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Welcome to Mary Mallory Our Guest Author on 10/25 & 10/26

Past chats with our guests.

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Re: Welcome to Mary Mallory Our Guest Author on 10/25 & 10/26

Postby MaryoftheMovies » October 26th, 2013, 5:16 pm

Moira,
Yes, Hollywood Heritage currently has up a nice little exhibit on the history of Fitzgerald and the various "The Great Gatsby" releases. He lived in an apartment in West Hollywood, and also spent time at his girlfriend's, Sheilah Graham, who lived in an apartment just around the corner. Both are still there. Hollywood and West Hollywood, as well as several other surrounding cities, are lucky to still possess some lovely examples of bungalow courts, from early 1920s frame buildings, to Spanish-style, to more elaborate ones. These and other types of apartment buildings are what many Los Angelenos and film players lived in, something simple but pretty and quaint. They are still nice to live in today, a couple of friends live in some with beautiful period details like vintage tile, telephone/cabinet built-ins, and fireplaces.

The Chaplin Studio thankfully was never threatened with demolition, because production has always continued at the facility. After Chaplin, films like "Hollywood Story" shot there, TV shows, it was Herb Alpert's Studio for a time, and of course, now it's the Henson Studio. A few other places still stand and operate in their original capacity, the CBS Studio Center, originally the Mack Sennett Studio in 1928, Sunset Gower Studios, originally Columbia, Raleigh Studios, Paramount, Universal, Warner's, Of course, only some of the buildings on these lots go back to the teens and twenties. Culver Studios and its lovely main building was originally the Thomas Ince Studios in the 1910s, later the DeMille, RKO, Selznick, and Desilu Studios. What is now Sony contains a few original buildings that go back to the days of its construction by Goldwyn. The Chinese, Egyptian, Pantages, and El Capitan Theatres still operate as legitimate and film theatres. Musso and Frank's has been going strong for 90 years!

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Re: Welcome to Mary Mallory Our Guest Author on 10/25 & 10/26

Postby MaryoftheMovies » October 26th, 2013, 5:26 pm

Moira,
I still have some copies of the "Velvet Light Trap" from the days when I was there. Our exhibition issue featured many historic photographs of studios, as well as listings of articles and books available at the time.

Vivien Leigh had a somewhat seesaw relationship with David O. Selznick. He kept suggesting films to her, but she wanted to work with Larry and in the theatre. Of course, once they went back to England, that prevented a lot from happening. In fact, Myron Selznick was instrumental in getting her the role; Myron was Olivier's agent. Leigh and the Selznick office were in constant contact from the time she left England in late 1938 to come here to be with Larry. He arranged auditions for her for "The Light That Failed" and other films, which she really didn't seem interested in. There is nothing to suggest that Myron and David were in conversation about her, but Myron had dinner with Olivier and Leigh and took them to the filming of the burning of Atlanta, introducing her to DOS. Immediately, tests were arranged for her for the part of Scarlett. Papers in the DOS Collection suggest she was informed that she had the part at a New Year's party at Myron's Running Springs home, Hillhaven, in late December, 1938, a long party also attended by such clients and friends as William Powell, Loretta Young, Merle Oberon, Rosalind Russell, George Cukor, John Hay Whitney, and Irene Selznick.

Myron Selznick was THE Hollywood agent of the 1930s. In 1920, he headed Selznick Pictures, and was the youngest person seen in the photo of moguls witnessing Will Hays signing the contract to become head of the MPPDA. He supervised and produced pictures through the late 1920s. Once he became an agent at that time, he was the first to package clients, the first to take stars like William Powell, Kay Francis, and Ruth Chatterton from one major studio to another, from Paramount to Warner's, the first to set-up stars in independent production since the silent period, and the first to gain them profit participation. He attempted to produce a film himself in the late 1930s, but the Screen Actors Guild wrote a provision to their by-laws stating that agents could not produce films. Myron was very different from David. Loretta Young told me he was a Father Confessor, he would listen and help support you with problems. He was more hands-off and let his under agents do some work, but he did the heavy lifting when it came to problems and the studio. He had a head for numbers and deals. He was actually somewhat shy in private, I think that's why he drank. David, on the other hand, was very outgoing and very verbal. As you know, he wrote detailed memos, and took a hand in virtually everything his studio did. He could drink as well and took Benzedrine. They both gambled. And both were intensely loyal to people who had worked for their father, Lewis J. Selznick, giving roles and helping people like Owen Moore and Alla Nazimova when they were down on their luck.

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Re: Welcome to Mary Mallory Our Guest Author on 10/25 & 10/26

Postby MaryoftheMovies » October 26th, 2013, 5:33 pm

One interesting thing about Leigh. She and Olivier starred in ROMEO AND JULIET on Broadway after GWTW. Kay Brown, the head of David Selznick's New York office, reported in a letter to him that she had witnessed Leigh acting strangely at a party. I think this was the start of her bi-polar disorder.

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Re: Welcome to Mary Mallory Our Guest Author on 10/25 & 10/26

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » October 26th, 2013, 6:17 pm

Fabulous comments about Vivien Leigh, Myron, and David, Mary!

And in response to your earlier post, I wanted to write about how much I enjoy the Harry Ransom Center, and was so thrilled when I found out that David O. Selznick's collections would be there. A couple of years ago, I went there just to prowl around Gloria Swanson's goodies. What a treasure trove the Harry Ransom Center is. I am so tickled you made such wonderful connections with your newsletter and working on your thesis about Myron Selznick sounds so interesting. I have one of David Thomson's books.

Please share some more!

Have you thought about writing an article about all the fabulous collections at UT?
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Re: Welcome to Mary Mallory Our Guest Author on 10/25 & 10/26

Postby Rita Hayworth » October 26th, 2013, 6:28 pm

One quick question ...

In the City of Angels - what you consider the top TEN places to visit that has rich Hollywood Lore and Legacy? - That you can easily visit in 5-7 days. Thanks Mary for taking the time to answer this question!

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Re: Welcome to Mary Mallory Our Guest Author on 10/25 & 10/26

Postby JackFavell » October 26th, 2013, 6:48 pm

Hi, Ms. Mallory! Welcome to the SSO!

I am curious about your comment on Lewis J. Selznick, and wondered if you had more information on his Hollywood career in movies?

I also was wondering what some of your favorite early silents were? I am a big silent film fan, and find the early silents quite fascinating, especially the locations. Do you have any favorite stars?

Can you tell me about Edendale, which I think was one of the first places that filmmakers came when they left the east coast?

Wendy Merckel

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Re: Welcome to Mary Mallory Our Guest Author on 10/25 & 10/26

Postby MaryoftheMovies » October 27th, 2013, 1:49 am

Christy,
Yes, the HRC is wonderful, particularly now that they have money to acquire things! Not only do they have the DOS and Gloria Swanson Collections, but also Robert DeNiro and Marie Windsor's, along with Woodward and Bernstein's papers! The building was smaller and not as nice when I was there, now they have the Friends Organization and have completely renovated the building. They are unparalleled in manuscripts and rough drafts of twentieth century authors.

David Thomson was great to work for, he would basically ask me to give an overview of the history of a film, event, situation, and allow me to flesh it out with telling detail. I had to learn to skim 40-50 page single-spaced memos, but Selznick was very literate and articulate, as well as moving, so these are very informative and entertaining. One of the fun things to research on DOS was his gambling in the mid-1940s, and some of the cancelled checks still survived from that time, like a $50,000 loss and a $200,000 loss. The gambling journal survived too! Both DOS and Myron attended Columbia for a little while before joining the film industry full time, so they were much more educated than most at that time. Myron's memos were short and sweet, funny, sarcastic, and right on the money. One of the best was one called "A Letter to the Dictators," written to Joseph Schenck, Darryl Zanuck, Louis B. Mayer, Jack Warner, et al., after SAG passed the rule preventing agents from producing (Thomson quotes some of it in "Showman."). He basically tells them that his fellow agents caved around him like the Balkans to the Nazis, but though he had lost the battle, he would win the war. He was right in that regard, because with the studios' decline and virtual disappearance by the 1970s, stars became all important, earning profit participation and making their own films, with agents running the town in those days.

DOS kept everything, so that collection is just an eclectic melange of things: x-rays, Georgia clay as research for GWTW, cancelled checks, papers, props ("Spellbound" scissors and giant hand, "Portrait of Jennie" portraits and sailboat, Thalberg Award, GWTW production designs and costumes (when I was there, nuns in San Antonio made replicas of the dresses, which toured for years). There are more than 2000 manuscript boxes, as well as production designs, props, costumes, films, and posters. A coworker and I got the fun job one summer to go out to the old Nike nuclear missile vault where the nitrate films were stored, and measuring them to see if they had shrunk any. The films included GWTW screen tests, Gregory Peck and Gene Kelly screen tests (DOS brought them to Hollywood), home movies, etc. This is the most complete collection to show how a studio operated, and the complete process in developing and producing a film.

I plan on expanding and turning the thesis into a book on Myron, to reveal how important he was in making agents all powerful. His daily office diaries survive, and they reveal how important he was. Moguls like Jack Warner and Mayer would come to his office or NY hotel room, he didn't have to go meet with them. When DOS, Myron, and Jock Whitney were trying to decide which studio would distribute GWTW, they made presentations at each studio, and then Myron by himself negotiated deals with each. MGM eventually made the best deal. Myron was incredibly astute, his will specified that his estate was never to sell his 7.75% in GWTW, and that is the only private percentage in the film that survives to this day.

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Re: Welcome to Mary Mallory Our Guest Author on 10/25 & 10/26

Postby MaryoftheMovies » October 27th, 2013, 1:57 am

Rita,
So many great places to see around Hollywood/LA, don't know if I can limit it to 10!

Here are some I would definitely not miss:

Hollywood Heritage Museum (Lasky-DeMille Barn)
handprints/footprints at Grauman's Chinese
Grauman's/Egyptian Theatres (El Capitan possibly)
Silent Movie Theatre (Cine-Family)
tour of either Warner Bros. or Paramount Studios
Music Box Steps
Musso & Frank's
Hollywood Bowl
Angel's Flight (not working right now)
City Hall/Bradbury Building/Disney Hall
Yamashiro's
Hollywood Forever/Forest Lawn Cemeteries to see where the famous are buried
Griffith Observatory
Bronson Caves
Drive by Chaplin/Sony/Culver/CBS Studio Center/Disney/PIckford-Fairbanks
Margaret Herrick Library

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Re: Welcome to Mary Mallory Our Guest Author on 10/25 & 10/26

Postby MaryoftheMovies » October 27th, 2013, 2:18 am

Jack,
Thanks for writing! There are many early silents I enjoy: D. W. Griffith films, Selig/Essanay/Thanhouser films, Sennett films for their locations, directors Lois Weber, Abel Gance, later Erich von Stroheim, Rex Ingram, Clarence Brown, actors Ronald Colman, Milton Sills, Thomas Meighan, Buster Keaton, Sessue Hayakawa,Mary Pickfordfilms lie A CORNER IN WHEAT, SHOES, HOUSE WITH CLOSED SHUTTERS, LA ROUE, J'ACCUSE, NAPOLEON, THE GOOSE WOMAN, THE MERRY WIDOW, FOOLISH WIVES, MARK OF ZORRO, etc.

Lewis J. Selznick was a hustler who made good, a jewelry store owner who came east when it was easy to just traipse in to a studio, and claim he was a producer. He became affiliated and second in command at World Film Corporation, and then left to form his own company. Selznick Pictures featured high production values, good talent like Constance and Norma Talmadge, Olive Thomas, William Desmond Taylor, and fun. They made good films adapted mostly from books and plays. They were flying high until the early 1920s, when funding from an investment firm pulled in debts. Myron worked his way up from film inspector, all the way to producer. DAvid worked in publicity and producing. FAmous Players-Lasky distributed Select Picture films in the late teens, until the Feds cut back on payouts. When Myron came in, the Selznicks release films through Atlantic.

Edendale was originally a small suburb just outside the downtown area, filled with hills, Echo Park Lake, bungalows, a perfect area for filming , as it still seemed very rural-like. One of the sound stages from Keystone's Mack Sennett's day still stands as a Public Storage building on Glendale Blvd. Next to it is a Jack-in-the-Box, with a plaque which recognizes the Sennett Studio. Companies as diverse as Bison, Selig, Rolin, and Tom MIx had production facilities and filmed there. Still quaint.

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Re: Welcome to Mary Mallory Our Guest Author on 10/25 & 10/26

Postby Rita Hayworth » October 27th, 2013, 9:50 am

Mary Mallory,

Before I have breakfast with my friends - I wanted to say a big thank you for providing a list of things to do in Los Angeles ...

DONE THESE THINGS ...
handprints/footprints at Grauman's Chinese
Grauman's/Egyptian Theatres (El Capitan possibly)
Tour of Paramount Studios
Hollywood Bowl
City Hall/Bradbury Building/Disney Hall
Griffith Observatory
Bronson Caves

WILL DO THESE THINGS ...
Hollywood Forever/Forest Lawn Cemeteries to see where the famous are buried (i was there briefly)
Hollywood Heritage Museum (Lasky-DeMille Barn)
Silent Movie Theatre (Cine-Family)
Tour of Warner Bros.
Music Box Steps
Musso & Frank's
Angel's Flight (not working right now)
Yamashiro's
Drive by Chaplin/Sony/Culver/CBS Studio Center/Disney/PIckford-Fairbanks
Margaret Herrick Library


Fantastic List here and I'm grateful for this and I appreciate you joining us and sharing your thoughts about LA/HOLLYWOOD and the whole NINE YARDS. :)

Thanks Again,

Erik.

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Re: Welcome to Mary Mallory Our Guest Author on 10/25 & 10/26

Postby Lzcutter » October 27th, 2013, 11:14 am

Mary,

Good morning! So glad you are enjoying your stay with us!

1) Could you talk a bit about the Garden of Allah apartments? One of the first stories I heard when I first landed in the City of Angels back in the mid-1970s was about the Garden and it's residents. Shortly thereafter, I learned about the model and saw it on display a million years ago (or so it seems now) in the old bank (it may have been a Security Pacific back then) in the strip mall where the Garden once stood. I was thrilled beyond imagination to discover last week that the model (which has been missing for years) still exists, is in private hands with someone who understands its history and takes great care of it and I posted the story to our Facebook page.

2) You and I were in the audience on the final night of the TCM Film Festival this year and heard Robert O talk about the changes that were coming to the Grauman's over the summer and he warned the audience "to take a look around because it will all look different next year". I know I shook my head and I'm betting you did, too, because we both knew that Hollywood Heritage wouldn't let that happen.

Can you talk a bit about how HH saved Grauman's back in the late 1990s when the Hollywood and Highland complex was being built and how HH works today to keep Grauman's a piece of Hollywood history?

3) Can you talk a bit about the Hollywood sign, it's history and the current controversy about the sign, the neighborhood and tourists. Your book, Hollywoodland, is great by the way! And I encourage anyone interested in the sign and its relevance to one of Hollywood's earliest neighborhoods to pick up a copy.

Thanks!
Lynn in Lake Balboa

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Re: Welcome to Mary Mallory Our Guest Author on 10/25 & 10/26

Postby MaryoftheMovies » October 27th, 2013, 1:59 pm

Thanks Lynn! I appreciate you all for having me! The Garden of Allah apartments were Spanish-style bungalows spread out over lawns with a pool and bought by the great theatrical/film actress Alla Nazimova in the 1920s and became the place for literary or other artistic guests to stay when working or visiting Hollywood. People like Robert Benchley, Fitzgerald (for a short time), etc., lived and played there. As happens so often with lovely places, commerce helped lead to its destruction, when the land was bought for a strip mall/bank and the complex was pulled down. A model rested in the bank on the property for a while, before disappearing. As you said, an article appeared last week to show it still survives. Gavin Lambert wrote a biography of Nazimova that mentions the apartments, and Martin Turnbull has done a series of novels set there. I believe the Joni Mitchell song, "Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot" is about it.

Grauman's Chinese is a special place in Hollywood, and Hollywood Heritage is always watching it. Our beloved preservation master, Robert Nudelman, before he passed away several years, ardently watched over the place. When Paramount/Mann's worked on it about 10 years ago, Robert was there watching them to assure things were renovated and restored to the way the theatre looked in the twenties. In fact, for the first time since then, it more accurately reflected its opening glory. They did a marvelous job. The theatre has been turned into an IMAX theatre, but all renovation work was approved and signed off on by Hollywood Heritage, Los Angeles Conservancy, and the City's Office of Historic Preservation. The group recognizes the beauty and historic importance of the theatre, and has kept it in the same beautiful glory. They created a new large curtain to match the old, made sure that the decorations on the ends of the seats matched the original, that all grillwork matched the old, etc. Everything looks the same, except the seats are at a great rake and the screen is much huger. They can still show 35mm as well.

I will need to speak about the Hollywood Sign a little later today, but thanks for all of ya'll's great questions.

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Re: Welcome to Mary Mallory Our Guest Author on 10/25 & 10/26

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » October 27th, 2013, 2:29 pm

Thank you so much for all your wonderful insights, Mary. We are thrilled that you have visited!

Maybe I will go research Marie Windsor's treasure trove there! A book needs to be written!
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Re: Welcome to Mary Mallory Our Guest Author on 10/25 & 10/26

Postby MaryoftheMovies » October 27th, 2013, 6:55 pm

Lynn,The Hollywood Sign has survived a lot over its 90 year history. It was built as a temporary billboard to promote the Hollywoodland development in late November 1923, constructed out of telephone poles, sheet metal, pipes, and wire. In Dember 1923, a car made the drive up the hill to the Sign, and was featured in the Los Angeles Times. The Sign didn't show up again until 1932, when Peg Entwistle committed suicide. In 1945, the M. H. Sherman Co. turned it over to the LA City Parks and Recreation Dept., who wanted to tear it down in 1949 after letters kept getting stripped away by wind, or rains washing them down the hill. The Parks Dept. wanted to tear it down in 1949, rather than maintaining it. Enough people protested so it survived, and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce took it over and removed the word "land" to make it the Hollywood Sign. The Sign first appeared in the film, "down Three Dark Streets," before really appearing again in the 1970s. When it started appearing in films and TV, it became popular and people started wanting to see it. Hugh Hefner started the campaign in 1978 to ensure that it was restored and repaired properly, to guarantee it would never go rolling down the hill. People like Gene Autry, Andy Williams, Alice Cooper, etc. gave money to save it. Now thanks to GPS, people drive to the ends of dead-end streets and park their cars in the middle of the road to walk over and take pictures, or try to walk up the hill to the Sign. Over 40 tour companies now drive up in the neighborhood, on narrow, windy roads built in 1923 for neighborhood traffic, not busy tourist traffic. I'm surprised there hasn't been an accident up there with the speeds some of the tourists drive, or how they pose in the street, and block traffic. They could also block fire engines and ambulances from getting up there in the case of accidents or fires. The last fire in 1961 burned down 50 homes, including several on the dead-end street where people park to try and walk to the Sign. The neighborhood people have a right to be angry about the tourists who show no concern for the neighborhood or homes up there, littering, making noise, and causing problems.

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Re: Welcome to Mary Mallory Our Guest Author on 10/25 & 10/26

Postby Lzcutter » October 27th, 2013, 7:43 pm

Mary,

Quick question for you-

What is the oldest building in Hollywood and do you know its history?

Thanks!
Lynn in Lake Balboa

"Film is history. With every foot of film lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves."

"For me, John Wayne has only become more impressive over time." Marty Scorsese

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