Competition from "Talking Pictures"

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Courtesy the Houston Metropolitan Research Center at Houston Public Library, via the Portal to Texas History. MSS 0282.063, Houston Public Library, HMRC. The contents of The Portal to Texas History (digital content including images, text, and sound and video recordings) are made publicly available by the collection-holding partners for use in research, teaching, and private study. For the full terms of use, see

The first “talking film” to premiere was Al Jolson’s “The Jazz Singer” in October 1927. For the first time American audiences were able to see and hear musical entertainment in new environments without having to attend live performances in select theaters. Only two years earlier in 1925, nearly 1,500 vaudeville theatres operated entertaining millions of Americans. But as American film culture became more and more central in American entertainment, only 300 traditional theaters were left, with the majority of others offering a split bill sharing performance space with films. Many actors left the stage and headed west to California to make it in the blossoming film industry, and the first true film stars emerged by the late 1920s.