Felix In Hollywood

A Blog for the Smart Set

Monday, October 31, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

This Calls For A Celebration!!!

Exactly 100 years ago today Nestor Studios, the first motion picture studio in Hollywood CA, opened up it's doors for business!

Blondeau Tavern soon to be Nestor Studios

It opened at the former Blondeau Tavern (above).  Nestor didn't remain autonomous for long though.  Carl Laemmle, of  Independent Motion Pictures (IMP), absorbed the company along with several others in 1912.  Afterwhich, Nestor head David Horsley and former Nestor Director Al Christie made pictures under the new Laemmle banner of Universal Pictures.

Same site in 1913
After Uncle Carl Laemmle (who had a very large Faemmle) moved Universal to what is still it's location today - Universal City,  Christie split off from the Universal moniker and the lot was now "Christie Comedies".  Christie's company expanded the lot and flourished for the next two decades.

 Christie lot 1926

As we all know, however, progress happens....

Demolition of Christie Studios, 1937

And, every once in a while, progress is not such a horrible thing.....

CBS Columbia Square

Columbia Square opening April 30, 1938

Columbia Square Lobby

View from the stage of the 1000 seat studio A
The Glenn Miller Orchestra, Studio A

Lucille Ball and Richard Denning  "My Favorite Husband"
Agnes Moorehead's legendary performance of "Sorry Wrong Number"

Columbia Square is something of a ghost town now* since local CBS affiliate KCBS and KNX radio left a few years back.  The property is in the hands of new owners who, of course, plan new and dense and tall construction -- once this wacky economy clears up.  They have promised though to preserve Columbia Square.  Meanwhile some of the space is being rented out to production companies, mostly of the reality TV variety.  But it seems as though only 30-40% of the over 100,000 square feet are being used.

So today, on this most special day, I snuck in!  I boldly walked into the lobby, prepared to go into a riff about my historical walking tour and the significance of the building and the necessity of my walking through it.  I was also prepared to get summarily thrown out on my can.  But, don't you know there was no one sitting at the sweater-draped chair behind the receptionist desk!  I was home free.  I knew once I was inside that if I was spotted, I would be assumed to be an employee of one of the tenants.  So in I slipped.  It was a bit disappointing.  Much of the grandeur and streamline of the place was done over (seemingly in the '70s).  But I walked up to the roof top and went to the deck that surrounds the penthouse office (vacant) to snap these pictures just for you of Hollywood on it's 100th birthday:

The roof looking North East. 

The roof looking along the Penthouse wall to North West.  You can barely make out the Hollywood Sign on top of the hill.

Many of the photos above come from the fabulous facebook page CBS Columbia Square Alumni.

*Ghost town indeed.  Scores of former employees from the building insist that, not only does the spirit of CBS founder and president William Paley inhabit the building, but so does that of former KNX morning DJ/television star Bob Crane (Hogan's Heroes).

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Can Someone Please Explain This To Me?

Or should I just stay with my original thought that it was a Bette Davis look-a-like contest in a drag bar and Tallulah won.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Party's Over.....

.....but I don't think that's why Tony and Tab look so distraught.  I think it has more to do with the fact that they have been snapped by a photographer without any gals around.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Signing Their Life Away.

Lauren Bacall

Bette Davis

Jane Russell

Tab Hunter

Joan Crawford

Shirley Temple

Kirk Douglas

Lauren had a lot to say.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Stanwyck - The Ziegfeld Years.

Ruby Stevens during her Ziegfeld time 1923-24.
I've seen the above photo many times and loved it each time.  It seems to me that the pose/persona she's affecting is one of her greatest acting feats.  When you consider the rough-knocks childhood she had to endure, that later hard-boiled Stanwyck was really more of a natural for her.

The photo was taken by Alfred Chaney Johnston, an interesting chap in his own rite.  Charles Dana Gibson, originator of the illustrations know as The Gibson Girl, set the standard for American female ideal at the fin de siecle.  It's then only fitting that he took on the mentorship of Alfred Chaney Johnston guiding him and his photography to capture perfection in the female form for the next generation.  Johnston's career was made in 1917 when the great Flo Ziegfeld brought him in to 'glorify the American girl' in photographs.  He enjoyed tremendous commercial popularity throughout the 20s and into the mid-30s.  Then by the end of that decade, styles had changed but Johnston's had not.  In 1940 he and his wife left the center of it all and moved to a 15 acre parcel in Oxford, CT.  His era had past and the next three decades saw a much smaller life for Alfred.  In the 60s Chaney unsuccessfully tried to donate his entire studio and picture inventory to several organizations in both New York and Washington DC but there was no interest in storing such a vast amount of material.  The Library Of Congress did accept 245 prints as well as several product advertisement pictures.  The childless widower passed away  in 1971.

That top photo is just a teaser.  Chaney took other pictures of Stevens/Stanwyck.  Below are what I have found and they're lovely:

**posted with love for eva.