Sunday, May 30, 2010

Early Homes of Bette Davis

Bette Davis

When Bette Davis left the east coast for Hollywood she brought her mother Ruthie and sister Bobby along with her. The three of them, for whatever reason, couldn't seem to stay put for very long. Davis and her family moved to several different residences during her early days in Hollywood and below are a few of the locations the Davis family spent time.

9918 Toluca Lake Avenue

In April of 1932, Bette, Ruthie and Bobby moved into the large Tudor home seen above, which belonged to actor Charles Farrell. The house, located in the posh Toluca Lake neighborhood, was just around the corner from the Warner Bros. Studio in Burbank where Davis worked and had a yard that lead down to the Toluca Lake. The Davis's didn't stay in this nice home for very long. By June, the family was moving to a house at 135 Zuma, in Malibu.

1217 Horn Ave, West Hollywood

After Bette Davis was married, Davis, her husband Ham, along with Ruthie and Bobby, moved into a house at 1217 Horn Avenue, in West Hollywood. According to the book Dark Victory: The Life of Bette Davis, the "house actually comprised two buildings - as Bette describes it, 'a white, ivy-covered little English house' in front for the newlyweds and a guesthouse in the back for the bride's mother and sister." As you can see in my photo above, 1217 Horn Avenue is currently a vacant lot.

906 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills

Bette's sister Bobby would suffer a nervous breakdown and eventually move back east with Ruthie. Bette and Ham would continue to move around town. One of these residences was a large home on Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills - right across the street from the Beverly Hills Hotel. Above and below are photos showing the home at this address today. I'm not sure if this is the same building that Bette lived in or if it was torn down and replaced with a new building - but this is what you will find at this address today.

906 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills

From the Beverly Drive home, Bette and Ham would next move into a house at 5346 Franklin Avenue in the Los Feliz neighborhood. Below is a photo I took showing the home today. According to the real estate website Trulia, the home was built in 1911 and is a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom house - not really the big home you would expect Bette Davis to live in.

5346 Franklin Avenue, Los Feliz

1700 Coldwater Canyon, Beverly Hills

I'm sure Bette and Ham moved several more times after the house on Franklin Avenue. By 1937, Bette and Ham moved into a home at 1700 Coldwater Canyon, in Beverly Hills. According to the book Dark Victory, the Coldwater Canyon home was, "a hacienda-style house complete with a swimming pool, tennis court, and an acre of land." Above is a photo looking at the entrance to the home. As you can see, whoever the current owners are, they have let the shrubbery grow to block the view of the home. By the time work would start on the film Jezebel, Bette was still living in this home but Ham was spending most of his time in New York.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Video Tour of the Warner Bros. Ranch

Tour of the Warner Bros. Ranch

I came across this very funny video tour of the Warner Bros. Ranch. that someone did a great job editing together. The Warner Bros. Ranch is located less than a mile from Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California and has been the home to some of the most famous houses in TV history, including Bewitched, I Dream of Jeanie and Gidget to name a few. The video includes clips from these famous shows and others comparing what you can see today, along with comical commentary and sound effects. Check it out and make sure you have your sound up.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cinespia Kicks off the 2010 Season

Cinespia at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

This past Saturday, Cinespia kicked off their summertime movie screenings with the classic Hollywood musical, The Wizard of Oz. The screenings which occur on Saturdays (and some Sundays) during the summer, are held outdoors on the lawn of Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The cost is $10 and guests are encouraged to bring their own food and drinks.

Thousands show up early each night to picnic on the cemetery grounds and listen to the DJs playing music before the film. Then, once the sun goes down, a classic movie is projected on to the wall of Rudolph Valentino's mausoleum. This is one of my favorite things to do in LA and one of my favorite ways to catch classic movies: outside, with an audience of movie lovers, with some drinks and snacks, on a mausoleum wall that makes for a HUGE screen.

Here is a video I put together from this past Saturday at Cinespia:

Cinespia 2010

This coming Saturday Cinespia will be showing John Carpenter's The Thing. Also this month are North By Northwest, and Purple Rain. For full details check out the official Cinespia website here.

Your thoughts?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Suddenly (1954) - Film Locations

 Suddenly (1954)

In the film Suddenly (1954), Frank Sinatra leads a group of assassins who are preparing to shoot the president of the United States when he is scheduled to arrive in the small town of Suddenly, California. To do this, Sinatra and his henchman locate a home up on a hill that looks down at the train station where the president is expected to arrive. There, Sinatra and his gang take the family living in the home hostage and set up a sniper rifle aimed out the window facing the train station. When the president arrives at the train depot, Sinatra will be ready to take his shot.

Last week I set out to visit the town of Suddenly, which is really the small town of Newhall, California, about 30 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, hoping to track down some of the locations from this Sinatra film.  I did find a few locations, however, a lot has changed in Newhall since the film was made. The train depot still exists, but was moved to a new area of the city and some of the businesses seen in the film no longer exists. Below are few locations I did find.

American Theatre, Newhall, Ca

The film opens with a montage of the town. One of the buildings that we see is the old American Theatre located at 24527 Spruce Street. The theatre, which was built by the western film star William S. Hart, opened in 1941 and operated as a theatre until 1965. Today the building still stands and is currently the local American Legion Hall.

American Legion Hall, Newhall, Ca

Main Street, Suddenly (1954)

Above is a view of Main Street as seen in Suddenly and below is a view looking down the same street today. If you look in the background you can match up the mountains. This area is now known as old towne Newhall and is filled with small town shops and restaurants, however, some of the buildings that can be seen in Suddenly are no longer standing.

Main Street, Newhall, CA

Suddenly (1954) Train Station

Above is the train station where Sinatra has his rifle aimed as he waits for the president to arrive. The train station is still standing but it has been moved about 3 miles from the original location. The train station is now located at 24101 Newhall, Avenue and serves as the headquarters for the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society (SCVHS). Thanks to Barbara at the SCVHS for her help in answering some of my location questions!

Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society , Newhall, CA

According to Barbara, there was no home in the hill that looked down at the train station. To create the illusion that there was a home on a hill, the film crew built a tower with a window and filmed Sinatra looking through the fake window.

Sinatra looks out at the train station.

The Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society will be presenting a screening of the film Suddenly at the same train station seen in the film. The screening is on Saturday, June 12 and the cost is $5.  In addition, they will be showing the silent Mary Pickford film, Ramona, which was also filmed in the area. For more details click here.

Way Station Coffee Shop

If you make the trip out to Newhall and you're looking for a great place to eat, I definitely recommend the Way Station Coffee Shop, located at 24377 Main Street. Dieters be warned: the portions are HUGE, the food is carbs galore, but the taste and price is just right. From what I hear, the restaurant has been around for decades and it certainly has an old time diner feel.

Me chowing down on an open faced roast beef sandwich.

Wifey eating a chili cheese dog so big it took up the entire plate!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Goonies Never Say Die!

The Goonies (c) Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

"Hey you guys!" Can you believe The Goonies is about to celebrate its 25th anniversary? Me neither, but June 4-7, the city of Astoria, Oregon, where the film was shot on location, will be hosting a four day celebration that sounds pretty exciting.

The festivities include a red carpet showing of The Goonies along with the premiere of a brand new documentary about the making of the film. Some of the cast members plan to be in attendance, including Corey Feldman (Mouth), Jeff Cohen (Chunk [who's not so chunky anymore]), and Joe Pantoliano (Francis Fratelli), to name a few. Other events include a Goonies themed treasure hunt, meet & greets with the cast, VIP dinner, 80s themed dance night, a Goonies themed concert taking place on the same football field used as a location in the film, a "truffle shuffle" 5K run, and the list goes on. For full details check out the official anniversary page:

But, the one thing I wish I could participate in are the location tours that will be taking place during the celebration. If you take the official tours that will be available, you will have the opportunity to see some of the exterior locations, like the football field, as well as some of the interior locations, such as the houses that were used as "Mikey's House" and "Mouth's House."

Unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to get up to Astoria, Oregon for the 25th anniversary, but if any of you are able to make it, I would love to hear how it all turns out.

The Goonies Theatrical Trailer

Your thoughts?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Page Interviews: Part Two

Gene with Paramount Producer, A.C. Lyles

This the second part in a new series I plan to continue featuring interviews with former and current studio pages. As I've mentioned before, I think pages have one of the most fun jobs at a studio and often have some interesting stories. Here is what former Paramount page, Gene, had to say about his page experience:

What years did you work as a Page at Paramount Studios?
2006- 2007

For those who are not familiar, what does a Page do? What did your job duties consist of?
Paramount pages were primarily used to give 2 hour tours to the general public, help with audience coordination of shows like Dr. Phil or sitcoms such as Girlfriends, also the pages were occasionally used to work temp jobs around the lot.

What was your most interesting experience?
I had a group of kids from the Make A Wish foundation on a tour. Kelly Carlson, who was filming Nip/Tuck on the lot at the time took time out to talk to the kids, sign autographs, and gave them a tour of the set. The Make a Wish kids had a great time and she was a class act.

What was your least favorite experience?
Anytime I'd get a group of people for a tour who spoke little to no English and had absolutely no interest in studio history.

Any celebrity run-ins?
One time Tom Hanks stopped my cart and tried to talk to the guests. The tourists were so shell shocked at seeing Tom Hanks they momentarily forgot how to talk. All 8 tourists in that cart just sat there in awe staring at Tom Hanks.

How did you come to work as a Page at Paramount? What was the process like to get the position?
I applied to the Paramount job site. They called me in for what was a group interview. The interview was conducted in the Gower Theatre which was allegedly the very same screening room where Howard Hughes locked himself in at the end of the film "The Aviator". There were like 30 people there for the interview. We all took turns standing in front of the room talking about ourselves. It was a bit nerve racking. They ended up hiring 7 of us from that group.

Gene Dressed as Paramount character Nacho Libre

Studios always have ghost stories. Did you encounter any old Hollywood ghosts or hear any of the stories?
One of the most fascinating stories I heard was Redd Foxx passing away during a live taping of the sitcom. One day while filming "The Royal Family" Redd had gone to take a nap in a recliner on the set during one of the breaks. Unfortunately, when it was time to resume filming, Mr. Foxx never did wake up. The coroner drove right up the sound stage and took away his body before a live audience.

Do you watch the television show 30 Rock? What do you think of the character Kenneth who portrays an NBC Page?
A friend I used to be a page with sent me a clip of the "Page off" with Kenneth squaring off against Paul Scheer playing the head page. I gotta say that is EXACTLY what being a page is like.

What was your most unusual assignment at Paramount?
One time we had to work a press junket for a family themed cable channel to introduce their fall shows. Our job was to hold the microphone for the press as they asked questions to a panel of puppeteers and their puppets. It was kind of bizarre watching a grown woman sit there with a puppet on her lap answer the questions in the high pitched voice of her puppet.

Would you reccommend a Page program for others entering the work world - especially those pursuing careers in entertainment?
Sure why not. I met some great friends, many of who I still keep in touch with. It really did help me get my foot in the door, as I've been fortunate enough to stick around the lot working long after my pagedom.

What is happening in your post-page life? Where are you working or what projects are you involved with?
I currently work as administrative assistant in marketing and I try to make funny videos in my spare time.

Now, a few quick questions:
Favorite classic movie? Once Upon a Time in The West

Favorite classic movie actor? Yul Brynner

Favorite classic movie actress? Lucille Ball

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sex and the Single Girl - Film Locations

Sex and the Single Girl
A couple months back Raquelle over at Out of the Past - A Classic Film Blog, posted a critical review of the Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood film, Sex and the Single Girl. She was completely spot on when she said this film is "ridiculous to the point of being just plain stupid." I won't go into reviewing the film, for a review you can check out Raquelle's post, but I will share the only thing I really did find interesting about Sex and the Single Girl, and that was spotting some of the film locations.

The film also stars Lauren Bacall and Henry Fonda as husband and wife. Towards the end of the film, Bacall goes to a police station where Fonda is being held. That police station was part of the Warner Bros. backlot. In the below screenshot Bacall is facing the facade of the  police station and behind her is a park-like space. By the way, that same stretch of green would also be used as "Central Park" in the television show Friends.

Lauren Bacall visits the police station.

Warner Bros. Backlot (April 2010)

Here is another shot of the same location.

Henry Fonda gets away in the taxi.

Warner Bros. backlot. (April 2010)

You can also see this same area of the Warner Bros. backlot in my post on The Omega Man (1971) film locations.

Henry Fonda's character sells women's nylons and the business he works at was also located at Warner Bros. but it was not on one of the backlots. It was one of the regular buildings dressed up to look like a business.

Henry Fonda leaves his work, "Sexy Sox"

Building on the Warner Bros. lot. used as Sexy Sox location.

Fonda getting into his car and leaving Sexy Sox.

Same location at WB as it appears today.

This location can also be seen in my post on A Star is Born (1954). You can check it out here.

The end of the film culminates into a big chase scene that ends at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Below are a couple images from the airport scenes.

Fonda arrives at the Los Angeles Airport

LAX today. Image (c) Arif Widianto All Rights Reserved

Police officer calling for back-up.


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