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On April 4, 1923, four brothers of Polish-Jewish heritage formally created a film company. Their names are: Harry Warner, Albert Warner, Sam Warner, and Jack Warner. The name of their new company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Incorporated.
Warner Bros. was a fledgling company in 1923 until a breakout star that same year established their reputation: the original superstar dog Rin Tin Tin! However, WB would cement its eternal legacy of film through the introduction of “talking pictures.” At first in 1926, WB lost $333,413 when they embraced this new technology. But “The Jazz Singer” in 1927 would forever change film; the original Big Five (First National, Paramount, MGM, Universal, and Producers Distributing) did everything to destroy “talkies” but failed.
Since the birth of “talkies,” WB made films that are remembered. They popularized the gangster genre with Little Caesar starring Edward G. Robinson. In 1949 the film White Heat had James Cagney cement this line in popular culture: “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!” The film The Maltese Falcon was first made in 1931, but the 1941 remake is the one everyone remembers. Casablanca became a classic during WWII.
Cartoons cemented WB’s reputation as the undisputed king starting in 1933. Although Hugh Harman and Rudolph Ising Studio took Bosko away from him, Leon Schlesinger kept Harman and Ising’s Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies and produced Leon Schlesinger Productions. He sold his cartoons to WB. Because of his shrewdness in business and knowledge of talent, he was able to acquire the following talent: Friz Freling, Tex Avery, Frank Tashlin, Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones, and Robert McKimson. Thanks to Schlesinger and his noninterference, we have the world’s first cartoon star in Schlesinger’s favorite: Porky Pig. Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Tweety, and all the rest of the catalog would come out and become beloved in almost all animation circles to this day.
In 1958, WB created Warner Bros. Records. This music label retains the music catalog of films, singers, and, most famously, the songs used in WB cartoons. Bands and artists like Madonna, Prince, Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Duran Duran, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers once recorded their music under the Warner label.
Now, almost 100 years later, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (the company’s present name) retains its legacy as one of the “Big Five” major film studios that live on from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Its parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery, controls all the acquisitions that WB made through the years. WBD holds DC Comics, the Hanna-Barbera catalog, and the MGM catalog amongst other subsidiaries and enterprises. WB is promoting certain events to commemorate the company’s legacy, including a 3-part documentary on WB history, a year-long focus on classic films from WB, and a cartoon concert series celebrating 30 years of performing classic WB cartoons with a live orchestra.