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Robert S. Birchard Book Signing

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jan 11th, 2010
Jan 11



Evening @ The Barn

Hollywood Heritage



Early Universal City-cover



by Robert S. Birchard

Slide Show, Discussion, Book Signing




Thursday, January 14, 2010 – 7:30 p.m.

Hollywood Heritage Museum 

2100 North Highland Avenue, (Across from Hollywood Bowl)

Free Parking, Refreshments available 

2100 North Highland Avenue

$5.00 for Hollywood Heritage Members; $10.00 for non-members

Free Parking, Refreshments available

Telephone:  (323) 874-4005 • FAX (323) 465-5993 


Known as much today for its theme park, Universal City is also the largest and the longest continuously operating movie studio in “Hollywood.” The Universal Film Manufacturing Company was formed by a dozen independent producers in 1912, and Universal City was designed to provide a single facility in which to make their films. Since its official opening on March 15, 1915, Universal City has served as a training ground for directors like John Ford, William Wyler and James Whale; and as home to stars like Hoot Gibson, Deanna Durbin, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, Sr. and Jr., and Tom Mix . This evocative volume explores the studio that brought The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), The Phantom of the Opera (1925), All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), Dracula (1930), Frankenstein (1931) and 100 Men and a Girl (1936) to the screen.  



Carla Laemmle’s Book Signing

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Oct 31st, 2009
Oct 31


Carla Laemmle at Larry Edmunds Bookshop


Larry Edmunds Bookstore



Larry Edmunds Bookshop
6644 Hollywood Blvd. (at Cherokee)
Hollywood, CA 90028
(323) 463-3273



By Allan R. Ellenberger


On Friday, October 30, 2009, at Larry Edmunds Bookshop, Bob Birchard signed his book, Early Universal City, and Carla Laemmle (who just celebrated her 100th birthday on Tuesday) and Rick Atkins signed, Among the Rugged Peaks: An Intimate Biorgraphy of Carla Laemmle. After birthday cake for Carla, Bob Birchard gave a short slide presentation about the early years of Universal City.



Bob Birchard, Carla Laemmle, Rick Atkins

Bob Birchard (left) signing his book, “Early Universal City,” and Carla Laemmle and Rick Atkins signing “Among the Rugged Peaks”



Carla Laemmle at Larry Edmunds

Carla Laemmle signing my copy of the book on her life, “Among the Rugged Peaks: An Intimate Biography of Carla Laemmle”



Evening@The Barn

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Oct 12th, 2009
Oct 12

Evening @ The Barn

Hollywood Heritage

We’re back with…




– Selig-Polyscope, Keystone, Pathé, Norbig, Mixville! –

The season’s “Evening @ the Barn” opener
happens this Wednesday, October 14, 2009 

at 7:30 p.m. 


It’s good to be back.  “Hooray for Edendale” celebrates the anniversary, 100 years ago this month, of the establishment Los Angeles’ first permanent film studio, Selig-Polyscope, in the Los Angeles town of Edendale (renamed and now part of the Echo Park – Silverlake neighborhoods). 

After this “Evening @ the Barn,” you will know more than most folks about filmaking activities in LA (before Cecil B. DeMille had ever heard of a Barn to rent in some little Southern California town called Hollywood).


Hollywood Heritage board member and author Robert S. Birchard will share the origins of what is known worldwide as the “Hollywood” film industry.  And Hollywood Heritage secretary Marc Wanamaker once again dives into his vast collection of historic photos from motion picture history, pulling out gems to illustrate Mr. Birchard’s presentation.


Keystone Studio in Edendale

Keystone Film Company building,  Edendale

As Bob Birchard describes it: “When the movies came to Southern California — they didn’t come to Hollywood. For several years the center of motion picture production in Los Angeles was the district of Edendale along what was then Allesandro Street and is now Glendale Boulevard. Within a few blocks were the west coast studios of the Selig Polyscope company, the New York Motion Picture company and its famed Keystone brand, the American branch of the French film company Pathé, the Norbig rental studio, and Mixville — the lot where Tom Mix made many of his Fox westerns in the late 1910s and early 1920s.
“LA’s first entertainment district began in the spring of 1909 when director Francis Boggs rented the grandly named, but rather unimposing Edendale Hall and several surrounding lots to establish a permanent west coast home for the Chicago-based Selig Polyscope Company. Boggs promptly left town on a location jaunt that took him and his troupe to Yosemite, Oakland, and the Hood River Valley in Oregon–but he returned to LA in the fall and began producing pictures on the Edendale lot in October 1909–a century ago.” 
A brief article on Boggs, by Bob Birchard, appeared in the Summer 1999 Hollywood Heritage Newsletter, which you can access by clicking here.




Hooray for Edendale! “Evening @ the Barn” will be held 
(Across from the Hollywood Bowl)
2100 N. Highland Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90068
Hollywood Heritage Members:  $5, Non-Members:  $10
  Doors open 7 p.m., show starts 7:30 p.m.


Please note that “Evening @ the Barn” admission prices remain the same for Hollywood Heritage members:  $5.  But the non-member price has been raised by two dollars to $10.

Admission sold only at the door.


 Wednesday October 14th, 2009 in the
Lasky-DeMille Barn


***REMINDER: The Hollywood Heritage Museum has a capacity of only 120 persons. Once the capacity is reached, we will not be able to seat anyone else, due to fire regulations.
Future 2009 Evenings @ the Barn” will be:
Wednesday November 11:  Veteran’s Day commemoration, highlighting Eddie Cantor.  Members of the Cantor family will attend.
Wednesday December 9:  Bob Birchard presentation on historic Universal Studios. 

 Please arrive early so you won’t be disappointed!




Cinecon 45 Wrap-up

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Sep 9th, 2009
Sep 9


Cinecon 45


 Cinecon 45 poster


Another Cinecon has passed into the California sunset


By Allan R. Ellenberger


Cinecon 45 was presented by the Society of Cinephiles this past Labor Day weekend screening nearly 50 rare silent films and early sound feature films as well as many short subjects at the historic Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. The organization is dedicated to showcasing unusual films that are rarely given public screenings.


The celebrity honorees who attended along with the showing of one of their films included: Denise Darcel, Flame of Calcutta (1953); Adrian Booth (aka Lorna Gray), The Last Bandit (1949) and Stella Stevens, The Silencers (1966) who were honored at Sundays banquet with the Cinecon Career Achievement Award along with composer, Richard M. Sherman, who created the music for the films Mary Poppins (1964), The Jungle Book (1967), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) and many more.


Some of the films screened included: The Miracle Man (1932), Hatter’s Castle (1948), Broadway Love (1918), Nightmare (1942), Bardelys the Magnificent (1926) and The Bride Comes Home (1935).


Highlights of the weekend included the North American premiere of The Dawn of Tomorrow (1915), a Mary Pickford film thought to be lost when a tinted nitrate print with Swedish titles turned up in the Archival Film Collections of the Swedish Film Institute. Pickford’s costars were David Powell, Forrest Robinson and Robert Cain. The film was dedicated to Robert Cushman, photo archivist of the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who recently passed away.


Turn to the Right (1922), a Rex Ingram film, was recently restored by the George Eastman House. Made following two of the director’s epics, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) and The Conquering Power (1921), it starred Ingram’s wife, Alice Terry and Jack Mulhall. It was during the making of Turn to the Right that Ingram made one of his greatest discoveries when he cast Ramon Samaniego, later to be known as Ramon Novarro, in his next film, The Prisoner of Zenda (1922)


Cinecon 45 - Robert Dix

Author Robert Dix, son of actor Richard Dix, signed his autobiography, Out of Hollywood. With Dix are Sue Guldin and his wife Mary Ellen 



Author book signings included: Miriam Nelson (My Life Dancing with the Stars); Scott O’Brien (Kay Fancis – I Can’t Wait to be Forgotten and Virginia Bruce – Under My Skin); Robert S. Birchard (Early Universal City); John Gloske (Tough Kid: The Life and Films fo Frankie Darro); Paul Picerni (Steps to Stardon: My Story); Robert Dix (Out of Hollywood) and Michael Hoey (Elvis, Sherlock & Me).



Cinecon 45- Jane Withers

Former child star, Jane Withers 


Celebrity guests at Sunday’s banquet included: Sybil Jason, Lisa Mitchell, Jane Withers, Miriam Nelson, Carla Laemmle, June Foray, Ann Rutherford, Johnny Whitaker, France Nuyen, William Welman, Jr., Robert Dix, and many, many more.


The officers of Cinecon 45, who made this weekend such a success are: Robert S. Birchard, president; Marvin Paige, vice-president; Michael Schlesinger, secretary and Stan Taffel, treasuer.


Cinecon 45- Stella Grace, Jonathan Chin-Davis and Sue Gulden

Cinecon volunteer coordinator, Stella Grace (left) with volunteers Jonathan Chin-Davis and Sue Guldin.


And the volunteer coordinator for Cinecon and my boss for the weekend is the fantastic, one-of-a-kind Rhode Islander, Stella Grace.


For more information on Cinecon, please visit: http://www.cinecon.org/


Some Cinecon moments


 Carla Laemmle and Marvin Paige

Carla Laemmle (left), niece of Universal founder Carl Laemmle and Cinecon officer, Marvin Paige. Miss Laemmle will celebrate her 100th birthday on October 20.



Cinecon 45- William Wellman Jr.

 William Wellman Jr., son of the famed director



 Cinecon 45- Sybil Jason

 Actress Sybil Jason and archivist Miles Krueger



Cinecon 45- Katherine Orrison and Lisa Mitchell

Author Katherine Orrison (Lionheart in Hollywood: The Autobiography of Henry Wilcoxon) and actress Lisa Mitchell (The Ten Commandments)



 Cinecon 45 - Ann Rutherford

 Gone with the Wind’s Ann Rutherford



 Cinecon 45- Frederick Hodges

 Accompanist Frederick Hodges



Hollywood Heritage Event…

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Feb 9th, 2009
Feb 9


Hollywood Heritage


Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Join Robert S. Birchard as he introduces us to FRANCIS FORD and GRACE CUNARD, “The Two Greatest Serial Stars on Earth!”



Francis Ford-Grace Cunard



As Robert S. Birchard describes them:  “Little remembered today, Francis Ford and Grace Cunard were among the screen’s top action stars in the 1910s.  Between 1914 and 1917 they appeared in four hair-raising serials for Universal–Lucille Love, the Girl of Mystery; The Broken Coin; Peg o’ the Ring and The Purple Mask–and their company served as a training ground for future Oscar-winning director John Ford (Francis Ford’s younger brother).”


“Francis Ford began his movie career in 1907, and developed a distinctive visual style that was ahead of its time.  Grace Cunard was a pioneering woman filmmaker–writing quirky, sexually charged crime melodramas and often co-directing with Ford.  Off stage they  had a sometimes contentious romance.  Fans thought they were married–and Francis was married, but not to Grace!


“When Grace eloped with actor Joseph Moore, Francis Ford and Grace Cunard went from world-wide celebrity to obscurity overnight.”



Bob Birchard will tell the story of this screen team of star-crossed lovers through photos, clippings and documents from Grace Cunard’s personal collection, and rare film footage.”


Evening @ the Barn with Francis Ford and Grace Cunard will be held Wednesday February 11, 2009 in the



in the
Lasky-DeMille Barn
(Across from the Hollywood Bowl)
2100 N. Highland Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90068
Hollywood Heritage Members:  $5, Non-Members:  $8
Admission sold only at the door.
Doors open 7 p.m., show starts 7:30 p.m.
As always: FREE PARKING!  Refreshments Available.

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