Hollywood Center Studios
1040 N. Las Palmas Avenue
It started out as an open lot not owned by any studio but available for rent to filmmakers looking for a place to shoot their movies. It was built in 1919 by former Chaplin Studio employee, John Jasper on a stretch of undeveloped land. The property was 15 acres and Jasper built 3 soundstages. Jasper brought in C.E. Toberman from Chicago to run the operations.
In 1922 when Harold Lloyd left Hal Roach Studios, he moved his crew to the lot.
In 1924, B.P. Shulberg bought a controlling interest in the property and in 1925, Jasper moved on but sold his stake to the Christie brothers, Al and Charles, who made comedies under the moniker, Christie Comedies. Toberman took the property that fronted on Santa Monica Blvd. and the entrance was moved to Las Palmas.
In the mid-1920s, Howard Hughes filmed Hell's Angels
on the lot. The studio begins retrofitting for sound. By 1929, Stages 1 and 2 were finished and the studio was renamed Metropolitan Studios. Hughes saw the future of sound films and began to extensively reshoot Hells Angels and fired his original leading lady and hired Jean Harlow to replace her.
By 1933, the Christie brothers had to throw in the towel and ceded control of the studio to General Services which was part of AT&T who had developed Vitaphone. Stages 1 and 2 were torn down and rebuilt with dead sound-proof space by double-walling.
By the mid-1930s, Merle Oberon moved into Bungalow A and brought Alexander Korda with her. Mae West came over from Paramount after her film Belle of the
had scandalized the Hayes Office. Paramount Pictures was hoping to tone down La West.
Finally, Harry Sherman moved over to the lot and began making the Hopalong Cassidy
series of films starring William Boyd.
By the start of the 1940s, United Artists was leasing the lot for Alexander Korda and his partner, Benedict Bogeaus.
Numerous films including Alexander Korda's That Hamilton Woman
and his remake of Thief of Bagdad
were shot on the lot.
By 1942, Korda and other high-end producers had left the lot.
AT&T finally did get busted for anti-trust and they had to sell the studio in 1941. Bogeaus ended up in control of the studio.
In 1946, William Cagney (Jimmy's producer brother) became a partner with Bogeaus in the studio. Blood on the Sun
and The Time of Your Life
were both shot on the lot The partnership only lasted a year before the Cagney brothers moved to Burbank and Warner Brothers.
Cagney and Bogeaus sold the property to the Nasser brothers. The Nassers began advertising the studio to television producers and Ozzie Nelson, Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball and George Burns and Gracie Allen all began shooting their tv shows at Hollywood Center.
Between 1951 and 1953, Desilu shot I Love Lucy
on Stage 2.
In the 1960s, Hollywood General Studios was home to many of the television shows that are now pop-culture staples, Green Acres, Mr. Ed, Beverly Hillbillies
and Petticoat Junction
In the early 1970s, the Nasser brothers sold the studio to Miles Production Company, a Dallas oil and gas company. Universal Television rented nine stages a year whether they used the stages or not. Baretta
and The Rockford Files
were both shot on the lot.
The last theatrical film shot there was Shampoo
. George Burns continued to have an office on the lot that started in the 1950s and would last until Burns died at 100 years old.
In 1980, Francis Ford Coppola riding a wave of films from The Godfather
to Apocalypse Now
bought the studio to begin his "noble" adventure. He had a slate of films from One From the Heart, Hammet, The Outsiders
and others. He envisioned an old fashioned dream factory where he would employ a stable of contract players, writers, directors and technicans. They would find a friendly and creative environment that would be home not only to them but to veterans like Michael Powell.
Alas, it was not to last. By 1983, Coppola had foundered. Hammet
never found its audience and production costs,including building a replica of Las Vegas' Fremont Street complete with working neon signs, had forced Coppola into near bankruptcy. He was forced to sell the studio that only three years earlier had held so much promise.
The Singer family, real estate developers from Canada, took over from Coppola. They upgraded the stages and the office space. They marketed the studio to music video producers and rock and roll bands.
In addition, Body Heat, The Player
and When Harry Met Sally
were shot at the studio.