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Fire damages Hollywood’s Magic Castle

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Oct 31st, 2011
2011
Oct 31

HOLLYWOOD NEWS

Fire damages Hollywood’s Magic Castle

 

 

The Magic Castle, the spooky headquarters for generations of stage magicians, was closed by a fire Monday that damaged the Hollywood landmark and shut down its Halloween activities, including a seance.

 

The blaze was reported shortly after 12:30 p.m. and took more than an hour to douse. Smoke rose from dormer windows at the height of the blaze.

 

No injuries were reported. There was no immediate word on the extent of damage.

 

On its website, the castle said it would be closed Monday night in order to assess that damage. Planned events had included a Halloween dance party and costume contest and a late-night seance to summon the spirit of Harry Houdini.

 

The ornate building with castle-like turrets was built as a private mansion in the early 1900s and had its ups and downs before it was opened as a private club for members of the Academy of Magical Arts in the early 1960s.

 

With a hillside view of Hollywood, the building has numerous theaters, bars and dining rooms that offer everything from sleight of hand to elaborate grand illusions.

 

The club, which is open to members, magicians and guests, prides itself on a show-biz spook atmosphere that includes a ghost-playing piano that takes requests and a hidden door that opens to the command “open sesame.”

 

The building has a large collection of props and posters from great magicians and an extensive library of magic. (AP)

 

 

CLICK HERE TO SEE NEWS REPORT ON MAGIC CASTLE FIRE

 

CLICK HERE TO READ “HOLLYWOODLAND’S” HISTORY OF THE MAGIC CASTLE

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Happy Halloween!!!

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Oct 31st, 2011
2011
Oct 31

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

 

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Ruth Hussey’s 100th Birthday

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Oct 30th, 2011
2011
Oct 30

100th BIRTHDAY

 

 

AMERICAN ACTRESS

 

  • BORN: October 30, 1911, Providence, Rhode Island
  • DIED: April 19, 2005, Newbury Park, California
  • CAUSE OF DEATH: Complications of appendectomy

 

 

CLICK HERE TO WATCH RUTH HUSSEY IN “THE UNINVITED”

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Filmmaking in Hollywood approaching 100 years

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Oct 27th, 2011
2011
Oct 27

HOLLYWOOD AT 100!

Filmmaking in Hollywood celebrates 100 years

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

This year marks the 100th anniversary of when producers first made films in Hollywood. Back in 1911, when Hollywood Boulevard (then Prospect Avenue) was lined with orange trees and Sunset Boulevard was all lemon trees, Hollywood citizens scoffed when they saw films being made in the streets. According to Al Christie, pioneer film producer, the people of Hollywood used to regard the film people as lunatics. Over the next year, Hollywoodland will profile the historic people and events from Hollywood’s first year. The following is a remembrance of Christie, who along with David Horsley, opened the first motion picture studio at the northwest corner of Sunset and Gower on October 27, 1911.

 

By Al Christie, 1928

 

“Motion pictures are a business now, but they were a ‘freak’ when we came out to Los Angeles in 1911. Hollywood was a sleepy little town of dusty roads and yellow orchards, pepper trees, and a profusion of flowers. Hollywood Boulevard seemed all orange trees, Sunset all lemon trees. The flowers and fruit were so beautiful that we tried to use them as background in every picture.

 

“In those days we had no rushes. The films were shipped east before we saw them, to be developed. We saw the first picture we made in California three months later and we noticed, to our disappointment, that the oranges photographed black.

 

“On one of those first days, when we were shooting a comedy scene on a Hollywood street corner, one of the town’s good citizens came along, walked into camera range and stood there stiffly. I asked him if he would mind moving, and he replied, hotly, ‘I’m a taxpayer, sir, I’ve a right to stay her, and I’m going to!’

 

“‘Going to stay right there?’ I asked him.

 

“‘Yes, sir, right here!’

 

“‘That’s fine, were going to move across the road and you will be out of vision,’ I rejoined. He was pretty mad.

 

“None of us had heard of Hollywood before we came west. There were other companies in Los Angeles. D.W. Griffith was working at the corner of Georgia and Pico, where the car bars are now. Fred Balshofer was in Edendale and Selig in Glendale. A real estate agent told us he had a fine lot in a place called Hollywood. He took us out on Sunset Boulevard and while he was showing it to other members of the party I wandered away from him and across the street to what we decided upon as our first studio location.

 

“There stood an old abandoned roadhouse [Blondeau Tavern], a low, rambling building with a big veranda and many private dining rooms. There was a big bar which we made into a carpenter shop. Margarita Fischer and Harry Pollard were given the little dining rooms for dressing rooms. A lot of others who weren’t so fortunate dressed in the old bard, where the horses had formerly been kept. Russell Bassett, the eminent actor, now dead, once said, ‘That I should come to see the day when I should dress with the horses!’ And he was serious.

 

“Location trips meant work for everyone. Every actor used to know how to hammer and saw. In addition to doubling, loading props on and off the wagons, painting the legs of the horses when we wanted to double them, the actors build all the sets. In the winter we would stop camera shooting a half past three. Could the actors go home? No! We would say, ‘All right, boys, now we’ll put up the house for tomorrow.’ Even the women helped in their spare time. My mother made all the curtains for the sets.

 

“There was one motion picture theater in town. It was nothing extra, and not many people went to it. As a result, no one was much interested in what we did, except to think of us as a bunch of ‘nuts.’

 

“What a contrast to conditions today. Everyone in Hollywood knows almost as much about pictures as those of us in the business. If we took a company down Hollywood Boulevard today to make a street scene with a man jumping on and off a moving street car, we would get 100 per cent cooperation. I would be willing to wager that without knowing our plans, the first motorman who came along would slow up to let our man make his jumps. They’re all movie actors now.”

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One-hundred years of filmmaking in Hollywood

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Oct 27th, 2011
2011
Oct 27

HOLLYWOOD AT 100!

 The 100th anniversary of Hollywood’s first movie studio

 

 

The above photo is reportedly a photo of David Horsley and his troup taken at the train station upon his arrival in Los Angeles, one-hundred years ago today on October 27, 1911. Horsely is on the far right with mustache and bowler. The boy with the camera is his son. Al Christie is over Horsley’s right shoulder.

 

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the first movie studio located in Hollywood. There were other companies in Los Angeles by this time–D.W. Griffith was working at the corner of Georgia and Pico. Fred Balshofer was in Edendale and Col. William Selig in Glendale but no one had yet set up shop in Hollywood, which would become the film capitol of the world.

 

Brothers David and William Horsley formed the Centaur Film Company on the east coast. By 1910 their operation was producing three movies a week, including the Mutt and Jeff comedies. Along with other movie independents, they succeeded in defeating the monopolistic hold on the industry of Thomas Edison’s Motion Picture Patents Company. However, weather conditions became so bad during the summer and early fall of 1911 that it was impossible to make motion pictures in the vicinity of New York City. The camera depended entirely on sunshine and there just wasn’t any sunshine to speak of. Frustrated, David Horsley took his three companies and loaded them on the train and moved his operations to California.

 

Horsley arrived in Hollywood with Al Christie, director and cameraman, and actor Thomas Ricketts and others. Hollywood was a sleepy little town of dusty roads and yellow orchards, pepper trees, and a profusion of flowers. Hollywood Boulevard seemed all orange trees, Sunset all lemon trees. Reportedly some footage was shot in the orchards of one of Hollywood’s early founders, H.J. Whitley. The following day, October 27, 1911, Frank Hoover, a local photographer with a studio at the southeast corner of Hollywood and Gower, introduced Horsley to Marie Blondeau, a widow who owned a closed-up roadhouse down the street on Sunset and Gower. The tavern was a low, rambling building with a big veranda and many private dining rooms.

 

 

Blondeau Tavern

 

 

After lunch they went poking around in the backyard of the roadhouse. The tropical foliage and orange groves so entranced them that they rented it that day from Mrs. Blondeau for $40 a month—backyard and all. As a result the Nestor Company opened the first motion picture studio in Hollywood on the site of a deserted tavern. The next day they started shooting The Law of the Range, starring Harold Lockwood.

 

At the new studio, Horsley had three units working simultaneously—one was under the direction of Milton H. Fahrney, who made one single reel Western picture every week; another was directed by Thomas Ricketts who made one single reel dramatic picture every week; and the third was under the direction of Al Christie, who made one single reel Mutt and Jeff comedy picture every week.

 

In those days there were no rushes. The negatives were developed after dark on the old screen porch of the tavern, and sent to Bayonne, New Jersey, to the laboratory for printing. The cast and crew did not see Law of the Range until three months later and they noticed, to their disappointment, that the oranges photographed black.

 

 

 

The above help-wanted ad, looking for actors, appeared in the Los Angeles Times on November 4, 1911, one week after Horsley set up shop in Hollywood

 

 

The old tavern had to be remodeled in order to meet their needs. There was a big bar which was made into a carpenter shop. The house was turned into offices, the barn into a property room. A stage was built in the yard—with muslin over it to diffuse the light. Margarita Fischer and Harry Pollard were given the little dining rooms for dressing rooms. A lot of others who weren’t so fortunate dressed in the old barn, where the horses had formerly been kept. Russell Bassett, the eminent actor, once said, ‘That I should come to see the day when I should dress with the horses!’ And he was serious.

 

Location trips meant work for everyone. Every actor had to know how to hammer and saw. In addition to doubling, loading props on and off the wagons, painting the legs of the horses when they wanted to double them, the actors built all the sets. In the winter they would stop camera shooting at three-thirty. Could the actors go home? No! The director would say, “All right, boys, now we’ll put up the house for tomorrow.” Even the women helped in their spare time. Al Christie’s mother made all the curtains for the sets.

 

 

Christie / Nestor Studios 1913

 

 

On one of the first days of filming Al Christie was shooting a comedy scene on a Hollywood street corner, and one of the local residents came along, walked into camera range and stood there stiffly. Christie asked him if he would mind moving, and he replied, hotly, ‘I’m a taxpayer, sir, I’ve a right to stay her, and I’m going to!’

 

“‘Going to stay right there?’ Christie asked him.

 

“‘Yes, sir, right here!’

 

“‘That’s fine, were going to move across the road and you will be out of vision,’ Christie said. He was pretty mad.

 

 

Above is the site of the former Blondeau Tavern, Nestor Studios and Christie Studios on the northwest corner of Sunset and Gower. In the late 1930s it then became the home of CBS. The building is now abandoned.

 

 

The studio was operated by David Horsley until May 20, 1912, when Universal Film Company was formed and took over every one of the independent companies then operating and each one took stock for his studio, laboratories and other picture interests. Horsley received $175,000 in preferred stock and $204,000 in common stock in the Universal Company. He also was elected to the office of treasurer of Universal at $200 per week salary, a lot of money in those days.

 

Throughout the next few months I will continue the story and post about the people and places of those early days of filmmaking in Hollywood.

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Hobart Bosworth remembers early filmmaking

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Oct 25th, 2011
2011
Oct 25

FILM HISTORY

The early days of filmmaking as remembered by Hobart Bosworth

 

  

On October 27, 1911 producer David Horsley came from New York and converted a deserted tavern on the northwest corner of Sunset and Gower into Hollywood’s first movie studio. On Thursday we will celebrate one-hundred years of filmmaking in Hollywood. Films were already being made in Los Angeles in the Edendale section where actor Hobart Bosworth was making films since 1909. The following is taken from a 1936 letter that Bosworth wrote a Los Angeles Times columnist reminiscing about those early days in Los Angeles and Hollywood.

 

“The Fanchon-Royer studio was the original permanent studio established by Francis Boggs, director for the Selig Polyscope Company. The buildings which have just been torn down were built by him from plans approved by Col. Selig. That was the triumph of Bogg’s life, which was ended by a bullet fired by a crazed Japanese gardener when Boggs was on the threshold of great things. Another bullet dangerously wounded Col. Selig.

 

“The Selig Polyscope party, on a location tour from the plant in Chicago, stopped in Los Angeles in May, 1909, and made two pictures, The Heart of a Race Track Tout, mostly at the old Santa Anita track, and Power of the Sultan, in which Stella Adams and I were the leads. The ‘studio’ for these two was a Chinese laundry on Olive near Eighth. Then the Selig part went north as far as the Columbia River, but was driven back by fogs and hired a little wooden hall on Alessandro Avenue (now Glendale Blvd.), built a little stage and, I think, made one picture there. In the meantime, Boggs had written me at Ramona, where I was battling a gangrenous lung. In September 1909, I started playing the Roman in the old Virginius story with a happy ending.

 

“Boggs asked if I would write a plot he could produce, which would enable us to use the same scenery and costumes for another picture. I did it by stealing from The Rape of Lucrece, Cymbeline, Quo Vadis and Arius the Epicurean, setting a fashion for acquiring stories which has been considerably followed ever since. So I wrote and acted my second picture, and wrote, directed and acted my third, Courtship of Miles Standish. I have the records to prove all this.

 

“In November, 1909, a little independent company called Imp started on the other side of the street and a little further down. A year later Mack Sennett occupied that studio. It expanded across the street and had a big growth. But before that, I think in 1910, Jimmie Young Deer began making Westerns for Pathé. He hired a lot nearer us and on the same side of the street which became the Norbig studios. It is there yet, just as it was when I moved to it in 1914 to make the interiors for Jack London snow pictures.

 

Tom Mix, after he became a Fox star, moved a long way farther out on the Glendale road to what was called Mixville. He had his stables there. Curly Eagles ran them. He was a member, with the Stanley boys, Art Accord, Hoot Gibson and Bosco, of a little stranded rodeo troupe. They came to Boggs in 1910 to work in westerns, but began with Mazeppa, in which I was the gent who was bound to the fiery, untamed steed. It was Kathlyn Williams’ first picture.

 

“The next studio was established by Al Christie and Dave Horsley at Sunset and Gower. Vicky Ford with her mother and father were there. It later became Universal. Griffith brought the Biograph to Georgia Street in January 1910 and it rained for a month. He was about to go back when he learned that Vitagraph, Lubin, etc., were starting out here because our pictures had such fine scenery and light. Selig had scored a scoop. Griffith brought Mary Pickford, Jack Bennett, Henry Walthall and a lot more.”

 

—Hobart Bosworth

May 1936

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Happy Birthday Miriam Hopkins!

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Oct 18th, 2011
2011
Oct 18

 

 

AMERICAN ACTRESS

 

October 18, 1902, Savannah, Georgia

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Early filming in Hollywood

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Oct 14th, 2011
2011
Oct 14

FILMING LOCATIONS

 

One-hundred years ago this month, the first motion picture studio was opened in Hollywood by David Horsley in the old Blondeau Tavern on the northwest corner of Sunset and Gower. However, it wasn’t the first time that filming took place in the environs of the future film capitol. In those days, movie companies would show up unexpected and unannounced and begin filming a scene, then just as quickly leave. One such event occurred just six months before Horsley’s arrival at the famed Hotel Hollywood, now the site of the Kodak Theatre. The following is the account as it was reported in the Los Angeles Times the following day.

 

Turn guns on bellboys

 

  

Los Angeles Times
April 14, 1911

 

Two stage miners cause panic at hotel while making of motion-picture film progresses

 

While the guests at the Hotel Hollywood were enjoying a quiet siesta on the wide verandas yesterday they were thrown into an incipient panic by the appearance of two very stagey-looking mining men riding typical desert broncos.

 

The men were looking about furtively as they drew rein before the hotel. The guests’ watched them curiously as they laboriously dismounted.

 

Just then the doors of the hotel opened and two youths, dressed elaborately as bellboys, rushed out to meet the newcomers. The bellboys grabbed at a heavy leather bag which the mining men were placing on the ground.

 

Suddenly each of the mining men gave a shout, drew a large revolver and began firing indiscriminately at the bellboys. The hotel guests arose as one person and made a center rush for the doors leading into the lobby. They wedged themselves in the doorways and yelled for help. Children playing on the lawn yelled and fled for the crowded doorway.

 

Meanwhile the mining men were pumping away blithely with their revolvers. A third man appeared and the bombardment ceased. There was a moment’s conversation with a great deal of gesticulation and the mining characters, carrying their heavy leather pouch between them, marched up to the door of the hotel. The trembling bellboys were holding the miners’ horses. As soon as the mining men reached the shadow of the veranda they dropped their bag with a sigh and turned around genially to the peering and frightened faces of the guests.

 

“Gee,” said one, “these stunts are hard on we guys.”

 

The scene was staged for the benefit of the American Biography Company and was part of a long film now being made, which depicts the experience of two miners who strike it fabulously rich and have a strenuous experience at hotels owing to their suspicion of everyone who tries to carry their precious gold-laden leather pouch.

 

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If anyone recognizes the plot and knows the title of this film, please post it here. Thank you.

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John Gilbert–Jim Tully feud

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Oct 9th, 2011
2011
Oct 9

FROM THE HEADLINES

John Gilbert and Jim Tully bout stirs Los Angeles

 

 

  

Los Angeles Evening Herald
February 11, 1930

 

Hollywood today awaited the next flare-up in the John Gilbert-Jim Tully feud.

 

And while Hollywood awaited, details of a fist fight staged by the pair in a Hollywood restaurant several days ago was coming to light, indicated that Tully, redheaded author, had knocked the screen star down and had scored a decision over him in the presence of Gilbert’s wife, Ina Claire.

 

Gilbert, now vacationing at Palm Springs, refused to discuss the fight at length except to state tersely: “I don’t care to talk about it. I only did what any man would have done in the circumstances.”

 

Which was almost the same the same thing Tully said, but the author added: “I did what you’d do if a man came charging across a room at you. I simply got up and knocked him down.”

 

But “ringsiders” and friends recounted the “blow by blow” report of the fight. Tully, they said, was having a midnight lunch at a table with Miss May Cruze, sister of director James Cruze, and Nicholas Kelly.

 

Gilbert, Miss Claire and Sid Grauman entered the cafe.

 

Two years ago, Tully had written “unfriendly” words in a story of Gilbert’s life, appearing in a nationally known magazine, and bad feeling was known to exist between the two.

 

According to witnesses, Gilbert deposited his coat and then saw Tully seated at the table. With a shout, the romantic star, dashed across the room, it was said.

 

Tully arose and struck him in the face, flooring Gilbert. Then friends separated the pair, and Gilbert left in a few minutes, joined by his wife.

 

TWO DAYS LATER…

Jack Gilbert, screen star, may have been down as the result of one of author Jim Tully’s “roundhouse swings.” But he insists he never was “licked.”

 

Gilbert emerged from temporary seclusion at Palm Springs today to tell the world that his head, target of Tully’s punch in a Hollywood cafe last week, may have been bloody, but it’s still unbowed.

 

“I’m not saying what I’ll do the next time we meet,” Gilbert said. “If I should feel at that moment as I did the other night, there’ll be another fight. I hope to have better luck next time. I made a mistake rushing him. It put me at a disadvantage.”

 

Tully scoffed at Gilbert’s latest defy.

 

“He’s always at a disadvantage when he tackles me,” the author said. “I learned to fight where brickbats were daisies. If Gilbert had gone to that school he wouldn’t have survived to become a motion picture star.”

 

Tully siad he “was fond of Jack, but Gilbert had no sense of humor.”

 

Gilbert declined to predict when his next meeting with Tully would take place. He also denied he was “in training” at the Palm Springs resort, where he is vacationing with his wife, Ina Claire.

 

Ringside reports that Gilbert was the aggressor in the cafe fight were corroborated today by Miss May Cruze, sister of director James Cruze, who was with Tully and Nicholas Kelly when the fight started.

 

“Jack started it, all right,” Miss Cruze said. “He and Miss Claire and Sid Grauman came in and Jack started making passes at Jim. I think he missed four times. Then Jim hit him and he went down. Men stopped the fight, but Jack seemed willing to go on.”

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