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Fabulous Historic Hollywood Photos

The Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photographs Collection

For many years, the website has been the largest collection of historic, advantage and spectacular photographs of the community of Hollywood. Starting in 1970, Bruce Torrence began collecting old Hollywood images. His grandfather, Charles E Toberman, was an early pioneer in the development of Hollywood. Arriving in Hollywood in 1906, Charles went into the insurance and real estate business. His first office was located on the south east corner of Prospect and Highland Avenues and consisted of a one room wooden structure. As he began to experience success, he built a brick structure just east of his original office.

Photo of Charles E. Toberman

Over the course of the next 75 years, he became the most successful and prolific real estate developer in Hollywood. His developments included such well-known buildings as the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Grauman's Egyptian theater, Grauman's Chinese theater, El Capitan Theatre, Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood storage building, and many others. He was responsible for the development of several residential tracks including Las Colinas Heights and the Outpost Estates. He was the founder of numerous businesses, including the federal trust and savings bank and the first federal savings and loan association of Hollywood. 

Over the course of his many years of development, he acquired many photos of the projects he developed.

One day, in 1970 Bruce was in his grandfather's office and noticed a few old photographs of Hollywood hanging on the walls. When he inquired about the photographs, his grandfather described the images and suggested that he look in one of the files in his office to see other old Hollywood photos. Bruce did so and was immediately enthralled with what he saw. Bruce made copies of some of the photographs which became start of his soon-to-be large collection of Hollywood photographs.

As Bruce’s interest in Hollywood's history began to take hold, he also decided to begin collecting as many old Hollywood photographs as possible. Over the course of the next 45 years, Bruce has amassed the largest collection of vintage photographs of Hollywood.

In about 1978, Bruce decided to make the collection available to the public and was willing to sell copies of the original prints. People would call and make appointments to visit the collection which was located in the 12 story office building at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. For the next 20 years, hundreds of visitors viewed and purchased copies of these old Hollywood images.

In 1998, Bruce and his wife Chris, moved to Mammoth Lakes and took the entire photographic collection with them. So, for the next four or five years, nobody was able to see or purchase these rare photographs.

The Internet

Then, in about 2001, it dawned on Bruce that the Internet could be the vehicle for people all over the world to view, and in some cases, purchase copies of his Hollywood photographs. After registering the domain name,, he contracted with a new web designer to build a new website. The designer not only designed the website, but she stand and incorporated about 500 photographs on the website. Once the website was up and running, it was necessary to select and scan thousands more photographs. By this time there were about 11,000 photographs in the collection. So, it was necessary to select those photos that the public would be most interested in viewing and purchasing. Over the course of the next several years, about 9000 photos have been scanned and rescanned and put on the website. Today, it is the largest collection of photos on the subject of Hollywood.

The website, has one of the highest rankings on Google and other search engines. Additions, in the form of blogs and new photographs are added constantly. The Internet has certainly become the greatest way for people, all around the world, to visit the website.

As mentioned above, there are more than 9000 vintage and historical Hollywood photos on the website. There are a little over 90 subject categories from which to choose. The website sells digital images as well as actual photographs. The images can be purchased for personal or commercial use.

Vintage Hollywoodland Sign photo

Hollywood Sign

Probably, one of the most viewed categories is the Hollywood sign. This Hollywood icon, which originally said

Hollywoodland, was built in 1923 – – as an advertising gimmick for real estate development just below the sign. In 1949, the sign was badly damaged in a windstorm and the letter H was completely torn down. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce agreed to refurbish and be responsible for the future maintenance of the sign. The last four letters were demolished and the sign refurbished. Over the course of the next 25 years the sign continued to experience weather damage. By 1978, the sign was so badly damaged that it had to be demolished. A new sign, made with modern materials, was built and dedicated in November, 1978.

Old Photograph of Egyptian Theater

Hollywood Movie Premiere Photos

Another popular category, on the website, is movie premieres. The concept of movie premieres was started by Sid Grauman, who built the Grauman's Egyptian Theater, in 1922. Being a real showman, he conceived the idea of having premieres when a new movie came to the theater. Six years later, he built Grauman's Chinese theater, just down the street from his Egyptian theater. The first premiere to be held at the Chinese theater was C. B. DeMille’s, King of Kings, at the grand opening of his theater in 1927. It wasn't long after the King of Kings’ premiere, that other theater owners decided to do the same. The largest collection of movie premiere photos is on the Hollywood website. They include photos of premiers held at such theaters as the Pantages theater, Carthay Circle Theater, Westwood theater, Warner Bros. theater, and many others.

Historic photograph of the Hollywood Studio Club

Hollywood Studio Club

The Hollywood Studio Club was started in 1916 when some girls began gathering regularly in the basement of the Hollywood public library to read plays together. The girls were strangers, lonely in an unfamiliar city, and often desperately discouraged. Eleanor Jones, the library, became concerned about the girls welfare when she learned that most of them were living in poorly supervised boarding houses and cheap hotels. She and Mrs. Charles Richmond took the problem to the Young women's Christian Association, which back then in locating a recreation hall on Hollywood Boulevard where the girls could be and dance. It was so successful that plans were made to enlarge the facilities and provide living quarters. With the assistance of Mrs. Cecil B DeMille, funds for the first year's rent for a clubhouse at 6129 Carlos Ave. were raised at a businessman's lunch. The building accommodated 10 girls, among them Marjorie Daw, Zazu Pitts, and Carmel Myers. After about 10 years, it was realized that a larger facility was needed. 10 years after a Hollywood studio club was founded, then moved into new quarters at 1215 Lodi St. for the next 35 years of Hollywood studio club was home to thousands of girls hoping to make it into the motion picture business. However, by the 1960s, most of the studios had left Hollywood and the need for such a facility was waning.  The club closed its doors in 1975, when the city of Los Angeles informed them that the building did not meet the new fire safety standards and could no longer be used as residents.

Ken Murray's Blackouts photo

Ken Murray’s Blackouts

In keeping with tradition of being the entertainment capital of the world, 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. Ken Murray started theater goers laughing on June 24, 1942 when the blackouts burst open at the El Capitan Theatre, formerly of Hollywood Playhouse theater on one street. Murray had spent several months assembling a group of personalities and acts which included Marie Wilson, a shapely comedian, the Nicholas Brothers, a Negro dance team; Connie Russell, singer; Roy Davis, an impersonator who work with a photograph; and several others. The opening night audience, which included such entertainment celebrities as Mae West, Al Jolson, and Rudy Valley, responded favorably today show. Over the course of the next seven years, the Blackouts played to a packed audience every night. Ken Murray's blackouts played in Hollywood continuously until August 27, 1949 when it closed to go to New York. There are many vintage Blackout photos on the website, and all of them are available for purchase.

Vintage photo of Grumman's Chinese Theater

Vintage Hollywood Theater Photos

Hollywood is certainly the entertainment capital of the world. It is also home to some of the most beautiful movie theaters that ever existed. There are five “palace type theaters” on Hollywood Boulevard. The first to be built was Grauman's Egyptian theater. The second was the El Capitan Theatre, built by Charles E. Toberman. The third Palace theater was Grauman's Chinese theater which was almost across the street from the El Capitan. The remaining two theaters were the Pantages theater and the Warner Bros. theater. All of these theaters were spectacularly elaborate an ornate. However, most believe that the Pantages theater was the most ornate of them all. collection has the largest and some of the rarest photos of these Hollywood theaters.

Other Hollywood Photo Categories

As mentioned above, there are more than 90 subject categories on the website. Others include such categories as the Hollywood canteen, the Hollywood bowl, Schwab’s pharmacy, Brown Derby restaurant and Ciros nightclub. All the photographs on the website are available for purchase.



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