HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS THEN & NOW
4151 Prospect Avenue
By Allan R. Ellenberger
Vitagraph was first founded in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn by vaudevillians, Albert E. Smith and J. Stuart Blackton. They discovered that the films they showed during their on stage act garnered more attention than their comedy skits, so they began filming everything they could, developing a strong distribution system. They also signed the first actress to a contract — known to audiences as the “Vitagraph Girl” (Florence Turner) –and eventually established a studio in Los Angeles.
Aerial view of Vitagraph Studios in 1922
In 1915, Smith purchased 23 acres of land in East Hollywood at Prospect and Talmadge Streets for $20,000. The lot contained two daylight film stages, support buildings and many exterior film sets. Vitagraphs’s major stars had included Corinne Griffith, Norma Talmadge, Wallace Reid, and Jean (the “Vitagraph Dog”).
By 1925, Vitagraph suffered from financial troubles and was bought out by Warner Bros. who had their main studios on Sunset Boulevard at the time and used the old Vitagraph lot as an annex. Among the films that were made or partially shot here include: The Jazz Singer (1927); The Glorious Betsy (1928); Public Enemy (1931); The Gold Diggers of 1933; Captain Blood (1935) and The Lady with Red Hair (1940).
In 1948, the lot was bought by the ABC Television Network where it was used for many games shows such as Let’s Make a Deal, Family Feud, the Dating Game, the Newlywed Game, and Password. Many sitcoms have been filmed here including Barney Miller, Benson, Mr. Belvedere, Soap, Three’s Company, Welcome Back Kotter and Who’s the Boss.
Currently the long-running soap, General Hospital is taped here, as is the popular night-time drama, Grey’s Anatomy.
In 1996, ABC became part of The Walt Disney Company. As the television and film industry entered the next century, the Lot was renamed The Prospect Studios. In 2002, the property underwent a major renovation to position its facilities for the future and new technical innovation