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|Volume 15 Number 1!||
Vitaphone co-founder Ron Hutchinson passed away suddenly on February 2, 2019 from colon cancer. As Ron was the driving force behind many of the disc finds and film restorations, his loss is a blow to The Vitaphone Project. Talks are continuing on the future of The Vitaphone Project. Ron was a great film historian, and a great friend. I became aware of The Vitaphone Project when reading about it in 1996 on Yair Solan's The World of Charley Chase website. I created the VitaphoneProject.com website to give an internet presence to Ron so he could reach a wider audience. I didn't meet Ron, or even talk with him on the phone for 16 YEARS, until he came to Cinefest in 2012, and he was as nice as could be. Everyone who knew Ron has talked about how helpful he was to them whenever they needed anything from him. Ron is survived by his wife Judy, son Jared, daughter Heather Miranda, two grandchildren, and his brother Robert.
Here are several articles on Ron's passing.
The classic movie festival Cinecon is held every year in Los Angeles at the Egyptian Theater during the Labor Day weekend. This year, on Saturday, August 31, 2019, they did a tribute to Ron Hutchinson and The Vitaphone Project. Website/Facebook Page/database contributor Patrick Picking flew from Detroit to participate. For the first time he met with Project co-founder Sherwin Dunner, who started The Vitaphone Project with Ron Hutchinson, David Goldenberg, & John Newton back in the Fall of 1991 (See our first issue - http://www.picking.com/vitaphone11.html)
Here is the video of the tribute, which was streamed live at Cinecon - https://www.facebook.com/318809389544/videos/1546669368808410/
Vitaphone Project fan Peter Flynn created this great video tribute to Ron Hutchinson, which was shown at Cinecon. Click on the link below.
After the live tribute, six Vitaphone shorts were shown, all favorites of Vitaphonees, and a few other early shorts.
Here is the program as described in the Cinecon 55 Program Book:
"On February 2nd, 2019, the film preservation world was stunned to learn of the passing of Ron Hutchinson. In his sixty seven years, this gentle and unassuming chemical engineer was responsible for the discovery of thousands of Vitaphone sound discs and helped with the preservation of hundreds of films whose sound had been lost for decades.
His generosity to individuals, friends, preservation factions, and to major film studios never wavered. Each one of you who has gathered at Cinecon has felt Ron's impact whether you know it or not.
Today, on what would have been the day after he would've turned sixty eight, the officers of Cinecon and his friends who have gathered wish to honor him in the best way we know how. It's the way he would've wanted us to remember him. We are honored to play someof his favorite Vitaphone shorts, ones he helped to preserve, and a few things that were right up his alley.
While we mourn, we also rejoice Ron and are thankful he helped to give life to so many films that otherwise may never have been able to be seen again. Thank you Friend.
The Big Benefit and Flippen's Frolics courtesy Universal Pictures. All other 35mm preservation prints courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Additional thanks to Warner Bros.
Legendary dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson performs the Arlen-Koehler song "Happy as the Day is Long" and the team of Ray Mayer and Edith Evans offer their version of "Crooning a Tune" in this charming blend of genuinely talented youngsters imitating their adult counterparts.
Cast: Jay C. Flippen, Rose Marie, Jay & Lewis Seiler, BIll Powers, Sid Walker, The Manhattanites, Bill Powers' Steppers
In a New York City cabaret setting, Jay C. Flippen (using his Colonel Flippen character, as J C Flippen) emcees and introduces various stage, vaudeville, and radio acts and performers, including Rose Marie, a Cinecon Career Achievement Award recipient, who does a couple of song-and-dance numbers. a singing trio called The Manhattanites harmonize and BIll Powers and His Steppers do some hot stepping. In the finale, Flippen and Lew Seiler pair up to do a vaudeville routine.
HOME TALKIE PRODUCTIONS was a company with an early option for home projection of sound films. Their Home-Talkie unit sold for $49, and consisted of a turntable which would attach to your 16mm projector, and it's electric pick-up would connect to your radio set. You could buy a 100 foot film with corresponding 10" disc for $9, or a 200 foot film with 12" disc for $15. An arrow on the inner grove of the record (which plays at 33-1/3 rpm and from the inside out) shows the starting point for synchronization.
Isabella Patricola (1886-1965) was a top act on the Vaudeville circuits, and was featured both at the Palace in New York and the Palladium in London. Her popularity expanded during the 1920s into radio and records. At the height of her fame she was billed simply as "Patricola" or "Miss Patricola." Her stage routine usually had her picking up her violin towards the end to accompany her singing. It is believed that this is the only film document of her solo-followed-by-violin performance routine.
Phil Baker (1896-1963) teamed up with Ben Bernie and later with Sid Silvers in Vaudeville before going solo in 1928, singing, playing the accordian and telling jokes. He would be a featured performer at The Palace in New York in 1930 and 1931. Baker made two other short films for deForest Phonfilm, and you may remember him with Carmen Miranda in "The Gang's All Here."
Preserved by the Library of Congress.
Dir. Bradley Barker, Wirt. Auustus Barratt (story & music), Phot: Ollie Leach.
Cast: Kathryn Reece
A rare Columbia short made in the BiColor "Photocolor" process for the "Color Sensations" series. Reece, a musical theatre performer, filmed two additional shorts for Paramount before being cast in "Animal Crackers."
From Ron Hutchinson's family - "Please invite those interested. We will be selling off the prodigious collection of Mr. Vitaphone himself - Ron Hutchinson. Endless 78s, posters and various other oddball stuff. A real mountain of materials all at prices everyone can afford. Note that no Vitaphone discs will be sold (all have been entrusted to the archives).
To go on Saturday, October 5th, and Sunday, October 6th, 2019 (both from 9:30 am - 4pm). Please check event on FaceBook prior to coming for updates. https://www.facebook.com/events/3015585151848733/
Refreshments and background tunes are FREE to all who come!"
I don't have an inventory of what is being sold, and I don't know the items, but I was told everything, all of the records, some machines, and the pictures and posters on the walls, are going.
Overseas Project Emissary Paul Brennan in Australia wanted to share this picture of a letter Ron had sent him back in 2012, just to show how kind and generous Ron was to him. They first met when Ron and Paul first came to Cinefest in Syracuse, NY, in 2012. And we do have the picture of Paul wearing the shirt!
View all 10 articles Ron posted on the Classic Movie Hub Blog, with the latest being from January 22nd, 2019. They make for great Vitaphone history reading!
Ron was a frequent uploader of Vitaphone discs to Soundcloud. He has his own Vitaphone channel, and you can listen to the 654 tracks and Vitaphone discs he uploaded here: https://soundcloud.com/vitaphone/
Ron did this radio interview a while ago. It's time to put it out for all to hear here! ron-hutchinson-vitaphone-radio-interview.mp3
From Gerry Orlando on Facebook, February 4, 2019.
"I can't think of a better way to pay tribute to the late Ron Hutchinson than to watch the man in action. Here he is addressing New Jersey's Antique Radio Club in 2016 with a presentation about Vitaphone recordings.
Ron's presentation runs about an hour and 15 minutes and features some excellent Vitaphone shorts, including what Ron said was his personal favorite, "Sharps and Flats" with Jimmy Conlin and Myrtle Glass.
Just watch Ron in this....No reading from a script, the information just naturally and enthusiastically pours out of him.
Something needs to be cleared up: Occasionally Ron would be harshly criticized for the way he handled Vitaphone discs in his presentations: "Look at that guy....He's putting his hands all over that disc!". The disc that Ron held up in his presentations was a "Show and Tell" demonstration model....a pretty beat-up disc that wasn't being used for a specific preservation or restoration project. This disc could be carted around from location to location, be held up to show the audience the size and format of a typical Vitaphone disc, etc., and Ron didn't have to worry about gingerly handling a valuable Vitaphone disc with kid gloves while he was up there doing a presentation. Believe me, Ron knew what he was doing with those discs.
So let's watch and enjoy Ron Hutchinson doing what he loved to do.....Talk about Vitaphone: https://www.youtube.com/watch"
While no new discs have been found, Ron Hutchinson's discs have been sent to a safe place. Sherwin Dunner has moved them into storage on Long Island and they will be well taken care of by an archivst.
In 1989, after some degree of planning and scheduling, Dave Goldenberg and John Newton, two seasoned record collectors and film enthusiasts, arranged a trip to Washington, D.C., to view several early sound films by artists whose film work, at that time, had generally been both obscure and forgotten.
After the drive to D.C., we checked into our hotel and made our way over to The Library Of Congress. We had previously arranged and scheduled an appointment for screenings of a 1929 Columbia feature film starring Belle Baker and a few film shorts, one of which featured legendary minstrel Eddie Leonard. We had previously been assured that all that we'd requested had been located within the Library's archives, and would be on hand for our viewing at the appointed time.
We were graciously received, were escorted into a viewing room, and anxiously awaited the beginning of our selected "program", which was to begin with the feature film, "Song Of Love" (1929, starring Belle Baker.) We were both fans of Belle Baker's recordings, and were eager to see her perform a favorite selection, "I'm Walking With The Moonbeams" on screen.
After a bit of delay, we were informed that there was a problem. The Library's only print of the film was a negative, and not suitable for viewing. We received a promise that a positive print would be struck for viewing at some later date, and we would be advised when that had been accomplished.
Disappointed, we settled back to watch the film shorts we had requested. We were soon advised that all but one of the films we had requested and "scheduled" for viewing were not located, and were therefore unavailable for viewing.
Particularly discouraged, and now admittedly annoyed, we were at least - and at last -going to see legendary minstrel Eddie Leonard perform on film. Leonard appeared in a 1929 feature, "Melody Lane", but that was considered a "lost film". He also appeared in Bing Crosby's 1940 feature, "If I Had My Way", but at the time the Eddie Leonard sequence had been "cut" from prints for television viewing. The only film that the Library had featuring Leonard was a film short made circa 1937. We again settled back and watched as Eddie Leonard appeared on the screen.
After a few moments, sitting in silence and bewilderment, we "buzzed" the technician who was screening the film. "We can't hear the sound," we advised. The technician blinked in a confused manner and told us that this was a silent print. The was no sound!
We quickly questioned this because the film had been made in the latter 1930's, definitely with sound, but were advised that the only copy the Library had was this silent print.
Our entire trip had been totally in vain. Our plans and arrangements mattered not at all.
During and after returning, disgruntled conversations featured the failures of even our most cherished repositories of the past. We had, of course heard stories and seen early articles on "lost" films, and lost sound-tracks. We had some Vitaphone discs ourselves, as well as discs from other studios, but the films themselves were never seen, on television or otherwise. Something, somehow, some way, had to be done. Some of this material must still exist "out there somewhere."
These conversations went on for many months, dragging through 1990, when one day Dave asked me, "Do you know Ron Hutchinson?" Yes, I answered, but only by correspondence, though I think we've spoken on the phone about some record auctions or something. Seems like a nice guy. "I think so, too, and he's got interests similar to us," Dave quickly answered. "And you already know Sherwin Dunner. I'm going to arrange a get-together at my house, to talk about early sound film work, and have a listening session here."
And that was the beginning of The Vitaphone Project. It began in Dave Goldenberg's dining room, with his gracious wife, Eloise, providing both patience with this small motley crew and always a great table setting.
I remember, vividly, so much of our meetings. How I used to order special large-size copy paper for my office, so I could print hundreds of copies of the early "Vitaphone News" issues on my department's copy machines. So much, so long ago, yet still so near in memories.
( I just spoke with, and earlier this year visited with Sherwin, relaying how we're the last of the original founders.)
I'll have to locate it, but I have, somewhere, a photo of us in the 1990's with Vince Giordano, who had joined the group. The photo was taken in the lobby of BMG, which then owned RCA Victor, etc. We had been invited there to help identify some film sound discs that had been located in the Victor vaults.
NOTE: The photo is at the top of this article.
Here is a little information on the people who started and joined The Vitaphone Project over the years.
The Vitaphone Projectís Facebook page now boasts 3,076 members and has multiple new posts every day. In addition to film clips, stills, posters and discoveries, the site also announces new DVD releases and inquiries from its members. With the ending (or postponement) of The Vitaphone News website, the FaceBook page is the best source of current and up-to-date informaiton on anything Vitaphone Project related.
Join us at this link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/vitaphoneproject/
Get your tickets here, and keep checking the schedule for other upcoming shows: Old Town Music Hall
Friend us on FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/vitaphoneproject/
Movies and books related to Vitaphone and early film history can be purchased through Amazon.com by clicking on the items here!
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|VITAPHONE NEWS||ISSN 1066-5951|
|Corresponding Secretary & Editor||Ron Hutchinson||5 Meade Court|
Piscataway, NJ 08854
|Vitaphone Project Web Page Designer||Patrick Pickingfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Vitaphone Project Web Page||http://www.vitaphoneproject.com|
|Jeff Cohen's "Vitaphone Varieties" Site||http://vitaphone.blogspot.com|
|Leonard Maltin's Site||http://www.leonardmaltin.com|
|"The Vitaphone Project"|
|OVERSEAS PROJECT EMMISSARIES
UK: Malcolm Billingsley
AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND: Paul Brennan
SCANDANAVIA: Jonas Nordin