Jack Warner died on this date in 1978.......
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"James Dean: Race With Destiny"
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Jack Leonard "J.L." Warner (August 2, 1892 – September 9, 1978), born Jacob Warner in London, Ontario, Canada, was a Canadian-born American film executive who was the president and driving force behind the Warner Bros. Studios in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. Warner's 45-year career was longer than that of any other traditional Hollywood studio mogul.
As co-head of production at Warner Bros. Studios, he worked with his brother, Sam Warner, to procure the technology for the film industry's first talking picture. After Sam's death, Jack clashed with his surviving older brothers, Harry and Albert Warner. He assumed exclusive control of the film production company in the 1950s, when he secretly purchased his brothers' shares in the business after convincing them to participate in a joint sale of stocks.
Although Warner was feared by many of his employees and inspired ridicule with his uneven attempts at humor, he earned respect for his shrewd instincts and toughmindedness. He recruited many of Warner Bros.' top stars and promoted the hard-edged social dramas for which the studio became known. Given to quick decision making, Warner once commented, "If I'm right fifty-one percent of the time, I'm ahead of the game."
Jack Warner responded grudgingly to the rising popularity of television in the late 1940s. Initially, he tried to compete with the new medium, introducing gimmicks such as 3-D films, which soon lost their appeal among moviegoers. In 1954, Warner finally engaged the new medium, providing ABC with a weekly show, 'Warner Bros. Presents'. The studio followed up with a series of Western dramas, such as 'Maverick', 'Bronco', and 'Colt .45'.
Within a few years, Warner, accustomed to dealing with actors in a high-handed manner, provoked hostility among emerging TV stars like James Garner, who filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. over a contract dispute. He was angered by the perceived ingratitude of television actors, who evidently showed more independence than film actors, and this deepened his contempt for the new medium. Following his deal with ABC, Warner also made his son, Jack Jr., head of the company's new television department.
During this period, Warner showed little foresight in his treatment of the studio's cartoon operation. Animated characters such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig, while embraced by cartoon lovers, "were always stepchildren at Warner Bros." As biographer Bob Thomas wrote, "Jack Warner...considered cartoons no more than an extraneous service provided to exhibitors who wanted a full program for their customers."
In 1953, during a rare meeting between the Warners and the studio's cartoon makers, Jack confessed that he didn't "even know where the hell the cartoon studio is", and Harry added, "The only thing I know is that we make Mickey Mouse," a reference to the flagship character of a competing company, Walt Disney Productions. Several years later, Jack sold all of the 400 cartoons Warner Bros. made before 1948 for $3,000 a piece. As Thomas noted, "They have since earned millions, but not for Warner Bros."