Harry Morris Warner was an American studio executive, one of the founders of Warner Bros., and a major contributor to the development of the film industry. Along with his three brothers Warner played a crucial role in the film business and played a key role in establishing Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc, serving as the company president until 1956.
Warner was born Hirsch Moses “Wonsal” or “Wonskolaser” to a family of Polish Jews from the village of Krasnosielc. The village was a short distance from Warsaw in the part of Poland that had been subjugated to the Russian Empire following the 18th-century partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. He was the son of Benjamin Wonsal, a shoemaker born in Krasnosielc, and Pearl Leah Eichelbaum. His given name was Moses but he was called Hirsch in the United States. In October, 1889, he came to Baltimore, Maryland with his mother and siblings on the steamship Hermann from Bremen, Germany. Their father had preceded them, immigrating to Baltimore in 1883 or 1885 in order to pursue his trade in shoes and shoe repair. It was at that time that he changed the family name to Warner which was used thereafter. As in many Jewish immigrant families, some of the children gradually acquired anglicized versions of their Yiddish-sounding names. Hirsch became Harry, and his middle name Morris was likely a version of Moses.
In Baltimore, the money Benjamin Warner earned in the shoe repair business was not enough to provide for his growing household. He and Pearl had another daughter, Fannie, not long after they arrived. Benjamin moved the family to Canada, inspired by a friend’s advice that he could make an excellent living bartering tin wares with trappers in exchange for furs. Sons Jacob and David Warner were born in London, Ontario. After two arduous years in Canada, the Warners returned to Baltimore. Two more children, Sadie and Milton, were added to the household there. In 1896, the family relocated to Youngstown, Ohio, following the lead of Harry, who had established a shoe repair shop in the heart of the emerging industrial town. Benjamin worked with Harry in the shoe repair shop until he secured a loan to open a meat counter and grocery store in the city’s downtown area.
In 1899, Harry opened a bicycle shop in Youngstown with his brother, Abraham.