Clown Prince of Hollywood: The Antic Life and Times of Jack L. Warner

Bob Thomas, Author
Bob Thomas, Author McGraw-Hill Companies $19.95 (324p) ISBN 978-0-07-064259-1
Reviewed on: 05/01/1990
Release date: 05/01/1990
Covering the life of Jack L. Warner (1892-1978), Thomas ( King Cohn ) describes how the late studio head and his three brothers, sons of Polish Jewish immigrants, worked their way from poverty in Ohio and established Warner Bros. in the 1920s. The seemingly all-inclusive biography discusses the full family--parents, in-laws, offspring--but the spotlight remains on Jack the clown. Forever telling bum jokes, even when firing someone (usually without cause), he was an absolute autocrat, miserly, and sexually promiscuous, according to the author. Adding to the tyrant's notoriety were highly publicized battles with Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, James Cagney et al. Along with accounts of the legendary moviemaker's character faults, Thomas cites his singular accomplishments: against powerful competition, he built Warner Bros. from a small-time operation to the company that pioneered sound films and produced such classics as A Star Is Born and My Fair Lady . This detailed book is a particular treasure for cinema buffs. Photos not seen by PW. (July)
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