Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Los Angeles trip

Besides the USC and UCLA libraries, my wife and I visited some film-related sites during our recent trip to Los Angeles.
We took the Sony Pictures studio tour, which led us around the old MGM lot in Culver City. There were a number of historic buildings still standing on the lot, and the tour guide knowledgeably filled us in on what building related to Irving Thalberg, Buster Keaton, etc.... The tour was worthwhile, and comparable to the Paramount Studio tour - which we had taken a few years earlier. We also visited the site of the old Hal Roach studio (now a movie production facility), where my wife's sister was working on Team America, a forthcoming film. We got to see the film's sets, as well as a scene being shot. Nifty. Later, we stopped in front of the old Chaplin Studios - now home to Jim Henson Productions.
We spent a few hours walking around downtown Hollywood, where we once again visited the Roosevelt Hotel (home to the first ever Academy Awards), Grauman's Chinese Theatre, the Kodak Theater (new home to the Academy Awards), and some of the memorabilia shops and bookstores which line Hollywood boulevard. Unfortunately, Larry Edmunds bookshop was closed.
A highlight of our time spent in Hollywood was our first ever trip to the Hollywood Heritage Museum (located across the road from the Hollywood Bowl). Over the years, we have tried to visit this little museum on at least three occassions, but could never make it when the building was open. (The building is currently open on weekends from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.)                                                                                                                                   
"The Hollywood Heritage Museum is housed in the beautifully restored Lasky-DeMille Barn (c. 1895). The Museum features archival photographs from the silent movie days of motion picture production, movie props, historic documents and other movie related memorabilia. Also featured are historic photos and postcards of the streets, buildings and residences of Hollywood during its heyday." Louise Brooks' name and image can be found on at least four or five pieces of memorabilia inside the museum, including a rare image of Brooks and Adolph Menjou standing outside of the building, circa January, 1927. In this photo, a bearded Menjou is seen observing Brooks, who has climbed up a ladder leaning against the "old barn". Supposedly, these two Paramount stars are helping paint the building. If you are a silent film buff, the Hollywood Heritage Museum is well worth a visit. There is a lot of really cool stuff inside - as well as a gift shop!
Another memorable visit was to the Hollywood Forever cemetery. We have been there a few times, but this visit coincided with the annual Rudolph Valentino memorial service - which is held every year on August 23. About a hundred people gathered for the service this year, which was set up inside the mausoleum where the Valentino is laid to rest. The speakers included the "lady in black," musician Ian Whitcomb - who performed a couple of vintage songs about Valentino, film historian Annette D'Agostino Lloyd (author of the just published Harold Lloyd Encyclopedia), and Tracy Ryan Terhune - author of a new book called Valentino Forever - The History of the Valentino Memorial Service. This was the first time we have attended the memorial service. Perhaps we shall go again some year.

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