Studios


Contrary to popular belief, the motion picture industry did not have its roots in Hollywood or even Southern California. This soon to be "magical" business had its origin in both Chicago and the environs of New York City. Companies such as Edison, Selig Polyscope, Lubin, Thanhouser, Jesse Lasky Feature Play, Vitagraph, New York Motion Picture Company, Kalem, Essanay, and Biograph all had their headquarters and their first studios "back east." One of the most severe problems of making movies back east was inclement weather. Because almost all early movies making was made outdoors, inclement weather shut production down. When winter set in, film production slowed dramatically. When William Selig's Polyscope company first sent a troupe of actors to the west coast, word spread quickly that the weather in Southern California was perfect for making movies. It wasn't long before there was a migration of production units heading to the west coast. As more and more companies established permanent studios in Southern California, and particularly in the Hollywood area, it became clear that the center of this burgeoning industry was going to be on the west coast. When west coast studios began equipping their plants with the necessary film processing laboratories, it was no longer necessary to send the negatives back east. By the mid-teens, most film companies were abandoning their eastern studios and moving their headquarters to the west coast. It didn't take long before Hollywood was known as the motion picture capital of the world. The first studios consisted of a hodgepodge of ramshackle buildings which were usually converted barns, stores, warehouses, offices, etc. The motion picture industry was still in the experimental stage and most of the film producers could not afford to erect large new facilities. Typically, an early studio consisted of a building which contained offices, storage for costumes and props, rooms for processing film, and the company's laboratory. The filming was done outdoors. Movable walls and props were erected on wood platforms. To regulate the sometimes intense sunlight, sheets of muslin were draped on guide wires over the platform. By merely adjusting the muslin, the intensity of the light on the stage, could be controlled. The distinction of having established the first motion picture studio in Hollywood goes to the Nestor Film Company of Bayonne, New Jersey and Staten Island, New York. The company was started by David Horsley and Charles Gorman in 1907 and was originally called the Cenatur Film Company. Their first picture was "The Cowboy's Escapade", a one reeler released in September, 1908. They produced a series of short films during the next two years but were frequently harassed by the Trust's detectives. Not wishing to continue the challenge, Gorman sold his interest to his partner's brother, William. The Brothers reorganized the company and the Nestor Film Company was born. On October 27, 1911, a troupe of forty members of this film company arrived in Los Angeles to produce the "Nestor" brand of films. The personnel of the company included David Horsley, proprietor of the concern; Al Christie, business manager and director of comedies; Tom Ricketts, dramatic director; Milton Fahrney, director of westerns; John Nichalaus, chief cameraman and laboratory expert; Thomas Briely, carpenter; Lloyd Briely, his assistant; Walter Prichard, cameraman; Tom Evans, cameraman; Henry Moraine, properties; Arthur Rose and J. Murphy, his assistants. The cast of players included Josephine Ditt (Mrs. Thomas Ricketts), Dorothy Davenport (Mrs. Walter Reid), and her mother, Eugenie Forde, Miss Victoria Forde, Alexandria Phillips (Mrs. Milton Fahrney), Jack Conway, Russell Bassett, Harold Lockwood, George Osburns, William Rhyno, Leo Malony, Horace Davey and Gordon Sackville. While on the train to Los Angeles, they met Mr. Murray Steele, theatrical producer and a friend of Mr. Frank Hoover, who was in the photographic business at the southeast corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Gower Street, in Hollywood. Mr. Steele advised Mr. Horsley to call on Mr. Hoover for potential studio sites in Hollywood. This Mr. Horsley did, and was shown the former Cahuenga House (also known as the Blondeau Tavern) on the northwest corner of Sunset Boulevard and Gower Street. The small roadhouse, which was then being leased to the Maier Brewing Company, was suffering from the drought induced by Hollywood's recent liquor ordinance, but the place had immediate appeal as a studio. It had a barn, corral, twelve small rooms built along the fence and a five room bungalow. The corral could stable horses used in western pictures; the small rooms could become dressing areas and bedrooms for the staff and the bungalow was perfect for utive quarters. Located seven miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood was originally known as the Cahuenga Valley. With a population of about 3,500 people, it was situated in the Frostless Belt and had orange and lemon groves stretching across the valley. The climate of Southern California and particularly Hollywood was attractive to Nestor and those who later followed them. In his book, "The History of Hollywood", Dr. Edwin O. Palmer wrote that Hollywood had " faultless weather and never accompanied by unpleasant wind." This "faultless" weather meant that production companies didn't have to reduce or curtail filming because of inclement weather. The honor of naming Hollywood goes to Daeida Wilcox who, in 1886, named her one hundred and twenty acre Cahuenga Valley ranch, "Hollywood." The residents of this small, rural area were so fond of the name that when they incorporated their community in 1903, they named it the City of Hollywood. During the first year of incorporation, the Board of Trustees enacted several ordinances including, "prohibiting the sale of liquor except by pharmacist or prescription" and "prohibiting drunkenness and disorderly conduct, and keeping of disorderly houses. " Seven years later and one year before the Nestor Film Company arrived in Hollywood, the residents voted to annex their town to the City of Los Angeles. Horsley leased the tavern from the Maier Brewing Company for $30 per month and on Monday, the baggage car with motion picture equipment, consisting of three cameras, chemicals and minor properties, was transported to Hollywood over the Pacific Electric railway tracks. By night, everything was unloaded and the company was ready to shoot. The pioneer company was allowed a budget of $1,200 a week, which came in regularly from New York. On this bankroll, three complete moving pictures were supposed to be filmed each week - a western, and "eastern" and a comedy. There wasn't time nor money to have a print made to run off for the benefit of the members of the company. The only negative was shipped off to New York. It was two or three months later that troupe saw the benefit of their labors when the finished movie came around to Tally's Theater in Los Angeles. In the evenings, the director and other members of the troupe would write stories at home, jotting down the number of feet which could be spared for each scene. In the morning, they rehearsed the scenes, timing it with a stopwatch. When they had the scene boiled down to the proper number of minutes and feet of film, they loaded the camera and began filming. The first stage consisted of a wooden platform about forty feet square. Because most scenes were filmed outdoors, large sheets of muslin were suspended over the stage to diffuse the sunlight. On occasion, when two production companies tried to shoot on the same stage, one back drop was built on the north side and one on the east side of the stage. Everything worked fine unless someone from one production unit inadvertently walked onto the stage of the other unit. The first picture made at Hollywood's first studio was "The Law Of The Range", written by Alexandria Fahrney, and directed by her husband Milton. Other early films produced by Nestor included "Her Indian Hero", the "Mutt and Jeff" and "Desperate Desmond" series. Shortly after their arrival in Hollywood, the Nestor Film Company discovered that they could churn out picture after picture, with few delays from bad weather. Many companies, enduring the erratic climate of the East, marveled at Nestor's steady output and improved photographic quality and came out to California to learn the secret. Within three years, there were fifteen companies shooting in, and around, Hollywood. Similar photos can be seen on the radio and television cagtegory.

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Affiliated Studios
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Anthony Quinn has make up applied for his role as Quasimoto in Allied Artist's Huntchback of Notre Dame
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Amalgamated Studios
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Amalgamated Studios at Sunset & Gower
StudiosAffiliated Studios
STU-001-1
1935
StudiosAnthony Quinn has make up applied for his role as Quasimoto in Allied Artist's Huntchback of Notre Dame
STU-002-1
1957
StudiosAmalgamated Studios
STU-003-1
1935
StudiosAmalgamated Studios at Sunset & Gower
STU-003-2
1936
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American film Co. In Santa Barbara, CA
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American Film Co. Studios
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American Film Co. in Santa Barbara
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American Film Co. in Santa Barbara
StudiosAmerican film Co. In Santa Barbara, CA
STU-004-2
1914
StudiosAmerican Film Co. Studios
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1915
StudiosAmerican Film Co. in Santa Barbara
STU-004-4
1917
StudiosAmerican Film Co. in Santa Barbara
STU-004-5
1917
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American Film Co. in Santa Barbara, CA
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Aerial photo of American Film Co. Studios
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AMERICAN FILM CO. STUDIO IN SANTA BARBARA, CA
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American Film Co. Studios
StudiosAmerican Film Co. in Santa Barbara, CA
STU-004-6
1918
StudiosAerial photo of American Film Co. Studios
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1919
StudiosAMERICAN FILM CO. STUDIO IN SANTA BARBARA, CA
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1919
StudiosAmerican Film Co. Studios
STU-004-9
1919
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The American Film Company in Santa Barbara, Calif
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The courtyard at the Americn Film Company in Santa Barbara, California
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 ASTRA STUDIO
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Balboa Feature Film's western town located on Signal Hill
StudiosThe American Film Company in Santa Barbara, Calif
STU-004-11
1917
StudiosThe courtyard at the Americn Film Company in Santa Barbara, California
STU-004-11
1919
Studios ASTRA STUDIO
STU-005-1
1920
StudiosBalboa Feature Film's western town located on Signal Hill
STU-006-1
1916
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Two photos of Balboa Feature Film Studios in Long Beach, Calif.  Photos are from a magazine
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Full page ad in Motion Picture Magazine of Balboa Feature Film
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Balboa Studios in Long Beach, CA
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Balboa Studios in Long Beach, CA
StudiosTwo photos of Balboa Feature Film Studios in Long Beach, Calif. Photos are from a magazine
STU-006-2
1917
StudiosFull page ad in Motion Picture Magazine of Balboa Feature Film
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1917
StudiosBalboa Studios in Long Beach, CA
STU-006-4
1918
StudiosBalboa Studios in Long Beach, CA
STU-006-5
1918
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BALBOA STUDIO
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Balboa Studios in Long Beach, CA
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David Horsley Studios and Bostock Jungle Film Co. Studios in L.A.
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David Horsley Studios and Bostock Jungle Film Co.
StudiosBALBOA STUDIO
STU-006-6
1919
StudiosBalboa Studios in Long Beach, CA
STU-006-7
1914
StudiosDavid Horsley Studios and Bostock Jungle Film Co. Studios in L.A.
STU-009-1
1916
StudiosDavid Horsley Studios and Bostock Jungle Film Co.
STU-009-2
1916
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David Horsley Studios & Bostock Jungle Film Co.Studios
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Robert Brunton Studios on Melrose Ave.
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Robert Brunton Studios at Melrose Ave. & Bronson Ave
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Brunton Studio & Clune Producing Film Co. on Melrose Ave.
StudiosDavid Horsley Studios & Bostock Jungle Film Co.Studios
STU-009-3
1916
StudiosRobert Brunton Studios on Melrose Ave.
STU-010-1
1919
StudiosRobert Brunton Studios at Melrose Ave. & Bronson Ave
STU-010-2
1919
StudiosBrunton Studio & Clune Producing Film Co. on Melrose Ave.
STU-010-3
1919
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Brunton Studios on Melrose Ave.
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Robert Brunton Studios on Melrose Ave.
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Robert Brunton Studios at Melrose & Brunson Ave.
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Movie sets and parking lot at Brunton Studio on Melrose Ave.
StudiosBrunton Studios on Melrose Ave.
STU-010-5
1919
StudiosRobert Brunton Studios on Melrose Ave.
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1919
StudiosRobert Brunton Studios at Melrose & Brunson Ave.
STU-010-7
1920
StudiosMovie sets and parking lot at Brunton Studio on Melrose Ave.
STU-010-8
1920
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Brunton Studios and Robinson Cole Studios
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Robert Brunton Studios on Melrose Ave.
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Robert Brunton Studios
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Robert Brunton Studios on Melrose Ave.
StudiosBrunton Studios and Robinson Cole Studios
STU-010-9
1921
StudiosRobert Brunton Studios on Melrose Ave.
STU-010-10
1921
StudiosRobert Brunton Studios
STU-010-11
1921
StudiosRobert Brunton Studios on Melrose Ave.
STU-010-12
1921
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Robert Brunton Studios on Melrose Ave.
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Burston Film Co.
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Burston Film Co. ad
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The California Studios (left) and the Bischoff Inc. Studio (right) was located on Gower St., just south of Sunset Blvd. Owned by Sam Bischoff, the studio was the home H.C. Witwer & Gold Medal Comedies.
StudiosRobert Brunton Studios on Melrose Ave.
STU-010-13
1921
StudiosBurston Film Co.
STU-011-1
1920
StudiosBurston Film Co. ad
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1920
StudiosThe California Studios (left) and the Bischoff Inc. Studio (right) was located on Gower St., just south of Sunset Blvd. Owned by Sam Bischoff, the studio was the home H.C. Witwer & Gold Medal Comedies.
STU-012-1
1925
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CENTURY FILM CO. STUDIO
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Century Film Co. Studio fire
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Fire at the Century Film Co. on Sunset Blvd.
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Aerial photo of Charles Chaplin Studios
StudiosCENTURY FILM CO. STUDIO
STU-014-1
1921
StudiosCentury Film Co. Studio fire
STU-014-2
1926
StudiosFire at the Century Film Co. on Sunset Blvd.
STU-014-3
1926
StudiosAerial photo of Charles Chaplin Studios
STU-015-2
1920
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Snow at Charles Chaplin Studios on La Brea Ave.
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Snow on La Brea Ave. at Charles Chaplin Studios
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Chaplin Studios floorplan
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Aerial photo of Charles Chaplin Studio on La Brea Ave. at
Sunset Blvd.
StudiosSnow at Charles Chaplin Studios on La Brea Ave.
STU-015-3
Jan. 22, 1921
StudiosSnow on La Brea Ave. at Charles Chaplin Studios
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Jan. 22, 1921
StudiosChaplin Studios floorplan
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1921
StudiosAerial photo of Charles Chaplin Studio on La Brea Ave. at Sunset Blvd.
STU-015-6
1922
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Chaplin Studios
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Charles Chaplin Studios
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Chaplin Studios
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CHAPLIN STUDIO
StudiosChaplin Studios
STU-015-7
1922
StudiosCharles Chaplin Studios
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1924
StudiosChaplin Studios
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1922
StudiosCHAPLIN STUDIO
STU-015-10
1925
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Chaplin Studios on La Brea Ave.
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Charles Chaplin Studios
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Charles Chaplin Studios
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Charles Chaplin Studios
StudiosChaplin Studios on La Brea Ave.
STU-015-11
1929
StudiosCharles Chaplin Studios
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1929
StudiosCharles Chaplin Studios
STU-015-13
1937
StudiosCharles Chaplin Studios
STU-015-14
1928
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Charles Chaplin Studios
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Charles Chaplin Studios
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Charles Chaplin Studios
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Stage 1 at Chaplin Studios
StudiosCharles Chaplin Studios
STU-015-15
1943
StudiosCharles Chaplin Studios
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1950
StudiosCharles Chaplin Studios
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1950
StudiosStage 1 at Chaplin Studios
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1950
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Chaplin Studios on La Brea Ave.
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Chaplin Studios on La Brea Ave.
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Charles Chaplin Studio guard shack
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A & M Records, formerly Chaplin Studios on La Brea Ave.
StudiosChaplin Studios on La Brea Ave.
STU-015-19
1950
StudiosChaplin Studios on La Brea Ave.
STU-015-19
1950
StudiosCharles Chaplin Studio guard shack
STU-015-20
1950
StudiosA & M Records, formerly Chaplin Studios on La Brea Ave.
STU-015-23
1977
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A & M Records Studio. Formerly Charles Chaplin Studios
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Christie Film Co. & Nestor Comedies at Sunset Blvd. & Gower St.
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CHRISTIE FILM CO.
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Christie Studios at Sunset Blvd. & Gower St.
StudiosA & M Records Studio. Formerly Charles Chaplin Studios
STU-015-24
1979
StudiosChristie Film Co. & Nestor Comedies at Sunset Blvd. & Gower St.
STU-016-1
1916
StudiosCHRISTIE FILM CO.
STU-016-2
1916
StudiosChristie Studios at Sunset Blvd. & Gower St.
STU-016-4
1917
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Christie Studios at Sunset Blvd. & Gower St.
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Christie Film Co. at Sunset Blvd. & Gower St.
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Christie Film Co.
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Christie Film Co. At Sunset Blvd. & Gower St.
StudiosChristie Studios at Sunset Blvd. & Gower St.
STU-016-5
1917
StudiosChristie Film Co. at Sunset Blvd. & Gower St.
STU-016-6
1917
StudiosChristie Film Co.
STU-016-7
1922
StudiosChristie Film Co. At Sunset Blvd. & Gower St.
STU-016-8
1922
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Christie Studios at Sunset Blvd. & Gower St.
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Christie Studios at Sunset Blvd. & Gower St.
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Groundbreaking for a new soundstage at the Christie Studios. Al Christie (White suit) & Howard Hughes is at right
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Charles Christie at Christie Studios on Sunset Blvd.
StudiosChristie Studios at Sunset Blvd. & Gower St.
STU-016-9
1922
StudiosChristie Studios at Sunset Blvd. & Gower St.
STU-016-11
1923
StudiosGroundbreaking for a new soundstage at the Christie Studios. Al Christie (White suit) & Howard Hughes is at right
STU-016-13
1926
StudiosCharles Christie at Christie Studios on Sunset Blvd.
STU-016-14
1927
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Christie Film Co
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Christie Film Co.
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Christie Studios on Sunset Blvd.
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Christie Studios at Sunset Blvd. & Gower St.
StudiosChristie Film Co
Stu-016-15
1927
StudiosChristie Film Co.
STU-016-16
1927
StudiosChristie Studios on Sunset Blvd.
STU-016-18
1927
StudiosChristie Studios at Sunset Blvd. & Gower St.
STU-016-19
1927
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Al Christie with his mother (left), his wife (middle) & Mrs. David Horsley at the historical dedication of Christie Studios
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Christie Studios at Sunset Blvd. & Gower St.
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(L to R) David Horsley, Mrs. Horsley, Mrs. Charles Christie & Al Christie at Christie Studios
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(L to R) Al Christie, ?, & Charles Christie at Christie Studios
StudiosAl Christie with his mother (left), his wife (middle) & Mrs. David Horsley at the historical dedication of Christie Studios
STU-016-20
1928
StudiosChristie Studios at Sunset Blvd. & Gower St.
STU-016-21
1928
Studios(L to R) David Horsley, Mrs. Horsley, Mrs. Charles Christie & Al Christie at Christie Studios
STU-016-22
1928
Studios(L to R) Al Christie, ?, & Charles Christie at Christie Studios
STU-016-23
1927
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Christie Film Co.
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Cineba General Studios at Santa Monica Blvd. & Las Palmas Ave.
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Hal's Studio Cafe at Cinema General Studios on Cahuenga Ave.
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Hal's Studio Cafe & Cinema General Studios on Cahuenga Ave.
StudiosChristie Film Co.
STU-016-24
1928
StudiosCineba General Studios at Santa Monica Blvd. & Las Palmas Ave.
STU-017-1
1974
StudiosHal's Studio Cafe at Cinema General Studios on Cahuenga Ave.
STU-017-2
1974
StudiosHal's Studio Cafe & Cinema General Studios on Cahuenga Ave.
STU-017-3
1974
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Cinema General Studios on Cahuenga Ave. at Waring Ave.
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Cinema General Studios on Cahuenga Ave.
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Clune Studios on Melrose Ave.(l to r) Albert Kaufman, Harold Lockwood, Lottie Pickford, Mary Pickford, Donald Crisp & Alan Dwan)
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CLUNE FILM PRODUCING CO.
StudiosCinema General Studios on Cahuenga Ave. at Waring Ave.
STU-017-4
1974
StudiosCinema General Studios on Cahuenga Ave.
STU-017-6
1974
StudiosClune Studios on Melrose Ave.(l to r) Albert Kaufman, Harold Lockwood, Lottie Pickford, Mary Pickford, Donald Crisp & Alan Dwan)
STU-018-1
1915
StudiosCLUNE FILM PRODUCING CO.
STU-018-2
1915
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The backlot of Clune Studios at Melrose Ave & Bronson
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Looking west at Clune Studios at Melrose Ave & Bronson Ave.
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Clune Studios on Melrose Ave.
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Clune Studios on Melrose Ave. at Bronson Ave. at lower right of photo
StudiosThe backlot of Clune Studios at Melrose Ave & Bronson
STU-018-3
1915
StudiosLooking west at Clune Studios at Melrose Ave & Bronson Ave.
STU-018-4
1915
StudiosClune Studios on Melrose Ave.
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1915
StudiosClune Studios on Melrose Ave. at Bronson Ave. at lower right of photo
STU-018-6
1919