Friday, May 31, 2013

The Natalie Wood Record Booth From The Film Inside Daisy Clover (1965)


The Record Booth from Inside Daisy Clover (1965)

One of the things I've enjoyed about posting on Dear Old Hollywood the past few years has been learning new tidbits about Hollywood and classic films through readers of the blog. I love it when you guys come up with great information that adds to the old Hollywood discussion. Just recently, reader Bill Bollman, a collector of vintage record booths wrote me with information regarding the record booth that Natalie Wood uses to record an album in the film Inside Daisy Clover (1965). In the film the record booth was inside the carousal building located on the Santa Monica pier. Bollman has acquired this record booth and was nice enough to share some pictures and to provide some background on this piece of Hollywood cinema history. Here's what Bollman had to say:

I am a Patent Attorney by trade, but as a hobby I collect vintage coinop machines.  In that vein, I have acquired a 1940s wooden Record Booth that I am told was operated at the Graumans Chinese Theatre in the 40s and 50s, but low and behold it is the very booth used in the opening scene of “INSIDE DAISY CLOVER”.    The original keys for the booth came with a label that would appear to be a Warner Brothers inventory control tag, but I’m in the process right now of researching that.

Natalie Wood approaches the Record Booth.

Over the past 10 years I’ve become somewhat of an expert on the Voice-O-Graph booth, recently acquiring a similar 1940s model wood Record Booth for Jack White of Third Man Records in Nashville.  I have been tracking just about all surviving models (only about 100 were ever made, and just a very small handful survive today.)  Of all the known wooden Voice-O-Graph Record Booths (and vintage photos of booths), none but this one have windows.  And this booth is quite unique in that it is actually an operating machine, but operated at 35c.  The external graphics have been changed FROM 35c TO 25c (quite unusual).  Presumably the producer of Inside Daisy Clover felt the 25c was more appropriate for the 1930s period in which the movie is set.

Natalie Wood inside the record booth.

Beside the uniqueness of this configuration of the Record Booth with side windows (never seen before) and general rarity of the booth itself – proof certain that this booth is in fact the very booth used in this Warner Brothers movie is that the scratch in the wood seen in the movie to the left of the window . . .

. . . is still seen in the booth today!


It is believed that this Record Booth was originally located and operated at Graumans Chinese Theatre.  That was its oral history when acquired in 2002, but I’ve also discovered the following scratching on an inside wall: “HO 48111” is the old phone number of Graumans Chinese Theatre!


But perhaps most interestingly of all (and fascinating for any Rebel Without A Cause fans), the booth includes two scratchings inside, this one in hand-scratching with much similarity to known handwriting of James Dean:



And then this one, apparently reading “J.D. + B.g.” in a doodled heart, evoking the possibility that this refers to James Dean and Barbara Glenn:


This is a beautiful, WORKING Record Booth (I’m fine tuning it now).  Research is currently ongoing – any information anyone may have (photos of the Record Booth at Graumans between 1946 and the late 1950s would be fantastic) would be greatly appreciated! 

So that’s it’s story so far!  

Thank you very much, and best regards,
Bill Bollman

Now how cool is that! If anyone may have more information on this Record Booth you can contact Bollman at RecordBooth@gmail.com.

I've previously done a post on some of the filming locations for Inside Daisy Clover which you can see here. Personally, I'm not a big fan of the film overall and was probably a bit too honest when I wrote the film locations post; but what I really like about Inside Daisy Clover are the locations and look of the film. Those two things alone make the film worth watching.

Thanks again Bill for the pictures and backstory!

Your thoughts?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Touring Liberace's Homes and Other News

Liberace in his piano themed pool.

The blog Curbed Los Angeles added an awesome post the other day mapping out some of Liberace's "Razzle-Dazzle" homes in Los Angeles, Palm Springs and Las Vegas. Complete address information and photos like the one above showing Liberace in his piano-themed house in Sherman Oaks can be found in the Curbed post here. As one might expect, all of the homes are theatrical, kitchy and fun!

Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as Scott Thorson

Tonight on HBO is the premiere of a new film about Liberace starring Michael Douglas as Liberace. The Steven Soderbergh directed film includes many other stars such as Matt Damon, Rob Lowe, Dan Aykroyd, Debbie Reynolds, and Paul Reiser. Some interesting trivia about the film has already been posted on IMDB.com. Here are a couple of the notes:
  • According to an interview with Michael Douglas at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, Debbie Reynolds, who plays Liberace's mother in this movie, was personally acquainted with the real Liberace and appeared as a guest on his variety show. Douglas also said that when he was younger, his father, Kirk Douglas, had a Palm Springs home down the street from one of Liberace's homes, and although Michael Douglas never met Liberace, he did occasionally see him in the neighborhood.
  • Michael Douglas was older at the time of filming than Liberace was when he died. Although played by a 42-year-old Matt Damon, Scott Thorson was only a teenager when he met Liberace, and still only in his twenties when Liberace died.
  • The location which served as Liberace's Las Vegas mansion is actually the Los Angeles home of Zsa Zsa Gabor and Frederic von Anhalt.
  • Liberace's Beverly Hills penthouse was shot on location in the actual apartment space. The art department was able to recreate the apartment's original black and metallic look based on photos provided by the owner (who was a huge Liberace fan).

And just recently, the Warner Archive released the Liberace film Sincerely Yours (1955) on DVD. The DVD can be purchased through the Warner Archive here or rented through ClassicFlix here.


Sincerely Yours (1955)

Above is a preview clip of Sincerely Yours from the Warner Archive.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Miceli's: Hollywood's Oldest Italian Restaurant


The great thing about Los Angeles is that there is always something new to see or do. Even if that something new is actually really old. I don't know how many times I've passed Miceli's, the oldest Italian restaurant in Hollywood, without ever stopping in. I would always think to myself, "next time,"  but next time never came - until this past Mother's Day weekend.  

My wife's favorite food is Italian and I wanted to take her to an Italian restaurant we had never tried before. This seemed like the perfect time to try Miceli's. And once I learned that Miceli's had a Lucille Ball connection (my wife's favorite actress) I knew this place was a winner. Besides, being the oldest Italian restaurant in Hollywood, an area where restaurants change every few months, I figured Miceli's must be doing something right?


Miceli's opened in 1949 when Carmen and Silvia Miceli, with the help of their brothers and sisters, put their funds together to start a restaurant. Carmen, a Chicago native, came to Los Angeles shortly after fighting in World War II. When he started his Hollywood restaurant using family recipes brought from Sicily by way of Chicago, he opened what would be Hollywood's first pizzeria. Being in Hollywood, Miceli's attracted the stars and regular folks alike.

According to Joe Miceli, Carmen's son and one of the current co-owners, it was at Miceli's that Lucille Ball learned to toss a pizza for an episode of I Love Lucy. Watch a clip of that episode here. Other classic celebrities who have come to Miceli's throughout the years include Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sal Mineo, the Lloyd Bridges family, The Beatles, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio and probably every classic Hollywood star with a taste for Italian.

This photo from Glass of Win.

The place feels like a step back in time and what you would expect from an old Hollywood restaurant. In fact, an interesting bit of trivia, the wooden booths inside of Miceli's come from another old Hollywood restaurant, the famous Pig 'n Whistle restaurant located next door to the Egyptian Theatre. When the Pig 'n Whistle closed in 1949 (the restaurant sat unoccupied for 50 years before reopening) Miceli's bought up all the booths. Many of those booths can still be found inside Miceli's and my wife and I happened to be seated in one. In the picture below you can see carved into the booth is an image of a pig with a whistle.

Pig 'n Whistle carved into the booth.

Of course, we also happened to be seated under a Chianti bottle signed by someone from Green Bay, Wisconsin. This was fitting because I always tease my wife that everything can be tied back to Wisconsin, a kind of "six degrees of Wisco." Whether it be the long list of actors including Spencer Tracy, Fred MacMurray, Nancy Olson, Fredric March, or directors Orson Welles, Nicholas Ray, Howard Hawks or Eddie Cline, or studio moguls like Carl Laemmle Sr. There are just too many connections to name but I will stop before I annoy you as much as my wife.

Chianti bottles hang from the ceiling.

Inside Miceli's in Hollywood.

Above is a photo we had taken inside of Miceli's. I had already devoured our appetizer, a round of drinks and started in on our pizza before I figured we better get a snapshot.


Joe Miceli discusses the history of the Miceli's restaurant.

One last old Hollywood connection. In one of my favorite noirs, Gun Crazy (1950), There is a scene where the two lead characters Annie and Bart pull their car over near a newsstand on Las Palmas. Although we don't really get a good view of the Miceli's restaurant, the spot where the two pull over is directly across the street from the Hollywood Miceli's. You can see this location in my full post on the Gun Crazy filming locations here.

Have you ever visited Miceli's? What's your favorite dish? We figured for our first time we better try the pizza. It tasted great and all the toppings were nice and fresh.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Source Restaurant/Annie Hall Film Location - Plus a New Documentary

The Source Restaurant, TheSourceDoc.com

The Source was a 1970s restaurant located on the Los Angeles Sunset Strip that was run by a group of healthy living, rock'n'rollers part of a hippie cult. Their restaurant served up healthy organic vegetarian cuisine like salads with beats, carrots and raisins and a selection of natural juices. I'm not sure which smelled worse, the food or the hippies (I kid, I kid! ). The Source restaurant is also famously featured in Woody Allen's film Annie Hall (1977). In the film, Allen meets Diane Keaton for lunch and orders "alfalfa sprouts and mashed yeast." 

This restaurant which was once popular with the likes of Warren Beatty, Marlon Brando, and John Lennon is featured in a new documentary about The Source cult. The documentary is now playing at The Cinefamily theatre in Los Angeles (as well as a few other cities). Theaters in additional cities will be showing the documentary later this month. Check out the documentary website at TheSourceDoc.com to see if this groovy film is playing near you.

Allen and Keaton leave The Source. Annie Hall (1977)

Cabo Cantina, 8301 Sunset Boulevard. 

The site of The Source is now the location for a Mexican restaurant and bar called Cabo Cantina. The building is still recognizable from the outside with the exception that the outside seating area has been covered. 

In Annie Hall, when Allen leaves the restaurant, being the New Yorker that he is and unable to drive a car, he smashes into both the restaurant and several cars while backing out.

Allen crashes his car in The Source parking lot.

The Source/Cabo Cantina parking lot. 

Allen chooses to sit at the restaurant's outside patio. In the background we see the Golden Crest Hotel. That is today the site of the fashionable The Standard hotel.

Allen sits outside at The Source. Annie Hall

The Standard Hotel in the background, formerly Golden Crest Hotel.

If it turns out this documentary won't be coming to a city near you, the documentary website is already selling the DVD, a digital download, soundtrack, T-Shirts and other merchandise. 

Below is a trailer for the film.



Does anyone have any memories of eating at The Source?

Annie Hall screenshots (c) MGM/UA Home Entertainment, contemporary images (c) 2013 Google.

Playtime In The Park

Robby, Hazel, Zinnia

I hope all the moms out there had a great Mother's Day weekend! My family started the weekend off with a stroll down Brand Boulevard in Glendale and then some playtime in the park at the Americana. We passed the historic Alex Theatre which had the one sheet up for an upcoming screening of one of my favorite Stanley Kubrick films, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964). There are two showings on June 22, 2013, the first at 2pm and the second at 8pm. Visit the Alex Film Society site to order tickets. I highly recommend attending an event at the Alex. It's a real treasure in the heart of Glendale, with a lot of early Hollywood history.

Sipping a cold drink on a HOT day.

This weekend was extremely hot. It didn't take long to break a sweat chasing Hazel around the Americana park space. As soon as Hazel, who is approaching 15 months, saw the big kids running around playing tag, she immediately started running with the group, trying to keep up. She might be small, but she thinks big. After some time in the sun, a cold smoothie in the shade was in order.

Daddy, let me go!

And fortunately, because Hazel has such nice Aunties who will take turns to watch her now and then, Mama and Daddy were also able to get in a Mother's Day weekend date night which we spent at a classic Hollywood restaurant. I'll be back with more on that restaurant and some photos in my next post.

Have a great start to the week!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Desperate Hours (1955) - Film Locations

Humphrey Bogart and Fredric March

Two of the greatest actors of Hollywood's golden era, Humphrey Bogart and Fredric March, square off in the film The Desperate Hours (1955). Bogart is an escaped convict on the run. March is a suburban family man. The two butt heads when Bogart, with a couple fellow escapees, hold March and his family hostage in their Indianapolis home. Bogart is hiding out until he can collect his getaway money and he isn't going to let anyone interfere with collecting his dough. March strategizes a way to get out of his predicament and will do whatever it takes to protect his family. The tension that Bogart and March create in this standoff is absolutely thrilling!

Although the home where March and his family live is supposed to be in Indianapolis, it is actually a building that once stood on the Universal Studios Hollywood Colonial Street backlot. The home, known as the "Paramount House," was originally built on the Universal lot by Paramount specifically for The Desperate Hours. After the film, the house stayed and would be used again numerous times in other films and for television. The house has also appeared in the films All That Heaven Allows (1955), The Shaggy Dog (1959) and Send Me No Flowers (1964) and TV shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Adam 12, but it is likely most recognizable as the house from Leave it to Beaver. Beginning in season 3, when the Leave it to Beaver show moved from the old Republic Studios lot (now CBS Studio Center) to Universal, the Cleaver family settled into the former Paramount House.

Click images to see larger.

The Paramount House as it appears in The Desperate Hours.

The Paramount House April 2010. Photo (c) theStudioTour.com

The Cleaver family in front of the Paramount House.

The Paramount House would sit on Universal's Colonial Street backlot until 1989. When production started on the 1989 film, The Burbs, the Paramount House was moved to another area of the Universal lot above Falls Lake to make room for new facades.

Another view of Universal's Colonial Street. The Desperate Hours.

The same view of Colonial Street as seen in Leave it to Beaver.

The "Keller House" on Colonial Street as seen in The Desperate Hours.

The "Keller House" as seen in Leave it to Beaver.

The Desperate Hours is an exciting film directed by William Wyler. In addition to Bogart and March, the film also stars Arthur Kennedy, Martha Scott, Dewey Martin, Gig Young, and Alan Reed (best known as the voice of Fred Flintstone). The Desperate Hours is available on DVD.

For more information visit the retroweb.com site dedicated to Leave It To Beaver. This page is filled with images of Colonial Street and it's history involving the Cleaver family. Also check out theStudioTour.com, another great site loaded with information on Colonial Street (as well as other film studios).

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