Warner Bros. descendant visits Youngstown

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Whether people recognize the name from the end of a Looney Tunes cartoon or as a giant WB showing up at the start of a movie, the Warner Brothers, who made the film empire possible, started it all from this area.

One of their descendants, Cass Warner, paid a visit to the Valley on Thursday. She is the granddaughter of Warner Bros. co-founder Harry Warner.

One of the homes her family lived in still sits on Elm Street on Youngstown’s North Side. They also lived downtown and in the Smoky Hollow neighborhood at various points.

And although the Warner family found most of its success in Hollywood, Youngstown still holds a special place in their hearts as the birthplace of the entertainment empire.

Thursday was movie night at the Mahoning Valley Historical Society’s Tyler History Center. The feature presentation was a documentary called “The Brothers Warner,” which was produced by Cass Warner.

“They came from nothing and they never quit. They hung in there until their dreams were reality and I like that philosophy of life,” she said.

That philosophy instilled in the Warner brothers may have been birthed right here in the Valley. They lived in Youngstown and owned several businesses in the area back in the day, with many of them in the 300 block of West Federal Street. What is now Powers Auditorium was among their first theaters in the country, which was known as the Warner Theater when it opened in the 1930s.

Cass Warner said she is thrilled to see it is still in use.

“That really warms my heart because that was in honor of my great uncle Sam and it’s just a beautiful, beautiful space,” she said.

Attendees really enjoyed the documentary and insight from Warner, and hope more people will explore Youngstown’s history, as well as the history of the Warner family.

“I just think we should be made more aware of how wonderful this area really is,” said attendee Susan Fischer.

“It was beautiful, my goodness, very heartfelt and you can feel the passion that the Warner Brothers had,” said Jodi Lewis.

Cass Warner also is working on an exhibit at Warner Bros. Studios about the family’s history. When asked if people will see things about this area in the exhibit, she replied: “I would absolutely say yes to that because that was such a turning point in their career.”

Cass also authored a book called “The Brothers Warner.” Both the book and documentary reference this area.

Cass has been to this area once before, more than a decade ago, and said she was pleasantly surprised with how it has changed and how much the area has going on now than it did during her last visit.

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