Lot 62
  • 62

Warner Brothers

15,000 - 20,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Sound recording made by Jack Warner, Al Jolson, and others, to celebrate and opening of Warner's record processing division and to promote The Singing Fool to the Warner sales force. [Los Angeles,] 13 June 1928
  • plastic, shellac, paper
78 rpm shellac-coated disc (dia, 15 7/8 in.; 403 mm), sound recording on one side only (duration approx. 10 minutes), blank paper label, inscriptions incised in blank area of disc near spindle-hole. 


George Hatfield Clark — by descent to the present owners


Condition as described in catalogue entry.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Warner Brothers celebrates the coming of sound to the motion picture industry. This recording was produced by sound engineer George Hatfield Clark at the request of Jack Warner to celebrate the opening of Warner Brothers' own sound recording operation. For the first in-house recording, Warner summoned Al Jolson and others involved in making The Jazz Singer (1927) and the soon-to-be-released The Singing Fool. The group gathered in the Warner Brothers sound studio and recorded a 10-minute message for the Warner sales force and for Albert and Sam Warner back in New York.

With the huge success of The Jazz Singer and The Singing Fool, Warner Brothers was able to devote itself entirely to all-talking, all-singing pictures. While The Jazz Singer included musical numbers, it only featured two minutes of synchronized talking. The Singing Fool improved on this by including 66 minutes of talking and singing.  both films relied on the tricky process of synchronizing sound discs with film projection. Fifteen discs were required for The Jazz Singer. Both films were released in both sound and silent versions. Their combined success enables Warner Brothers to leave the silent era behind for good.

Inscriptions by those present, including Warner and Jolson, are etched into the blank area of the disc between the grooves and the blank paper label.  There are three inscriptions.  The first inscription is signed by Jack Warner: "Thanks to the boys who made this possible and Frank Murphy who would not talk. This is a sure-fire Record to be proud of — means continued success. Jack Warner." The other inscriptions read "Made by Jack Warner, Al Jolson, Col. Slaughter, Bryan Foy, Lou Silvers, and the bunch" and "Our first record, June 13-1928."

The recording begins with a musical introduction, followed by remarks by Jack Warner. A bell is rings between speakers and each participant identifies himself by name.  Warner sends greetings to the sales forces and promises them that "The Singing Fool will be 100% better than The Jazz Singer." He goes on to name upcoming talking- picture projects in the works, including Lights of New York. Hinting at the Biblical proportions of the accomplished task, Warner concludes, "Noah's Ark is finally completed." Next Al Jolson claims not to have anything amusing to say: "I'm as funny as a crutch," and says he's turned down offers from other studios to work on talking pictures at Warner's. Sound engineer and special effects man "Col." Nugent Slaughter praises the new record processing plant and promises to deliver a copy of this recording to New York in one week's time. He promises the boys back east that "the words and music are just as clear as a bell." Musical director Louis Silvers notes that Schubert and Liszt never had to fight with Al Jolson over arrangements. Jack Warner returns to the mike to conclude the recording by saying that he and Jolson will be coming to the East Coast for the opening of The Singing Fool in September. He closes with one request: "Arrange for clean linen at the Ritz." The disc ends with a band playing "Auld Lang Syne."

This inscribed disc was presented to George H. Clark who supervised the recording.  In 1927, Jack Warner invited Clark to come to California and produce the first promotional master recording for The Jazz Singer, followed by one for The Singing Fool. Warner asked Clark to relocate to Los Angeles and join Warner Brothers permanently. Clark, however, suffered from a skin condition that prohibited him from spending much time in excessive sunlight. He returned to the New York city area and managed his own business, Clark Phonograph Record Company.

Accompanied by a compact disc transcription of the recording made by Sony engineers for the Clark family.

This disc is a remarkable survival from the pioneering days of sound recording in Hollywood.