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Historical Hollywood Photos Website

Vintage Hollywood Photographs

Hollywood's history is displayed in thousands of historical Hollywood photos on the website. These vintage Hollywood images date from 1879 to 2000 and cover more than 90 subject categories.


The collection was started in 1972 with about 30 photographs from Bruce Torrence's  grandfather, Charles E Toberman. During the 40 years since he started collecting, Bruce has amassed more than 12,000 photographs of old Hollywood. In addition there are hundreds of books, brochures, periodicals and memorabilia of Hollywood.

When the collection was first started, Bruce made the collection available to the public, who purchased copies of photos for various purposes. Visitors would come to the collection offices and browse through the many photos that were kept in metal filing cabinets. In about the year 2000, the Internet started to become popular. Bruce began scanning thousands of photographs and developed a website called Hollywood It wasn't long before the public began noticing the availability of old Hollywood photos on the Internet. Today the collection receives photograph orders from people and companies all over the world.

There are actually two Hollywood's. There's Hollywood, the community, and there's Hollywood the movie industry. The Hollywood collection consists primarily of photos of the community, however, there are thousands of photos of celebrities, movie studios and movie making images.

Naming Hollywood

Prior to the motion picture industry settling in Hollywood, the community consisted of single-family residences, small ranches, farms and orchards. In 1886 Mr. Harvey Wilcox, and his wife, Daeida, purchased 120 acres in the Cahuenga Valley near the intersection of Cahuenga Avenue and Prospect Avenue. The following year, Mrs. Wilcox, they either traveled by train to her old home in the East. While on the train Mrs. Wilcox met a woman who described her summer home which she called Hollywood. When Mrs. Wilcox returned to the Cahuenga Valley she prevailed on her husband to name their little farm Hollywood. In 1887, Mr. Wilcox recorded the first real estate tract map and he called the subdivision Hollywood.  Hollywood Boulevard was originally called Prospect Ave/

The old Hollywood photos, in the collection, include images of the Hollywood Brown Derby, the Hollywood Hotel, Pan Pacific Auditorium.


Hollywood Brown Derby Photographs

The first Brown Derby was founded by Herbert K. Somborn in 1926, and was located at 3427 Wilshire Blvd. What made it so unique was that the building was in the shape of a derby hat. Because the restaurant was so popular, Mr. Somborn opened a second restaurant on Valentine's Day, 1929, at 1628 North Vine St. in Hollywood. Unlike the first restaurant, the building was of Spanish mission style. With in a very short period, this restaurant also became very popular with, not only, the general public, but also with many movie celebrities. Shortly after the Hollywood Brown Derby opened, Mr. Somborn hired Robert H Cobb as combination steward, buyer, and occasional cook. After Mr. Somborn’s death, in 1934, Mr. Cobb became the owner of the two Brown Derby restaurants. It was Mr. Cobb who developed the recipe for the very famous Cobb salad.

Over the course of the next 50 years, two additional Brown Derby restaurants were established. The first was in Beverly Hills and the second was located in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles. Of the four restaurants, the Hollywood location was by far, the most popular. The Hollywood Brown Derby closed in 1985, was destroyed by fire in 1987, and demolished in 1994.


Hollywood Hotel Photos

The Hollywood Hotel was one of Hollywood's earliest and most popular hotels. Mr. George Hoover built the first unit of 25 rooms of the Hollywood Hotel in February 1903. Shortly thereafter he sold the property to Mrs. Anderson and Martha Stewart who managed the hotel until May 1904. They deeded the property to Miss Myra Hershey, a wealthy member of the Pennsylvania chocolate candy bar family. She took over the management of the hotel, and in April 1905, she added an additional 50 rooms. Three years later she added an additional 50 rooms bringing the total number to 125.

Many celebrities stayed at the hotel including such notables as Rudolph Valentino, Jean Acker, Lon Chaney, Dustin Farnum, Pola Negri and Norma Shearer. The Louella Parsons broadcasted many of her radio shows from the Hollywood Hotel and she interviewed the Who's Who in the entertainment industry. By the 1950s, the hotel was beginning to show signs of its age – – and got to the point where it could not compete with the newer hotels in Hollywood. The old hotel fell to the wrecker's ball in 1956. Old Hollywood Hotel photos can be found on the Hollywood website.


Pan Pacific Auditorium Photographs

The Pan Pacific Auditorium opened its doors in 1935 and was located on Beverly Boulevard near Fairfax Avenue. For over 40 years the Pan Pacific Auditorium was the premier location for indoor events in Los Angeles. It was the site where the annual auto show was held and where automobile manufacturers would show off their new line of cars. The Pan Pacific Auditorium was also the location where basketball games were held, including performances by the Harlem Globetrotters. One of the most popular events, held at the Pan Pacific Auditorium, was the Ice Capades. Held every year, the Ice Capades included some of the finest ice skaters in the world. Many concerts were held at the Pan Pacific, including a performance by Elvis Presley who performed there in 1957. By the 1980s the auditorium was showing its age. It continued to deteriorate throughout the 1980s, mostly owing to neglect. A fire in May 1983 damaged the North and on May 24, 1989, the Pan Pac  ific Auditorium was destroyed by a spectacular fire. The only thing left standing was the entrance façade.

The largest collection of historical Hollywood photos is on the Hollywood website. All photographs, on the site arr available for purchase.



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