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The Hollywood Photographs Blog

Chinese Theater's Anniversary

The Chinese Theater Anniversary.

This movie icon lives right in the heart of Hollywood and is about to turn 90 years old, but she’s still as famous as ever, and millions of people come to visit every year. Some have even signed their name and squish their hands and feet right in her forecourt, while others have left behind the imprint of a dreadlocked, I knows, a leg and a fist over the years too. 

Other nights there is the flash of paparazzi cameras and a roll of red carpet as smiling celebrities way that fans before heading into the historical legend that is that TCL Chinese Theater, a glamorous picture palace that held Oscar ceremonies in 1944 1945 in 1946, and has hosted glittering premieres for decades.

Surprisingly, many people who visit the Grand Am don't realize she's not an elaborate prop, a theme park ride or restaurant. In fact she's always been a working movie theater...

Hollywood Sign History #7

NEW HOLLYWOOD SIGN

As mentioned above, the 1973 Hollywood Sign repair was simply a facelift. The missing or damaged pieces of sheet metal were replaced.  Then, the coats of green primer were applied, followed by white paint. For the next three and a half years, the only damage to the sign was to the several pieces of sheet metal that were damaged by wind.  The photos I took in November 1977 show the sign to be in intact.  Less than three months later, the sign sustained very serious damage. This occurred on February 10, 1978 when, according to the WeatherSpark website, the highest sustained wind speed was 33 mph. The highest wind gust speed was 44 miles. Typically, the average wind speed for February is 6 mph. From February 5, 1978 through February 11, 1978, Los Angeles was ravaged by lighting, rain and hailstorms.  A February 6, 1978 Los Angeles Times article stated that...

Hollywood Sign History #6

HOLLYWOOD SIGN HISTORY #6

HOLLYWOODLAND TO HOLLYWOOD

For years, the date of 1949 has been accepted and written as the date the letter “H”, of the Hollywoodland sign, was knocked to the ground. The most accepted story was that it was blown down in a windstorm in 1949.  Of course, the tale about Albert Kothe driving, while drunk, over the summit and knocking down the letter “H”, is totally apocryphal. While viewing microfilm at the Los Angeles Public Library, I found a April 12, 1947 Los Angeles Evening Herald article which showed a photo of the letter “H” lying on the ground. The caption read, “ --- where the H used to be before a wind blew it down five years ago.”  I then located a Los Angeles Times article, dated March 27, 1944 in which actor, Pat O’Brien stated, “ --- that a recent windstorm made...

Hollywoodland & Hollywood sign photos

Hollywoodland sign

The Hollywoodland sign's construction was started in about late October 1923 and finished during the first week of December, 1923. It was first illuminaated on December 8, 1923.

Hollywood Sign dedication

Sometime in December 1923, Harry Chandler and others dedicated the newly constucted Hollywoodland sign.

Hollywood land sign at night

1924: Tthe Hollywoodland sign at night.  The sign was illuminated with 3,700 ten-watt bulbs.

Peg Entwistle Photo...

Hollywood Sign History #5

HOLLYWOODLAND SIGN’S DETERIORATION

As mentioned above, the sign was a problem for the M.H. Sherman Co..  The cost to maintain it was expensive and it didn’t seem to help in stimulating potential buyers to purchase lots in the Hollywoodland subdivision.  On September 19, 1936, the second letter “O”, from the left, collapsed, due to wind.  The two telephone type poles remained standing because they had been repaired with iron “spuds” and cement in January 1935.  Two days after the letter “O” collapsed, a detailed inspection and report was written about the condition of the sign. This report accompanied a letter, dated September 22, 1936, from Hollywoodland manager, Gilbert A. Miller to J.H. Risheberger, with the M.H. Sherman Co.  The report indicated the sign’s...

Griffith Observatory Photos & History

Griffith Observatory Photos and History

Colonel Griffith Griffiths

The Griffith Observatory and Hall of science provided for by Col. Griffith Griffith four years before his death, presented some problems. As in the case of the Greek Theatre, Col. Griffith selected and stipulated the exact site for each. The location selected for the observatory and Hall of science was at the very top of Mount Hollywood. Even the means of access was decided; it was to be a particular railroad from the head of Vermont Canyon to the mountaintop. This, in turn, was to be reached by the extension of the street railway at a 5 cent fare. All of these details were intended to be in the interest of the public.

Photo of Griffith Observatory...

Chinese Theater Hand & Footprint Ceremonies

Chinese Theater Hand & Footprint Ceremonies

Chinese Theater Construction

On Armistice Day, November 11, 1925, the first rivot in the steel girders was driven by the beautify actress Anna May Wong.   The ground breaking ceremony was attended by Sid Grauman, Charlie Chaplin, Anna May Wong, Conrad Nagel and Norma Talmadge.  

Photo of Chinese Theater

Chinese Theater’s Grand Opening

The Chinese Theater had its grand opening on May 18, 1927, with the premiere of Cecil B. DeMilles’s epic film, “King of Kings.”  Hundreds of celebrities attended the grand opening, including actor, Ernest...

Hollywood Sign History Part 4

MILLICENT LILIAN “PEG”  ENTWISTLE

One of the most sensational and tragic events, involving the Hollywoodland sign was the suicide of a young actress named Lillian Millicent “Peg” Entwistle, born Millicent Lilian Entwistle.  As Ted Okuda, author and film historian, correctly wrote in his endorsement of James Zeruk, Jr’s book, “Peg Entwistle And The Hollywood Sign Suicide”,  “For decades, the truth about Peg Entwistle was shrouded in mystery and distorted myth and misinformation. Through diligence and painstaking research, James Zeruk finally sets the record straight, unveiling the remarkable story of a talented, intelligent actress whose life was all too brief.”  As a Hollywood historian, I found this book to be extremely well researched and written.  What I’m about to write about Peg Entwistle, comes, almost exclusively, from his book. 

Peg was born in Wales in February 1908 to Robert...

Hollywood Sign History Part 3

THE WHITE DOT

Contrary to what has been written before, the white dot, located below the Hollywoodland sign was not installed as an “eye catcher.”  How that story got started is anyone’s guess.  But it’s absurd!  Why would an eye catcher be installed when there is a 543 foot long, 45 foot high white sign just above the dot?  The real story is a bit more complicated.

Photo of Hollywoodland sign

In 1920-21, the US Chamber of Commerce produced maps illustrating business conditions in areas of the country. Those shaded black were poor, white with black stripes (grey) were fair and white was good.  Los Angeles was a “white spot” in a sea of black and grey on the...

Hollywood Photos Website #5

hollywoodphotos.com Website  Part 5

Hollywood Airfield Photos

In 1918,  Cecil B DeMille, founded the Mercury aviation company and built his first airfield, DeMille  field number one, across from the present location of Fairfax high school. Soon to know built a second airfield, DeMille Field #2, and moved his enterprise to the north west corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Crescent Avenue, now Fairfax Avenue.

Mercury aviation operating a fleet of surplus WWI “Jennys” and offered popular sightseeing trips around the area. The airfield feature a gas station at the intersection that fueled automobiles on one side and airplanes on the other side. In May 1921, Mercury launched regular scheduled flights carrying passengers to Santa Catalina Island, San Diego and other locales -  becoming the first scheduled airline with multiple destinations in...

Hollywood sign History Part 2

CONSTRUCTION OF THE HOLLYWOODLAND SIGN

The hollywoodsignhistory.com website is the most accurate history of the Hollywoodland and Hollywood Signs

According to most newspaper articles and personal interviews, the sign was never intended to be a permanent structure.  However, before construction was approved, the Hollywoodland developers erected a “test” letter “H” about one hundred feet to the east of where the sign was eventually erected. Based on a photograph in my collection, the letter appears to be about thirty feet tall.  Apparently, the “test” met with a positive response because construction of a large sign was approved.

Photo of Hollywoodland sign

For whatever reason, the building of the Hollywoodland...

Hollywood Sign History Part 1

HOLLYWOODLAND SUBDIVISION

The following is an excerpt from Mary Mallory’s book, “Hollywoodland.”

“In the early days, the area of Beachwood Canyon was either empty land or used for farming, as seen in photographs, and did not exist on maps. The eastern half of what became Hollywoodland first appeared in records when the federal government issued a patent to the Southern Pacific Railroad on February 9, 1884.  On September 26, 1890, the Railroad sold the land to Julia E. Lord for an undetermined amount, and four days later she leased it to Quong Yuen Chung “for the right to cut wood.” Deeds for mining interest first appeared on December 12, 1893, but were terminated by court action 1896. On February 8, 1900, Lord bought the western half of the Hollywoodland site from the federal government. As noted in a Los Angeles Times article dated December 22, 1968, she...

Hollywood Photos Website #4

hollywoodphotos.com Website Part #4

Ken Murray’s Blackouts Photos

The hollywoodphotos.com website has the largest collection of photographs of the Ken Murray’s Blackouts.  Here is its history.

Almost everyone knows that Hollywood is the entertainment capital of the world. In keeping with that tradition, Hollywood had the distinction of being the home of Ken Murray's Blackouts, the longest running variety review in the history of American legitimate theater. Murray started the year goers laughing in 1942 when the blackouts first opened at the El Capitan Theatre on Vine Street. Formerly known as a Hollywood Playhouse theater, its name was changed to the El Capitan Theatre by C.E. Toberman, who had recently acquired the theater.

Photo of Ken Murray's Blackouts...

Hollywood Photos Website Part 3

Hollywoodphotos.com Website Part 3

Hollywood Movie Studio Photos

The honor of having established the first Hollywood movie studio in Hollywood goes to the Nestors Film Company of Staten Island, New York. In October 1911, a small group from this film company arrived in Los Angeles to make movies.

The personnel of the company included David Horsley, proprietor of the concern; Al Christie, business manager and director of comedies; Tom Ricketts, dramatic and comedy director; Milton Faheney, director of Westerns; John Nicklaus, chief cameraman and laboratory expert; Thomas Briely, Carpenter, and many other support staff and actors.

The cast of players included Josephine Ditt, Dorothy Davenport, Alice Davenport, Eugene Ford, Victoria Ford, Mrs. William Farney, Jack Conway and several others.

Photo of Hollywood Movie Studio...

Hollywood Photos Website Part 2

Hollywoodphotos Website  Part 2

The hollywoodphoto.com website has the largest number of  vintage Hollywood photographs. There are more than 9000  rare  Hollywood photos, covering 92 subject categories.   Some of these include photos of streets, hotels, theaters, real estate developments, the Hollywood sign, and nightclubs. All of these photographs are available for purchase.

Photo of Florentine Gardens

Florentine Gardens Photos

Among Hollywood's hotspots, one of the biggest and flashiest was the Florentine Gardens, located at 5955 Hollywood Blvd. Even in a community never noted for modest standards, it was colossal. Not highly popular with most movie celebrities who preferred...

Hollywood Photos Website Part 1

Hollywoodphotos Website Part 1

The hollywoodphotos.com website is the largest photo and reference collection on the subject of Hollywood.  With more than 9,000 vintage Hollywood photographs, the website has 92 subject categories from which to choose.   Four of those categories include historical photographs of Barnsdall Park, Grauman’s Chinese Theater,Crossroads of the World and the Earl Carroll Nightclub.

Photo of Barnsdall Park

Barnsdall Park Photos

Long before the cultural movement was to strike Los Angeles, Aline Barnsdall purchased Olive Hill on June 3, 1919, for the purpose of establishing an art center. The property, consisting of 36 acres bounded by Hollywood...

Hollywood Pilgrimage Play Photos on hollywoodphotos.com website

The Pilgrimage Play Photos

Pilgrimage Play Theater

The Pilgrimage Play Theater was built in 1920 as the site of The Pilgrimage Play. The author, Christine Wetherill Stevenson, believed the rugged beauty of the Cahuenga Pass would provide a dramatic outdoor setting for the play. Together with Mrs. Chauncey D. Clark, she purchased this land along with that on which the Hollywood Bowl now sits. A wooden, outdoor amphitheatre was built on this site and the play was performed by noted actors every summer from 1920 to 1929, until the original structure was destroyed by a brush fire in October 1929.

Photo of Pilgrimage Play actors...

Hollywood Legion Post #43 Photos & History

Hollywood Legion Photos & History

Founding of the Hollywood Legion Post #43

The history of the Hollywood Legion Post # 43 is one that is keeping with Hollywood’s great and illustrious history. The Hollywood Legion in Hollywood started withthe men who had gone off to fight what they believed was ‘the war to end all wars’. The returning men rallied behind the idea of establishing an organization of, for and by veterans. In 1919, Army captain Taylor Duncan returned from WW I to work as an actor and stagehand in Hollywood’s film industry. He was one of the actors at Jesse Lasky Studios and by all accounts, was an engaging and persuasive fellow. He tirelessly campaigned for a post established in Hollywood that could serve returning doughboys who had come to Hollywood to make their...

Ciro's Nightclub Photos on the hollywoodphotos.com website

Ciro’s Nightclub Photos on The hollywoodphotos.com Website

Hollywood Restaurants & Nightclubs

Some of Hollywood's most famous restaurants and nightclubs were located on Sunset Boulevard which was also known as the Sunset strip. Hundreds of photographs of these famous nightspots are on the hollywoodphotos.com website, which has more than 9,000 photos of vintage Hollywood. Aoo the photos are available for purchase.

Photo of Ciro's Nightclub

Ciro's Nightclub

Businessman, Billy Wilkerson had previously opened the Café Trocadero, in the 1930s and was now ready...

Vintage Hollywood Photos on the hollywoodphotos.com Website

Vintage Hollywood Photos on the hollywoodphoto.com Website

The largest collection of Hollywood photos is on the hollywoodphotos.com website.  There are more than 12,000 historical photographs on the website, covering over 90 subject categories.

The collection was started in 1970 by Bruce Torrence when his grandfather gave him about thirty vintage Hollywood photos.  Over time, this fabulous collection has grown to largest of its kind.  In 2000, Bruce developed a website called hollywoodphotos.com, which is connected to the hollywoodphotographs.com website.  Today, more than 100,000 people visit the website, many of whom purchase photos.

Hollywoodland Sign photo...