Motion Picture Executive. Co-founder of Warner Bros., with his siblings Harry, Jack, and Albert Warner. He has been hailed as the most visionary of the group for his experiments with talking pictures. Samuel Eichelbaum was born in Baltimore, Maryland, not long after the arrival of his Polish-Jewish parents in the US. In the early 1900s he worked as a movie projectionist at an amusement park and convinced Harry Warner of the new medium's possibilities. When Warner Bros. was incorporated in 1923, Sam was appointed the company's Chief Executive Officer. In 1926 he formed a subsidiary, Vitaphone, in association with Western Electric to develop a sound-on-disc system for motion pictures. Its initial releases, a series of musical shorts and the feature-length "Don Juan" (which had a synchronized music track), met with a tepid response and Harry grew increasingly opposed to the venture. But Sam pushed ahead with a new Vitaphone feature, based on a Broadway play and starring Al Jolson. "The Jazz Singer" (1927) broke box-office records, established Warner Bros. as a major player in Hollywood, and single-handedly launched the talkie revolution. Sadly, Sam did not witness the history he had made. He died at 42 from complications of a sinus infection, the day before "The Jazz Singer" premiered. For all Sam Warner's reputation as pioneer, it should be noted that he envisioned sound in movies not for dialogue but for music and effects only, in order to cut the costs of having live musicians in Warner theatres. And within a few years his Vitaphone was replaced by the technically superior Movietone (sound-on-film) system, which became the industry standard. Nevertheless, his determination forever changed the way motion pictures are made.
Bio by: Bobb Edwards
1907–1994 (m. 1925)