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Cass Warner, Filmmaker and Granddaughter of Warner Bros. Co-Founder, Dies at 76

Cass Warner, filmmaker, author and granddaughter of Harry Warner, co-founder of Warner Bros., has died. She was 76.

Her death was announced by her son and Yellowstone actor Cole Hauser on his Instagram page. “Her kindness, love, humor and amazing spirit will be missed by not only my family but the world. You have touched so many,” he wrote.

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Cass’ grandfather, Harry Warner, was the eldest Warner brother, a Polish immigrant who co-founded the studio in 1923 after jumping into the early days of movie mania in 1905 with brothers Sam, Albert and Jack. The foursome created a cinematic powerhouse, a dream factory that was the social conscience of Hollywood, one that churned out timely and topical films about the Great Depression, the rise of fascism, the Red Scare and more.

Harry’s daughter, Betty Warner Sheinbaum, wrote of her father as “a very serious man. He was the company’s conscience and driving force.” In 1939, Betty married producer Milton Sperling, who had teamed with ex-Warner producer Darryl Zanuck at Fox. Harry did not want family working for the competition, so he let Sperling open an independent production unit at Warner Bros.

Betty and Milton welcomed Cass to the world on March 8, 1948. It wasn’t long before she was sitting in on story meetings with her father and learning the trade in the last years of Hollywood’s Golden Age. She also enjoyed mentorship from Howard Koch, who wrote such classic Warner Bros. films as The Sea Hawk (1940), The Letter (1940), Sergeant York (1941) and Casablanca (1942).

Cass Warner and Warner Bros. co-founder Harry Warner.
Cass Warner and Warner Bros. co-founder Harry Warner.

Continuing the family history of entrepreneurship, Cass founded Warner Sisters, a company that developed film and TV projects such as Hopper: In His Own Words (2012). She also created a nonprofit called The Dream Factory, which features inspirational interviews with Hollywood celebrities.

Some of the most well-known projects from Cass Warner include her 1993 book, co-written with her father and Jack Warner Jr., Hollywood Be Thy Name: The Warner Brothers Story, which was retitled The Brothers Warner to correspond with a feature documentary of the same name that landed her an HBO Films producer award. A shortened version of The Brothers Warner aired on PBS as part of its stellar American Masters series. Cass was also a regular presence on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, sharing stories with guests and educating guides on the family lore.

In recent years, Cass continued to add to the mantle of Warner history by uploading new and old interviews to her website. The interviews ranged from her direct family to those who worked at the studio, like actor James Garner, and Harry’s last secretary, Lois McGrew, who told essential stories about the rocky road of Warner Bros.’ sale in 1956.

On her website, WarnerSisters, Cass responded to filmmaker Frank Capra’s message about the responsibility of movies. “My family understood this,” she wrote. “They were aware of the numbers of people they reached and the power of this medium. They knew they were setting trends, influencing and introducing viewpoints and instrumental in creating the future culture.”

Groucho Marx once called Warners “the only studio with any guts” as it took on the Nazis and defied the production code in 1939. The New York Times did, in fact, brand Warner Bros. in 1943 as known for “combining good citizenship with good picturemaking.”

Cass was a mother of four, of which the most well-known is Hauser, who has enjoyed a long career in Hollywood. Daughter Vanessa Mooney is a designer and daughter Tao Gaines an entrepreneur, and son Jesse Pool works in advertising.

She was married three times, to Harvey Norman Haber (1970-72), Wings Hauser (1974-77) and to Glenn Allan Pool since 1977.

Survivors also include her grandchildren (Hauser’s children) Ryland, Colt and Steely Rose.

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