When people think of Warner Bros., the first words that often come to mind are “Hollywood”, “entertainment”, or maybe “Bugs Bunny”. However, a phrase that should come to mind is “Youngstown, Ohio”. The billion dollar media and entertainment empire actually originated in Youngstown. The Warner brothers (Harry, Sam, Albert, and Jack) moved with their parents to the northeastern Ohio city in 1896. The brothers grew up on the north side of the city and attended Rayen High School in addition to working in their father’s shoe repair and meat market businesses. In the early 1900′s, the Warner Brothers made their grand entrance into the entertainment industry by taking over the city’s Old Grand Opera House, which they used for vaudeville and photoplays. Soon after, Sam Warner purchased a movie projector for $150. He financed the projector by pawning his father’s gold watch and a family horse (with his parents’ consent). He also purchased a copy of the popular film, “The Great Train Robbery“. Sam and the rest of the Warner brothers rented out a storefront in nearby Niles and put on showings of the film. They were so successful, they began opening up theaters around the Mahoning Valley. The brothers left for New York and Hollywood to expand their foothold in the entertainment industry. However, they returned to Youngstown in 1931 to open the “Warner Theater” dedicated to the people of the city and to their brother Sam, who had died in 1927 and was a true visionary in the family business.
Th-th-th-that’s all folks!
Warner Theater – Youngstown, Ohio