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Hollywood Photographs For Sale - Vitagraph Studios

VITAGRAPH STUDIOS

By 1911, the Vitagraph Company, founded by J. Stuart Blackton and Albert E. Smith, was one of the leading motion picture producing companies in the east. Located in Flatbush, Brooklyn, they made one and two reel dramas and westerns using the countryside as their backdrop.  However, they, like other eastern film companies, were plagued by the severe winters which forced them to halt production for several months each year.

Vitagraph photo

Vitagraph Studios In Hollywood

Seeking more “western type” settings and an environment which would allow year-round “shooting”, a troupe, headed by Rollin S. Sturgeon, from Vitagraph left for California on October 23, 1911.  While on the way, an attempt was made to make westerns in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, but results were not satisfactory.  Additional stops were made for two weeks in Colorado Springs and at the Grand Canyon.  The party arrived in Los Angeles on November 23, 1911, and the following day established a studio at 1438 2nd Street in Santa Monica.  They immediately launched a program of making one, two and three reel pictures with such titles as “The Golden Grain”, “The Barriers of Justice” and “Captain Alvarez”.  The company also had a ranch up in the mountains, north of the studio, where frontier scenes were filmed.

Photo of Vitagraph Studio

After five years of residing and filming in Santa Monica, the Vitagraph Company purchased approximately twenty-five acres on Prospect Avenue in East Hollywood and erected an enormous studio.  Shortly after production commenced, the two unnamed streets adjacent to the studio were christened.  Talmadge Street at the lot’s west side was named for one of Vitagraph’s biggest stars, Norma Talmadge.  William Russell, one of the first leading men of the silent screen, gave his name to the street which bounded the studio on the north.

It wasn’t long before Vitagraph was producing 200 films a year with some of Hollywood’s most sought-after stars.  The success of the Hollywood studio caused the company to dismantle the Flatbush facility and move west so as to concentrate its film making activities in one location.

Vitagraph Movies

During the early 20s, there were as many as five hundred people on the lot each day, earning salaries from $100 to $5,000 a week.  Out of the Vitagraph lot in the days of silent pictures came such memorable films as  “Captain Black”, “The Magnificent Ambersons”, “Masters of Men”, “Beloved Brute”, and “Code of the Wilderness”.  Stars like Wallace Beery, Norma Talmadge, Anita Stewart, Larry Semon and Maurice Costello -- to name a comparative handful -- scored outstanding motion picture triumphs at this studio.  

The Vitagraph Company passed out of existence in February of 1925, when Albert E. Smith sold the entire company to Harry Warner of Warner Bros.  The lot was renamed Warner Bros. - Vitagraph Studio and it was here that many of the Warner Bros.-spectacular movies were filmed.  

Vitagraph Studio photo

In 1948 the property was sold to the newly formed American Broadcasting Company (ABC) and the film lot was transformed into the world of television as the ABC Television Center.  ABC’s longest running program, “General Hospital”, has been taped at this location since the mid-1980s. Other classic shows were produced there including, “The Lawrence Welk Show”, “Barney Miller” and “Benson.” Four of television’s best game shows were  recorded at the ABC Television Center: “Family Feud”, “Let’s Make A Deal”, “The Dating Game” and “The Newlywed Game.”

In 1996, ABC became part of the Walt Disney Company and the lot was renamed The Prospect Lot. 

VINTAGE HOLLYWOOD PHOTOS WEBSITE

The largest collection of vintage Hollywood photos is on the hollywoodphotographs.com website.

 

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