Historic fires at Universal Studios

February 17th, 2018

A fixture in Hollywood for decades, the backlot is primarily designed to let filmmakers shoot New York, London, Paris and other places without having to leave Los Angeles. At Universal Studios, visitors can catch a view of the four acres of backlot on Universal’s behind-the-scenes studio tours by tram. The New York Street, which consists of 13 city blocks of buildings, have been the setting of commercials, television shows and feature films.

All the major studios have had fires at one time or another, but Universal seems to have had more than their fair share. What follows is a brief history of fires at Universal Studios over the years.

March 25, 1913

Universal fire at Gower and Sunset location. (click on image to enlarge)

Before Universal moved to their present location, they were at Gower Street and Sunset Boulevard. Early in the morning, the studio was destroyed by a fire that began in the film storehouse and was believed to have been caused by spontaneous combustion.

Several outdoor stages, dressing rooms, outbuildings, offices, the scenery storeroom and other buildings, all made of wood, were burned to the ground. For a time, the Hollywood branch office of the Sunset Telephone Company, and near-by residences were threatened.

September 29, 1917

A fire started from an unknown origin in the dry grass and spread to a two-story building on a western street just a short distance from the wardrobe building. Members of the Universal fire department and every able-bodied man fought to extinguish the flames. Sparks from the burning buildings were carried to one of the stages and set fire to many overhead diffusers. Actors helped to put them out.

Sparks also fell on the roof of the new electric light studio, which was constructed only a few weeks earlier, but a group of men quickly put it out. For a while, it was feared that the $4,000,000 studio would be seriously damaged, however, the loss was estimated at $10,000.

Not to waste the opportunity, cameramen trained their cameras upon the fire scenes which was placed in stock for use in future films.

June 3, 1919

A stubborn fire aided by a strong wind blowing into the San Fernando Valley was intent on destroying the Universal back lot. Unfortunately, being in an unincorporated district, the nearby Hollywood fire station declared Universal City to be beyond its jurisdiction. Actor Harry Carey, who was filming scenes for Rider of the Law (1919), gathered several cowboy actors to help fight the fire. They hauled a hose from the studio to the crest of one of the hills where there was a huge water tank and sprayed the hillsides from there. The blaze destroyed sets and equipment on three of the hills; damage was set at $5,000 and might have been more had not Carey and the other men acted so quickly.

May 25, 1922

A short-circuited electric wire, which whipped through an open doorway of a cutting room, ignited more than 100,000 feet of film. The huge coils of film flared instantly with flames sweeping through the room endangering near-by buildings. Padlocked metal boxes of film exploded with the heat, showering the vicinity with steel splinters that were embedded in the walls.

The explosion, smoke and fire caused a near-panic among the hundreds of studio employees. Actress Priscilla Dean rushed up a flight of stairs to the burning room, intent on saving the film of her picture, Under Two Flags (1922), which was being completed. She tripped on a flowing oriental robe (part of her costume) she was wearing and sprained her ankle.

At a loss of four cents a foot, more than 185,000 feet of film was destroyed including Under Two Flags and the footage for five other productions.

Tod Browning, who directed Under Two Flags, was about to leave for his home when the fire started. Irving Thalberg, director-general of the studio; Julius Bernhein, Leo McCarey and Arthur Ripley (film editor), all tried to reach the cutting room but were forced back by the flames.

Thalberg estimated that the property damage from the fire and the loss of film would amount to more than a half-million dollars.

December 23, 1922

Seven months later, another fire ravaged the studio under similar circumstances when an electric lamp short circuited and ignited more than a million feet of film. An explosion shook the building, knocking down a woman standing fifty feet from the source. Fortunately, the fire was prevented from spreading to the adjoining scenic shop where copious amounts of paint, chemicals and inflammable materials were stored.

The fire broke out at 3:50 pm and was battled by fire-fighting apparatus on the premises. Special effects man, Edward Bush and actor Norman Kerry, who was still dressed in his Austrian costume from Merry-Go-Round (1923), rushed into the building ahead of the fireman. However, both were overcome by fumes from the burning film and were carried out unconscious. They were attended to at the Universal City Emergency Hospital. Actors Herbert Rawlinson and Art Acord were among those who also aided in fighting the flames.

The studio was not seriously damaged, but a total of 1,100,000 feet of film was destroyed. This was footage for between thirty-five and forty films which was being edited, including One of Three (1923) from the Yorke Norroy film series starring Roy Stewart. It was estimated to cost approximately $250,000 to reshoot the pictures. The destroyed film was valued at about $100,000.

February 26, 1923

A “prop” fire became a genuine blaze and damaged a cabin set, singeing every actor in an episode of The Phantom Fortune (1923) serial. William Desmond suffered slight burns and minor lacerations when he dragged Cathleen Calhoun from the burning cabin with her costume ablaze. Esther Ralston suffered scorched hands, arms, and back. Robert F. Hill, the director, was burned about the neck and ears. Cameraman, “Buddy” Harris had his right hand severely burned. Three electricians and a property man also sustained minor injuries.

The fire was caused by flares used to simulate flames that ignited the woodwork of the set. All the injured were given emergency treatment at the studio hospital and sent home.

August 27, 1925

A fire broke out on the set of The Midnight Sun (1926) starring Laura La Plante and Pat O’Malley. Five hundred extras went into a panic, many of them trampled underfoot and two were slightly injured when a gigantic set of the interior of the Petrograd Imperial Ballet was swept by fire. Director Dimitri Buchowetski immediately jumped on the burning stage and shouted directions to the frightened extras.

The cause of the blaze was a sputtering, overhead-arc light, which came in contact with a huge drapery, part of the decorations imported from Paris for the production. Three days of shooting had to be reshot because of the destruction of the draperies which could not be duplicated. The estimated damage to the set was $15,000.

April 8, 1927

A fire started in an editing room when a lamp burned out and a spark flew into a stack of film. The fire, which threatened to spread, was confined to the single building, but the building was destroyed.

Many thousands of feet of film had to be reshot. Among the films destroyed was Reginald Denney’s Fast and Furious (1927). The loss due to the fire was estimated at $10,000.

January 7, 1931

A blaze started in a frame structure used for cutting short-length films. The cutters narrowly escaped when the room burst into flames. They were slightly overcome by fumes generated by the burning film but were revived in the studio infirmary. The studio fire department confined the fire to the one building. Damage was placed at $10,000 to the film and $5,000 to the building.

October 25, 1932

A brush fire broke out in the woodlands behind Universal and swept through fifteen acres of land destroying two film sets valued at $10,000. While the main stages and sets were not in danger, the sets destroyed were used in Frankenstein (1931) and the William Wyler film, A House Divided (1931).

Two uniformed men up front spray water on the Universal backlot fire while a line of men continue to pull a hose up the hillside toward the fire raging behind a veil of smoke. (September 1937)

September 8, 1937

A brush fire fanned by a stiff breeze burned over twenty-two acres on Universal’s back lot, destroying three houses used as a motion-picture set. A score of wild animals caged near a jungle set and several hillside residences were also in danger of the blaze.

One of the destroyed houses was an old type Spanish ranch that had been used in hundreds of western films. The other two were a part of what was known as the “Swiss Village” and were originally built in 1922 for a John Barrymore picture.

The wild animals included Universal’s famous black panther, the trained chimpanzee “Skippy,” and numerous lions, leopards and other animals. The collection was valued at $50,000.

The estimated damage to the back lot was $10,000.

December 23, 1954

A fire broke out on the set of One Desire (1955) starring Anne Baxter and Rock Hudson. The script called for Baxter to throw a book at Hudson and knock over a kerosene lamp. She did, and the flames swept up the drapes, however members of the crew were unable to contain the blaze as it whipped to the ceiling of the sound stage. The heat opened sprinklers over an adjacent stage and caused damage to other sets prepared for the same film.

September 25, 1957

An acre of permanent street-scene sets was destroyed by a fire that broke out on Universal’s back lot shortly before 5 pm. None of the street scenes involved in the fire was in use. A complete theater set on “New York Street,” a landmark for twenty years, was consumed in the fire. The heat melted and twisted the steel girder frame of the building that had been used in numerous films. The last film to use the set was the remake of My Man Godfrey (1957) starring David Niven. The damage was estimated at $500,000.

May 15, 1967

A fire started in a barn on the “Laramie Street” set and spread north and east over twelve acres of movie and television sets. At times, flames leaped more than 100-feet into the air. The “European,” “Denver” and “Laramie” streets were burned to the ground by the fire which roared out of control for more than an hour.

Wind-blown sparks showered upon the nearby Warner Bros. Studios causing at least one minor fire on the roof of the old casting building. Embers were carried as far as NBC Studios, two miles away and across the river to the Lakeside golf course.

Movie sets burn in a $1 million fire on Universal Studios’ backlot on May 15, 1967. Firemen battle roaring flames that raged out of control in studio structures. (LAPL)

The “European” set was originally built in 1930 for filming of All Quiet on the Western Front and had been used for countless films since. The destroyed “Laramie” set was used for the television show Laredo and the “Denver” street for The Virginian series.

The damage was set at $1 million.

 

November 6, 1990

A spectacular fire ravaged four acres of the Universal back lot and destroyed the New York Street; an adjacent alley set; Brownstone Street; a portion of the Courthouse Square where Back to the Future was filmed, and the Dick Tracy Building. Also, heavily damaged was the “King Kong” and “Earthquake” exhibits on the studio tour.

The New York Street set was used in the films The Sting (1973), and Dick Tracy (1990), among others. Beside the Back to the Future films, the Courthouse Square set was used in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). The fire was set by a studio guard who was later sentenced to four years in prison. Damage was estimated at $25 million.

September 6, 1997

Improperly stored chemicals were blamed for a fire that destroyed the northern side of Courthouse Square. Once again, this building was spared.

June 1, 2008

A studio set is engulfed in fire at Universal Studios, June 2008.

A fire erupted at 4:45 a.m. on New York Street — a location that played host to scenes for such films as Batman and Robin and Austin Powers. Fueled by highly combustible facades and lumber, the fire rendered a sprinkler system on outdoor sets nearly useless.

The flames churned through the open-air wood and plastic construction and to the adjacent sets, incinerating the 30-foot animatronic “King Kong” tour exhibit, and damaging Courthouse Square, which played a prominent role in Back to the Future, To Kill a Mockingbird and Inherit the Wind. The blaze also engulfed the videotape warehouse, containing archives of television shows and movies dating to the 1920s.

The tragic story of Pierre Collings

February 8th, 2018

Time, fame and money trip lightly in Hollywood, and the men and women who have them one day, find themselves alone and penniless the next. So it was with Pierre Collings, screenwriter, whose screenplay of The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936) won him two Academy Awards in 1937. Sadly, he would not survive to the end of that year.

The second eldest of five children, Lysander Pierre Collings was born on September 22, 1900, in Truro, Nova Scotia, where his father Otto was a mining engineer. Otto and his wife Martha were both American citizens, and when they returned to the states, they had Pierre naturalized as an American citizen.

Collings entered motion pictures as a messenger boy at the Pickford-Fairbanks Studios when he was 17-years-old. Over time he became a cameraman [Alimony (1924) and Untamed Youth (1924)] at the Brunton Studios (now Paramount); an assistant director, and then a writer. Among Collings early scripts were A Woman of the World (1925), and Good and Naughty (1926), both starring Pola Negri; The Grand Duchess and the Waiter (1926), with Adolph Menjou and Florence Vidor; the Louise Brooks classic, The Show Off (1926), and the continuity for the Marx Brothers’ Animal Crackers (1930).

Sadly, very little is known about Collings personal and professional life. In December 1926, Collings married Natalie Harris at New York’s Little Church Around the Corner. The couple was divorced in 1930. In 1928, Collings was to direct Alex the Great, but for unknown reasons the film was taken over by Dudley Murphy.

Between 1924 and 1930, Collings kept relatively busy writing screenplays, however between 1930 and 1937, he only produced two screenplays, one of which was as an uncredited dialogue contributor on British Agent (1934) starring Leslie Howard and Kay Francis. It could be during this time that some of his personal problems began. In August 1935, he was arrested for drunk driving.

The following December, he signed with Warner Bros. and was assigned, along with writer Sheridan Gibney, to write the screenplay for The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936), which was to star Paul Muni in the title role. During the production of the film, Collings mother, Martha died unexpectedly and was buried at Hollywood Cemetery.

The Story of Louis Pasteur would prove to be Collings biggest success professionally. Both he and Gibney were nominated for two Academy Awards for Original Story and for Screenplay. Reportedly, after finishing the screenplay Collings suffered a nervous breakdown and was not able to attend the ceremony on Oscar night. When Collings and Gibney won both awards, Gibney accepted the Oscars for his writing partner.

Soon after, Collings health improved enough so he could write the screenplay for a projected Warner Bros. film, Houdini the Great which was scheduled to star George Raft. For whatever reason, the project never materialized. After this, he had problems finding work again and started drinking and soon fell into more bad health and poverty. Stories circulated that he actually pawned one of his two Oscars in order to survive, but this cannot be confirmed. The following July, he was arrested on an intoxication charge that was filed by his landlady. He pleaded not guilty.

Pierre Collings died here at his father’s home at 12315 N. Huston Avenue in North Hollywood (PLEASE NOTE: This is a private residence. DO NOT disturb the occupants)

Pierre Collings death certificate (click on image to enlarge)

Collings was collaborating with songwriter Carrie Jacobs Bond on a screenplay based on her popular song, “I Love You Truly” when he died from pneumonia at his father’s home in North Hollywood on December 21, 1937. His funeral was held at Pierce Brothers Chapel and he was interred at Hollywood Cemetery near his mother.

Collings was already forgotten. The Los Angeles Times did not publish an obituary – only his name listed in the death notices. However, three weeks later, Lee Shippey, a columnist for the Times made this mention of him in his column:

“Little Pierre Collings, who wrote the script for Louis Pasteur, died the other day. His close friends tell me his decline in health resulted from heartache and despair because, after that truly great picture, he was given hardly any work. The producers thought one Louis Pasteur was great, through some accident, but the public wouldn’t stand for another picture like that – not when it could go to the next show house and see Ben Bernie. In fact, I think the sin of Hollywood is that it gathers genius from all the world and then says to it: ‘You mustn’t do your best or anything approaching it. Our public wouldn’t understand it.’” 

Pierre Collings grave at Hollywood Forever is located in Section 2W near the grave of Florence Lawrence.

Four months after Collings’ death, Charles Mackay, a wanna-be actor down on his luck, was living at Hollywood’s Mark Twain Hotel. Mackay had graduated from Washington and Lee University the year before, and decided to “try” Hollywood. His friends encouraged him, however, his father, a prosperous St. Louis broker, told him it was a mistake; he could go if he wanted, but “don’t come home for help.” Mackay ignored his father’s advice and intended to prove him wrong.

By April 1938, Mackay was down to his last quarter. His only way to pay for lodging was to work on a rock pile. He returned one evening to his room, sweaty, tired and discouraged. In hopes of finding a clean shirt, he looked through a closet that was reserved for the belongings of guests who left the hotel without paying their rent. In the closet, Mackay discovered a threadbare blue sweater, and wrapped in the sweater was one of Pierre Collings’ Oscar statuette.

Charles Mackay, center, is shown holding the Oscar given to Pierre Collings. At left is Donald Gledhill, secretary of the Academy, and at right is screenwriter Arthur Caesar.

Concerned that he would be arrested for stealing the Oscar if he tried to return it, Mackay walked Hollywood Blvd to think. By chance, he met Arthur Caesar, himself an Academy Award winning screenwriter for Manhattan Melodrama (1934). He told Caesar his story and the writer took him and the Oscar to the Academy’s office, where the secretary told him that Collings had died in poverty a few months earlier. It was assumed that, probably in need, Collings had been forced to leave the sweater and Oscar as hostage for his unpaid rent.

However, another story later circulated that Collings’ Oscar was somehow stolen by a thief who found it too hot to sell and ended up hiding it in the hotel’s closet.

The Academy gave Mackay $25, told him to clean up, and assumingly, kept the Oscar.

While researching this story, I contacted the Academy and was told that neither of Pierre Collings’ Oscars was in their possession, and there were no records of the transaction. It’s possible that the unclaimed statue is lying in a box in the Academy’s attic or, since his father was living at the time, it was returned to him. In any event, both Oscars won by Collings appear to be missing.

If you watch the Academy Awards ceremony this year, when the award for Best Screenplay is presented, remember Pierre Collings – may he rest in peace.

Oscar nominees and winners at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

January 28th, 2018

The 90th Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will honor the best films of 2017 and will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California at 5:00 p.m. PST on March 4, 2018.

To celebrate, let’s take a look at all (I hope none are hiding anywhere) Oscar nominees/winners that are interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Pierre Collings (1902-1937) was the first Academy Award nominee and winner to be interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. He received two Best Writing/Story nominations/wins for The Story of Louis Pasteur, a 1938 bio-pic starring fellow Hollywood Forever resident and Oscar winner, Paul Muni (1895-1967) as the famous French biologist. Technician Nathan Levinson (1888-1952) had the most nominations at 24 for Best Recording, of which he received one statue, but also was bestowed with two technical awards and one Honorary. Composer Victor Young (1900-1956) came in second at 22 nominations and one win, which sadly, was given posthumously. Cinematographer Arthur C. Miller (1895-1970) won the most at three statues. The last Oscar nominee to be interred here was screenwriter Fay Kanin (1917-2013). Ironically, the last Oscar winner to be laid to rest was Kanin’s husband–and often writing partner–screenwriter Michael Kanin (1910-1993). They shared a writing nomination for 1958’s Teacher’s Pet starring Clark Gable and Doris Day.

Image result for hollywood forever cemetery

The following are the Hollywood Forever residents that were nominated or won an Academy Award or Honorary awards, and the films they were nominated/won for. The co-founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are also included.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery Academy Award Nominees and Winners. An asterisk (*) signifies the film that they won for:

1. George S. Barnes (1892-1953) Best Cinematography. 8 noms; 1 win. The Magic Flame (1927); The Devil Dancer (1927); Sadie Thompson (1928); Our Dancing Daughters (1928); *Rebecca (1940); The Spanish Main (1945); Spellbound (1945); Samson and Delilah (1949). Plot: Abbey of the Psalms, Sanctuary of Refuge, Corr G-2, Crypt 2087.

2. Anne Bauchens (1882-1967) Best Film Editing. 4 noms; 1 win. Cleopatra (1934); *Northwest Mounted Police (1940); The Greatest Show on Earth (1952); The Ten Commandments (1956). Plot: Chapel Columbarium, Lower floor, northwest wall, T-2, N-3.

3. Jack Brooks (1912-1971) Best Music, Original Song. 3 noms; 0 wins. Canyon Passage (1946); Son of Paleface (1952); The Caddy (1953). Plot: Abbey of the Psalms, Haven of Faith, T-11, N-4.

4. R. Dale Butts (1910-1990) Best Music. 1 nom; 0 wins. Flame of the Barbary Coast (1945). Plot: Section 2, Lot 69.

5. Louis Calhern (1895-1956) Best Actor. 1 nom; 0 wins. The Magnificent Yankee (1950). Plot: Abbey of the Psalms, Abbey Foyer, T-3, N-308, South wall.

6. Charles H. Christie (1880-1955) One of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Plot: Garden of Legends, Section 8, Lot 178 – family marker – unmarked.

7. Pierre Collings (1902-1937) Best Writing/Story. 2 noms; 2 wins. *The Story of Louis Pasteur (1937) [2 wins]. Plot: Section 2W, Lot 696.

8. Irving Cummings (1888-1959) Best Director. 1 nom; 0 wins. In Old Arizona (1928). Plot: Section 13, Lot 305.

9. Cecil B. DeMille (1881-1959) Best Director. 1 nom; 0 wins. The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) / Best Picture. 2 noms; 1 win. *The Greatest Show on Earth (1952); The Ten Commandments (1957) / *Honorary Award (1950) / *Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award (1953). One of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Plot: Garden of Legends, Section 8, Lot 50.

10. Elmer Dyer (1892-1970) Best Cinematography. 1 nom; 0 wins. Air Force (1943). Plot: Garden of Legends, Section 8, Lot 53.

11. Douglas Fairbanks (1883-1939) *Honorary Award (1940) [posthumous]. One of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Plot: Large reflecting pool plot adjacent to the Cathedral Mausoleum.

12. Daniel L. Fapp (1904-1986) Best Cinematography. 7 noms; 1 win. Desire Under the Elms (1958); The Five Pennies (1959); One, Two, Three (1961); *West Side Story (1961); The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964); Ice Station Zebra (1968); Marooned (1969). Plot: Court of the Apostles, Unit 9 (south side).

13. Charles K. Feldman (1904-1968) Best Picture. 1 nom; 0 wins. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). Plot: Abbey of the Psalms, Sanctuary of Faith, Corr D-3, Crypt 2305.

14. Peter Finch (1916-1977) Best Actor. 2 noms; 1 win. Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971); *Network (1976). Plot: Cathedral Mausoleum, Corr A, Crypt 1224.

15. Victor Fleming (1889-1949) Best Director. 1 nom; 1 win. *Gone with the Wind (1939). Plot: Abbey of the Psalms, Sanctuary of Refuge, Crypt 2081.

16. John Foreman (1925-1992) Best Picture. 2 noms; 0 wins. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969); Prizzi’s Honor (1985). Plot: unknown.

17. Sidney Franklin (1893-1972) Best Director. 1 nom; 0 wins. The Good Earth (1937). *Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award (1943). Plot: Garden of Legends, Section 8, Lot 1127.

18. George Froeschel (1891-1979) Best Writing, Screenplay. 2 noms; 1 win. Random Harvest (1942); *Mrs. Miniver (1942). Plot: Section 6, Lot 382.

19. Victor A. Gangelin (1899-1967) Best Art Direction. 2 noms; 1 win. Since You Went Away (1944); *West Side Story (1961). Plot: Section 9, Grave 910.

20. Judy Garland (1922-1969) Best Actress. 1 nom; 0 wins. A Star is Born (1954) / Best Supporting Actress. 1 nom; 0 wins. Judgement at Nuremburg (1961) / *Juvenile Award (1940). Plot: Abbey of the Psalms Mausoleum, Judy Garland Pavilion.

21. Tony Gaudio (1883-1951) Best Cinematography. 6 noms; 1 win. Hell’s Angels (1930); *Anthony Adverse (1936); Juarez (1939); The Letter (1940); Corvette K-225 (1943); A Song to Remember (1945). Plot: Section 5, Lot 471.

22. Janet Gaynor (1906-1984) Best Actress. 2 noms; 1 win. *[Sunrise (1927), 7th Heaven (1927), Street Angel (1928)]; A Star is Born (1937). Plot: Garden of Legends, Section 8, Lot 193.

23. Joan Hackett (1934-1983) Best Supporting Actress. 1 nom; 0 wins. Only When I Laugh (1981). Plot: Abbey of the Psalms, Sanctuary of Faith, Corr D-3, Crypt 2314.

24. Karl Hajos (1889-1950) Best Music. 2 noms; 0 wins. Summer Storm (1944); The Man Who Walked Alone (1945). Plot: Section 14, Row B, Grave 54.

25. Lenny Hayton (1908-1971) Best Music. 6 noms; 2 wins. The Harvey Girls (1946); The Pirate (1948); *On the Town (1949); Singin’ in the Rain (1952); Star! (1968); *Hello, Dolly! (1969). Plot: Plains of Abraham, Lot 153, Grave 19.

26. Milton E. Hoffman (1879-1952) One of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Plot: Abbey of the Palms, Sanctuary of Refuge, Corr G-1, Crypt 321.

27. John Huston (1906-1987) Best Director. 5 noms; 1 win. *The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948); The Asphalt Jungle (1950); The African Queen (1951); Moulin Rouge (1952); Prizzi’s Honor (1985) / Best Writing. 8 noms; 1 win. Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet (1940); The Maltese Falcon (1941); Sergeant York (1941); *The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948); The Asphalt Jungle (1950); The African Queen (1951); Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957); The Man Who Would Be King (1975) / Best Picture. 1 nom; 0 wins. Moulin Rouge (1952) / Best Supporting Actor. 1 nom; 0 wins. The Cardinal (1963). Plot: Garden of Legends, Section 8, Lot 6.

28. Harry Jackson (1896-1953) Best Cinematography. 1 nom; 0 wins. Mother Wore Tights (1947). Plot: Chapel Columbarium, Column D, Niche 2, Tier 2.

29. Fay Kanin (1917-2013) Best Writing. 1 nom; 0 wins. Teacher’s Pet (1958). Plot: New Beth Olam Mausoleum, 3d floor, Corr T-J-1-3.

30. Michael Kanin (1910-1993) Best Writing. 2 noms; 1 win. *Woman of the Year (1942); Teacher’s Pet (1958). Plot: New Beth Olam Mausoleum, 3rd floor, Corr T-J-1-3, Crypt 4762.

31. Bronislaw Kaper (1902-1983) Best Music-Score. 3 noms; 1 win. The Chocolate Soldier (1941); *Lili (1953); Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) / Best Original Song. 1 nom; 0 wins. Mutiny on the Bounty (1962). Plot: New Beth Olam Mausoleum, Hall of David, Corridor T-1, Niche 1513, Tier 15.

32. Frank P. Keller (1913-1977) Best Film Editing. 4 noms; 1 win. Beach Red (1967); *Bullitt (1968); The Hot Rock (1972); Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1973). Plot: Garden of Eternal Love, Section 5, east side.

33. Michael Kidd (1915-2007) *Honorary Award (1997). Plot: Section 13, Lot 847, Space 1.

34. Frederick Kohner (1905-1986) Best Writing. 1 nom; 0 wins. Mad About Music (1938). Plot: Garden of Jerusalem, Section 18.

35. Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957) Best Music. 3 noms; 1 win. *The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938); The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939); The Sea Hawk (1940). Plot: Garden of Legends, Section 8, Lot 15.

36. Milton R. Krasner (1904-1988) Best Cinematography. 7 noms; 1 win. Arabian Nights (1942); All About Eve (1950); *Three Coins in the Fountain (1954); An Affair to Remember (1957); How the West Was Won (1962); Love with the Proper Stranger (1963); Fate is the Hunter (1964). Plot: New Beth Olam Mausoleum, Corr T-7-2, Gates of Heaven, Crypt 1498 (unmarked).

37. Harry Kurnitz (1908-1968) Best Writing. 1 nom; 0 wins. What Next, Corporal Hargrove? (1945). Plot: Garden of Shalom, Section 16, Row K, Grave 22.

38. Jesse L. Laskey (1880-1958) One of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Plot: Abbey of the Psalms, Sanctuary of Light, Corr G-3, Crypt 2196.

39. Lester Lee (1904-1956) Best Music-Original Song. 1 nom; 0 wins. Miss Sadie Thompson (1953). Plot: Garden of Eternal Love, Section 5, Lot 838.

40. Sonya Levien (1888-1960) Best Writing. 2 noms; 1 win. State Fair (1933); *Interrupted Melody (1955). Plot: Garden of Jerusalem, Section 18, Lot 929, urn garden, far southeast corner of section.

41. Nathan Levinson (1888-1952) Best Sound-Recording/Special Effects. 24 noms; 1 win. I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1933); Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933); 42nd Street (1933); Flirtation Walk (1934); Captain Blood (1935); The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936); The Life of Emile Zola (1937); Four Daughters (1938); The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)-2 noms; The Sea Hawk (1940)-2 noms; The Sea Wolf (1941); Sergeant York (1941); Desperate Journey (1942); *Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942); Air Force (1943); This is the Army (1943); The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944); Hollywood Canteen (1944); Rhapsody in Blue (1945); A Stolen Life (1946); Johnny Belinda (1948); A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) / *Technical Achievement Award (1936) / *Honorary Award (1941) / *Technical Achievement Award (1948). Plot: Beth Olam Mausoleum, Foyer O, T-8, N-7.

42. Jeanie MacPherson (1886-1946) One of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Plot: Chapel Colonnade, west Corr, South Wall, T-2.

43. Joe Mantell (1915-2010) Best Supporting Actor. 1 nom; 0 wins. Marty (1955). Plot: Section 21, Row 15, Grave 23.

44. Gertrude Ross Marks (1916-1994) Best Documentary. 1 nom; 0 wins. Walls of Fire (1971). Plot: New Beth Olam mausoleum, 3rd Floor, Corr T-J-1-3, Crypt 7763.

45. J. Peverell Marley (1901-1964) Best Cinematography. 2 noms; 0 wins. Suez (1938); Life with Father (1947). Plot: Cathedral Mausoleum, Crypt 223.

46. Hattie McDaniel (1895-1952) Best Supporting Actress. 1 nom; 1 win. *Gone with the Wind (1939). Plot: Garden of Legends, Section 8, south of lake: Cenotaph.

47. Adolphe Menjou (1890-1963) Best Actor. 1 nom; 0 wins. The Front Page (1931). Plot: Garden of Legends, Section 8, Lot 11.

48. Michel Michelet (1894-1995) Best Music. 2 noms; 0 wins. Voice in the Wind (1944); The Hairy Ape (1944). Plot: Chapel Columbarium, Second Floor, west wall, T-3, N-11.

49. Arthur C. Miller (1895-1970) Best Cinematography. 7 noms; 3 wins. The Rains Come (1939); The Blue Bird (1940); *How Green Was My Valley (1941); This Above All (1942); *The Song of Bernadette (1943); The Keys of the Kingdom (1944); *Anna and the King of Siam (1946). Plot: Abbey of the Psalms, Haven of Remembrance, T-1, N-3.

50. Thomas Miranda (1886-1962) One of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Plot: Cathedral Mausoleum, Alcove of Reverence, T-15, N-5.

51. Paul Muni (1895-1967) Best Actor. 6 noms; 1 win. The Valiant (1929); I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932); Black Fury (1935) [write-in]; *The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936); The Life of Emile Zola (1937); The Last Angry Man (1959). Plot: Plains of Abraham, Section 14, Grave 57.

52. Dudley Nichols (1895-1960) Best Writing. 4 noms; 1 win. *The Informer (1935); The Long Voyage Home (1940); Air Force (1943); The Tin Star (1957). Plot: Garden of Exodus, Section 13. Note: Nichols refused to accept his award for The Informer because of the antagonism between several industry guilds and the academy over union matters. This marked the first time an Academy Award had been declined. Academy records show that Dudley was in possession of an Oscar statuette by 1949.

53. Ingo Preminger (1911-2006) Best Picture. 1 nom; 0 wins. M*A*S*H (1970). Plot: Garden of Eternal Love, Section 5, Lot 11, Grave 1.

54. Nelson Riddle (1921-1985) Best Music. 5 noms; 1 win. Li’l Abner (1959); Can-Can (1960); Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964); Paint Your Wagon (1969); *The Great Gatsby (1974). Plot: New Beth Olam Mausoleum, Corr T-1, Columbarium, Niche 702, Tier 7.

55. Hugo Riesenfeld (1879-1939) Best Music. 1 nom, 0 wins. Make a Wish (1937). Plot: Section 17, Row R, Plot 15.

56. Mickey Rooney (1920-2014) Best Actor. 2 noms; 0 wins. Babes in Arms (1939); The Human Comedy (1943) / Best Supporting Actor. 2 noms; 0 wins. The Bold and the Brave (1956); The Black Stallion (1979) / *Juvenile Award (1939) / *Honorary Award (1983). Plot: Cathedral Lake View, Elevation 15, Couch B-1501.

57. Harold Rosson (1895-1988) Best Cinematography. 5 noms; 0 wins. The Wizard of Oz (1939); Boom Town (1940); Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944); The Asphalt Jungle (1950); The Bad Seed (1956) / *Honorary Award. The Garden of Allah (1936). Plot: Garden of Legends, Section 8, Plot 43.

58. Hans J. Salter (1896-1994) Best Music. 6 noms; 0 wins. It Started with Eve (1941); The Amazing Mrs. Holliday (1943); The Merry Monahans (1944); Christmas Holiday (1944); Can’t Help Singing (1944); This Love of Ours (1945). Plot: Section 16, Lot 66B.

59. Joseph Schildkraut (1896-1964) Best Supporting Actor. 1 nom; 1 win. The Life of Emile Zola (1937). Plot: Beth Olam Mausoleum, Foyer R, West wall, Niche 212.

60. Leon Schlesinger (1884-1949) Best Short Subject-Cartoons. 6 noms; 0 wins. It’s Got Me Again (1932); A Wild Hare (1940); Rhapsody in Rivets (1941); Hiawatha’s Rabbit Hunt (1941); Pigs in a Polka (1943); Greetings Bait (1943). Plot: Beth Olam Mausoleum, Corr M-4, T-5-2, Crypt 1275.

61. Leonard Spigelgass (1908-1985) Best Writing. 1 nom; 0 wins. Mystery Street (1950). Plot: New Beth Olam Mausoleum, T-8-2, Crypt 7934.

62. George Stoll (1902-1985) Best Music. 9 noms; 1 win. Babes in Arms (1939); Strike Up the Band (1940) [2 noms]; For Me and My Gal (1942); Meet Me in St. Louis (1944); *Anchors Aweigh (1945); Love Me or Leave Me (1955); Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956); Billy Rose’s Jumbo (1962). Plot: Beth Olam, Section 18.

63. Gregg Toland (1904-1948) Best Cinematography. 6 noms; 1 win. Les Misérables (1935); Dead End (1937); Intermezzo: A Love Story (1939); *Wuthering Heights (1939); The Long Voyage Home (1940); Citizen Kane (1941). Plot: Chapel Columbarium, Lower Column H, Niche 2, Tier 4.

64. Franz Waxman (1906-1967) Best Music. 12 noms; 2 wins. The Young in Heart (1938) [2 noms]; Rebecca (1940); Suspicion (1941); Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941); Objective, Burma! (1945); Humoresque (1946); *Sunset Blvd. (1950); *A Place in the Sun (1951); The Silver Chalice (1954); The Nun’s Story (1959); Taras Bulba (1962). Plot: Beth Olam Mausoleum, Hall of Solomon, Foyer O, T-5, N-1.

65. Clifton Webb (1889-1966) Best Supporting Actor. 2 noms; 0 wins. Laura (1944); The Razor’s Edge (1946) / Best Actor. 1 nom; 0 wins. Sitting Pretty (1948). Plot: Abbey of the Psalms, Corr G-6, Crypt 2350.

66. Jules White (1900-1985) Best Short Subject-Two Reel/Comedy. 4 noms; 0 wins. Men in Black (1934); Oh, My Nerves (1935); The Jury Goes Round ‘n’ Round (1945); Hiss and Yell (1946). Plot: Beth Olam Mausoleum, Corr M-7, Crypt 1377.

67. Carey Wilson (1889-1962) Best Writing. 1 nom; 0 wins. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935). One of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Plot: Garden of Legends, Section 8, Lot 66.

68. Frank E. Woods (1860-1939) One of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Plot: Columbarium, Lower floor, North wall, Tier 4, Niche 8.

69. Victor Young (1900-1956) Best Music. 22 noms; 1 win. Breaking the Ice (1938); Army Girl (1938); Man of Conquest (1939); Gulliver’s Travels (1939); Golden Boy (1939); Way Down South (1939); North West Mounted Police (1940); Dark Command (1940); Arizona (1940); Arise, My Love (1940); Hold Back the Dawn (1941); Take a Letter, Darling (1942); Silver Queen (1942); Flying Tigers (1942); For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943); Love Letters (1945) [2 noms]; The Emperor Waltz (1948); My Foolish Heart (1949); Samson and Delilah (1949); Written on the Wind (1956); *Around the World in Eighty Days (1956) [win was posthumous]. Plot: Beth Olam Mausoleum, Foyer M, Crypt 46.

Judy Garland: her death and afterlife

January 19th, 2018

On the morning of June 23, 1969, the Los Angeles Times and New York Times both declared the same event with the same headline: “Judy Garland, 47, Found Dead.”

The actress died in her London apartment early on Sunday morning, June 22, 1969. Mickey Deans, her husband of three months, found her body behind a locked bathroom door. When the police arrived, they viewed Garland’s body slumped on the toilet, with her head resting in her hands.

Judy Garland’s British death certificate (click on image to enlarge)

An autopsy revealed that the cause of her death was accidental barbiturate poisoning, “an incautious self-overdosage of sleeping pills,” said Coroner Gavin Thurston. “This is quite clearly an accidental circumstance to a person who was accustomed to taking barbiturates over a very long time. She took more barbiturates than she could tolerate.”

Back in the States, Garland’s daughter Liza, by her second husband Vincent Minnelli, was staying with friends in the Hamptons along with her husband, singer and songwriter, Peter Allen. Early that morning, Allen took a phone call from Liza’s secretary. When Allen woke Liza, she suspected bad news but thought there was something wrong with her father. Instead, he told her that her mother was dead.

Late Wednesday night, Garland’s body was returned to New York, with her husband, Mickey Deans, and the Rev. Peter Delany, who married the couple earlier that year, accompanying the body. In New York, when the plane arrived, Garland’s daughter, actress and singer Liza Minnelli, waited in a car in the parking lot of Kennedy Airport.

Minnelli released a statement: “I know my mother was a great star and a great talent, but I am not thinking about those things today. What I am thinking about is the woman, my mother, and what a lovely, vital, extraordinary woman she was. It is because of my memory of that woman that all my life I will be proud to say, ‘I am Judy Garland’s daughter.’”

The casket containing the body of Judy Garland is placed into a hearse at the airport after arriving from London.

A hearse took Garland’s body to Frank E. Campbell’s Funeral Church on East Eighty-First Street and Madison Avenue. The following day, she would repose for public viewing in a glass-covered coffin; a private funeral service would be held that Friday.

On Thursday, June 26, lines of Garland’s fans began forming by the thousand’s at one o’clock in the morning, ten hours before the doors opened to the public. Many were openly weeping, waiting to say their last good-bye to their idol. At the appointed time, each one passed by her bier at the rate of 1,200 an hour. Outside, recordings of Garland singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and other of her songs were played by an admirer on a battery-powered record play. “She’s found the rainbow now,” sobbed one twenty-year-old fan. “I hope she has got some peace.” By noon, police estimated that there were 5,000 mourners waiting on the block between Madison and Fifth Avenues, that were closed to traffic.

In the flower-filled chapel—decorated with yellow and white daisies and chrysanthemums—fans moved past the glass-topped, baby-blue casket containing Garland’s body. The front of the casket, which was low to the floor, was wisely covered with flower arrangements so that those paying their respects could not get close to her. Her dark hair was short, and she wore red-orange lipstick and black fake eye lashes were placed on her closed eyes. She reportedly was wearing her wedding dress; an ankle length beige or light taupe gown with long sleeves, high neck, and a belt of gold and pearls. On her feet were silver satin shoes with silver bows. An Episcopal missal was in her gloved hands; she wore her wedding ring.

Huge floral sprays from such show business celebrities as Irving Berlin, Dirk Bogarde, several of the Hollywood studios, and from the Palace Theater, surrounded the bier. A huge, colorful “Over the Rainbow” flower tribute from Frank Sinatra was arched behind Garland’s casket.

Mickey Deans and Judy Garland.

Garland’s burial was left up to Mickey Deans (her children “had no say in the matter”) who announced earlier that morning that his wife’s body would be interred at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, a small town approximately twenty-five miles north of New York City. “I didn’t want to bury her in Hollywood, to have people walking over her grave and pointing,” he told reporters. “She has given enough. Anyway, they didn’t care in Hollywood. She was just a property and they used her as such.”

However, Sid Luft, Garland’s third husband would rather that his ex-wife be buried in Los Angeles, feeling it was where she became a star. But Deans felt that she would have preferred a cemetery on the East Coast since she reportedly was never fond of California.

Fans of Judy Garland stand in line to view the singer’s body.

The following day, the hot and humid weather did not deter the estimated 1,300 to 1,500 fans from maintaining a fervent vigil. Over the course of the previous day, an estimated 20,000 people had paused to peer into the glass-covered casket of their idol. It was the largest funeral that Campbell’s had seen since the death of silent film idol Rudolph Valentino in 1926.

In the crowd, pop icon Andy Warhol tape recorded many of the fans conversations, and photographer Diane Arbus took pictures.

Joey Luft, Liza Minnelli and Lorna Luft enter Frank E. Campbell’s to attend their mother’s funeral.

Among Garland’s show business friends and colleagues attending were: Ray Bolger, Lauren Bacall, Alan King, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Johnny Mercer, Paulo Wayne, Fred Ebb, Freddie Bartholomew, Otto Preminger and Spyros Skouras, Harold Arlen, Mickey Rooney, Mayor and Mrs. Lindsay, and Patricia Kennedy Lawford.

The Rev. Peter Delaney of Marylebone Church, London, who officiated at Garland’s marriage to Deans, conducted the twenty-minute Episcopal service, portions of which were heard through a loudspeaker provided by Campbell’s in an upstairs room. Jack French, Garland’s musical accompanist, began the funeral with an organ rendition of one of Garland’s favorite songs, “Here’s to Us,” from the Broadway production Little Me.

The service included one of Garland’s favorite Bible passages, I Corinthians 13, which begins: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”

James Mason, Garland’s costar from A Star is Born, gave the eulogy. “Judy’s great gift,” Mason began, “was that she could wring tears out of hearts of rock. She gave so richly and so generously, that there was no currency in which to repay her.”

French ended the service playing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” which the congregation sang. Then, Garland’s coffin, under a blanket of yellow roses, was placed in a waiting hearse that headed a cortege of three limousines and a flower car. On Madison Avenue, where the crowd had surged through the barricades, a few Garland fans still gathered. Said one, “I have nothing else to do right now.”

Later, at Ferncliff Cemetery, several hundred-people waited as Garland’s casket was placed in a temporary crypt where it would remain until the elaborate tomb that Deans planned to build was completed. The crowd lingered about the crypt until finally, a policeman told them: “The funeral of Judy Garland is over. We would appreciate your leaving.”

That evening, many of the still emotional mourners who attended that day’s funeral, were reportedly drowning their sorrows across town at the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village gay bar. Since the Stonewall had no liquor license, it was basically a bottle club (a meeting place where customers are served drinks from their own liquor bottles) so customers had to sign-in, however, many used pseudonyms and “Judy Garland” was one of the most popular that evening.

According to legend, because of Garlands death and the funeral that day, many were still expressive about the diva’s passing. Even more so, when the New York police raided the bar at 1:20 a.m. the following morning; the patrons were ready for a fight. According to Sylvia Rivera, a seventeen-year-old drag queen who would become a well-known gay rights activist, there was a feeling in the air that something would happen that night: “I guess Judy Garland’s death just really helped us really hit the fan.”

The Stonewall Riots

What followed was a riot that became the flashpoint of the modern day gay liberation movement. Time magazine wrote: “The uprising was inspirited by a potent cocktail of pent-up rage (raids of gay bars were brutal and routine), overwrought emotions (hours earlier, thousands had wept at the funeral of Judy Garland) and drugs.”

However, years later some historians have contradicted that Garland’s death influenced the burgeoning gay rights movement, stating it was untrue. Some contend that most of those involved in the riots “were not the type to moon over Judy Garland records or attend her concerts at Carnegie Hall. They were more preoccupied with where they were going to sleep and where their next meal would come from.”

Nevertheless, Judy Garland’s connection to the Stonewall riots has persevered throughout gay history. It even inspired a play, Judy at the Stonewall Inn, where the ghost of Garland appears at the fabled Christopher Street bar as a sort of spiritual cheerleader. Even Garland’s daughter, Lorna Luft, is proud of the connection, saying that her mother was a “huge, huge advocate of human rights” and that she would have found the rioting appropriate.

In the meantime, at Ferncliff, Garland’s body was not yet at rest. The cemetery is the final resting place of many celebrities, including Jerome Kern, Basil Rathbone and Moss Hart. The wing that would contain Garland’s planned memorial was still being built, so until then, her body was placed in a temporary vault. Ferncliff’s manager had assured Mickey Deans that “Judy would be its greatest star.” However, to pay for the memorial, Deans needed to raise $37,500, hoping to get it from Garland’s family and friends. But by November 1970, he still had not raised the funds and Garland remained in a drawer with the nameplate: “Judy Garland DeVinko” (Mickey Deans real name).

Deans was desperate. The fact that Garland was still in a temporary crypt evidently bothered him. “It’s wrong. It’s very wrong,” he would say. He hoped to raise the money by writing a book about his time with Garland (the book’s advance would cover Garland’s burial and more), but unfortunately Deans was not a writer, so he approached author Anne Edwards, who was working on her first non-fiction book, a biography of Garland. Deans suggested that they collaborate; he was sure it would be a best-seller. Naturally, Edwards refused his request, believing that Deans had created these “appalling” circumstances that he was in, himself. “I did not hesitate in telling him that I would in no way consider collaborating with him on a book,” Edwards stated.

Meanwhile, Garland’s interment bill at Ferncliff was still outstanding—plus steep interest charges. At the time, Edwards was corresponding with crooner Frank Sinatra about his memories of Garland. In one letter, she mentioned the “state of affairs at Ferncliff” with Garland still reposing in storage.

Then, several weeks later, Ferncliff’s manager informed Edwards that Sinatra had paid Garland’s outstanding bill, and that “Mrs. DeVinko” would be given a proper burial. Within weeks, Garland was placed in a simple wall crypt on the second floor of the new wing of the mausoleum with the simple inscription: “Judy Garland 1922 – 1969.” At Sinatra’s request, Edwards did not disclose that information in her biography.

Judy Garland’s grave at Ferncliff Cemetery.

Over the years, more celebrities joined Garland at Ferncliff including television host, Ed Sullivan; diva, Joan Crawford (downstairs in the old wing of the same building as Garland), and composer Harold Arlen (“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”), among others.

Fans visited, and floral tributes were left in front of her floor level, beige marble slab. Members of Garland’s three fan clubs made sure there were always flowers. One fan had mums and roses delivered to her crypt every month for more than two decades. In the mid-1990s, a Ferncliff employee said, “Judy is the most popular interment we have here. We used to keep track of how many people came to see Judy, but now that everyone knows were she is they head right to her by themselves. If they forget, they simply look for the crypt with all the flowers in front of it.”

Fast forward nearly forty-eight years to January 2017, when Garland’s family announced that the singer’s remains would be exhumed from Ferncliff and moved cross-country to a new crypt at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles. The family, who were now living in Southern California, had deliberated for several years about moving her and “wished to have their mother resting near them.” In addition, when Mickey Deans died in 2003, it became the family’s “opportunity to do what they feel their mother would have wanted in the first place—to be united with her family in Hollywood.”

Entrance to the Judy Garland Pavilion.

Hollywood Forever set aside a recently built, special wing of the Abbey of the Psalms mausoleum and renamed it the “Judy Garland Pavilion.” There is room for Garland’s family, including her children Liza, Lorna and brother Joey. Additionally, there are crypts and niches available for sale to any Judy Garland fan that might wish to be interred near their idol.

Ironically, she is not far from many that she knew in life. There’s her close friend, Mickey Rooney, and from The Wizard of Oz: director Victor Fleming, cinematographer Harold Rosson, and costume designer Adrian.

At Ferncliff Cemetery, the management wasn’t certain what would be done with Garland’s empty crypt: “We haven’t decided what to do yet, but we think because she’s been here so long, we will just leave it here and memorialize her.”

In Hollywood, a private memorial service was held by Garland’s family and friends at her new crypt on June 10, 2017, which would have been the actresses 95th birthday. In a statement released to The Associated Press, the family offered gratitude to their mother’s “millions of fans around the world for their constant love and support.”

On a personal note, throughout my childhood, there were three yearly events that I excitedly looked forward to: Christmas morning; the last day of school, and the annual broadcast of The Wizard of Oz.

Judy Garland has always been a favorite of mine. The first television showing of The Wizard of Oz on CBS was broadcast less than two months after I was born. Of course, I don’t remember it, but I do know that Oz was the first film that left an impression on me, and Judy Garland was the first “movie star” I recognized. And I never missed a yearly broadcast–much to the chagrin of my poor mother. She couldn’t understand why I had to watch it every year. “But you’ve seen it already, why do you want to see it again?” she would cry in frustration. She didn’t get it.

Yet, each year I could watch it–some years by myself, or some years with my parents. Especially when we got our first color television and Technicolor brought the Land of Oz to life. Even so, one of my favorite scenes was the twister. The special effects fascinated me then, and they still hold up today.

I was also very defensive of Dorothy/Judy and her Yellow Brick Road companions. One year, on the day following an Oz broadcast, I was riding the school bus home and a kid sitting across the aisle began talking shit about Dorothy/Judy–he called her fat, and laughed about it. I was so angry, I wanted to punch him in the nose, but I withheld my ire.

Dressing up as The Wizard of Oz characters. I am the Tin Man on the far right.

Judy followed me yearly into young adulthood when I moved to Pittsburgh to attend art school. There, I was drawn to a group who was of like mind about Oz and Judy Garland. For Halloween one year, we dressed up as Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and the Wicked Witch–I was the Tin Man, and since we were art students, we made our own costumes (except for the Lion who had to rent his). Also, if memory serves me, I believe that was the last year of the annual Oz showing. But fear not, it wasn’t long before videos and VCR’s entered the market so you could own a piece of Oz and watch it whenever you wanted.

Let me just state–even though it may sound like it–I’m not a rabid Judy Garland fan. I don’t collect Garland memorabilia, nor do I attend the many conventions that are held yearly. But she was my first exposure to entertainment, and to Hollywood; a love that has remained with me my entire life.

It was almost fifteen years ago that the first rumors circulated that Judy Garland might be moving to Hollywood Forever. I was thrilled. But evidently there was a breakdown in communication within the family, or there was some other reason that it didn’t happen. I don’t know. Then, last January, when it was announced that it was finally happening–Judy Garland was being reinterred at Hollywood Forever in a beautiful art deco-ish mausoleum that sort of reminded me of Oz; it made me think.

 

 

I already had a niche at Hollywood Forever, in the Cathedral Mausoleum not far from Rudolph Valentino that I had bought several years ago. So, after deep thought, and with many niche’s (and some crypts) available for purchase, I decided to move. My new final resting place is directly across from Judy Garland’s crypt. To me, it made sense since Judy was a part of my early life–now she will be a part of my eternity (hopefully not for a few decades, though).

Greater California Postcard, Movie, Paper & Collectibles Show

January 19th, 2018

Greater California Postcard, Movie Memorabilia,

Paper & Collectibles Show

UFCW Union Auditorium

8550 Stanton Ave, Buena Park, CA

Friday Jan 26th ( 10 am – 6pm) &

Saturday Jan. 27th (10am -4pm)

A large assortment of postcards, movie memorabilia and

posters, lots of great ephemera and misc. collectibles.

Come see some cool items.

Just across the street from Knott’s Berry Farm.

Dorothy Malone 1925 – 2018

January 19th, 2018

“She is a strumpet of the first order. It certainly will be talked about. And there’s nothing an actress needs more, inside of Hollywood and out, than to be talked about — for a performance, I mean.” –Dorothy Malone, about her sexy character in Written on the Wind.

Rollin B. Lane, and a little Hollywood magic

January 12th, 2018

Rollin B. Lane (Photo courtesy of Ripon College Archives)

While not well-known today, Rollin B. Lane was an early Hollywood resident; an admitted capitalist and philanthropist who donated large sums of money for parks, libraries and orphanages. However, if he is known at all it would be for a street named for his mother, and for the home he built more than a century ago, which is now one of the oldest standing in Hollywood. In 1909, Lane named his home the “Holly Chateau,” but for the past fifty-five years it has been known by its more celebrated name – the Magic Castle. 

Rollin Benjamin Lane was born on May 28, 1854 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the son of Leonard Lane and Olive Pickett. The family home was located on Algoma Street, however, when his parents divorced (or his father deserted them), Rollins and his mother moved to nearby Pickett when he was two years old. His maternal grandparents, Armine and Anna Pickett, were pioneer residents of Pickett and Winnebago county.

Lane attended school at the old district No. 6 building, built on land donated by his grandfather. In 1872, he graduated from Ripon College and later became associate editor of the old Daily Evening Wisconsin in Milwaukee before settling in Redlands, California in the winter of 1886.

In Redlands, he invested in real estate and owned a 17-acre orange grove. With other investors, he established the Union Bank of Redlands, and was its cashier for five years. In 1890, Lane moved to Portland, Oregon, where he organized the Multnomah County Bank, of which he was president for three years before selling his interest in 1895.

In October 1896, Lane married Katherine Azubah Glynn, a teacher, and the author of the fictional, “The Girl from Oshkosh.” Kate was born in March 3, 1864, in Bucktooth, New York to La Fayette Glynn and Mary E. Perry. She was also the great-granddaughter of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, the early American naval officer.

Lane, an ardent Republican, hurried to marry Katherine so he could return to California to vote in the presidential election for McKinley. Katherine evidently sympathized and consented to a quick wedding and the couple left immediately for Redlands. There he purchased a house at the head of Center Street.

The Lane’s slowly made their presence known in Hollywood, moving there around 1902, making friends with influential people of the fairly new community. They attended the formal opening of the Hollywood Hotel’s new addition in 1905. It was then that he became acquainted with local real estate icons such as the Whitley’s, Wilcox’s and other Hollywood pioneers.

Meanwhile, Lane continued with his California real estate investments including projects in the San Fernando and San Joaquin Valley’s. In 1907, Lane became a backer of the new community of Corcoran in central California. Founded by H. J. Whitley, who also had investments in Hollywood (Whitley Heights, Whitley Avenue), many of his co-investors were other Hollywood citizens including General H. G. Otis (Los Angeles Times), Arthur Letts (Broadway Department Store), and Dr. Alan Gardner (Gardner Avenue). Much later, Corcoran became the site of the California State Prison, home to a number of notable inmates including the late Charles Manson, Juan Corona and Phil Spector.

Now a resident of Hollywood, Lane began construction in early 1909 on his elegant Holly Chateau at 7001 Franklin Avenue, at the foot of the Hollywood Hills. The original house was designed by the architectural firm of Dennis and Farwell in the French “Chateau” or Gothic Renaissance style and adapted from a residence in Redlands known as “Kimberly Crest” which is now preserved as a house museum.

Holly Chateau, a two-story frame and cement plaster house, had a large basement and finished attic under a mansard roof. The home initially had seventeen rooms including a roof garden and sun parlor. The basement contained a laundry, fruit and storage rooms and two large gas furnaces which heated the house.

Lane house drawing that appeared in the Los Angeles Times on January 23, 1910. (click on image to enlarge)

The halls, staircase and library were made of quarter-sawed white oak; the dining room was of mahogany and the den in natural redwood and of Turkish design. The parlor was decorated in white enamel with gold decorations in the Louis XV style, while the balance of the house, including the bedrooms and five bathrooms had white enamel finish. A large billiard room occupied the third floor. Other features included French windows, five or six fireplaces and carved mantels.

The Lanes shared their wealth with causes that were closest to their hearts. Because of her interest in community parks, Katherine was known as the “Tree Lady.” Hollywood’s Lanewood Avenue (named after Lane’s twice-married mother, Olive Pickett Lane-Wood), is still lined with large pine trees which Katherine most likely planted since the Lane’s once owned the land.

Lanewood Avenue, named after Olive Pickett Lane-Wood, in Hollywood. The pine trees that line the street were most likely planted by Katherine Lane.

She was chairman of the tree-planting committee that procured 360 cherry trees from Japan for planting around Griffith Park. Working with the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, Katherine is responsible for the planting of the landmark palm trees that line Wilshire Boulevard.

Katherine was elected president of the Hollywood Women’s Club and was the founder of the Round-the-World Club, Lane Tree Club, Perry Art Club and The Juniors. She also joined such organizations as the Hollywood Club, Oshkosh Club, Ebell Club, Women’s Press Club, Daughters of the American Revolution and Casa Del Mar. In 1932, she hosted the Wisconsin delegates of the 1932 Olympics, which were held in Los Angeles.

Around the time that they moved into the Chateau, the Lane’s adopted a son. The 1910 census does not mention a son, however, in 1920, twelve year-old Rollin B. Lane Jr. appears. Some have assumed that is the reason for a $25,000 donation to construct a building for the Los Angeles Children’s Home Society, but not much is known about the adoption.

Discord came to the Chateau in mid 1923, when Katherine filed for divorce against her 69 year-old husband. In her complaint she charged cruelty and named another woman, asking for $750 a month in alimony. A restraining order was issued to prevent Lane from removing anything from the house. However, after a meeting between the couple and their lawyers, a reconciliation was arranged and Lane returned to 7001 Franklin Avenue. However, Lane atoned for his sins the following January when he took Katherine and their son on a world cruise. A tour of Alaska followed this two years later and another world tour in 1927.

The passport photo for the Lane’s first world tour. Rollin, Rollin, Jr and Katherine Lane.

As the movie industry invaded Hollywood, the Lane’s kept their distance and refused to hobnob with the communities new residents. There have been urban legends about cowboy star, Tom Mix riding his horse down the mansion’s staircase (this story seems to follow him at several Hollywood residences), but it never happened. Also, the story about actress Janet Gaynor once living at the Chateau are also false.

The closest that the Lanes came to acknowledging the entertainment industry was a party they hosted to celebrate the birthday of composer, Carrie Jacobs-Bond, which was held at the Chateau for several years. Bond, who also lived in Hollywood, was a songwriter probably best known for composing the wedding standard, “I Love You Truly.” It became Katherine’s custom to celebrate Bond’s birthday with a garden party.

During their 1924 world cruise, Katherine was on the Indian Ocean and when the ship’s orchestra played “A Perfect Day,” – another Bond composition – it touched her heart, so if she reached home safely, she would give flowers to Bond, honoring her living presence instead of her memory.

On one birthday celebration, August 11, 1925, more than 300 people gathered on the Chateau grounds to observe Bond’s 64th birthday. Among those attending were George H. Coffin, president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce; real estate developer, C. E. Toberman; impresario, L. E. Beyhmer, and many others from Hollywood society. While no film people actually attended the festivities (or were invited), telegrams of felicitations were received from Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and “other celebrities.”

Unidentified woman, Katherine Lane and Rollin B. Lane at cornerstone laying ceremony for the Lane Library at Ripon College (Photo courtesy of Ripon College Archives)

In May 1929, Rollin Lane presented his alma-mater, the Ripon College Board of Trustees with $100,000, to be used to build the Lane Library. Lane, his mother-in-law, Mary Glynn and Katherine attended the cornerstone laying ceremony in June 1930.

Rollin B. Lane laying the cornerstone of Lane Library at Ripon College (Photo courtesy of Ripon College Archives)

The year before, Lane gave $20,000 for the construction of a new school building and auditorium in his hometown of Pickett, named the Armine and Anna Pickett Memorial School, after his maternal grandparents. Today it’s known as the Pickett Community Center. “It was quite the party when he came back to dedicate it,” said Mary Callies, researcher and treasurer of the Center. “There were endless parties; everyone wanted to be with someone who knew somebody in Hollywood.”

Day-to-day life, though slower, continued at Holly Chateau for the Lane’s. Around 1936, Lane became ill and rarely left the house. On August 23, 1940,

Rollin B. Lane’s death certificate (click on image to enlarge)

 

Rollin B. Lane died of a stroke in a small corner bedroom of the Chateau. He was 86 years-old. Funeral services were held at the Hollywood Cemetery Chapel and burial was in the family plot next to his mother.

Katherine Lane’s death certificate (click on image to enlarge)

 

 

Katherine lived at 7001 Franklin Avenue until her death at the Glendale Sanitarium on December 9, 1945. She was buried at Hollywood Cemetery between her husband and her mother (who is unmarked).

 

 

 

Lane family marker at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

During the years after Katherine’s death, the Chateau was divided into a multi-family home. Following that it was a home for the elderly and lastly it was altered into a jumble of small apartments.

In 1950, Harry Stafford, a stage and screen actor, died in one of the rooms.

In the 1950s, when the house was on the market, Hazel Meadows, Roland Lane Jr’s mother-in-law, stayed alone in the house to show it to prospective buyers. One day, Bela Lugosi came by to view it after working at the studios. Meadows was scared her out of her wits, even though Lugosi was gentlemanly. The Holly Chateau was eventually sold to Thomas Glover in 1955.

The fate of the house remained in question until Milt Larsen, a writer on the NBC game show, Truth or Consequences and his brother William, obtained the house for use as a club for magicians – a long-time dream of their father. After months of restoration, the Lane mansion was transformed into what is today known as The Magic Castle.

On January 2, 1963, at 5 pm, the Magic Castle opened its doors to members. It became a mysterious mansion with secret panels, a piano played by a ghost and weird overtones of magic. The mystifying features of the place began with the entrance, a secret panel known but to members. The “Invisible Irma” room boasts a regular piano and plays tunes at a verbal command.

Original posters of Houdini, the Mysterious Dante, the Great Leon, Thurston’s “Wonder Show of the Earth” and Brush, “King of Wizards,” decorated the Blackstone Room, where card tables are provided for sleight-of-hand experts.

The Magic Castle

The mansion has been altered many times–both inside and out–since the days that the Lane’s lived there. Street lamps that adorn the driveway once dotted the original Victoria Pier in Venice. Decorative cast iron frieze work on the canopy overhanging the door was part of the entrance to the Masonic temple at Wilshire and La Brea. Paneling in the main dining room was taken from the shutters of the Norma Talmadge Building that used to stand on Sunset. And the chandeliers in the Palace of Mystery once hung in the first Bullock’s in Southern California.

What would Rollin and Katherine Lane think of the transformation of their mansion? The room where Rollin Lane died is now the Houdini Séance room – perhaps one day Rollin will attend (or already has) to whatever goes on there and make his thoughts known. In any event, the only way you can see this magical place is if you know a member. If you ever have the chance, take it. You won’t be disappointed.

Special thanks to George W. Siegel, the architectural historian for the Magic Castle and to Bill Goodwin, librarian and Lisa Cousins of the Magic Castle for their help with this article.

 

Walk of Fame Star for Mary J. Blige

January 10th, 2018

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce will honor singer and actress Mary J. Blige with the 2,626th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Thursday, January 11, 2018 at 11:30 a.m. PST. The star will be dedicated in the category of Recording at 6201 Hollywood Boulevard in front of Eastown.

“Mary J. Blige is one of the most popular singers of our generation. Fans will be thrilled to see her star on the Boulevard as her career milestones are celebrated on this very famous sidewalk,” stated Ana Martinez, Producer of the Walk of Fame ceremonies.

Helping Emcee and Hollywood Chamber President/CEO Leron Gubler to unveil the star will be guest speaker Sean “Diddy” Combs.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce which administers the popular star ceremonies encourages people who are unable to attend and fans around the world to watch the event exclusively on www.walkoffame.com.

The iconic Grammy® Award-winning and Golden Globe nominated singer, songwriter, actress and philanthropist, Mary J. Blige is a figure of inspiration, transformation and empowerment making her one of the defining voices of the contemporary music era. With a track record in the music realm of eight multi-platinum albums, nine Grammy® Awards (with a staggering 32 nominations) and worldwide sales of more than 50-million albums. Blige ventured into acting where she has already received nominations for a 2018 Golden Globe, a 2018 SAG Award and a 2018 Critic’s Choice Award all for Best Supporting Actress recognizing her work in the Netflix film “Mudbound” opposite Carey Mulligan and Garrett Hedlund. The film premiered to rave reviews last year at Sundance and is now available to stream on Netflix.

Born in the Bronx, New York, Blige began moving people with her soulful voice when at 18 she signed with Uptown Records in 1989, becoming the MCA-distributed label’s youngest and first female artist. Influenced at an early age by the music of Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan and Gladys Knight, Blige brought her own gritty, urban-rooted style—fusing hip-hop, soul and honest, frank lyrics—to the forefront on her 1992 debut album What’s the 411? The multi-platinum set, executive produced by Sean “Diddy” Combs, quickly spun off several hits, including two R&B No. 1s: You Remind Me and Real Love.

Blige helped redefine R&B and began forging a unique niche for herself on the more personal second album, 1994’s My Life. Blige is an artist who uses her gift of song to lift spirits and touch lives while bringing her heart, soul and truth to those who are willing to listen. She is loved for her passionate, chart-topping hits like “Be Without You”, “No More Drama” and “Family Affair” all of which have made her a force in music.

And so began the Blige movement: connecting legions of fans who identify with and have accompanied her throughout her personal travails and growth—all fearlessly related through her music. Each subsequent album reads like a chapter from an autobiography: Share My World (1997), Mary (1999), No More Drama (2001), Love & Life (2003), the multiple Grammy-winning and hit-spewing The Breakthrough (2005), Growing Pains (2007) and Stronger with Each Tear (2009). Along the way, she’s lined up a string of hit singles, including Not Gon’ Cry, Love Is All We Need, Seven Days, All That I Can Say, Family Affair and Just Fine.

In October 2013, Blige for Matriarch Records/Verve Records/Interscope Records released her first-ever holiday album titled, A Mary Christmas in collaboration with legendary producer, David Foster. The holiday album features Blige’s soulful interpretation of such classic holiday tunes as Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, and The Christmas Song. Blige is joined by several A-list guests such as Barbra Streisand, and performs duets with Jessie J, The Clark Sisters and includes a Spanish language collaboration with Mark Anthony.

Blige, who co-penned I Can See in Color for 2009’s “Precious” soundtrack, has branched out into acting. She appeared in Tyler Perry’s dramatic comedy, “I Can Do Bad All By Myself” in 2009 and starred in “Rock Of Ages,” alongside Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand in 2012. Taking on a more dramatic role, in 2013, she starred as Betty Shabazz in the TV movie “Betty & Coretta,” a biographical story about the widows of Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr. In November 2013, Blige starred as the mysterious guardian angel Platinum Fro in the holiday musical film drama “Black Nativity.” Ramping up her acting career, Blige has guest-starred on the ABC’s Black-Ish and How to Get Away with Murder, the FOX musical drama Empire and was seen playing Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West, on the NBC musical, The Wiz Live!

In 2014, Blige released her 13th studio album, The London Sessions, which reached the No.1 position on the Top R&B Albums chart and included a behind-the-scene documentary of her recording sessions that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival 2015.

Earlier in 2017 Blige completed The King and Queen of Hearts World Tour with Maxwell, and released her 14th album titled Strength of a Woman. Her first single off the album, “Thick of It,” held the No. 1 spot on the Urban AC Chart for 16 consecutive weeks after its release.

Gillian Anderson get Star on Walk of Fame

January 9th, 2018

Actress Gillian Anderson poses on her Hollywood Walk of Fame Star in Hollywood, California on January 8, 2017.
She was the recipient of the 2,625th Star in the category of Television. /  FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

Walk of Fame Star for Gillian Anderson

January 7th, 2018

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce will honor actress Gillian Anderson with the 2,625th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 8, 2018 at 11:30 a.m. PST. The star will be dedicated in the category of Television at 6508 Hollywood Boulevard next to the FOX Theatre.

“Gillian Anderson is a great addition to the stars immortalized on our Hollywood Walk of Fame,” stated Ana Martinez, Producer of the Walk of Fame ceremonies. “Her history as an actress on the popular show “The X-Files” as the iconic skeptic Dana Scully, a medical doctor, forensic pathologist and FBI agent inspired a generation of viewership and a following of fans all around the world.”

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce which administers the popular star ceremonies encourages people who are unable to attend and fans around the world to watch the event exclusively on www.walkoffame.com.

Award-winning film, television and theatre actress Gillian Anderson achieved international recognition for her role as ‘Special Agent Dana Scully’ on the American TV series “The X-Files.” Running for nine seasons from 1993-2002. Anderson won an Emmy, a Golden Globe and two Screen Actors’ Guild awards for the series. 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the popular show and Season 11 premieres on FOX on January 3rd, with the second episode airing on January 10th at 8 p.m.

In film, Anderson has starred in “The Last King Of Scotland,” “The Mighty Celt,” “The House Of Mirth,” “Johnny English II,” “Shadow Dancer,” and “Sold”. Her Television credits include the critically-acclaimed “The Fall” and the Emmy- and BAFTA-winning mini-series “Bleak House” and “Great Expectations.”

On stage, Anderson has been nominated for two Olivier Awards; one of which was her recent performance of “Blanche Dubois” in the Young Vic Theatre’s production of Tennessee “A Street Car Named Desire.” She won the Evening Standard Award for this performance. In Spring 2016, the production then relocated to New York’s St Anne’s Warehouse. The start of 2016 saw Anderson appear in the hotly-anticipated international return of “The X-Files” and the BBC’s hugely successful adaptation of “War and Peace.” Currently, Anderson can be seen in the Starz series “American Gods,” based on the popular novel by Neil Gaiman. On the series, Anderson portrays the role of “Media” and received critical-acclaim for her diverse transformations portraying the likenesses of David Bowie, Marilyn Monroe, and Lucile Ball, and many others.

In addition, she will next be seen portraying ‘Lady Edwina Mountbatten’ in Gurinder Chadha’s “Viceroy’s House,” which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2017, as well as Gilles Paquet-Brenner’s 2018 film “Crooked House” alongside Christina Hendricks and Glenn Close. Anderson has also wrapped production on Ryan Eslinger’s independent feature “UFO” with Ella Purnell, Alex Sharp and David Strathairn, and the action-comedy “The Spy Who Dumped Me” opposite Kate McKinnon, Mila Kunis and Justin Theroux.

Anderson is also an author. “The Sound of Seas,” the third novel in her science fiction “Earthend Saga,” was published by Simon & Schuster in September 2016. Anderson co-writes the thriller series with New York Times best-selling author Jeff Rovin. Her most recent novel is non- fiction and co-written with journalist and activist Jennifer Nadel, entitled “We – A Manifesto for Women Everywhere.” It was released by HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster in March 2017 and made the London Sunday Times best seller list.

Over the past 17 years, Anderson has been strongly involved in many charity organizations: as a board member of Artists For A New South Africa, a spokesperson for Neurofibromatosis Inc., a founding member of South African Youth Education for Sustainability (SA-YES), an ambassador for Survival International and a patron of the Alinyiikira Junior School in Uganda, among many others. She remains vocal about child and human trafficking, adult and child literacy, and the impact of commercial fishing on deep sea life.