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Hollywood Photos Website Part 3 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

While on the train to Los Angeles, they met Mr. Murray Steele, theatrical producer and friend of Mr. Frank Hoover, who was then in the photographic business at the southeast corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Gower Street. Mr. Steele advise Mr. Horsley to call on Mr. Hoover for information on light conditions in Hollywood. This Mr. Horsley did, and the next day he met with Mrs. René Blonde at the sight of her tavern on the northwest corner of Sunset Boulevard and Gower Street. The small tapper was suffering from the drought induced by Hollywood's recent liquor ordinance, but the place had immediate appeal. It had a barn, corral, 12 small rooms built along the fence and a five room bungalow. The corral could be used for the horses used in Western pictures; the barn for properties; the small rooms for dressing areas; and a bungalow for executive quarters.

Horsley signed a lease for two years at $60 per month rent, with the privilege of purchasing the entire property at the end of that. For $9000. The red seemed very high, but it was essential to get started on work immediately.

On Monday, the baggage car with motion picture equipment, consisting of cameras, chemicals and minor properties was  run out to Hollywood over the Pacific electric railway tracks. The small studio was now in business. The schedule was why complete comedy and western a week.  

Up to this point, almost all of the film producing companies were back east and all films were made out of doors. It's so when winter or plan any other in clement weather arrived, film production came to a grinding halt. It was for this reason that the Nestors film company started looking for places where they could  make movies all year long, regardless of the weather.

It wasn't long before other motion picture companies learned of Nestor’s success in making year-round movies. Within a few months of Nestor’s arrival in Hollywood, the migration of other film companies began. Within three years they were more than 15 movie studios in and around Sunset Boulevard and our street.

In 1913, Universal Film Manufacturing company acquired 1299 acres in the San Fernando Valley and in March 1915, Carl Laemmle officially opened his universal city. Also, in 1913, Cecil B DeMille and Jesse Lasky for the Jesse Lasky feature play company. In December 1913,  Cecil B DeMille and film star, Dustin Farnum took the train from New York to Flagstaff Arizona in order to find a suitable location for making movies. Unhappy with that area, they arrived in Hollywood and rented a portion of a small barn at the South East corner of Vine Street and Selma Ave. DeMille moved into one side of the barn while the owner, Mr. Jacob Stern, kept his horses in the other half. The first film to be made was,”The Squaw Man” starring Dustin Farnum. After a while the studio became so successful that it began to expand rapidly, and within 18 months, it occupied the entire block.

Most of the film producing companies that lined both sides of Sunset Boulevard, near Gower Street, went out of business as quickly as they were formed. Due to the lack of distribution, it was impossible for the small companies to become financially profitable. After a while this area became known as poverty row because of the frequency of film companies going out of business. This area was also known as Gower Gulch because of so many Westerns that were made by the small film companies. It wasn't unusual to see scores of drugstore cowboys standing out in front of the studios, waiting to be called in for the days filming.

The Vitagraph Company was one of the leading motion picture producing companies in the East. Located in Flatbush, Brooklyn, they made one and two real dramas and Westerns using the countryside as the backdrop. They too, sought a place in order to film all year long. In 1911 they arrived in Santa Monica California and  began making movies. Five years later they purchased approximately 25 acres at Prospect and Talmadge Avenue’s. The Biograph Company passed out of existence in 1925 when the company was sold to Harry Warner of Warner Bros.

Clune Studio Photo

One of the greatest contributions to the motion picture industry was made by Harry, Jack, Sam and Albert Warner. In 1906, the Warners open their first movie theater in Pennsylvania after a while they decided that the only way to ensure an adequate supply of acceptable pictures was to make them. The brothers Warner left the East Coast in 1917 and rented space on Sunset Boulevard and began making movies. In 1928, the Warner Bros. purchased the First National Studio in Burbank California, thereby making Warner Bros. one of the largest motion picture companies in the world.

Late in 1920, Harry and Jack Cohn decided to enter the film producing business. They made one and true real movies and sold it quickly to provide money for the second. In 1926, after a few years of making shorts and features they acquired the California studio property on N. Gower St. Shortly thereafter they named their company Columbia pictures Corporation.  For the next 50 years, Columbia was one of the largest and most successful movie studios in the world.

Two other major studios in Hollywood were the Fox film Corporation and Metro Goldwyn Mayer. Both of these studios were among the largest and successful movie studios in the world.

The largest collection of movie studio photographs is on the website. In addition to the photos of Hollywood movie studios, are hundreds of vintage movie-making photos. These photos cover more than 100 studios which were located in and around Hollywood.

Vintage Hollywood Hotel Photos

The first real hotel in the  Cahuenga Valley was started by Mr. Horace D. Sackett, whose forbearers came from England in 1631. He arrived in Los Angeles with his family in 1887 and bought three sixty-five foot lots on the southwest corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Kuwait Avenue. The Sackets built the Sackett Hotel, a three-story structure which became the overnight and breakfast place for city visitors from the north, as well as the bachelors roost for the young single blades of the village.

The site of the first unit of the Hollywood Hotel on the northwest corner of Prospect Avenue and Highland Avenue was given to Mr. G. W. Hoover. Mr. Hoover at once started construction on the hotel. Construction of the first unit of 25 rooms of the Hollywood Hotel was completed in February 1903. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Hoover sold the property to Martha Stewart and Mrs. M. J. Anderson, who very capably operated the hotel until May, 1904, when they did it to the Hollywood hotel company for $46,000. One of the largest stockholders of the newly formed company was Myra Hershey, a wealthy member of the Pennsylvania chocolate candy bar family. She took over the management of the hotel in April 1905 an additional 50 rooms were constructed. By 1907, Ms. Hershey had acquired all the stock of the Hollywood hotel company, who placed the deed in her name. A few months later, in 1908, she added an additional 50 rooms bringing  the total to 125 rooms.

During the ensuing years, the hotel became the social center of Hollywood. Stars of the silent films romped and romance in its “Dining Room of the Stars”. The hotel register boasted of such celebrities as Dustin and William Farnum, Douglas Fairbanks, Anita Stewart, Lon Chaney, Pola Negri and Norma Shearer.

Photo of the Hollywood Hotel

When Miss Hershey passed away in 1930, she left the hotel to her heirs, who later sold it to c.E. Toberman in 1947.

As Hollywood grew in popularity and size, there was a greater need for more hotels. In 1927, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel opened its doors to the public. Built by C. E. Toberman, the hotel was one of the most modern and beautiful establishments of its kind. It was here in the Blossom Room, in 1929, that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences held it’s first presentations of “Oscar”. 

One of the most famous, and infamous, hotels was the Garden Of Allah Hotel located on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Heights Boulevard.  Built by Alla Nazimova and completed in January 1927, the hotel opened with an 18 hour party.  The Garden of Allah Hotel was a sanctuary for many of Hollywood's famous celebrities. In the late 32 year span of its life, the hotel witnessed robbery, murder, drunkenness, despair, divorce, orgies, fights and suicides. Those who frequented the famous hotel included Ramon Navarro, Errol Flynn, F Scott Fitzgerald, Sheila Graham and Robert Benchley. By the 1950s the hotel had gained such a questionable reputation that many of these celebrities no longer wish to stay there. In 1959, after years of operating in the red, the hotel was sold to Lytton savings and loan to demolish the building and built its executive offices.

Other popular Hollywood hotels included the Hollywood Knickerbocker, Christie hotel and the Hollywood Plaza Hotel.  Many vintage photos of the Hollywood hotels can be found on the website.

Hollywood Ranch Market Photos

In February, 1929 Hollywood saw the opening of the Mandarin market on the northeast corner of Vine Street and La Mirada Ave. Design of our Chinese architectural style, the drive-in market had to fully enclosed stores in addition to the customary stalls up for fruits and vegetables. Success was short-lived from the small market closed in 1933.  the

Hollywood Ranch Market Photo

structurestayed vacant until 1936 when Nate Gilbert and Larry Frederick purchased the property. After months of remodeling and expanding the property, the Hollywood Ranch Market opened its doors to the public. The Hollywood Ranch market had the distinction of being the first to establish a self service market which was open 24 hours a day. Their motto was “We Never Close”. In addition, the snack bar on Vine Street was a popular gathering place where many celebrities because it was just down the street from some of the radio and television studios. It wasn't unusual to see such personalities as Frank Sinatra, red Skelton and Steve Allen at the Hollywood Ranch market’s Snack bar. In 1980, the market was destroyed by a fire and the building demolished in 1982.

Hollywood Canteen Photos

After the start of World War II, several people in New York’s entertainment world started the Stage Door Canteen. The purpose of the Canteen was to provide a place for servicemen to go, when in New York.  While in New York, actor John Garfield visited the Stage Door Canteen.  Upon returning to Hollywood, he met actress, Bette Davis in Warner Bros’ commissary.  He explained what he saw in New York and said Hollywood needed its own Canteen. After a long conversation, he convinced her to become the President of the Hollywood Canteen. Shortly thereafter, she visited her agent, Dr. Jules Stein, to invite him to become part of Canteen.  Initially, he declined but after she assured him that he could stay in the background, he agreed. She needed him for his keen business acumen.

Photo of the Hollywood Canteen

In April, 1942, Garfield and Davis located a former nightclub, at 1451 N. Cahuenga Ave. and leased the building for $100 a month, for the duration of the war, plus six months. When word got out about the Hollywood Canteen, all of the entertainment guilds, unions and trade associations volunteered their time to refurbish and rebuild the former nightclub. After months of construction, the building was ready to be opened to the public.

The Hollywood Canteen was for the exclusive use by servicemen and servicewomen.  The only civilians allowed in the Canteen were the volunteers, that were employed in the entertainment business. Before the Canteen opened its doors, thousands of entertainment employees signed up to volunteer to operate the Hollywood Canteen.

The famous canteen opened on October 3, 1942 with Eddie Cantor as master of ceremonies. The grand opening was fashioned in the same manner of a premier at the Chinese theater, for bands entertained including Kay Kaiser's band. The uniform of any branch of service in the United Nations forces was an admission ticket to the canteen. All those in civilian dress were helpers or entertainers, duly fingerprinted and registered. Fire regulations limited capacity to 500 at a time, however, 2000 men a night was the average.

Servicemen were treated to free food, free cigarettes, free autographs and free entertainment. The most popular activity, at the canteen, was dancing with some of the most beautiful women in the world. It was not uncommon to have some of Hollywood's most beautiful and talented celebrities dancing with the visiting servicemen. The female volunteers included  actresses, studio employees, radio employees and legitimate stage employees. Among some of the actresses who volunteered to dance with the servicemen, included such  celebrities as Deanna Durbin, Joan Leslie, Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner and hundreds more.

Over the course of the three-year war, more than 3 million servicemen walked through the Hollywood canteen’s doors. the famous Hollywood canteen closed its doors on Thanksgiving day, 1945.

Bruce Torrence, owner of the website, and Lisa Mitchell wrote and published the book, The Hollywood Canteen, which chronicles the history of the famous canteen.  The book contains more than 300 vintage photographs of the interior, exterior, and various activities that took place at the canteen. Hundreds of Hollywood canteen photographs can be viewed on the website.





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