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Vintage and Historical Hollywood Photos

Vintage and Historical Hollywood Photos

With more than 12,000 vintage and historical Hollywood photos, the website is the largest collection in the world.

Navigating the collection is extremely easy and visitors can choose from more than 90 subject categories of photographs. Some of the earliest photos, in the collection, date back to 1880, when Hollywood was known as the Cahuenga Valley. The collection is like a large time capsule with photos taken over the course of the past 130 years.

Some of the categories include photos of Hollywood's only airfields, located at Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue. There were two airfields at this intersection -- DeMille Field #2 and the Chaplin Aerodrome.  Other categories include such famous places as the Brown Derby restaurant, the Garden of Allah Hotel, Griffith Observatory, Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood studio club, Schwab's pharmacy, and many many more.

Vintage Hollywoodland sign photos

Hollywood Sign Photos

Certainly, one of the most popular categories is the Hollywood sign. Erected in 1923 by the Hollywoodland development company, the sign was meant to be an advertising gimmick for the real estate tract. It was, unquestionably, the largest sign ever erected in the country. From the inception, the sign was lighted with 3800, 20 watt light bulbs that lined the outside of each letter. When the lights were turned on the first five letters with illuminated, then the next four were illuminated and then the last four were eliminated. Then the entire sign was illuminated. Once done, the process started all over again. The person responsible for changing the light bulbs was Albert Kothe who used a ladder, at the back of each letter, to climb and change the bulbs. It's estimated that the sign was lighted for approximately 5 years, after which there was no more illumination.

One of the most tragic events to take place at the Hollywoodland sign was the suicide of Millicent “Peg” Entwistle. Apparently, despondent over her acting career, she climbed to the top of the letter H, in 1932, and jumped.

26 years after the sign was erected, the sign was in extreme disrepair. In addition a windstorm knocked down the letter H in 1949. The County of Los Angeles wanted to demolish the sign but the residence of Hollywood strongly objected. The Chamber of Commerce led a campaign to save the sign and habit restored. The letter H was rebuilt, the last four letters removed and the rest of the sign was refurbished. Ever since then, the sign is always read Hollywood.

Over the course of the next 30 years the sign was repaired several times. However by 1978, it was realized that the old sign needed to be demolished and a new sign erected in the same location. After months of construction, the new sign was unveiled in November 1978.

There are thousands of vintage Hollywood sign photos on the website and all are available for purchase.

Historic Grauman's Chinese Theater photo

Grauman's Chinese Theater

Without question, the Grauman's Chinese theater on Hollywood Boulevard is the most famous theater in America. Built in 1927, by Charles E. Toberman, the theater has become Hollywood's most popular tourist attraction. Scores of movie premieres have been held at this theater, much to the delight of Hollywood residents.

During the final days of construction of Grauman's Chinese theater, said Grauman came up with the idea of having celebrities place their hand, footprints and signatures in wet cement in the theaters large forecourt. The first to do so were Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. They arrived at the theater in April 1927 and after practicing for a while, they made their impressions in the wet cement. The second celebrity to have their hand and foot prints immortalized in the forecourt was Norma Talmadge.  Since then, hundreds of celebrities have placed their impressions in the theater’s forecourt. The cement mason, who was responsible for formulating the extremely hard cement, was Jean Klossner. It was he who mixed the cement and assisted the celebrities in making their impressions.  Unfortunately, he took his formula to the grave.

The largest collection of Grauman's Chinese theater photos and hand and footprint photos is on the website.

Historic Hollywood Canteen photographs

The Hollywood Canteen

The Hollywood Canteen was the most popular place for servicemen to visit, in Hollywood, during the second world war. Founded by Bette Davis and John Garfield, the Hollywood canteen opened its doors on October 3, 1942. Servicemen from all branches of the service, including servicemen from other countries, were welcomed at the canteen.

The only people allowed to volunteer at the Hollywood Canteen were those who were employed in the entertainment business.  Actors, actresses, stuntmen, studio personnel, radio employees, stage workers, etc. volunteered their time at the Hollywood Canteen.  

Everything at the Hollywood canteen was free to the visiting servicemen. All food, beverages, cigarettes, etc. were given to the servicemen, free of charge. The three main activities, at the Hollywood canteen, were dancing, obtaining autographs from celebrities and entertainment. At least two orchestras played each night so that the servicemen could dance with the beautiful volunteers, many of whom were popular actresses. Every celebrity who volunteered was delighted to sign the servicemen's autograph books.

Many of Hollywood's most popular and famous celebrities got up on stage to entertain the visiting servicemen. Entertainers such as Mickey Rooney, Red Skelton, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dinah Shore and Joan Leslie regularly entertained the serviceman.

Without question the largest collection of Hollywood Canteen photos is on the website. There are more than 400 vintage and rare Canteen photos.

Vintage Earl Carroll Theater photo

Earl Carroll Theater

One of New York's most popular shows was Earl Carroll's vanities revue. The production, which ran from 1923 to 1936 was, in actuality, a refined burlesque show that was continuously raided by the police. Closing and reopening began to take its financial toll. With his fortune adding because of high court costs and production costs, Earl Carroll left New York.

After arriving in Hollywood in 1936 and finding sufficient financial backing, he opened the Earl Carroll Theatre at Sunset Boulevard  and Argyle Avenue on December 26, 1938. Opening night was one of the most dazzling events Hollywood had ever seen. Countless celebrities and professional leaders attended the colorful premier, while hundreds of spectators stood outside the hitter to watch their favorite stars drive up to the entrance.

The star-studded pageant included such personalities as Marlene Dietrich, Delores Del Rio, Carole Lombard, Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, and Claudette Colbert. The production, which emphasize the beauty of the partially clad female form, boasted of a cast of 60 showgirls. Carroll, who selected each of the cast members, adopted the slogan “through these doors pass the most beautiful girls in the world.” The motto later became inscribed in neon lights on the outside of the building. The shallow, headed by Beryl Wallace, became an immediate success and later developed such personalities as Yvonne DeCarlo, Jean Wallace, Sheree North and Marie MacDonald.

Slightly less than a decade after it was started the production came to a tragic and when Earl Carroll and Beryl Wallace were killed in an airplane accident in Pennsylvania on June 17, 1948.

There are scores of Earl Carroll theater photos on the website and all are available for purchase.




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