On this Day in Movie History, August 6, 1926: John Barrymore Stars in Don Juan

It was on this day, August 6, 1926 the first talking picture, “Don Juan”, starring John Barrymore premiered. The movie was shown at New York’s Warners’ Theatre in glorious black and white. You would have paid $10 a seat to see it. Bear in mind that $10.00 in 1926 would have almost bought a small theater.

Don Juan, a Warner Brothers film, directed by Alan Crosland, was the first feature-length film with synchronized Vitaphone sound effects and musical soundtrack, though it had no spoken dialogue.

George Groves, on assignment to Vitaphone, was charged with recording the soundtrack to the film. He devised an innovative, multi-microphone technique and performed a live mix of the 107-strong orchestra. In doing so he became the first music mixer in film history. The music was played by the New York Philharmonic.

The following short films made in Vitaphone were shown before Don Juan on August 6, 1926 at the Warner Theater on 52nd and Broadway in Times Square:

Introductory Remarks by Will H. Hays
The New York Philharmonic, under the direction of Henry Hadley, plays the overture to Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser
Marion Talley performs “Caro nome” from Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi.
Roy Smeck, billed as “The Wizard of the Strings” in His Pastimes
Efrem Zimbalist performs “Kreutzer Sonata” by Beethoven.
Anna Case and The Dancing Cansinos in La Fiesta
Mischa Elman performs “Humoresque” by Antonín Dvořák
Giovanni Martinelli sings “Vesti la giubba” from I Pagliacci

The production, starring John Barrymore as the hand-kissing womanizer, set a record with the number of kisses in the film.

1881 – Leo Carrillo (actor: The Cisco Kid, Pancho Villa Returns, One Night in the Tropics, Phantom of the Opera [1943]; died Sep 10, 1961)

1892 – Hoot (Edmund Richard) Gibson (actor: Death Valley Rangers, Frontier Justice, The Marshal’s Daughter, The Prairie King, Sonora Stagecoach, Wild Horse, Roaring Ranch, Fighting Parson; died Aug 23, 1962)

1917 – Robert Mitchum (actor: The Winds of War, War and Remembrance, Cape Fear, A Family for Joe, African Skies, Night of the Hunter, The Story of G.I. Joe; commercials: “Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.”; died July 1, 1997)

1928 – Andy Warhol (Warhola) (filmmaker, pop artist: Campbell Soup; “In the future everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes.”; died Feb 22, 1987)

1930 – Abbey Lincoln (Wooldridge) (actress: For Love of Ivy, Mo� Better Blues)

1938 – Paul Bartel (writer, director, actor: Eating Raoul; writer, director: Not for Publication, Cannonball; director, actor: Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills; director: The Longshot, Lust in the Dust, The Secret Cinema, Death Race 2000, Private Parts; actor: The Usual Suspects, The Jerky Boys, Number One Fan, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, Hollywood Boulevard; died May 13, 2000)

1938 – Peter Bonerz (actor: The Bob Newhart Show, 9 to 5; director: Murphy Brown)

1943 – Ray Buktenica (actor: Rhoda, House Calls, Life Goes On)

1950 – Dorian Harewood (actor: Sudden Death, Pacific Heights, Full Metal Jacket, Against All Odds, An American Christmas Carol, Sparkle, Viper, The Trials of Rosie O’Neill, Trauma Center, Strike Force, Roots: The Next Generation, Glitter, Capitol Critters [voice of Moze])

1951 – Catherine Hicks (actress: 7th Heaven, Marilyn, Peggy Sue Got Married, The Bad News Bears, Ryan’s Hope, Tucker’s Witch, Star Trek 4)

1962 – Michelle Yeoh (actress: Tomorrow Never Dies, Jackie Chan: My Story, Moonlight Express)

1976 – Melissa George (actress: Home and Away, Dark City, Hollyweird, Sugar & Spice, Mulholland Drive, Thieves)

1976 – Soleil Moon Frye (actress: Punky Brewster, The Liar’s Club, The St. Tammany Miracle)


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