Co-founder of Warner Brothers Pictures, Inc., along with older brother Harry M. Warner (president of the company) and younger brothers Albert Warner (treasurer) and Jack L. Warner (executive in charge of production). Sam was the studio's chief executive officer until his death.
Of all the Warners, Sam was the studio's driving force behind technological innovation, literally dragging his reluctant brothers into the future of film. Somewhat ironically, he never envisioned the Vitaphone process being used for dialog however. By all accounts, he saw it as a cost savings device useful to theaters which would enable them to eliminate live orchestras (or in rural theaters a piano player) that typically accompanied 'silent' movies. He saw the Vitaphone as a means to distinguish Warner's from the more prominent studios in Hollywood. Al Jolson's brief synchronized talking bits in The Jazz Singer (1927) as much as his singing that would prove sensational to audiences, Sadly, Sam would not live to see the full promise of talkies realized and his fragile Vitaphone disc process would be quickly surpassed by the vastly superior Fox Movietone sound-on-film system.
Sam's death resulted in the surviving 3 Warner brothers missing the premiere of The Jazz Singer (1927) (they were on a train headed to Los Angeles for the funeral), which would have been the greatest night of their professional lives.
Uncle of Jack Warner Jr.