Saturday, April 15, 2017

Universal Studios, July 7, 1961

Even though today's images are from Universal Studios, they are not the typical photos you might see from the famous Studio Tour (no "Glamor Trams", no flash floods, no Western Streets, no stunt shows).

I believe that this first one was taken at the lower studio entrance off of Lankershim Boulevard, at what is now called "James Stewart Avenue"; but I could be wrong! If so, please chime in and let me know. It's hard to tell because the studio has undergone so many massive changes since 1961. 

This appears to be the guard gate to keep looky-loos and nosy people (like me) from getting on to the studio lot; I would imagine that this is where movie stars and other folks would have to show their passes. And yet it makes me wonder how our photographer managed to get past the steely-eyed guard. 

Howsabout that beautiful peach-colored car? I think it might be a '58 Pontiac Bonneville, but Nanook will let us know for sure!

We can still see the Pontiac, so this mere yards from where the first photo was shot. Helpful writing on the slide's cardboard mount tells us that that blocky gray edifice is where Edith Head's office was. Edith was a legendary costume designer for directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, and so many others. She won eight Academy Awards, though she was nominated 35 times! 

Among the films she worked - - - "The Sting", "Double Indemnity", "All About Eve", "Sunset Boulevard", "Roman Holiday", "Breakfast at Tiffany's", "Vertigo", and "The Ten Commandments". What a career!

Here she is in her heyday (without her famous round glasses):

And of course, Edith was the model upon which "Edna Mode" from "The Incredibles" was loosely based!


Anonymous said...

Edith Head didn't leave Paramount and join Universal until 1967 which makes it tough to have a building at Universal named after her in 1961. Interesting…

Nanook said...


You must be brushing-up on your car ID'ing skills. It IS a 1958 Pontiac, but as the rear fender has three, 'star-like' emblems, that would be the Chieftan model. The Bonneville had four, and 'BONNEVILLE" was spelled-out on the rear of the trunk. And wedged-in between the Pontiac and the guard 'shack' is a black, 1961 Ford, I'm pretty certain a Galaxie. I tend to agree with you about the gate being the Main Gate on Lankershim Boulevard. Oh - and that station wagon cruising down Lankershim might just be a 1955 DeSoto.

In the next image, there's a red Porsche. And to its right, a 'white', 1956 Oldsmobile, a Volkswagen, a gray convertible Mercedes - probably a 190 SL, and mostly obscured by the Mercedes is a black, 1957 or 1958 Cadillac - or - possibly a 1956 Cadillac Eldorado-! Just not enough features for a positive ID.

Thanks, Major, for a look back at the pre-studio tour Universal Studios.

TokyoMagic! said...

Is that a Schwinn bicycle parked if front of Miss Head's office in the second pic? And is that a voodoo doll with pins stuck in it, behind Miss Head in the third pic?

Chuck said...

Edith Head was loaned out by Paramount to work with other studios, so it's possible that she worked in this building while periodically prior to formally moving to Universal. It's also possible that the slides were labeled many years after they were taken; I know my parents' collection has individual slides like that.

Major Pepperidge said...

Anonymous, I did not say that the building was named after Ms. Head. What I said was that the slide was labeled “Edith Head’s Office”. Of course the info could be wrong, but I know she was lent out to other studios on occasion, is it possible that she was at Universal in that capacity in 1961?

Nanook, oh why do I even try? ;-) “Chieftan” is a pretty cool name, though, and what could be more “Hollywood” than a peachy pink car. Thanks for all the info!

TokyoMagic!, at first I’d hoped that it would be Peewee Herman’s bike! And yes, I thought “voodoo doll” too when I saw that thing.

Chuck, great minds think alike! I agree that many slides are labeled years later, but in this case they are all so meticulously labeled, with neat tiny writing, and in most cases the exact date was included (“June 3 1961” for instance) that I think they were not done years later. But… who knows.

K. Martinez said...

Love the first pic. Miss Head's outfit matches the chair. I remember seeing Edith Head winning her Academy Awards and walking up to the stage to accept them. That was an era in Hollywood when the people in the industry seemed like legends. Thanks, Major.