Monday, December 12, 2011


Carlena Diamond in "Harpist Supreme" (1929) directed by Murray Roth. 35mm, 6 minutes.

Between 1926 and 1930 Warner Brothers produced over a thousand small films featuring actors, opera singers, comedians, musicians and vaudeville stars using their new! state of the art! Vitaphone system.

The 10 minute featurettes were intended to show the virtues of Vitaphone which synchronized sound and moving pictures through a 16” record that was played along with the projector. Pre-dating “The Jazz Singer”, these Vitaphone gems pretty much disappeared from public view.

There has been a heady project to restore these 35 mm negatives, many which have not seen the light of a theater screen in decades. Using the 35mm negatives deposited at the Library of Congress and the 16-inch discs stored by UCLA, preservation officer Bob Gitt of the UCLA Television and Film Archives in Los Angeles supervised this project, along with Ned Price of Warner Brothers.

The second series of these wonderful shorts was released August, 2011. Harpist Carlena Diamond was one of many featured. Carlena performed with the Earl Carroll Vanities, then later went on to join the  Phil Spitalny's All Girl Orchestra.

For copyright reasons, Carlena's fabulous 6 minute Vitaphone film recording has been removed from public viewing. It included a fast-paced Nola and Mighty Lak' A Rose played on her Wurlitzer. The tap dance routine while playing a tune written by her father, Charles J Diamond, on her Irish Clark harp is a wonderful tribute to her father, who also played the harp, and performed a similar act, dancing while playing the harp. We hope to get a copy soon!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

See? Deborah Henson-Conant, you're not the first harpie to rock-out in a short skirt, twirling with a small harp!

What fun.