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Academy’s Science and Technology Council Celebrates Vitaphone Technology

The Science and Technology Council of the

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

will present a two-night celebration of the 80th anniversary of Vitaphone sound technology on July 25 and August 1, at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater. The Vitaphone sound-on-disk system, the product of a risky venture undertaken by Western Electric and the Warner brothers (Henry, Sam, Albert and Jack), was among the first synchronized sound technologies that were ushered in the “talkie” revolution.

On Tuesday, July 25, in commemoration of the technology’s premiere, the Council will present the Vitaphone Corporation’s complete sound-on-disk program as it was experienced on August 6, 1926 at the Warner Theater in New York City. The evening, to be hosted by preservationist Bob Gitt from the UCLA Film and Television Archive, will feature “Don Juan,” starring John Barrymore, and several original Vitaphone short subjects:

Address by the Hon. Will H. Hays, president of the Motion Picture Producers and

Distributors of America, Inc.;

Overture Tannhaüser, by Richard Wagner, performed by the New York Philharmonic

Orchestra, Henry Hadleyconducting;

Concert violinist Mischa Elman, performing a humoresque by Dvorák and a gavotte

by Gossec, with accompanist Josef Bonime;

Roy Smeck, the “Wizard of the Strings,” playing popular music on Hawaiian guitar,

ukulele, harmonica and banjo;

Marion Talley, youthful prima donna of the New York Metropolitan Opera Company,

performing “Caro nome” from Verdi’s Rigoletto;

Efrem Zimbalist and Harold Bauer playing the theme and variations from Beethoven’s

“Kreutzer” sonata;

Giovanni Martinelli, tenor of the New York Metropolitan Opera Company, performing

“Vesti la giubba,” from Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci; and

Anna Case in “La Fiesta,” with The Dancing Cansinos, accompanied by the

Metropolitan Opera Chorus and the Vitaphone Symphony Orchestra, Herman

Heller conducting.

Also on July 25, the Council will premiere its exhibition “In Synch: The Birth of Vitaphone.” The exhibition will showcase Vitaphone rarities and will highlight the people, inventions and developments surrounding the revolutionary technology. “In Synch: The Birth of Vitaphone” will be housed in the foyer of the Linwood Dunn Theater and will be open to the public through December 3. It may be viewed whenever the Academy presents public programming at the Dunn.

On Tuesday, August 1, the Council will present a second evening of restored sound-on-disk classics, including a number of vaudeville, comedy and musical shorts. The evening will feature:

Willie and Eugene Howard in “Between the Acts at the Opera” (1926)

Shaw and Lee in “The Beau Brummels” (1928)

“Harry Wayman and His ‘Debutantes’” (1928)

Edgar Bergen in “The Office Scandals” (1930)

Ray Mayer and Edith Evans in“The Cowboy and the Girl” (1928)

Spencer Tracy in “The Hard Guy” (1929)

“The Opry House” (1929)

Van and Schenck (1927)

Norman Thomas Quintette (1929) in “Harlem Mania” (1929)

Burns and Allen in “Lambchops” (1929)

“Baby Rose Marie, the Child Wonder” (1929)

Tickets for each of the Vitaphone evenings are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with valid ID. They may be purchased in advance by mail, in person at the Academy’s headquarters in Beverly Hills during regular business hours, or on the night of the event when the doors open at 6:30 p.m. The Academy’s headquarters are located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. The Linwood Dunn Theater is located at 1313 North Vine Street in Hollywood. For more information, call (310) 247-3600.

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