I was so focused on marveling at how empty Hollywood Boulevard looked in this 1951 shot (as well as the empty lot next to Grauman’s and how the Hollywood Hotel is lit up) that I failed to noticed the light dawning over the Hollywood hills. Turns out, that’s not the creep of dawn but the blast from an atomic bomb test in the Nevada desert around 250 miles away. It’s bright enough to light the sky.
Extras flood the Bronson Gate at Paramount Pictures to attend a casting call for the “The Spoilers” (1930)
This looks like a scene from a movie but it’s actually FOR one. Word got out that Paramount Pictures had put out a casting call for a Gary Cooper picture called the “The Spoilers” (1930) Consequently dozens and dozens of extras flooded the studios Bronson Gate. I wonder how many were chosen.
Here we can see the tower of radio station KMPC shining its lights over Beverly Hills some time in the mid-to-late 1930s. In the early 1930s, the station changed ownership, locations, and dial positions many time, but eventually became KMPC when it was acquired by the McMillan Petroleum Company, hence the initial MPC. I’m not sure why a petroleum company would want or need a radio station, but that sort of thing was quite common then. More significantly, in the 1940s, the station’s Director Of Engineering was Lloyd Sigmon, who gave us the famous “Sig-Alert”, which is traffic snarl alert and an expression Angelenos still use today.
Being so close to UCLA, these days Westwood Village is a teeming hive of activity, morning, noon and night. Back when this photo was taken (circa mid-to-late 1930s) it was more low-key and unrushed township. However, the two main buildings in this photo – the dome-shaped office building in front (which later became a Ralph’s supermarket and is currently a Peet’s Coffee and the tower of the Fox Theatre – are still with us today.
That same view in 2016:
The Fox Theater circa 1930s:
Sometimes, I like to post a photo, not because it’s of a significant place to event but because it gives us a glimpse into everyday life in LA. This shot was taken in the town of Surfridge in 1949. Surfridge no longer exists – it was razed to make way for an expansion of Los Angeles International Airport and lay directly south of what is now Playa del Rey. To my 21st century eyes, it looks like a movie set dressed with vintage cars for a movie set in the 1940s, but of course back then, it was just “life.” And even though the people who owned these cars may not have had non-stick fry pans and Google, it looks like a pretty sweet life, if you ask me.
This Union 76 gas station was built in 1965, so it doesn’t really qualify for the golden-era Hollywood photos that I usually focus on, it’s so damned dramatic—especially at night—that I feel compelled to post this arresting photo anyway. It stands at the corner of Crescent Dr and Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills and is really like no other gas station I’ve ever seen. Evidently, it was originally intended to be part of the Los Angeles International Airport, which kind of makes sense, given its futuristic sensibility.
This is what it looks like by the light of day:
For most of us, the movies from Hollywood’s golden era are just something we watch on TV and it can be easy to forget that for a different generation, these were the movies they got dressed up for and went out to see. I always like seeing how classic movies were presented in their original form. This is the Larchmont Theater, which stood at 149 North Larchmont Blvd, just south of Paramount studios. It’s playing “It Happened One Night” so this 1934. I love the huge standee of Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert on the right and can’t help but wonder if anybody asked the theater manager for it once the movie finished its run.
Below is a photo, circa late 1920s. I think all those vehicle belonged to a bakery.
You know, from back in the day when our bread was delivered.
You know, from back in the day when we ate bread and didn’t feel guilty about it.