original Warner brothers to leave the studio, selling his stock in 1966. He died in 1978. He claimed that his middle L stood for Leonard, but the middle name was apparently an affectation. His son, Jack M. Warner (but commonly called "Junior"), had an icy relationship with his father, and said that he "existed behind a self-made wall" and "gloried in being a no-good son of a bitch". Warner divorced his first wife to marry his mistress, Ann Boyer. She had been married to one of the studio's minor stars, Don Alvarado, whom Warner later hired to manage his ranch in Arizona. His stepdaughter, Joy Page, was an actress, best remembered as the young Bulgarian woman whose husband is suspiciously lucky at roulette in the classic Casablanca. Her husband, William T. Orr, was a Warner Bros executive and producer of TV series including F Troop, Hawaiian Eye, and 77 Sunset Strip.

Father: Benjamin Eichelbaum (bicycle merchant, b. 1857, d. 1935)
Mother: Pearl Leah Eichelbaum (b. 1858, m. 1876, d. 1934)
Sister: Cecilia Warner (d. infancy)
Sister: Anna Warner (b. 1979)
Brother: Hirsch Morris Warner ("Harry", film executive, b. 1881, d. 1958)
Brother: Abraham Warner ("Albert:", film executive, b. 1884, d. 1967)
Brother: Henry Warner
Brother: Samuel Warner (film executive, b. 1888, d. 1927)
Sister: Rose Warner
Sister: Fannie Warner
Brother: David Warner (b. 1893)
Wife: Irma Solomon Warner (m. 1914, div. 1935, one son)
Son: Jack M. Warner ("Jack Warner, Jr.", film producer, b. 1916, d. 1995)
Mistress: Marilyn Miller (actress, b. 1898, affair 1930, d. 1936)
Wife: Ann Boyar (b. 1908, m. 1936, d. 1990)
Daughter: Joy Page (stepdaughter, actress, b. 1924 to Boyar and Don Alvarado, d. 18-Apr-2008)

    Warner Bros. Co-Founder (1918)
    Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Co-Founder (1927)
    Hollywood Anti-Nazi League
    Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity
    Golden Globe 1956 Cecil B DeMille Award
    Oscar for Best Picture 1964 for My Fair Lady
    Hollywood Walk of Fame 6541 Hollywood Blvd. (motion pictures)
    Canada's Walk of Fame 2004
    Naturalized US Citizen
    HUAC Hearings
    Polish Ancestry
    Jewish Ancestry

Author of books:
My First Hundred Years in Hollywood (1965, memoir)
Jack of All Trades: An Autobiography (1975, memoir)


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