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HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD - The Early Days

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HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD

 

Table Of Contents:



                   Introduction

                   Location and Facts                

                  

Chapter I   Hollywood 1800-1922

                   The Early Days

                   Let’s call it “Hollywood

                   Lights…Camera…Action

                   From “Cow Town” to “Tinsel Town

                   Calling All Stars

Chapter II Hollywood 1922-1948

                   A Sign is born

                   Dream Factory

                   Hollywood during War

Chapter III Hollywood 1948-1992

                   TV Era

                   Blacklists and Bankruptcy                                

                   Hollywood revitalization

Chapter IV Hollywood 1992-present

                   Entertainment Center

                   New Millennium

                  

INTRODUCTION

 

          There are certain sort of places that are often referred to as a 'state of mind.' They are both real and imaginary; they transcend. They exist on the ground and in the head. And there is one that surpasses all: Hollywood. The word conjures images of glamour and Sunset Strip, of nightclubs and all sorts of naughtiness, of movie palaces and extraordinary people — stars of the gaudiest illumination.

            Yes, there is an actual Hollywood, a segment of Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. There, beginning a century ago, the American dream burst out bigger than life, ultimately touching everyone, everywhere. Of course, movies were then, and still are, made in locations other than Hollywood, some quite nearby and some far-flung. But nowhere and nothing else frees our fantasies and stirs our hopes and fears, our tears and our eternal romances, like that single incomparable word — Hollywood.

            Hollywood is much too colossal to be contained within a section of the City of Angels. It is spread across the nation and around the world. Hollywood taught girls and boys, gangsters and decent folk, how to walk and talk and dress. It rescued us from the rigors of the Depression and assured us that we could topple our savage foes in battle. It gave us music and dancing, violence and sex. Movies would later 'grow up,' but they would always be about laughing and crying, about learning how to live and how to die.

            Today, Hollywood remains the dream factory, a place where every waiter and waitress is an aspiring actor, where every bartender, taxi driver, hotel receptionist and hired helper has a screenplay tucked away in a drawer at home. The reality of course is different. Hollywood is a town like any other, complete with crime, poverty, and its fair share of sleaze. But Hollywood's real location is in the mind.

            In the twenty-first century, real-life Hollywood is a mixture of glamour, sleaze, and tourist trap. Most of the studios are part of multinational media corporations. Hollywood has become the world center for all kinds of media productions, from film to the Internet, from television to pornography. The glory days of the studio system are long gone, yet Hollywood remains a potent symbol of the American Dream. Perhaps more than anywhere else, Hollywood exists as both physical place and glittering fantasy.

LOCATION

AND FACTS

            Hollywood is a district of the city of Los Angeles, California, U.S.A., situated northwest of Downtown. Today much of the movie industry has dispersed into surrounding areas such as Burbank and the Westside, but significant ancillary industries (such as editing, effects, props, post-production, and lighting companies) remain in Hollywood.

            Several historic Hollywood theaters are used as venues to premiere major theatrical releases, and host the Academy Awards. It is a popular destination for nightlife and tourism, and home to the Walk of Fame.

            There is currently no official boundary of Hollywood (Los Angeles does not have official districts), but the 2002 secession movement and the current Neighborhood Council boundaries can serve as guides. There is a sign at the northeast corner of Fairfax Avenue and Melrose Avenue indicating that one is entering Hollywood. Generally, Hollywood's southern border follows Melrose Avenue from Vermont Avenue west to Fairfax Avenue. From there, the boundary continues north on Fairfax, wrapping east around the separate City of West Hollywood along Willoughby Avenue then wrapping around on La Brea and heads west along Fountain Avenue before turning north again on Laurel Canyon Boulevard into the Hollywood Hills. The eastern boundary follows Vermont Avenue north from Melrose past Hollywood Boulevard to Franklin Avenue. From there, the border travels west along Franklin to Western Avenue, and then north on Western into Griffith Park. Most of the hills between Laurel Canyon and Griffith Park are part of Hollywood. The commercial, cultural, and transportation center of Hollywood is the area where La Brea Avenue, Highland Avenue, Cahuenga Boulevard, and Vine Street intersect Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard. The population of the district is estimated to be about 300,000.

            As a portion of the City of Los Angeles, Hollywood does not have its own municipal government, but does have an appointed official that serves as 'honorary mayor' for ceremonial purposes only. Currently, the 'mayor' is Johnny Grant.

Chapter I

The Early Days

            Imagine a time when the only stars in Hollywood were found in the night skies, arching over quiet farms and adobes. Before Hollywood became an entertainment mecca, it was home of pioneers, citrus groves and… stray camels.

            The first recorded human residents of 'Hollywood' were the Gabrielino Indians. Writing in his diary of 1769, a Spanish priest noted Indian villages with their brush huts scattered in the canyons. After the first Spanish pueblo of Los Angeles was established, the native Gabrielinos vanished with hardly a trace. 'Cahuenga', meaning 'little hills' in their language, is one of the few reminders of their founding presence.

            Mexico controlled California until the Mexican War of 1947. After the war, Mexican landowners were replaced by farmers from the East, including the new owners of Rancho La Brea (now Hollywood). In 1853, one adobe hut stood on the site that became Hollywood. By 1870, an agricultural community flourished in the area with thriving crops.

            Until the mid-1800, the vast reaches and resources of California belonged to Mexico. When the United States defeated Mexico in the Mexican War of 1847, the original Mexican landowners, with the help of some slippery laws, lost their sprawling estates to farmers from the East. Adobes were replaced with wood frame houses with porches and windmills.        Rancho La Brea, in the area now known as Hollywood, wound up in the hands of a family who built a tar refinery. Workers of the tar beds unearthed the bones and teeth of prehistoric saber-toothed cats, woolly mammoths and dinosaurs. The family eventually gave the remarkable fossil beds, known as the La Brea Tar Pits, to Los Angeles County.

            During the 19th century, Hollywood was basically a frontier town complete with Westward Ho! pioneers, cowboys and the occasional bandit, straight out of central casting. It also had its share of flamboyant settlers, including one dubbed “Greek George'. George arrived in the Cahuenga Valley with a drove of camels imported from Turkey. When the Mexican War broke out, George simply set the camels loose. Somehow it seems fitting that frontier Hollywood should evoke surreal images like this one: hundreds of camels roaming free in the Hollywood Hills right through 1900.

Chapter I

Let’s call it “Hollywood

           

           

            'Hollywood' name made its way from an Easter summer home to a Cahuenga Valley ranch. The name Hollywood predated the arrival of movies.

            In the middle of a sun-drenched nowhere, a sober, God-fearing man and woman settled in to create a like-minded community. Harvey Henderson Wilcox of Kansas, who made a fortune in real estate even though he had lost the use of his legs due to typhoid fever, and his wife, Daeida, moved to Los Angeles from Topeka in 1883. In 1886, Wilcox bought 160 acres (0.6 km²) of land in the countryside to the west of the city at the foothills, in the Cahuenga Valley at, what is now, Hollywood Blvd. and Cahuenga Ave. He thought it would be a perfect site for a community that would reflect his conservative beliefs, and he built his house smack in the middle of a fig orchard.

            Accounts of the name, Hollywood, coming from imported English holly then growing in the area are incorrect. The name in fact was coined by Daeida Wilcox (1861–1914) who traveled by train to her old home in the east. On the train, Mrs. Wilcox met a woman who described her summer home in Ohio named after a settlement of Dutch immigrants from Zwolle called 'Hollywood”. Daeida was so enamored with the name that she 'borrowed' it for her ranch in the Cahuenga Valley; when she returned home she prevailed on her husband to name their property Hollywood. With that simple exchange, one of the most famous towns in the world got its name.

            Harvey Wilcox soon drew up a grid map for a town, which he filed with the county recorder's office on February 1, 1887, the first official appearance of the name Hollywood. With his wife as a constant advisor, he carved out Prospect Avenue (later Hollywood Boulevard) for the main street, lining it and the other wide dirt avenues with pepper trees, and began selling lots. Daeida raised money to build two churches, a school and a library. They imported some English holly because of the name Hollywood, but the bushes did not last.

            By 1900, Hollywood also had a post office, a newspaper, a hotel and two markets, along with a population of 500 people. Los Angeles, with a population of 100,000 people at the time, lay seven miles (11 km) east through the citrus groves.   A single-track streetcar line ran down the middle of Prospect Avenue from Los Angeles, but service was infrequent and the trip took two hours.

            Shortly after the turn of the century, the residents of the Cahuenga Valley were faced with three pressing problems. The streets were not getting the attention in proportion to the tax being levied by the county; a lack of school facilities and a growing sentiment for prohibition.

            In August, 1903, a petition was submitted to the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors requesting the incorporation of the City of Hollywood. The election for city hood was held on November 14, 1903 with voting lasting until 5:00 PM. After all the ballots were counted, the vote was eighty-eight for incorporation and seventy-seven against. Hollywood became a city of the sixth class with geographic boundaries extending from Normandie on the east, to Fairfax on the west, and from the top of the Santa Monica Mountains on the north to DeLongpre and Fountain avenues on the south.

            Hollywood's first laws paint a telling portrait of the culture in those early days. Liquor was prohibited except as a medical prescription; bicycles and velocipedes were prohibited on sidewalks; and horses, cattle and mules were no to be driven through Hollywood streets in herds of more than 200. Herds of more than 2000 hogs or sheep were banned if unattended by a 'competent man'. Hardly the live-it-up tinsel town it would become in two short decades

            In 1904, a new trolley car track running from Los Angeles to Hollywood up Prospect Avenue was opened. The system was called 'the Hollywood boulevard.' It cut travel time to and from Los Angeles drastically.

            City hood for Hollywood only lasted six years. Hollywood’s population had grown too rapidly for the then existing water and municipal facilities. Annexation to the City of Los Angeles would assure the burgeoning community of adequate water, sewage and municipal services. The election, held in 1910, was an overwhelming victory for annexation. Hollywood became part of Los Angeles.

            Real estate developers were tempting Easterners to Hollywood with promises of sun, wide boulevards and palatial homes. Elaborate rail lines crisscrossed the Cahuenga Valley. Hotels, schools, churches and extravagant residences popped up. But Hollywood remained basically a sleepy town, with no inkling of what was so soon to come.



Chapter I

Lights…Camera…Action

            The first 'film people' arrived in Hollywood in 1907. Word of Hollywood's film-friendly climate spread like wildfire. That and lawsuits brought by Thomas Edison against film bootleggers spurred an almost-overnight exodus from New York. Hollywood, the film capital, was born.

            In the first decade of the 20th century, 'movies' were like an irrepressible toddler. What may now seem a rather rudimentary product created a sensation: viewers were mesmerized by these pictures that moved.

            The short dramas and comedies came from a number of production companies. In 1908, Thomas Edison, irate that others were horning in on 'his' movie inventions but aware that compromise was his only option, united the 10 biggest operations from New York as 'the Trust.' These 10 would control distribution, exhibition, pricing and everything else — in short, a monopoly. But in this wild and woolly time, independent distributors and exhibitors formed their own organization to fight back. Many of these freelancers migrated west to the Los Angeles area. For one thing, it was as far as you could get from New York, and although there were Trust members in California, the muscle was back East. And also, L.A., as it happened, was perfect for filmmaking. A great majority of the early flicks had been shot indoors, to satisfy lighting and temperature requirements. Hollywood, with its ready labor market, mild climate and nonstop sunshine, opened the way to outdoor shooting, while providing an unrivaled variety of settings — mountains, deserts, beaches, villages and urban L.A.

            All was quiet on the western front when David Horsley from New Jersey arrived in Hollywood on a fateful winter day in 1907.  He purchased the Blondeau Tavern on Sunset Boulevard. There, he hung out Hollywood’s first real studio, the Nestor Film Company. Before the year was out, 15 other firms had set up shop nearby.

            By 1912, rumors of Hollywood's ideal climate and varied locations had spread, and 20 different film companies were shooting all around Hollywood. The reliable weather was great because although electric lights existed at that time, none were powerful enough to adequately expose film; the best source of illumination for movie production was natural sunlight.          But it wasn't just sunny skies that spurred a mass film migration from New York to Hollywood. In 1897, Thomas Edison had begun suing independent producers who had illegally adopted his film technology. At the time, Edison owned almost all of the patents relevant to motion picture production and, in the East, movie producers acting independently of Edison's Motion Picture Patents Company were often sued or enjoined by Edison and his agents. If Edison sent agents to California, word would usually reach Hollywood before the agents' arrival and the movie makers could simply escape to nearby Mexico.

            Edison ultimately lost the long, bloody battle against the film bootleggers. But the cinema pirates had already fled to Hollywood. For good.

            Nestor's budget in 1912 was $1,200 a week for three complete pictures -- one western, one eastern and a comedy. Actors rehearsed painstakingly by stopwatch, because the scene had to be perfectly timed to the number of feet of film available.

            Two years later, Cecil B. DeMille, Jesse Lasky and Samuel Goldwyn took a giant cinematic step with the release of the first feature-length film, The Squaw Man. Made in a barn a block away from what became the corner of Hollywood and Vine, it was a box office hit and created a demand for longer movies.         

            Therefore in the 1910s, plots of silent films soon developed into very complex ones, and its length gradually increased. Charlie Chaplin's silent films are produced in this era.

           


Chapter I

From “Cow Town” to “Tinsel Town

            By 1913, Hollywood was in the midst of what has been justly labeled an overnight transformation. Film replaced farm and frontier. Movie studios were literally sharing space in Hollywood barns with bemused livestock. Titans like Cecil B. DeMille and D.W.Griffith were busy establishing the Big Studios that would rule Hollywood for decades. The film business turned Hollywood on its ear. The population boomed, Real banks and business were booked on weekends for film hold-ups, and the streets were roped off for car crashes. Movie studios literally operated out of barns, with directors conveniently recasting the horses and cows in their many westerns.

            D.W. Griffith raised the bar immeasurably in 1915 with The Birth of a Nation, which was the first motion picture piece of art. Weighing in at 190 minutes, it signaled the enormous possibilities of the feature film. Indeed, its very length was important: Birth of a Nation made movies acceptable to a middle class that felt more at ease with a new medium that now provided the familiarity of theater-length shows. And these new devotees had higher standards, which meant more money would be sunk into the making of motion pictures. Movies, said Griffith at the time, will change the world. 'The human race will think more rapidly, more intelligently, more comprehensively than it ever did . . . We don't 'talk' about things happening, or describe how a thing 'looks'; we actually show it — vividly, completely, convincingly. It is the ever-present, realistic, actual now that 'gets' the great American public, and nothing ever devised by the mind of man can show it like moving pictures.'

            The needs of this thriving new industry created radical changes in the communitycausing a clash between older and newer residents. Acres of agricultural land south of what-is-now Hollywood Boulevard were subdivided and developed as housing for the enormous numbers of workers that movie-making required.

            High-rise commercial buildings began to spring up along Hollywood Boulevardthree competing real-estate interests caused concentrations of development at Highland, Cahuenga, and at Vine. It wasn't long before nearly all the homes along the Boulevard were replaced by commercial buildings linking the three corners. Banks, restaurants, clubs and movie palaces sprang up, catering to the demands of the burgeoning film industry.       

            The Hollywood landscape changed dramatically as the town struggled to keep up with the demands of a swelling population and booming industry. Hollywood's familiar skyline of multi-storied hotels and apartments appeared. The ornamental Spanish Colonial Revival style reflected Hollywood's self-conscious extravagance while the new Art Deco and Moderne styles fit the community's aspirations for glamour and sophistication.  

            Hollywood also boasted of the most extraordinary 'movie palaces' in the country. Grauman's Egyptian Theater celebrated the rage of all things Egyptian that had begun with the recent unearthing of King's Tut's tomb. A mélange of sphinxes, temples, columns and murals, Grauman's was unveiled in 1922 on Hollywood Boulevard. Just a few years later, Grauman out did his exotic extravaganza with his new Chinese Theater. The imported pagodas and authentic rare Chinese artifacts wowed the public and guaranteed him a place in Hollywood history.


Chapter I

Calling All Stars

            By 1916, Hollywood was luring hopeful stars and starlets from all over the globe. Hundreds of young girls seeking stardom gathered at the Public Library to read plays. The librarian got concerned and orchestrated to take-over of a hall on Hollywood Boulevard, adding living quarters for the displaced girls. 'The Hollywood Studio Club' provided refuge for would-be starlets for decades. Marilyn Monroe, Barbara Eden, Kim Novak and Donna Reed passed through its doors on their way to the spotlight.

            Until 1920, in one short decade, the film industry had created a new 'gold rush' town. Would-be stars and would-be studios crashed and burned while a new breed of super-stars and all-powerful studios emerged. Movies places, glamorous addresses, infamous clubs, and high-rise skyline sprung up like wild flowers changing the landscape forever.

            Nation was made during World War I, which, while derailing the European cinema, left American moviemaking as the leader of the pack. Hollywood boasted famous names like Mary Pickford and Charles Chaplin, and, as much as anything, the star system defined the American movie. Certainly the great dream factories like MGM, Warners and Fox were the disseminators of the celluloid champagne, but then, as now, people usually chose what they would pay to see by whose name was on the marquee.

            After the First World War, Hollywood's population grew at breakneck pace: from 5000 in 1910 to 36000 by 1920. Rumors of stars making $3000 a week in Hollywood lured the average Joe and Josephine, who was earning $15 elsewhere. With a frenzy gold rush on Hollywood, the Chamber of Commerce felt obliged to take out newspaper ads warning: 'Don't try to break intro the movies in Hollywood. It may save disappointments. Out of 100,000 people who started at the screen's ladder of fame -- ONLY FIVE REACHED THE TOP!' Dozens of small studios were engaged in a cutthroat battle for survival. Many went bust as quickly as they surfaced. Small studios set up shop near Sunset and Gower, and their high mortality rate led to the nickname, 'Poverty Row. Hundreds of 'movie cowboys' and assorted extras would linger on that corner, feverish for a casting call. That spot was thereby nicknamed 'Gower Gulch', and is still referred to that nickname by Los Angelinos today.

            By 1920, 40 million Americans were going to the movies each week, and 20 major Hollywood studios were churning out fare for their insatiable appetites.

            Actors lived in fantasy homes in Hollywood (and later Beverly Hills). People were thrilled simply to drive by these castles, hoping beyond hope they might catch sight of a Theda Bara or a Tom Mix. The stars held gala bashes to die for — Harvey Wilcox's dream of a nice temperate village in the fig grove had given way to a pretty good replica of Gomorrah — and wore clothes that were more swell than a bee's knees. There were magazines and books devoted to them, photos of them to cut out and kiss. They were, truly,

American royalty.                                                                                           Farmer, Frances (1913-1970)

            Addresses like the Garden Court or The Chateau Elysee took on the glamour of stars like Gable and Lombard who resided there. The most infamous address in this infamous town was the Garden of Allah at 8150 Sunset. Opening night in 1921 kicked off with a decadent 18-hour party that had troubadours playing madrigals from the middle of the pool. The party raged for 32 years. If those walls could talk, they would tell of robberies, murders, orgies, divorces, fights, suicides and drunken revelries. John O'hara, Tallulah Bankhead and Clara Bow called it home.

            Stars were not free to seek their own contracts during these years and very often stars would be 'loaned' by one studio to another. Films produced were of mediocre standard, but the fame that came with being an actor was the driving force that kept the stars working. Soon Americans had heard of the 'Hollywood mythology' - 'You can move to Hollywood and change your life.' Many people believed this and moved from their hometown to Hollywood, hoping that they would be picked by directors on Hollywood Boulevard and earn big bucks. Of course, many went home disappointed and broke.

 

Chapter II

A Sign is born

 

 

            Brash movie promoters met their match in Hollywood real estate developers when it came to high-profile stunts and 'thinking big'.

            In 1923, The Hollywoodland Real Estate Group unleashed one of history's brashest and longest-lived promotions. In the course of that event, a Sign was born. To promote a prime piece of property in the wooded hills over downtown the company spent $21,000 to erect the Granddaddy of all signs right on the side of Mt. Cahuenga. The sign was massive. Each of the 13 letters was 30 feet wide and 50 feet tall. Each letter was made of 3x9 metal squares, all rigged up by an intricate frace of scaffolding, pipes, wires and telephone poles, Few realize that a giant white dot ( 35 feet in diameter, with 20-watt lights on the perimeter) was constructed below the Sign to catch the eye.

            The whole construction screamed 'Hollywoodland. Period!' At first, the Sign featured 4,000 20-wat bulbs, spaced 8 inches apart, At night the sign blinked eternally into the Hollywood night. First 'Holly' then 'wood' and finally 'land' with the dot below having it's own sparkling moment in the display. In this pre-Vegas era it created quite an impression, visible from 25 miles away. And it was marketing scheme that gave Hollywood its most recognized landmark. Originally intended to last just a year and a half, the Sign has survived eight decades - and is still going strong.

            The sign, located near the top of Mount Lee, is now a registered trademark and cannot be used without the permission of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which also manages the venerable Walk of Fame.

            Very early on, the Hollywood Sign began to symbolize the hopes and dreams of actors the world over. As thousands of would-be stars began to flock to Hollywood in hopes of making it big, so did Lillian Millicent 'Peg' Entwistle.

            Peg Entwistle had already made a name for herself on Broadway, and decided to further her career here in Hollywood, which at the time symbolized everything Peg longed for—money, glamour and, most of all, fame. She did some auditions, but spent most of the brutally hot summer of '32 just hanging around her uncle's house, waiting for a phone call that never came. The magical world of movies did not embrace this graduate of the world-famous Thater Guild.




            Finally, on the evening of September 18, Peg made the arduous hike up the canyon hill to the Hollywood Sign, her one-time beacon of hope, but now a symbol of failure and rejection. She climbed 50 feet up a workman's ladder to the top of the 'H' and plunged five stories into the dark night below. Peg Entwistle—named by tabloids as the 'The Hollywood Sign Girl'—was only 24 years old. In a cruel twist of irony, a letter to Peg arrived the day after her death from the Beverly Hills Playhouse. She was offered the lead role in a play about a woman driven to suicide.  To the rest of the movie-making community, Peg's suicide was a reminder that not everything glittering in Tinsel Town is gold.

            The developers who created the sign went bankrupt during the Depression. After that, the Sign suffered from tragedy and serious neglect By 1939, all maintenance of the Sign had stopped as Hollywood grappled with World War II. All 4,000 bulbs were stolen, and gaping holes appeared in the letters because of vandalism and the elements. The once-luminous letters began to disappear into the chaparral. Area residents complained that 'Loose SignsSink Neighborhoods', and lobbied for its removal.

            In 1944, the bankrupt developer unloaded the last 450 acred of land, along with the sign, to the City. The post-war Sign was in good hands, but still waiting salvation.

 

Chapter II

Dream Factory

            1922 marked the beginning of a new era in Hollywood. Only two years earlier, the film capital of California had moved from Santa Barbara to Hollywood. Hollywood was the Dream Factory.

            A shakeout created the Mega-Studios that would eventually control the industry. In 1922, for instance, four of the most creative big-wigs, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W.Griffith created United Artists to put film making in the hands of the talent.

            The Fox facility began as a frame cottage nestled among lemon trees at Western and Sunset, and grew to accommodate 20 productions shooting simultaneously. The Warner Brothers' meteoric rise can be attributed to a stable of creative talent that included John Barrymore, Al Jolson, Busby Berkeley and Rin-Tin-Tin.

Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary

Pickford, on top of the world in 1921. And why not?

One years earlier they and top director D.W. Griffith

 had formed their own studio, United Artists, for one

 thing because no one else could afford to pay their salaries.

By the mid-20s, mega-studios resembled corporate kingdoms, ruled by and all-powerful monarch, with serfs busily building sets and cutting footage.

            Hollywood itself has been anything but static and after a few decades as the capital of film glamour, the neighborhood changed again. Although much of the studio work remained in Hollywood, many stars moved to Beverly Hills, and the elegant shops and restaurants left with them.  

            Stars soon made Beverly Hills and Silver Lake into America's most glamorous postal addresses. The stars themselves were the nearest thing in America to royalty. Temptingly, here was an aristocracy anyone could join.

            Hollywood became known as the place in America where anything was possible. Screen stars built strange and elaborate mansions along Sunset Boulevard. They drove around in expensive, imported cars, took drugs, and were openly promiscuous (casual about having many sexual partners). Eventually, public opinion turned against them.

            When Warner Brothers synchronized sound in motion pictures - in Al Jolson's 'The Jazz Singer' -- the new 'talkies' jolted the industry like an earthquake. Hollywood's silent stars, many of whom had come to Hollywood from abroad, suddenly found their accents a liability. Talkies also ruined the film careers of heroes like Vilmy Banky, Norma Talmadge or like John Gilbert, whose high, tremulous voice was laughable in a leading man. Many ‘silent stars’ sank into alcoholism and suicide. There were tragic casualties of technical innovation, but there were also stellar new careers made overnight. Stage actors and vocal coaches became outright stars by 1930.

            Most of the early talkies were successful at the box-office, but many of them were of poor quality - dialogue-dominated play adaptations, with stilted acting (from inexperienced performers) and an unmoving camera or microphone. Screenwriters were required to place more emphasis on characters in their scripts, and title-card writers became unemployed. The first musicals were only literal transcriptions of Broadway shows taken to the screen. Nonetheless, a tremendous variety of films were produced with a wit, style, skill, and elegance that has never been equaled - before or since.

            The 1930s decade has been nostalgically labeled 'The Golden Age of Hollywood' (although most of the output of the decade was black-and-white). The 30s was also the decade of the sound and color revolutions and the advance of the 'talkies', and the further development of film genres (gangster films, musicals, newspaper-reporting films, historical biopics, social-realism films, lighthearted screwball comedies, westerns and horror to name a few).  Under the so-called 'studio system,' the major studios controlled every aspect of filmmaking from preproduction to small-town theaters.

            Talented actors, directors, and technicians arrived from Europe to work for the studios. Famous writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896–1940), Dorothy Parker (1893–1967), and William Faulkner (1897–1962) made the journey west to work in pictures. Hollywood became a playground for celebrities eager to get themselves noticed. Private lives became public property, and there was a sense that anything could be bought. As ever, people outdid one another with brash displays of wealth. As crime-writer Raymond Chandler (1888–1959) put it: 'In L.A. to be conspicuous you would have to drive a flesh-pink Mercedes-Benz with a sun porch on the roof and three pretty girls sunbathing.'

            Meanwhile, a new 'sound' was on the rise. By 1930 radio programming had evolved from its primitive crystal set beginnings. In 1932 Hollywood's first three station, KNX, KHJ and KFI hit the waves. Although it wasn't the broadcasting capital, Hollywood's radio pioneers were relentless in their promotional zeal. The founder of KNX once managed to broadcast a murder trial after his reporters were thrown out of the courtroom. The Coconut Grove on Wilshire Boulevard, playground to the glitterati, was one of the first rooms on the West Coast to broadcast a live orchestra via radio.

Chapter II

Hollywood during War

            Hollywood was doing a clipping business when the stock market crashed, unleashing the lean years of the Depression. While Hollywood's film business survived, the Hollywood Sign suffered from tragedy and serious neglect. While the Dream Factory was shaken by the financial crisis of the Depression, it was hardly destroyed. Film did better than any other industry in the dark days of the Depression because, now more than ever, people were looking for an escape. What little discretionary money people had, they seemed to spend on movies.

            In the Hollywood of the 1930's, actors could expect little more than $15 a day working under the harshest conditions. Even so, in 1933, during the darkest days of the Depression, actors were ordered to take a 50% pay cut because of falling profits at the box office. It was then that a small group of actors decided to organize. They formed a self-governing guild that today we know as Screen Actors Guild. Vying for recognition, the guild finally received its first union-shop contract in 1937. It included wage increases, pension and health plans, residuals, regulation of talent agents, and safety standards on the set as major provisions.

            When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th the entertainment industry became a full-time war industry. Studio trucks transported troops instead of movie sets. Stars like Clarck Gable, Jimmy Steewart and Victor Mature quickly enlisted, while wartime restrictions and shortages dramatically changed the way movies were made.

            World War II impacted every aspect of film production in Hollywood. Distant or exotic locations were no longer and option. Sea shots were prohibited from Seattle to San Diego. The government seized the nation's supply of rolling stock, and train shots were nixed, air raid blackouts eliminated all night filming. Lavish sets were a casualty of materials shortages. Nails were counted at each studio, and sets were made so that a post office could be quickly turned into an airport. Studios hoarded their precious two punds of hairpins a month.

            During WWII, there were no lavish historical epics and no expensive car chases or crashes. Out of necessity, space psychodramas and the Age of Film Noir replaced the grand and costly extravaganzas of years past.

            With the downsizing of the movie industry, music became the craze to the ears of the nation. Like never before, Hollywood could shape the world through radio and the record industry.

            In 1940, to profit form this upcoming trend, Glenn Wallichs built his famous Wallichs' Music. The record store became so popular with students from both Hollywood and Fairfax high schools, that it sold more records than any store west of Chicago, Illinois. Wallich's popularity with his record store spurred him to partner with Johnny Mercer two years later to form Capitol Records. By pioneering marketing strategies coupled with album design, the company went on to become one of the top three in the industry.

            War drew Hollywood together as a close-knit family, erasing the distinction between stars and regular people. Returning soldiers swelled the city's population, and Hollywood pulled together to feed, shelter and entertain them. Hollywood's most famous names volunteered their time and services in the name of the war effort.

            Returning soldiers outnumbered civilians in downtown Hollywood ten to one. They slept in parks and theater lobbies, until 'Mom' Lehr's Hollywood Guild and Canteen began offering them a bed and three meals a day. On average, 800 stayed with Mom on a week night 1,200 on weekends. The similar-sounding Hollywood Canteen catered to 2000 servicemen who would jam the club each night for free food, drink and top Big Bands. All 6000 radio and screen entertainers volunteered. Marlene Dietrich cut take, washed dished and sang. Betty Grable, Olivia de Havilland and Greer Garson played hostess. The busyboys: Fred MacMurray, Basil Rarhbone, John Loder and John Garfield. 100,000 soldiers a month devoured 4,000 loaves of bread, 1,500 pounds of coffee, and 150,000 pieces of cake.

Chapter III

TV Era

            In 1948, box office receipts were down 45% from wartime heights. The culprit: television.

            From '46 to '51, the number of TV sets in American homes went from 10,000 to more than 12 million. Studios cut payrolls, back lots sprouted weeds, and sound stages went back. Film scrambled for a rash of new gimmicks: wide screens, 3D, Technicolor, stereo sound and free dishes for moviegoers.

            In 1949, the Chamber of Commerce came to the ailing Sign's rescue, removing the letters that spelled 'LAND' and repairing the rest.

            Hollywood, with characteristic resilience, made the transition to TV. On January 22, 1947, the first commercial TV station west of the Mississippi River, KTLA, began operating in Hollywood. In December of that year, the first Hollywood movie production was made for TV, The Public Prosecutor. And in the 1950s, music recording studios and offices began moving into Hollywood. Other businesses, however, continued to migrate to different parts of the Los Angeles area, primarily to Burbank. Much of the movie industry remained in Hollywood, although the district's outward appearance changed.

            Television companies snatched up old studios and back lots. Symbolically, the emcee for Hollywood's first TV show was film star Bob Hope, with Cecil B. DeMille opening the program. When TV started filming programs, Hollywood was there to corner the market. By the end of the 50s, more sound stages were producing television than movies.

            Hollywood was the victim of a mass exodus of residents to suburbs in the Valley. They were opting for malls and multiplex cinemas over Mann's and the Boulevard. The mid-60s celebrated free speech, and a series of rulings on obscenity changed what could be shown at a movie theater. Hollywood became overrun with 'adult' theaters, and sex on the screen brought other 'adult' culture with it: massage parlors, 'adult' bookstores, and porn shows.

            In 1952, CBS built CBS Television City on the corner of Fairfax Avenue and Beverly Boulevard on the former site of Gilmore Stadium. CBS's expansion into the Fairfax District pushed the unofficial boundary of Hollywood further south than it had been. CBS's slogan for the shows taped there was 'From Television City in Hollywood'

The famous Capitol Records building on Vine Street just north of Hollywood Boulevard was built in 1956. It is a recording studio not open to the public, but its unique circular design looks like a stack of old 45rpm vinyl records.           

Chapter III

Blacklists and Bankruptcy

                       

            The Hollywood movie industry’s high profile made it vulnerable in the cold post-war climate of anti-liberal hysteria.

            After 1939, things began to change. Antitrust lawsuits broke up the studios' control of film distribution. Many people felt the stars had too much power. To make matters worse, the Hays Commission, a self-regulatory body of the film industry, was set up in the late 1940s to control the moral content of Hollywood movies. Many stars found themselves blacklisted (put on a list of people not to be hired) on moral grounds.

            Communist witch hunts led by Senator Joseph McCarthy tore Hollywood apart. McCarthy and his henchmen rounded up 19 prominent Hollywood writers, directors and actors, claiming that 'Commies' had infiltrated Hollywood and were producing subversive films. Ten of these victims were sent to jail. By the early 50s, 400 Hollywood writers, actors and directors were blacklisted. One star survived by selling flowers, another by waiting tables in Arizona. Paranoia and persecution prevailed. Paranoia and betrayal was a common image seen in fifties America.



            The Hollywood Walk of Fame was created in 1958 and the first star was placed in 1960 as a tribute to artists working in the entertainment industry. Honorees receive a star based on career and lifetime achievements in motion pictures, live theatre, radio, television, and/or music, as well as their charitable and civic contributions.

            Hollywood experienced the flight of film power centers in the turbulent 60s. By 1970, Paramount was the only major studio left in town. Many other studios went bankrupt after the difficult years of blacklisting and television dominance. But movies weren't the only game around. The Sign -- well, it didn't take a Weatherman to show what the elements had done. In 1973, the Cultural Heritage Board gave the Sign landmark status, but it was still in need of tender loving care.

            For years, Hollywood was a major disappointment, a case study in urban decay and neglect - a seedy, run-down area populated by a virtual freak-show of young runaways, homeless transients, wannabe heavy-metal rockers, frenzied traffic, and harried crowds of bewildered tourists wandering the dirty sidewalks while trying to find some hint of former glamour left in the famous city.

            True glamour has always awaited tourists a few miles in Beverly Hills, but the actual Hollywood area - the downtown shopping district centered around Hollywood Boulevard - had degenerated from a cozy small town into a bad dream of urban blight.

Chapter III

Hollywood revitalization

            The Hollywood Sign was declared Los Angeles Cultural-Historical Monument #111 by the Cultural Heritage Board of the City of Los Angeles. The milestone was celebrated during a 1973 gala hosted by silent star Gloria Swanson. Unfortunately, a thick fog blanketed the event, undermining what should have been a picturesque affair. Despite this inauspicious commemoration, the Sign’s official monument status signaled a new era of restoration, preservation and global respect.

To raise money for the Sign’s reconstruction, the newly established Hollywood Sign Trust enlisted the help of Hollywood's biggest names. A star-studded fund raising party was hosted by Hugh Heffner at the Playboy Mansion, where individual Sign letter letters were ceremonially 'auctioned off' at a price tag of $28,000 per letter. The effort to preserve the Sign made for some strange celebrity bedfellows: Glam-rocker Alice Cooper 'bought' an 'O', while singing cowboy Gene Autry sponsored an 'L' and singer/songwriter Paul William funded the 'W'. With the help of these and other extremely generous sponsors, the Trust unveiled a pristine new Hollywood Sign in 1978.

            The 1978 restoration of the Sign was more than a matter of new sheet metal and steel pipe. It symbolically ignited a renewal throughout Hollywood that continues to gain momentum to this very day. In 1980, a $90 million grant from the federal government enabled Hollywood to launch a slew of re-development projects.

            In 1985, the Hollywood Boulevard commercial and entertainment district was officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places protecting important buildings and ensuring that the significance of Hollywood's past would always be a part of its future.

            In 1984, The Olympic Games came to Los Angeles. Fourteen countries of the Soviet bloc boycotted the event. The Hollywood Sign was illuminated for two weeks in honor of the Olympics, which drew visitors and television viewers from around the globe.

            In the 80s, the film industry was also 'going global'. The Australian multimedia titan, Rupert Murdoch, took over 20th Century Fox in 1985. Japanese companies bought Columbia in 1989 and Universal the following year.

            As the costs of movie production soared and mega-industry fixed its eye on the bottom line, the film business became increasingly dependent on ancillary profits from foreign sales, television, video and product spin-offs.        By the end of the 80s, video revenue was almost twice as much as ticket revenue. In this highly competitive world market, more and more films were being made overseas and on location elsewhere in the United States. Hollywood, for the time being, was the center of the film industry in name only.

            In 1985, the Hollywood Boulevard commercial and entertainment district was officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places protecting the neighborhood's important buildings and seeing to it that the significance of Hollywood's past would always be a part of its future.

            In 1989, Walt Disney Studios began a two-year, museum-grade rehabilitation of the historic El Capitan Theater, resurrecting what was once the most lavish legitimate theater in Southern California to its former grandeur. The historic Egyptian Theater was restored to its original 1922 glory ten years later and the famed

Brown Derby restaurant, Roosevelt Hotel, and the Pantages Theater all received well-deserved makeovers during the last decades of the millennium. Hollywood was moving forward, in part, by wisely reinvesting in the monuments of its glamorous past.

            The old town finally got its act together and appeared to be revitalized. The long-awaited rebirth of Hollywood was well under way.

Chapter IV

Entertainment Capital

            A new maturity came to Hollywood in the last decade of the century.

            In 1992, California Attorney General Dan Lungren laid out a road map for the Sign's future, identifying three official parties responsible for its ongoing stewardship. Under the ruling, the Hollywood Sign Trust was empowered with the protection, preservation and promotion of the Hollywood Sign as the global icon of the entertainment industry. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, was charged with protecting the image of the Sign, specifically by ensuring that any likenesses of the Sign are approved and appropriately licensed. The City of Los Angels, finally, received a mandate to maintain and protect the restricted Griffith Park space that's home to the Sign, allocating Park Rangers and other resources to ensure the Sign's ongoing security.

            The final days of 1995 also saw the formation and private funding of the Hollywood Business District by Hollywood Boulevard property owners.         Through intensive security street cleaning and marketing efforts, the District reduced crime by 50 percent during its first 180 days of operation. Its success laid the groundwork for the ongoing development of posh hotels, theaters, eateries and shopping. The re-birth of Hollywood,entertainment capital of the world, was in full swing!

            In the 1990s, the digital revolution captivated filmmakers, allowing ever more spectacular special effects. In 1999, Toy Story became the first film to go from production to presentation in digital form. Some think this process may signal the beginning of the end for traditional film.

            In 1997, Hollywood marked its coming of age with the opening of the new Hollywood Entertainment Museum, which celebrates the turbulent, fascinating story of this unique city and its ever-changing entertainment industry.

            In 1995, the Sign got a new paint job courtesy of Dutch Boy Paints. Its new coat was unveiled at a ceremony MC'd by the queen of face-lifts, Phyllis Diller. Unfortunately, as had happened on some other important nights in the Sign's history, a thick fog set it, and many press cameras couldn't even see the drapes being pulled off the Sing.

            During its lore-filled history the Hollywood sign was just about seen it all. So when a bolt of lightning tore through the landmark's surveillance booth in 1999, wiping out the entire security system with one fell blow, it seemed like just another dubious chapter in an often ill-cursed saga. The destruction, however, turned out to be a blessing in disguise when Hollywood-based Panasonic Corporate Systems Company (PCSC) replaced the fallen (and woefully out of date) booth with a new state of the art surveillance system.

            Charged with protecting arguably the most famous nine letters on earth, PCSC engineers designed, engineered and installed a cutting-edge security network comprised of a vas closed circuit television (CCTV) surveillance network, external alarms, microwave-triggered motion detectors and a bilingual audio warning feature. Streaming video images are fed from a suite of remote cameras through fiber optic lines to the City of Los Angeles Parks and Recreation Security Headquarters, where rangers can monitor all of the cameras simultaneously.

            1999 also saw the return of trains to Hollywood, when Metro Rail's Red Line opened its gleaming doors to the public. The 4.6 mile underground Hollywood line, which links into the citywide Metro Rail system, boasts five immaculate, beautifully designed stations - at Vermont and Beverly, Santa Monica and Sunset, and on Hollywood Boulevard at Vine, Western and Highland - providing visitors with convenient transportation to Hollywood most sought after destinations. The Red Line represents the first Hollywood rail service since L.A.'s fabled 'Red Cars' were scrapped in the late 50s.

Chapter IV

New Millennium

            In a spellbinding display of lights and megawatt special effects, the nine 45-foot letters of the Hollywood Sign were lit, one by one, as Los Angeles counted down to the New Millennium. Standing beside event host Jay Leno, then-Mayor Richard Riordan 'flipped the switch' at the 15 seconds before midnight, illuminating the 450-foot-long Sign in a dance of swirling hues and cinematic lightning effects that was visible throughout Hollywood and beyond.

            Powered by more than two million watts of electricity, the lighting of the Sign was the culmination of a citywide 'Celebrate L.A. 2000' event. 'New York has Time Square, Paris has the Eiffel Tower, Cairo has the Pyramids,' said Mayor Riordan. 'Los Angeles' world symbol is our Hollywood Sign, which is appropriate, since Hollywood is the global entertainment capitol of the world.' ABC Network aired the event on live television, enabling millions of viewers to witness the historic lighting. (The Sign had been lit only two times: for the 1974 inauguration of the rebuilt Sing, and for two weeks during the 1984 Olympic Games.)

            Oscar finally returned to home to Hollywood for the 2001 Academy Awards, ending a 52-year absence and capping the city's resurrection as the spiritual-and now, once again, physical - heart of the entertainment industry. On March 24th, 2002, the Awards inaugurated their new permanent at the 3,300 seat Kodak Theater - just across the street from the Roosevelt Hotel, site of the original Awards in 1929. The Kodak Theater is part of the new Hollywood & Highland center, the crowning jewel of Hollywood's ongoing urban revitalization. Home to 60 shops and a 640-room hotel, the venue is oriented around a pavilion featuring a 7/8th-scale replica of a set from D.W.Griffith's Intolerance (1916), a seminal Hollywood epic. The 'set' is a fantastic recreation of ancient Babylonia (striking a signature early-Hollywood motif), replete with bejeweled 20-foot elephants, opulent columns and other exotic, proto-deco touches. Deftly framed by the pavilion's majestic ceremonial arch, the distant Hollywood Sign becomes the visual and symbolic crux of the composition -  a perfect public homage that can be enjoyed by passersby near and far.

            Panasonic Corporate Systems Company, which designed the Sign's new security network in 1999, upgraded the already-world-class system with a suite of new digital surveillance cameras. Complementing a gauntlet of external alarms, motion detectors and audio warning systems, ten streaming, full-color surveillance cameras now cover the entire restricted Sign area. 2002 had also seen the debut of the Sign's redesigned official site, now featuring new content and photos, a range of new cameras and features, and an overall enhanced user experience.

            On October 31st the Sign celebrated its 80th birthday at a gala celebration hosted by movie musical legend Esther Williams (another remarkably preserved octogenarian). The Signs 'birthday party' was held during the opening ceremonies for the AFIFest, where Williams led fans, festival attendees, and members of the press in a spirited rendition of the Happy Birthday Song and cut pieces of a massive cake designed to look like the Sign sprawled across MT. Lee. In 1923, the brand new Sign was constructed as publicity stunt promoting a Hollywood real estate development. During the ensuing of 8 decades, it had become one of the worlds most recognizable landmarksTalk about your 'Hollywood endings'.

            In November 2005, the Hollywood Sign Trust teamed up with BayCal Painting and Red Diamond Coating to provide the Sign with its first end-to-end refurbishment in a decade. In a city where facelifts are run of the the mill, this one was anything but, entailing 300 gallons of Ceryllium advanced coating and weeks of climbing, scraping, priming and painting each of the Sign's nine 45-foot lettersa particularly challenging task give the Signs steep, rugged setting. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa personally completed the restoration, rappelling down the hillside and applying the final strokes of coating a fitting tribute from Los Angeles new political star, to its oldest and most important 'ambassador'. When the press had cleared away, and all was said and done, the Sign was looking better than ever as polished, smooth, and dazzling-white as any movie stars smile

            Today Hollywood has established itself as the single center of film and television industry, a vibrant, progressive urban area that looks forward to a new era of pride and glory among stars.

            Everything that lies under the famous Sign is about entertainment that makes money. That is a fact that will never disappear.

            Neither will Hollywood. We and it are as one.

          “ELENA CUZA”

          NATIONAL COLLEGE

          CRAIOVA

          ATESTAT PAPER

          “HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD

          COORDINATOR:

          Prof.Smadu Silvia  

                        

          CANDIDATE:

          Catana Danut

          12th B grade

                        

          MAY 2006








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