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 shithill." According to some accounts, it would not be 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!" 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 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, Jack took a vaca to France where he had a nice house. This is where he would go when he wanted to escape, often neglecting studio responsibilities. 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?? He unfortunatly followed Harry to the "Gold Coast" as well for a beach home..not eeeven then, did they speak!
In May 1956, the remaining brothers, Harry, Albert, and Jack agreed on putting Warner Bros. on the market. Jack saw this as a prime opportunity to buy the brothers shares and own the company streight out. Knowing Albert and ESPECIALLY Harry would never go for this, he organized a secret syndicate headed by Boston banker Serge Semenenko. After a rejection then agreement with Harry, the deal was done. Jack then went back and bought 200,000 shares making him the largest stockholder and self proclaiming him 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". While this did happen ... the brothers never spoke to Jack again. Jack made a surprise appearance at Harry's San Fernadino ranch, to attend Harry's 1957 wedding anniversary to Rea Levinson, nobody in the Warner family attending the event spoke to Jack. When Harry died on July 27, 1958, Jack avoided the funeral and departed for his annual vacation at his usual France getaway. When asked to respond to his brother's death, Jack said, "I didn't give a shit about Harry." Jack did, however, take pride in the fact that U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent him a letter of condolence on Harry.
Throught the Warner rule of the lone Warner brother, Warner Bros. did flurish! 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 unmistakeable 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. 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 Erroll 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 pretended you did.
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 resturants he didn't get the same respect he had commanded in the days as chief of Warner. One night, apparently inhebriated, 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 a few in attendence 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 - his 45-year career was longer than that of any other traditional Hollywood studio mogul. You can leave your virtual flowers and notes here. Warner Brothers today is owned by Time-Warner, Inc. and is the largest media outlet on air today!
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!!' (**ON A SIDE NOTE..I do have to agree with him there!) He also said.. 'BIG BUSINESS pisses away more money than anything on earth!' (AGAAIN.. 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 Yongstown as a lounge singer.. however when his brothers jumped into the film industry... Jack quit singing and joined them.