Jack Warner was born in Ontario, Canada, August 2, 1892. As a youth in Youngstown, Ohio, he would try to emulate his brothers. He joined a gang, and tried unsuccessfully singing at local theaters and forming a brief business partnership with another aspiring "song-and-dance man". He was...according to some, a man without a lick of talent.
Of course...according to Jack - 'the critics wouldn't know talent if it bit them on the ass!!'
How's about some Jack Warner 'bloopers??'
(**ON A SIDE NOTE..I do have to agree with him there!) He also said.. 'BIG BUSINESS pisses away more money than any one or thing on earth!' (AGAIN.. agreed! He was pretty dead on accurate with his quotes! To his credit, he did have a rather mild success in the local circuit of Youngstown as a lounge singer.. (Mild is prolly all it would've ever became, truth be told.. I've heard MULTIPLE accounts that say he just wasn't good at singing - despite his earnest desire TO be a singer & often belittled 'on-purpose', the singing talent of Warner Bros..) However when his brothers jumped into the film industry... Jack quit singing and joined them. (Sorta.. 😉 Read on! )
Jack's venture with his brothers, to say the least, did not come without the up's and downs. (MOSTLY downs.) He and brother Harry fought almost from the start of the venture. It's important to note that Jack had a serious side, and a joking side. He was, as some put it, two people in one. Out of jealousy, he, on several well documented occasions, put down Warner top singing talent. To say he was forceful at times .. would be an understatement.
According to his own son, Jack, Jr., 'he', quote,"genuinely glorified and enjoyed being the top fly on Hollywood's shit hill."
According to some accounts or re-counts, it would not be AT ALL unlikely to see Harry, chasing Jack through a studio set with a pipe yelling "I'll get you for this" (or) "I'm going to kill you, you son of a bitch!" Throughout the history of Warner.. Harry & Jack NEVER really got along!!! They did photo ops, smiled for the camera, USUALLY.. But animosity ran amuck 24/7/365 between the two.. Mainly - with Harry, who thought Jack was a brat who was misaligned, misguided, & TOTALLY incapable of having ANY responsibility.. When Jack 'DID' get any responsibility - it was usually amidst the urging from his father, or Sam or 'Abe' Albert Warner..
While it's no doubt Jack was Hollywood style cutthroat...there is also no denying that Warner could not be where it is without the lone brother Jack. Although his management style frustrated many studio employees, he ran the studio direct and forcefully. Even in the days of running it alongside his brothers, his shady dealings were WELL known. For his brothers, it could be said he was the black sheep of the family.
In 1956, Jack, in an effort to gain money underhandedly, sold the Warner Bros.' pre-1949 films, to United Artists Television for the modest sum of $21 million.
Harry was heard buy his secretary telling Jack..."This is our heritage, what we worked all our lives to create, and now it is gone."
Upon this deal, at the urging of brother 'Abe,' Albert, & giving Harry the time to cool - Jack took a vaca to France, where Jack had a sweet, nice, opulent house - amongst the cliffs, of Corsica. This was his view!! BELLA! This is where he would go when he wanted to escape, often neglecting studio responsibilities. Warner Bros. film director Gottfried Reinhardt claimed that, Warner "derived pleasure" from 'humiliating subordinates.' "Harry Cohn (Columbia Pictures) was a sonofabitch," Reinhardt said, "but he did it for business; he was not a sadist. Louis B. Mayer (MGM) could be a monster, but he was not mean for the sake of meanness. Jack was."
Jack lived in THIS posh pad in Beverly Hills. He never moved...would you?? (property grounds) Den?? Bar?? Pool?? Dining?? & Screening room/theater?? REALITY ROCKS!!! FoSho!!
He unfortunately followed Harry to the "Gold Coast" as well, for a beach home - moving in just one door down 😶..not even then, did they speak! Though I am fairly sure a few 'finger' gestures were 'prolly given!!'
Sam Warner, generally served as the bumper between Harry & Sam's anger.. 'When he died'.. According to Harry's granddaughter, Cass - "everything between them came full circle!!"
In May 1956, the remaining brothers, Harry, Albert, and Jack agreed to put Warner Bros. on the market. Jack saw this as a prime opportunity to buy the brothers shares and own the company, OUTRIGHT. Knowing Albert and ESPECIALLY Harry, would never go for having their decades of hard work in HIS hands, he organized a secret syndicate - headed by full-time banker part-time ASSHOLE, Serge Semenenko.. He made the brothers an offer to buy 90% in stock.
The other brothers, took the offer, but Harry rejected Semenenko's offer to purchase his stock, but later accepted the offer - after Semenenko increased his bid and agreed to make Simon Fabian -(the head of Fabian Enterprises), who had also become a friend of the Warner's) - the new Warner Bros. President.
After the brothers sold their stock, Jack-ASS (through an under-handed-under-the-table deal with Sememenko) joined Semenenko's syndicate and bought back all his stock, which consisted of 200,000 shares. The deal was completed in July 1956.. After which, Jack, who was now the company's largest stockholder, officially appointed himself as the new company President. According to Harry's secretary, upon finding out what had been done.. Harry told her to IMMEDIATELY GET JACK ON THE PHONE! He told Jack, "OVER MY DEAD BODY, will you be the President of my brothers & MY company.." Ultimately though - everything was legal (though UNDERHANDED), & the ties - binding.. Harry had been stabbed in the back, by his younger brother... Harry went & obtained boxes and started clearing his office out.. Harry's secretary begged him to come back telling him, "please say you will come back!" To which Harry responded, "I'll NEVER step foot on this lot again!" And he didn't.. That was that!! Harry and Jack never spoke again. In fact.. Albert, who'd retired to Florida.. Found out via newspaper, about the sick underhandedness, & called Jack, sternly telling him - "because you have done this unthinkable, unspeakable thing.. I will now turn my back on you, forever!!" Then hung the phone up in Jack's ear.. Never speaking to Jack again!! The fallout caused ripple repercussions that, to this day, have the family of Warner's, all but have disowned Jack..
Jack had bought 200,000 shares of Warner, making him the largest stockholder and thus - self proclaiming himself president of Warner Brothers. Jack announced that the company and its subsidiaries would be "directed more vigorously to the acquisition of the most important story properties, talents, and to the production of the finest motion pictures possible". The brothers, (Harry & Albert), never spoke to Jack again.
Jack made a surprise appearance at Harry's San Fernandino ranch, to attend Harry's 1957 wedding anniversary to Rea Levinson, nobody in the Warner family attending the event spoke to Jack. Harry, after retirement, could usually be found at his Palisades beach home - never far from his pride & joy.. Granddaughter Cass Warner..
When Harry died on July 27, 1958, Jack avoided the funeral - making it well KNOWN to anyone within ear shot - that he intended to play a round of golf during Harry's funeral.. Two days later - he departed for his annual vacation (a couple months early), at his usual France getaway. When asked by media at the airport, to give an official response to his brother's death, Jack said, "I didn't give a shit about Harry."
Jack did, however, take pride in, bragging, & making it public in true prick fashion, the fact that U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent him a letter of condolence on Harry.
Throughout the 1960s, Warner kept pace with changes in the industry, and played a key role in developing films that were commercial and critical successes. Jack still, however, ruled the studio with a sharp hand and at times, and unmistakable BLUNT rudeness.
At the 16th Academy Awards ceremony, when Casablanca was named Best Picture, Hal B. Wallis, the film's producer, was on his way to the stage to accept the Oscar when Jack cut him off and accepted on behalf of the studio. No doubt, Louie Mayer prolly immediately commented in his mind: '..& I thought I was a prick!' 😂
At the time, the Oscar for Best Picture, customarily went to the studio... But, Jack's public rudeness had two consequences:
FIRST - Wallis resigned from Warner Brothers in protest;
SECOND - producers began exerting more power with the Academy. Within eight years, starting with An American in Paris the Oscar for Best Picture would go to the film's producer(s)- instead of the studio. On another occasion, about Errol Flynn, he said, "You know Flynn, he's either got to be fighting or fucking." If you were employed by Warner, you either loved him..or you pretended you did... There were absolutely NOO other ways about it!!
By the early 70's, Jack's wife was pressuring him to retire, and more, he was ready. Those employees closest to Warner - became aware of signs that he was becoming disoriented. Shortly after losing his way in the building that housed his own office, Warner retired. He sold his 106 million studio stocks for about $24 million. He was quoted as saying, "Who would ever have thought that a butcher boy from Youngstown, Ohio, would end up with twenty-four million smackers in his pocket?" After retirement, Jack, with the exception of his then wife, was alone it appeared. Even in restaurants, he didn't get the same respect he had commanded in the days as chief of Warner. One night, apparently inebriated, he loudly quipped, "I guess you have to be a major studio head to get anyone to pay you any respect."
In 1974, the former studio chief suffered a stroke that left him blind and enfeebled. During the next several years, he gradually lost the ability to speak and became unresponsive to friends and relatives. He stayed home much of the time after that. On the morning of August 13, 1978, he was suffering chest pains and rushed to Cedars-Sinai Hospital. He lapsed in and out of a coma and finally died of a heart inflammation on September 9. He was 86 years old.
At his funeral, his widow Ann Warner eulogized: "He was extremely sensitive." (to this, I am fairly sure that more than a few in attendance were thinking, NO SHIT LADY!), she then went on to say, "but there are few who know that, because he covered it with a cloak."
To Jack's credit (if there is ANY AT ALL!! 🙄) - His 45-year career was longer than that of any other traditional Hollywood studio mogul.
You can leave your virtual rose that'll NEVER wilt, and a nice (or not), comment for Jack, here. I doubt he cares either way!
Warner Brothers today is owned by Time-Warner, Inc. - and is the largest media outlet on air today!