Marc Wanamaker and Bruce Torrence – Hollywood’s Photo History Heroes

Marc Wanamaker of Bison Archives, and Bruce Torrence of HollywoodPhotographs.com, both accomplished authors, photo archivists, and historians, are two behind the scenes giants of Hollywood history. Wanamaker, a foremost authority on all things Hollywood, especially its movie studios, has supplied material for hundreds of books, and has appeared onscreen in numerous documentaries. Marc has written more than a dozen books on topics including Paramount Studios, the Culver City Studios, Beverly Hills, Warner Bros., and Hollywood itself (see more Amazon links HERE).

Marc Wanamaker (left) - Bruce Torrence (right)

Marc Wanamaker (left) – Bruce Torrence (right)

Torrence has Hollywood in his DNA. His grandfather, noted developer C.E. Toberman, built dozens of Hollywood subdivisions and commercial buildings, including the Egyptian and Chinese Theaters, while his other grandfather, towering actor Ernest Torrence, was an early screen star, playing roles such as Captain Hook in Peter Pan (1924) and Buster Keaton’s father in Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928). Bruce’s 1979 groundbreaking account “Hollywood: the First 100 Years” was an instant classic, and his recent “The Hollywood Canteen” documents Hollywood’s morale boosting efforts during WWII. Bruce also writes The Hollywood Photographs blog, with dozens of articles about Hollywood landmarks and history.

Aside from their informative books, Marc and Bruce both manage incredible photo archives that allow us priceless views of Hollywood’s past, and have generously assisted countless other authors and historians. I am personally indebted to Marc and Bruce who have been remarkably kind and supportive to me over the years. This post revisits a few fun location discoveries that would have been impossible to solve without access to their extraordinary photos.

You can easily see the My Wife's Relations stunt set in this aerial view of Buster's studio. Buster used the set later that year for a scene with some police in Day Dreams. These sets appear in other filmed described in my Mr. Keaton's Neighborhood post.

The newly discovered stunt scene from Keaton’s My Wife’s Relations was filmed on this set at Buster’s studio. Buster later used the set for a scene with some police in Day Dreams (inset). Read the full post HERE. HollywoodPhotographs.com.

Click to enlarge. Marc Wanamaker - Bison Archives.

Using several of Marc’s photos I was able to prove that a few trees appearing in the battle scenes from The Birth of a Nation (1915) are still standing at Forest Lawn. They appeared with the Three Stooges too. Read the full post HERE. Marc Wanamaker – Bison Archives.

Click to enlarge. From left to right: the Pickford-Fairbanks Studio (red oval), the Chaplin Studio (yellow oval), the Bernheimer Estate and future Magic Castle (teal oval), the Hollywood Hotel (red box), the Harold Lloyd (Hollywood Metropolitan) Studios (yellow box), the Keaton Studio (teal box), the block of Cahuenga south of Hollywood Boulevard where Keaton and Lloyd frequently filmed (orange box), and the intersection of Hollywood and Vine (purple oval). HollywoodPhotographs.com.

Click to enlarge. In this post I examine the major Hollywood landmarks appearing in a single 1926 photo. From left to right: the Pickford-Fairbanks Studio (red oval), the Chaplin Studio (yellow oval), the Bernheimer Estate and future Magic Castle (teal oval), the Hollywood Hotel (red box), the Harold Lloyd (Hollywood Metropolitan) Studios (yellow box), the Keaton Studio (teal box), the block of Cahuenga south of Hollywood Boulevard where Keaton and Lloyd frequently filmed (orange box), and the intersection of Hollywood and Vine (purple oval). HollywoodPhotographs.com.

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This ‘rural’ barn scene closing the new version of Buster Keaton’s The Blacksmith stood near Melrose and La Brea, in this view looking SW from Harold Lloyd’s Hollywood Studio on Santa Monica Boulevard. You can read several posts about the ‘new’ The Blacksmith HERE. Marc Wanamaker – Bison Archives.

My favorite discovery, made possible only by examining many photos each from both Marc’s and Bruce’s archives, is that Charlie Chaplin filmed The Kid, Buster Keaton filmed Cops, and Harold Lloyd filmed Safety Last! at the same small Hollywood alley you can still visit today.

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Click to enlarge – looking NE at the alley running from Cahuenga (left) to Cosmo (right). You can read the full post HERE and HERE. HollywoodPhotographs.com.

I would like to thank Marc and Bruce for all they have done to preserve, document, and share Hollywood’s rich history.

Bison Archives  –   HollywoodPhotographs.com   –  Hollywood Photographs Blog

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Buster Keaton, Seven Chances, and Warren Beatty?

mv5bmty2ntm5njiyov5bml5banbnxkftztgwmzuwnzc3nje-_v1_sy1000_cr006731000_al_Warren Beatty’s audacious and scarily prescient political satire Bulworth (1998) depicts Beatty as a California Senator seeking reelection who’s become so disillusioned with the ineffectiveness of politics that he hires a hit man to finish him off. Suddenly liberated to speak his mind, Bulworth’s unfiltered remarks spark a media storm and groundswell of popular support (sound familiar?)

Early on Bulworth chastises a black congregation to wake up, confessing that neither party serves their community because politicians only respond to well-funded lobbyists and huge donations. Bulworth’s terrified campaign manager ends the debacle by pulling the fire alarm and hustling Bulworth out of the church.

The Greater Page Temple - 2610 La Salle Avenue

Senator Bulworth arrives at the Greater Page Temple – 2610 S. La Salle Avenue

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The church presented in the film is the same church Buster Keaton used seven decades earlier for his pre-marital comedy Seven Chances (1925). In that film Keaton must marry by 7:00 p.m. in order to inherit a fortune, and after bungling a proposal to his long-time girlfriend, resorts to placing a front page notice in the newspaper, prompting hundreds of would-be brides to appear at the church. Built in 1906, the former West Adams Methodist Church, now the Greater Page Temple, stands proudly as ever at 2610 La Salle Avenue.

USC Digital Library - CHS-41294

USC Digital Library – CHS-41294

20161209_193209While Bulworth staged a lengthy sequence inside the beautiful church, Buster filmed his church interiors on a roofless set draped overhead with muslin cloth to diffuse the bright sunlight.

Buster in a set - it had no roof.

Buster in a specially built church interior set – it had no roof.

The late Mrs. Eleanor Keaton on the steps of the Seven Chances church. She joked that whereas hundreds of women before her had failed, she was the one woman to capture Buster.

The late Mrs. Eleanor Keaton on the steps of the Seven Chances church. She joked that whereas hundreds before her had failed, she was the one woman to actually marry Buster.

I write extensively about the locations appearing in Seven Chances in my book Silent Echoes, and prepared a visual essay about it as a bonus feature to the Kino-Lorber Blu-ray release of the film. This post shows other locations, and this post shows how Buster filmed a scene close to his studio.

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Buster Keaton, The General, and Animal House?

General_Slideshow-1_Page_06As shown in this previous post describing how Buster Keaton filmed The General in Cottage Grove, Oregon, Buster and crew stayed at the Bartell Hotel during the production, staged the summer of 1926. The hotel stands just a block or two west from where most the filming took place.

But the hotel, later re-named the Cottage Grove Hotel, has another claim to classic comedy fame. The hotel appears during the homecoming parade finale to the 1978 comedy Animal House. When “Stork” (played by the film’s co-screenwriter Douglas Kenney) diverts the marching band into a dead-end alley before the Delta House wrecks havoc on the parade, you can clearly see the Cottage Grove Hotel awning in the background.

Looking east down Main Street towards the Cottage Grove Hotel.

Click to enlarge – looking east down Main Street towards the Cottage Grove Hotel.

Click to enlarge - Stork begins to divert the band.

Click to enlarge – Stork begins to divert the band.

Both The General and Animal House have been inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress as works of enduring importance to American culture; Buster in 1989, and The National Lampoon comedy in 2001.

This brief video hosted by A.M.P.A.S. from a talk I gave in 2011 further explains how Buster filmed The General in Cottage Grove.  You can read all about filming The General in my Keaton film locations book Silent Echoes.

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How Chaplin Filmed The Champion – on Location in Niles

the-champion-1915The upcoming San Francisco Silent Film Festival’s Day of Silents winter program this December 3 at the Castro Theater offers something for everyone, from Ernst Lubitsch’s 1926 Jazz Age gem So This is Paris, to the Oscar’s first ever Best Actor performance, Emil Janning’s portrayal of an exiled Russian general turned Hollywood extra in The Last Command (1928). The morning program leads off with three beautifully restored shorts Charlie Chaplin filmed for the Essanay Film Company in 1915, and co-presented by the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum. The films will be introduced by preservationist David Shepard, whose Blackhawk Films Collection was the source for many of the restorations. In addition to His New Job, filmed at the Essanay Studio in Chicago, and A Night in the Show, where Chaplin plays dual roles, we’ll be seeing The Champion, a boxing comedy filmed entirely on location in Niles, the second of five films Chaplin made for Essanay during his brief stay in the Bay Area before returning to Los Angeles to finish out his one-year contract with the studio.

During this early scene, Charlie and his little pal walk south down G Street in Niles towards studio bungalows that still stand today.

During this early scene Charlie and his little pal, a champion bulldog named Quapaw Lord Orry, walk south down G Street in Niles, beside the Essanay Studio fence, towards studio bungalows that still stand today.

champion-11As reported here, The Champion provides charming views of early Niles, including the former Essanay Studio facility that once stood at the corner of Niles Boulevard and G Street. During the film, Charlie’s hungry tramp character signs up to be a boxing sparring partner, only to end up winning the championship and Edna Purviance’s affections. Chaplin was an avid boxing fan, and by the time of filming had started on off-screen romance with Purviance, whom he had only recently hired to be his first leading lady.

Looking south at the Essanay facility, built in 1913, and Charlie's path down G Street.

Looking south at Chaplin’s path down G Street beside the Essanay Studio, built in 1913.

Looking north - Essanay built these bungalows for studio employees. To the far right is the home appearing with Charlie above.

Looking NW at G Street and 2nd – Essanay built these bungalows for studio employees. To the far right is the home appearing with Charlie in the fence scene above.

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A modern fire station with retro design now stands on the corner where the Essanay facility stood from 1913 to 1933 – the bungalows appear to the left. (C) Google Street View.

Looking west at the side of the Essanay studio. The same house appears in the Chaplin image - the gate in the studio fence appears right.

Looking west at the side of the Essanay Studio. The house at left appears in the Chaplin frame. At right, Charlie chases a boxer through the gate in the studio fence. Notice the enclosed glass shooting stage appearing behind Charlie’s head.

Looking north within the glass shooting stage, visible behind Charlie in the prior scene.

Looking north – filming The Champion within the glass shooting stage, visible behind Charlie in the prior scene.

Looking east - when Charlie chases a boxer out of the studio gate, the southern face of the Township Register newspaper building appears at back.

Looking east – when Charlie chases a boxer out of the studio fence gate, the southern face of the Township Register newspaper building appears at back. The inset shows the other side of the building.

Charlie struts and performs calisthenics within the fenced in studio ground. He walked with his dog along the other side of this fence. Looking east, the top of the extant Edison Theater peaks over the fence. The color view shows the side of the theater today, now home to the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum.

Looking east, Charlie struts and performs calisthenics within the fenced-in studio grounds. Above is a similar view east taken in Niles before the studio was built in 1913. The top of the extant Edison Theater (box) peeks over the fence, while the color view shows the side of the theater today, now home to the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum. Charlie walked his dog from left to right along the outside of this fence. (C) Google Street View.

Looking to the SW, this shows Charlie's gate and the corner of the studio at G Street.

Looking SW at the corner of the studio at G Street, and the studio fence gate (arrow). Notice the glass stage behind Charlie.

Charlie captures the attention of a policeman in this view looking west along the front of the studio. The bleachers for the adjacent Sullivan Park baseball field (box) appears in the upper right corner.

Click to enlarge – Charlie captures the attention of a policeman in this view looking west along the front of the studio. The bleachers for the adjacent Sullivan Park baseball field (box) appear in the upper right corner (see below).

Looking north, this frame from Ben Turpin's 1913 comedy shows the Sullivan Park baseball field, due west of the studio. The inset, reversed for comparison, comes from Charlie's scene.

Click to enlarge – looking north, this frame from Ben Turpin’s 1915 comedy Snakeville’s Champion shows the Sullivan Park baseball field, due west of the studio. The inset from Charlie’s scene in The Champion, reversed here for comparison, shows the park’s shaded bleachers. Turpin and Chaplin made two films together for Essanay, His New Job filmed in Chicago, and A Night Out filmed in Niles and Oakland.

Looking north, this panoramic view of the ball park combines frames from Ben Turpin's film. The inset shows the Essanay Studio baseball team in 1913. Second from the right stands Rollie Totheroh, Chaplin's cameraman for 26 years.

Click to enlarge – looking NE, this panoramic view of the ball park combines frames from Ben Turpin’s film. The inset shows the Essanay Studio baseball team in 1913. Second from the right stands Rollie Totheroh, who would become Chaplin’s cameraman in 1916, working with him until Rollie retired in 1954. This ball field stood due west of the studio. Historian David Kiehn writes that Chaplin did not necessarily endear himself to the townspeople during his brief stay. Notorious for his huge salary and signing bonus with Essanay, widely publicized at the time, Chaplin reportedly didn’t tip local waitresses, pay for his rounds at the bar, and mooched walnuts at the general store. “He was a shy person off-camera, and I think he tried to make up for it by pretending to be outgoing,” says Kiehn. “There are stories that at baseball games he would go under the bleachers and pinch the bottoms of women.” Presumably any bottom-pinching in Niles would have taken place here.

tramp-14Chaplin’s boss and Essanay co-founder Gilbert M. “Broncho Billy” Anderson, cinema’s first cowboy star, had been making films at Niles for a couple of years before Charlie arrived there in late January 1915. This recent post explains how Chaplin filmed the iconic shot of his Little Tramp traipsing down a country road, the concluding scene from The Tramp, at the same spot where Anderson had previously filmed action scenes for his cowboy films. The Tramp was Chaplin’s final champion-17production during his 10-week stint in Niles before heading to Los Angeles. Anderson and Chaplin became friends working together in Niles. At the right, Anderson plays a cameo in The Champion, seen here staring into the camera, as an extra watching Charlie’s boxing match. You can purchase a newly released two DVD set containing 16 Anderson Broncho Billy films, shot mostly at Niles, HERE.

All vintage images courtesy of David Kiehn, historian for the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, and author of the wonderful history of the studio, Broncho Billy and the Essanay Film Company. You can read more about Chaplin filming The Champion in my book Silent Traces.

1915-the-champion-2Preservationist Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films, and Cineteca di Bologna, have restored all 15 of Chaplin’s 1915 Essanay short comedies, available as a 5 disc Blu-ray/DVD box set from Flicker Alley. The restoration of The Champion was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum.

All images from Chaplin films made from 1918 onwards, copyright © Roy Export Company Establishment. CHARLES CHAPLIN, CHAPLIN, and the LITTLE TRAMP, photographs from and the names of Mr. Chaplin’s films are trademarks and/or service marks of Bubbles Incorporated SA and/or Roy Export Company Establishment. Used with permission.

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The Chaplin – Keaton – Lloyd Hollywood Alley

the-chaplin-keaton-lloyd-hollywood-alley-blog_page_04Three of the greatest silent comedies of all time, Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid (1921), Buster Keaton’s Cops (1922), and Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last! (1923), were each filmed at a small Hollywood alley you can still visit today. Running east-west between Cahuenga and Cosmo just south of Hollywood Boulevard, the unnamed alley was conveniently located to the studios, providing a secluded spot to shoot. Each film has been inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress as a work of enduring importance to American culture.

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Looking south, Charlie Chaplin in The Kid.

the-kid-blu-ray-41It was here Charlie’s Little Tramp discovers the abandoned infant he will raise as his son (portrayed as a child by Jackie Coogan) during the opening scenes from The Kid. This main view looks south, where a patio dining area blocks some of the view today. A reverse view (right) shows Charlie running north towards the same spot. As posted HERE, Charlie and Jackie Coogan reunite emotionally later in the film at Olvera Street downtown.

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Looking east from Cahuenga, Buster Keaton in Cops.

the-chaplin-keaton-lloyd-hollywood-alley-blog_page_05The west end of the alley on Cahuenga appears in Keaton’s most famous short film Cops. Chased by a mob of angry police, Buster stops in the street and grabs a passing car one-handed that whisks him out of frame to safety (left – click to enlarge). At back appears the extant Palmer Building on Cosmo, still under construction at the time, that would become the future home of the now defunct Hollywood Citizen newspaper.  The art deco building on Cahuenga now standing to the left of the alley was completed in 1935 (designed by noted LA architects Morgan, Walls & Clements), making the alley slightly more narrow today.

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Looking east towards Cosmo, Harold Lloyd in Safety Last!

sl-cropLloyd is best remembered for hanging from a skyscraper clock in the stunt climbing thrill comedy Safety Last! Harold plays a department store salesman in this film, shown above calculating how to sneak in late to work. The east end of the alley portrayed the back of Harold’s store, where Lloyd filmed many scenes, with the Palmer Building on Cosmo forming a backdrop.

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Click to enlarge – looking NE at the alley running from Cahuenga (left) to Cosmo (right). HollywoodPhotographs.com

You can read more details about Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd filming at the alley HERE, how the alley appears in Harry Houdini’s 1919 feature The Grim Game HERE, how the site appears in the 1994 Johnny Depp/Tim Burton movie Ed Wood HERE, and how it appears in the newly discovered closing shot from Keaton’s 1922 short My Wife’s Relations HERE.

the-chaplin-keaton-lloyd-hollywood-alley-blog_page_06All images from Chaplin films made from 1918 onwards, copyright © Roy Export Company Establishment. CHARLES CHAPLIN, CHAPLIN, and the LITTLE TRAMP, photographs from and the names of Mr. Chaplin’s films are trademarks and/or service marks of Bubbles Incorporated SA and/or Roy Export Company Establishment. Used with permission.

Another appearance, in My Wife's Relations.

Another alley appearance, Buster in My Wife’s Relations.

Cops (1922) licensed by Douris UK, Ltd.  HAROLD LLOYD images and the names of Mr. Lloyd’s films are all trademarks and/or service marks of Harold Lloyd Entertainment Inc. Images and movie frame images reproduced courtesy of The Harold Lloyd Trust and Harold Lloyd Entertainment Inc.

Hollywood map detail © 1938 Thomas Bros. – David Rumsey Map Collection. Aerial photos courtesy HollywoodPhotographs.com and Marc Wanamaker – Bison Archives.

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This link provides a comprehensive PDF tour of Hollywood silent movie filming locations.  Hollywood’s Silent Echoes Tour – Cinecon 2016 – John Bengtson.

Posted in Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Cops, Harold Lloyd, Hollywood Tour, Safety Last!, The Kid | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chaplin’s The Tramp – ‘New’ Views of One of Cinema’s Most Iconic Scenes

The final scene from The Tramp (1915) recreated in 2016.

The iconic final scene from The Tramp (1915) (left) recreated in 2016 by Alani Taira (photo by Rena Azevedo Kiehn) – the opening scene below.

tramp-03Forever known as “the Little Tramp,” Charlie Chaplin filmed his eponymous short film The Tramp for the Essanay company over 100 years ago in Niles, California. When Chaplin arrived at the Bay Area studio early in 1915, the small rural facility had already produced dozens of comedies and westerns, many starring Chaplin’s boss and Essanay co-founder Gilbert M. “Broncho Billy” Anderson, cinema’s first cowboy star.

During The Tramp, Charlie falls for a kind-hearted farm girl played by Edna Purviance, but when he learns that she has a sweetheart, Charlie sadly returns to the open road. The comedy’s bittersweet ending was novel for its time, and provides one of the most poignant and enduring images in cinema history – the Little Tramp, traipsing down a lonesome road, his back to the audience, downtrodden, but suddenly straightening up, ready for a new adventure, as the camera irises in for the final fade out.

The same road sign, trees, and hillside features appear in the closing (left) and opening (right) scenes.

The same road sign, trees, and hillside features appear in the closing (left) and opening (right) scenes.

As I report in my book Silent Traces, Chaplin film location expert Gerald Smith made the incredible discovery that this lonely stretch of road can still be visited today along Niles Canyon. As shown above, it turns out that Charlie’s opening scene, dodging speeding cars, was filmed just a bit further west of the same spot as the closing scene.

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Click to enlarge. The Escape of Broncho Billy (1915) (left) and Broncho Billy’s Sentence (1915) (right), with matching hillside features as The Tramp (arrow), all filmed on Niles Canyon Road.

imgviewBut we now have even a broader perspective of this iconic setting. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Larry Telles, who funded and oversaw the project, the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum has just released a wonderful two DVD set featuring 16 early Broncho Billy westerns, filmed mostly at Niles from between 1912 to 1915, and ably accompanied by talented musicians Frederick Hodges and David Drazin; Broncho Billy Anderson: Film Pioneer. This DVD marks the first time these 16 films have been available on home video, and nearly every title was transferred from a beautiful, clear print. At just $25 including tax and shipping, this fascinating two disc set offers a priceless view of early cinema, and helps support the museum’s worthy cause.

the-escape-of-broncho-billy-03Having filmed in the Niles area for years, Anderson had ample time to find his favorite places to shoot; a twist in the road here, a gully there, as clearly evidenced in these 16 films. So when it turns out that Chaplin’s iconic filming spot for The Tramp appears tramp-03in Anderson’s films as well, it’s easy to imagine why. Perhaps during a lunch break, or over drinks after work at the nearby Hotel Wesley, Charlie likely mentioned to Anderson that he needed a certain setting for his latest film, and Anderson gladly obliged by recommending ‘his’ spot to Charlie.

Although a busy two-lane highway today, Chaplin and Anderson’s filming spot still stands, a bit west of the blue emergency phone sign AL-84-125, along Niles Canyon Road east of town.

You can purchase the new Broncho Billy DVD HERE. To learn more about Broncho Billy, and the Essanay studio at Niles, be sure to check out historian David Kiehn’s invaluable book Broncho Billy and the Essanay Film Company.

Anderson and Chaplin were friends and appeared together. Here Anderson looks straight in the camera during Chaplin's boxing match in The Champion (1915).

Anderson and Chaplin were friends. He appears here looking straight at the camera during Charlie’s boxing match in The Champion (1915).

In turn, Charlie appears in Anderson's His Regeneration (1915).

In turn, Charlie appears in Anderson’s His Regeneration (1915).

Thanks to preservationist Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films, and Cineteca di Bologna, all 15 of Chaplin’s Essanay short comedies from 1915 have been beautifully restored, available as a 5 disc Blu-ray/DVD box set from Flicker Alley. All images from Chaplin films made from 1918 onwards, copyright © Roy Export Company Establishment. CHARLES CHAPLIN, CHAPLIN, and the LITTLE TRAMP, photographs from and the names of Mr. Chaplin’s films are trademarks and/or service marks of Bubbles Incorporated SA and/or Roy Export Company Establishment. Used with permission.

Where Charlie AND Broncho Billy once filmed.

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Silent Witness – the House that Watched Over Chaplin and Keaton

looms at back as Chaplin surveys construction of the department store set for his first Mutual production The Floorwalker (1916).

1022 Cole Avenue looms at back as Chaplin surveys construction of the department store set for his first Mutual production The Floorwalker (1916). Marc Wanamaker – Bison Archives.

The sturdy two-story home once located at 1022 Cole Avenue had a front row seat to some of the most remarkable scenes in early Hollywood history. Its rear dormer window looked down on the humble open air stage where Charlie Chaplin filmed his 12 Mutual comedy short films in 1916-1917, and where Buster Keaton later made his independently produced short and feature films (1920-1928). Moreover, the home appears peeking over the studio fence in many early scenes. One can only imagine the cinematic activity this home witnessed before it was demolished in 1929 to make way for the Technicolor Building, itself a landmark of Hollywood history, and now a Gold’s Gym.

This aerial view, taken in 1921 during Keaton’s production of The Goat, shows the home relative to the open air stage that Keaton would close over later that year.

This aerial view, likely taken March 7, 1921, shows the home relative to the open air stage that Keaton would close over later that year. Remnants of the Convict 13 prison guard tower set, discussed further below, can be seen in the far corner. The white wall near the prison set is Buster’s ‘WANTED’ poster appearing in The Goat. The Metro Studio front office buildings appear at top. HollywoodPhotographs.com.

The Boat - newly restored from The Blacksmith.

1022 Cole, similar views – The Boat (left) – newly restored from The Blacksmith (right).

Since Buster filmed more frequently than Charlie on the studio backlot, the home makes several cameo appearances in Keaton’s early short films. Above the home stands watch over The Boat (1921), as Buster and family realize that towing a boat through a too-narrow basement doorway has just destroyed their domicile. The Cole home also appears in some of the remarkably restored Lobster Films blacksmith-new-28footage from The Blacksmith (1922) newly released by Kino-Lorber. The home first appears over the fence in these scenes with Buster and Big Joe Roberts filmed inside the studio gate on Cahuenga, above and at left.

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Click to enlarge – 1022 Cole (box) and upper right during the opening and closing scenes from Day Dreams.

Although fairly obscured by a fake garden fence, the home also appears during the opening and closing scenes from Day Dreams (1922) shown above, purportedly looking from Reneé Adorée’s front porch, as Buster dodges a car when first greeting her, and again during his return home, via parcel post, following his failure to strike it rich in the big city.

The open area of the studio backlot faced 1022 Cole. HollywoodPhotographs.com.

The arrow in this circa 1920 photo marks where Renee’s house would later be built for Day Dreams in 1922, facing a small vacant lot across the street, behind which stood 1022 Cole. HollywoodPhotographs.com.

1022 at right

The Blacksmith – 1022 Cole at right

Chaplin and Keaton built their biggest sets in the empty backlot corner at Romaine and Cahuenga pictured at right above. Chaplin built the “T”-shaped tenement set for Easy Street (1917) at this corner, and likely built the fountain and spa exterior set from The Cure (1917) there as well. As explained further below, the above view shows both the prison set from Buster’s Convict 13 (1920), and Buster’s similarly configured tenement set from Neighbors (1920). Buster also used the small vacant lot across the blacksmith-new-04street from the studio (shown above) for many films including College (1927), where he built a dormitory set on the vacant lot. This vacant lot appears in many restored scenes from The Blacksmith (left), where in one shot (above) 1022 Cole appears again at back to the right.

A closer view of the small corner backlot shows where Buster filmed this scene from The Boat.

A closer view of the small corner backlot shows where Buster filmed this scene from The Boat.

This even closer view shows the Convict 13 prison set, and the Neighbors tenement set.

This even closer view shows the Convict 13 prison set, and the Neighbors tenement set.

Note the 1022 address by the door.

Note the 1022 address by the door.

While Day Dreams marked the final onscreen appearance for the back of the Cole Avenue home, Buster saved the best for last when filming Sherlock Jr. (1924), where the front of 1022 Cole portrays his fiancé’s family home. The home appears in full view when Buster pays Kathryn McGuire a visit, and again in closer view when Buster, an amateur detective, ponders whether to shadow his rival up the street. The 1022 address appears clearly visible beside the door, and in faded numbers on the front step.

1022 Cole, in both real and "reel" life. HollywoodPhotographs.com.

Click to enlarge – 1022 Cole in real life (left) and in “reel” life from Sherlock Jr. HollywoodPhotographs.com.

Geographically consistent, the following scene of Buster closely tracking Ward Crane’s every step and gesture was filmed looking east as they walk north from the home up Cole, providing a clear view of the Keaton Studio enclosed stage and corner barn, perhaps the only extant movie footage in which this historic studio appears.

Looking east from Cole towards the Keaton Studio barn and enclosed shooting stage. HollywoodPhotographs.com.

Looking east from Cole towards the Keaton Studio barn and enclosed shooting stage. HollywoodPhotographs.com.

On a human note, I checked the city directories online at the LA Public Library, and found that Allen J. Henderson, a salesman, lived at 1022 Cole in 1916, while Edgar C. Beach, a ‘pumper’ lived there in 1917. Juanita D. Caplinger resided there in 1920, Louis J. Ramirez, a truck foreman, later salesman, lived there the longest, during 1921-1923, while Taylor E. Duncan, photographer lived there in 1924. Robert wrote to me that the 1920 census shows Juanita was the sister in law, along with several members of the Gilman family, all living at 1022 Cole. One of them, Frederick Gilman, is listed in the census as occupation “Actor,” and appears to be the gent listed here at IMDB.

Frame images from Buster Keaton: The Shorts Collection 1917 – 1923 (C) 2016 Kino-Lorber, Lobster Films.

1022 Cole Avenue today.

Posted in Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Daydreams, Sherlock Jr., The Blacksmith, The Boat | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments