Vitagraph: America’s First Great Motion Picture Studio

In cinema’s nascent years, the art of filmmaking was being pioneered and many new and exciting developments would occur in conjunction with this new form of storytelling. Among the many facets of filmmaking history is the history of motion picture studios, working to create and distribute their work.

Many myths in relation to early film studios exist, often neglecting the importance and history of the Vitagraph Studios. It was Vitagraph that established the studio system and broke ground in the hiring of many on- and off-screen talents, in addition to perfecting the filming process. Additionally, Vitagraph would grow to distribute films all over the world.

Vitagraph initially began in Brooklyn, New York, in 1897, as the American Vitagraph company before relocating to Hollywood. A prolific film production company by 1907, it was bought by Warner Bros. in 1925. Under its employ were stars like Florence Turner, Maurice Costello, Jean the Vitagraph Dog, Dolores Costello, Constance and Norma Talmadge, and more.

Vitaphone: America’s First Great Motion Picture Studio, written by Andrew A. Erish, offers a fascinating look at the history and influence of Vitagraph. In his research, Erish consulted with a wide range of primary source material in order to retell the story of Vitagraph and its film pioneers. Published by the University Press of Kentucky, this book is a wonderful read focused upon the importance and impact of Vitagraph.


Vitaphone: America’s First Great Motion Picture Studio is available for purchase through the University Press of Kentucky.

About Annette Bochenek

Dr. Annette Bochenek of Chicago, Illinois, is an avid scholar of Hollywood’s Golden Age. She manages the Hometowns to Hollywood blog, in which she writes about her trips exploring the legacies and hometowns of Golden Age stars. Annette also hosts the “Hometowns to Hollywood” film series throughout the Chicago area. She has been featured on Turner Classic Movies and is the president of TCM Backlot’s Chicago chapter. In addition to writing for TCM Backlot, she also writes for Classic Movie Hub, Silent Film Quarterly, Nostalgia Digest, and Chicago Art Deco Society Magazine.
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