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Hollywood Photos Website #4 Website Part #4

Ken Murray’s Blackouts Photos

The 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

Murray 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; and many other entertainment groups. The show was patterned after the old vaudeville acts, but with a certain amount of sophistication that appeal to the audience.

The opening night audience included such personalities and celebrities as Al Jolson, Rudy Vallee, and Mae West. Unfortunately, the next days reviews of the show were not very encouraging. However, the critics reviews did not discourage the season performers, in fact, it seemed to strengthen their desire to succeed. Ken Murray instituted some minor revisions which seem to appeal to the audience and its critics. After losing money for the first three or four weeks, the Blackouts began to turn a profit.

Ken Murray highlighted many remarkable acts but his real star was Marie Wilson. Playing a dumb blonde, she pitched the laughs with Murray, whose jokes were usually directed at her well endowed figure. Even though she was used in some rather provocative skits, they never went beyond the bounds of good taste. She performed in 3126 consecutive performances without missing a single show.

After more than seven years of continuing performances, Ken Murray's blackouts had its last Hollywood performance on August 27, 1949, when it closed to go to New York.

Hollywood Bowl Photos

The first Hollywood Easter sunrise service at the Hollywood Bowl was held in 1920 at Olive Hill, now known as Barnsdall Park.  Because of its success, Artie Mason Carter could hardly wait for the spring of 1921 to arrive. As president of the Hollywood community chorus, Ms. Carter saw a larger setting for the 1921 sunrise service. Why not the Hollywood bowl? With the blessing of the community Park and Park Association, she set forth to arrange the program. A crude stage or platform was set up on the ungraded floor of the canyon. The orchestra assembled in the darkness of the slumbering hills on March 27, 1921, and played under the direction of Mr. Rothwell.

Hollywood Bowl Photo

Thrilled with the overwhelming success of the Hollywood bowl's first Easter sunrise service, she was granted permission to plan and produce a series of outdoor concerts during the summer, at $.25 a seat. One of the first tasks was to transform the rough terrain so as to accommodate a stage and seating area. This effort cannot be appreciated in this day of bulldozers and earth-movers. Pics, shovels and backbreaking human effort were used to clear off the dance underbrush. Longwood benches workplace on the crudely grated hillside while a wooden platform was constructed for the chorus and orchestra. It wasn't until 1922 that a canvas canopy was used to cover the orchestra’s platform. By August, the work was completed.

In August 1921, the Los Angeles Municipal symphonic band, directed by Antonio Sarsi, performed at the first official symphony concert at the Hollywood bowl.

Over the course of the next eight years, several stages or shells adorned the Hollywood bowl.  The shell that was erected in 1929 lasted for almost 50 years. The Hollywood Bowl has hosted some of the most talented entertainers the world is ever seen, including, Nat King Cole, the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand and hundreds of others. Today, the Hollywood bowl remains one of this country's finest  entertainment venues.

Masquers Club Photos

By the 1920s, the motion picture business was, unquestionably, the primary industry in Hollywood. However, the actors did not have their own club where they could rendezvous and fraternize with each other. They actors, who were transplanted from Broadway in New York, met on April 19, 1925 with the common goal in mind — to form an all-male theatrical club. The first general meeting and election of officers of the Masquer's Club was held on May 25, and that date became the official birthday of the Masquers club. “ This shall be a theatrical club of love, loyalty and laughter!”, Declared Robert Edeson, who became the first Harlequin the name masters the stowed on their presidents. Then, proposing a toast, he stated, “ to the Masters!  We laughed to win.” That phrase became the model of the club, which spent its first two years in a house at Yucca and the cabin streets. In 1927, Antonio Morino presented the club with an English style house. Located at 1765 North Sycamore Ave., it continued to be the home of the Masters.

In the old days, and it's still true today, the dispensing of food and drink was essential to the club. Members working at the many studios which used to dot Hollywood, would come by for lunch in costume and makeup. Early in the 1930s, both popular reviews and legitimate place began to be staged at the club.

In the late 1940s, with the court induced break up of large theater chains and the advent of television, the momentum started that was to change the face of Hollywood, spelling the end of the big studio system which had nurtured the Masquers. That same momentum also change the club.

In 1950, women began to invade the here to for all male sanctuary in numbers that could not be missed. (The ban had been extended to theatrical productions and, like their Elizabethan counterparts, the Masquers had cast men in women's roles). In addition, more and more non-show business faces began to be saying around the club -  80% of the members still are involved in some form of entertainment business -  and the practice of ranking club facilities to outside groups also began. Later, it began to lunch in place of various business and civic organizations.

By the late 1970s, the club’s membership had dropped, primarily due to the death of many of its older members. As a result, the Masquers Club experiencing financial difficulties.  For the last several years, the club barely stayed one step in front of the bill collectors.  In the early 1980s, the club was in big trouble. The organization was struggling with monthly mortgage payments of $2,200.  With low membership and with dues at $10 per month, the club was destined to failure.  The club even opened the dining room to the public and rented the building for private parties. In early 1884, the clubhouse was in foreclosure.  Anthony Caruso, the club’s president, stated that if the clubhouse could be sold for $650,000, then the Masquers could payoff its bills and have enough to relocate. Sometime in mid-1984, the club entered into escrow with Urban Pacific Development Corp.  On Saturday night, April 28, 1984, the members held a final wake for the clubhouse.  After a nine-month escrow, the property was transferred to the new owners in April, 1985.

Hollywood Studio Club Photos

One of Hollywood's most charitable organizations was the Hollywood studio club. Prior to the motion picture industry settling in Hollywood, this small community was just like any other small town in America. But once the film industry discovered Hollywood, the sleepy little community was inundated with hundreds of young girls hoping to make it big in the movies. Early in 1916 a group of these young ladies gathered, regularly, in the basement of the Hollywood public library to read plays together. Many of these girls were strangers, lonely as a young girl in a strange city can be, and often they were terribly discouraged.

Hollywood Studio Club photo

The librarian, Miss Elinor Jones, became concerned about the welfare of these young girls, particularly, when she learned that most of them were living in poorly supervised boarding houses and cheap hotels. Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Charles Richmond went to the YWCA for assistance in finding a place where the girls could meet, dance, have a gym, and other forms of entertainment.

The funds for the first years rent for a clubhouse at 6129 Carlos Ave., were raised in less than one hour at a businessmen's lunch. The building accommodated 10 girls who could live in the clubhouse. This was the founding of the Hollywood studio club. As more and more girls came to Hollywood seeking fame and fortune, the need for a larger facility became more essential. 10 years after its founding, the club moved into a gorgeous three-story Mediterranean structure at 1215 Lodi place. When the new building was announced, with Mrs. Cecil B DeMille as chairman of the committee, the film industry lined up solidly behind her. Plaques over some of the doors explained that the rooms were built and furnished by the likes of Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Howard Hughes, Marion Davies and Gloria Swanson. The building had a capacity for 94 girls. Practically from the first day, it was filled to capacity and had a long waiting list.  It should be mentioned that Miss  Marjorie Williams had the honor and distinction of being the clubs supervising manager for many many years.

During its nearly 60 years of service, the Hollywood studio club, remained under the auspices of the  YWCA, and was the temporary home to such stars as Marie Windsor, Marilyn Monroe, Dorothy Malone, Gale storm, Linda Darnell, Barbara Hale, Barbara Eden, Kim Novak, Evelyn Keyes Peggy Dow, just to name a few.

Photograph of the Hollywood Studio Club

The club and the building found it self-serving a large number of women who were homeless and jobless with no place to turn -  so the financial troubles continue. The class problems were further compounded in 1975 when the city of Los Angeles and forbid that they could no longer use the building as a residence because it did not meet a new fire safety standards. With this devastating blow, the world-famous Hollywood studio club was forced to close its doors after 59 years of generous service to the community.

There are hundreds of rare and vintage Hollywood Studio Club photographs on the website.






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