Saturday, July 14, 2018

Ella Goes to Hollywood, Part 4

Well homies, it's time for the fourth and final post featuring Ella's adventures in Hollywood. She must have become weary of posing for photos, because we don't see much of her in this batch!

Let's start with this photo of NBC Studio (as seen from Olive Blvd) in beautiful downtown Burbank. We saw NBC's old studio on Sunset Boulevard in a previous post, but the Burbank studio was designed for TV production. COLOR TV production! It opened in 1955, and many of your favorite shows were made here. Such as: The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson; Sanford and Son; Night Court; Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In; The Facts of Life; Hollywood Squares; Elvis Presley's '68 Comeback Special; The Fresh Prince of Bel Air; Welcome Back Kotter; and MANY more!

Here's a scarce color photo, scrounged from the internet.

And here's a postcard, heralding the glories of color television. Why, it's almost like there are tiny people living inside the box in our rumpus room.

NBC moved out of the Burbank studio and set up shop at nearby Universal City in 2014. 

Here's another nice color view, with an updated sign. I used to drive past the studio all the time, but only visited it as part of a school field trip. 

The rest of today's photo were taken at various locations along Sunset Boulevard. For instance, let's check out the Sunset Strip for a look at Dino's Lodge. Yes, that's Dean Martin's visage smiling at us; I could tell you more about it, but for an amazing and thorough history, please read Kliph Nesteroff's article at WFMU's "Beware of the Blog". It's great.

Here's a color photo that I posted some years ago!

We're still on Sunset, but several miles east. The building in the photo is Frank Sennes' "Moulin Rouge" - a theater, nightclub, and home of the ghastly "Queen for a Day" television show.

The building was originally the Earl Carroll Theatre, a fancy supper club with elaborate shows featuring beautiful, scantily-clad showgirls. "Through these portals pass the most beautiful girls in the world", proclaimed the sign outside. The large neon face was a portrait of Earl's devoted girlfriend, Beryl Wallace.

More scrounging turned up this rare color photos of the Moulin Rouge. This building later became the Kaleidoscope Theatre (where you might see acts such as The Doors), the Aquarius Theatre (where the hit musical "Hair" was performed), the Chevy Chase Theatre (where his disastrous talk show was taped), and in the 1990's it became "Nickelodeon on Sunset". There are rumors that part of the building will be returned to the Earl Carroll theme, with added luxury high-rise condos.

More than a few ingĂ©nues of the 1940's and 1950's spent plenty of time loitering in Schwab's Pharmacy on Sunset Blvd. in the hopes of being discovered, just like Lana Turner was (only she wasn't actually discovered at Schwab's). I kind of love that our girl Ella wanted to see this Hollywood  landmark.

I'm going to say something controversial: Lana Turner was very pretty. Fight me!

Here's a neat color photo showing the neon sign at night.

I'm guessing that this photo must have been taken toward the end of Schwab's existence; it closed forever in 1983.

And finally, here's the star herself, wonderful Ella standing in front of the entrance to Warner Bros. Studios on Sunset. Perhaps they were filming "The Music Man" on the lot at that very moment!

The only color photo I could find showing the entrance is this fuzzy shot from 1976.

Who loves old postcards? I do.

I also love this wonderful color aerial photo, probably from the 1970's - imagine how much fun it would have been to be able to wander through that back lot.

And that's the end of Ella's adventure's in Hollywood. I'll bet she had lots of great stories to share with the gals in her bridge club when she got back home. She met Phil Harris! She went to the Brown Derby, and the legendary Pantages Theatre! She saw the handprints and footprints of her favorite stars in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater! So many memories. I can't help looking at her without smiling.


Nanook said...


Wow - what a cornucopia of great images. In that first shot of NBC we can see [the then] Carriage House restaurant across the street on Alameda. And in 1974 it became Chadney's - seen in the 5th image - and through a series of owners, eventually closed in 1998 when the roof caved-in. (That'll do it).

Love that (rare indeed) color image of Mom and her young son. You can see the sign for the Carriage House restaurant in the distance.

Dino's is looking fine, especially with that 1960 Buick station wagon parked in-front, and that 1955 [maybe 1956] Dodge pulling into the driveway. (Where's Kookie-??)

"In Person Jack Bailey". Wouldn't that be a good reason to stay away-? When the theater became the Aquarius Theater, I saw Hair performed there. Still remember parts of the production.

And I'm not necessarily-convinced that final image of Schwab's was taken near the end of its existence. I could easily imagine the image dating from the 1960's or 1970's.

Major, I'm afraid you're dating yourself when you identified Ella "... standing in front of the entrance to Warner Bros. Studios on Sunset". Yes, it's true they started on Sunset Blvd, but by 1930-1931, most of their production moved in with First National Pictures in "Beautiful Downtown Burbank". (Although both their Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes cartoons continued to be produced there through 1955). In that lovely linen postcard at the very bottom near the center where a number of cars are parked was where the old triangle island used to stand, so traffic from Olive Ave. could make a gradual turn onto Riverside Dr. And famously in the 1940's and 1950's was home to a billboard proclaiming to passersby this patriotic sentiment: The home of Warner Bros. Pictures - "Combining good citizenship with good picture-making". If you say so.

Thanks, Major, for this great swan song to Ella.

Scott Lane said...

Bye Ella! We'll miss you! Thanks for having taken these pictures just so people in the future could make fun of your hat!

TokyoMagic! said...

I didn't know there was a Warner Bros. Studio on Sunset. Isn't there also a Warner Bros. Studio on Santa Monica Blvd. across the street from the Formosa Cafe?

Wow, two-hundred and forty-dollars for "a guided tour of a motion picture studio, a full day at Disneyland and dinner at Dino's Lodge." That sounds like a reasonable price for today, but I bet back in the day, that was a huge amount of money for what you were getting in exchange. Oh, and I hope Dino's served ROAST.

Bye, bye, Ella! I hope you have a safe trip back home!

Chuck said...

We visited NBC's Burbank studio once in 1976. I remember they had a full-sized Moon Rover mockup sitting in a hallway and a big bin of breakaway "glass" shards that you could take home if you wanted (wish my sister and I knew what happened to the ones we had).

The tour didn't last long; you could tell the guide was not feeling well, and a manager stepped in and offered everyone free tickets to a taping of The Tonight Show that evening. He assured my parents that there would be no problem getting us kids in, so they agreed...only to find out later that no children were allowed (I was 7 and she was 4). We left her at the studio while my dad drove us back to the campground for dinner, then left us behind to go pick her up after the show, locked in the trailer with a portable B&W TV and strict instructions not to open the curtains or door. It wasn't scary, but it felt weird to be left without a babysitter.

I just saw Blazing Saddles last weekend again for the first time in at least 25 years. Looking at the last aerial photo of the Warner Bros. Studios, I can see where they did the long zoom shot to transition to the musical in production (the street to the left of the parking lot in the bottom center of the photo), while the scene with everyone pouring out of the Gate 2 onto Olive Street after the pie fight is at the upper left (follow the line of palm trees through the forest of sound stages).

Also note - if you follow the wide boulevard running up through the backlot from just to the right of that parking lot, you can see tracks running up the middle of the street with a streetcar parked on them. You can also see a wide variety of pre-made walls stored in the lower left of the photo.

Sorry to see Ella's final appearance on this blog, but we've all had a swell time.

Chuck said...

For clarity, the "her" in my story about the NBC Studio Tour above is my mom; my parents did not leave my 4-year-old sister at the studio for a taping of The Tonight Show.

Nanook said...


In 1980 it became the Warner Hollywood Lot up until 1999. Originally it was the Pickford-Fairbanks Studios and United Artists Studio. But most of us think of it as the Samuel Goldwyn Studios.

JC Shannon said...

Good times for Ella! I will miss you, safe journeys. I remember driving by Dinos as a kid, I had no idea it wasn't his. I pictured him there, every night, cooking and crooning for his guests. I don't remember if we ever ate there. My parents favorite was The Sportsman's Lodge, I loved it cause you could catch your own Trout dinner. Thanks Major P. for the awesome scans.

Omnispace said...

What a wonderful set of images today! I took the tour of NBC Studios in 1968 with my family - then saw the Hollywood Squares that evening before driving down to our "motor lodge" in Buena Park.

Btw - if you are so inclined, take the guided tour of Warner Brothers. Our guide invited us to get off our tram and wander through the back lot. It felt more like mischief than a studio tour. ;)

JC Shannon said...

I was just remembering the first color tv I ever saw. We had a black and white set, but my Great Aunt Annie got one and all the cousins and the family all gathered around to watch the color shows. Not every show was in color so you would have to wait until Disney Wonderful World of Color or The FBI. I remember reading about color tv being a temporary fad, and that it would never totally replace B&W. Probably writen by the same guy who cancelled Star Trek because it cost too much and nobody watched it anyhow! Wasn't it NBC that became the first all color network? I am not sure.

Nanook said...

@ JC Shannon-

NBC was indeed the 'First All-Color Network'. I don't know the exact date, but I know the Fall 1966 season was when ABC & CBS went essentially All-Color.

The 1950's and 60's was a time when publicly-held companies were allowed a little leeway to try new things. Although "General" David Sarnoff [head of RCA and NBC] was a horrifically-ruthless business man, ruining the careers, and/or businesses of at least Edwin Armstrong [FM radio], and Philo T. Farnsworth [the image dissector tube - and essentially inventing electronic television], 'publicity' from Sarnoff & RCA contended it was Vladimir K. Zworykin who did so. (Not exactly). HOWEVER... as a sharp businessman, he knew the only way to sell COLOR Television was not only by creating color product, but by getting color television sets into people's homes. And in spite of a premium price tag for color sets, RCA was able to take small losses on their color TV sets as a way to insure enough color receivers to make the whole system work. And it did - as a good first start (NTSC) in the world of analog, color television. And everyone else followed right along.

JC Shannon said...

As usual, Nanook has cleared it up. Thank you, you are a font of information and I always learn something from you. I loved the advent of color and I still remember the first color show I watched on our very own color set. It was " The High Chaparral" advertised as "Big, New, Different".. I was 14 and I still remember it like it was yesterday!

Melissa said...

Thank you for introducing us to Ella's World, and for all the lessons in Hollywood history!

Kookie and the 77 Sunset Strip gang were the first thing I thought of at the sight of Dino's, too! (Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. was such a dreamboat!)

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, Chadney’ stood for many years - I think it was there until perhaps 10 years ago. I used to drive past it on the way to work and wonder what was going on - did not know that the roof had caved in! It is true, me and Lon Chaney used to pal around together - but I didn’t mean to give away my age! ;-) While I know that Warner Studio is in Burbank, I could not find any information about that particular little building. I thought it might be in Burbank, but finally just wrote “Sunset Blvd” with tears streaming down my face. You know how it goes!

Scott Lane, I never made fun of her hat! Or at least I don’t think I did. Maybe I did. Dammit, I did, and I’m sorry.

TokyoMagic!, where are you seeing the $240 for a guided tour?? That must have been a freakin’ fortune back then.

Chuck, I wonder why there was a full-sized moon rover at NBC? Was there a moon-based drama? When I went to NBC Burbank Studios, my class mostly went to see how they used computer graphics (Photoshop!) to make onscreen images for news stories (“Police shootout!” with bullet holes). At the time seeing the dude manipulate pictures with Photoshop was incredible. Little did I know that I would someday be doing that every day. The local weatherman (Fritz Coleman) stopped by to say hello to us, which was nice of him. As for “Blazing Saddles”, I got to see it about a year ago, with Mel Brooks coming onstage afterwards. The guy had more energy at 89 than I’ve ever had. He also introduced Carl Reiner, who was in the audience, we all sang “Happy Birthday” to him. It was amazing.

Chuck, we all remember that episode of The Tonight Show in which Johnny Carson was terrorized by an angry four year-old!

Nanook, just FYI, I have a few fun slides of some studio backlots, to post here someday.

Omnispace, gosh, I toured Warner Studios about six years ago, and they sure didn’t let us get out and wander through the back lot. That would have been awesome. Afterwards we joked that it was the “Friends” tour, because they mentioned that show SO MUCH.

Jonathan, yeah, we had a black and white TV (it always mystified me when a TV show would start with an announcement such as “Batman - in COLOR!”. It wasn’t in color for US). My friend Ronnie’s family got a color TV, and I would go over there sometimes to watch Saturday morning cartoons. It was amazing. I do believe that NBC became the first all color network.

Nanook, you need to write a book about show biz, or Hollywood studios, or movie palaces, or various projection formats, or something! Maybe all of them! Meanwhile, “Philo T. Farnsworth” might be the greatest inventor name ever.

Jonathan, I have an upcoming 1964 World’s Fair post in which you’ll see a vintage video of people seeing themselves on a color TV screen. 1964! I don’t think I saw a color TV until the early 70’s.

Melissa, I’ve never seen 77 Sunset Strip, but would love to check out an episode or two just to get the gist of it.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, that $240 price for a trip to Disneyland, tour of a studio and dinner at Dino's, was in that info about Dino's that you provided the link for.

Nanook, thanks for that info. I'm assuming that was about the studio on Santa Monica Blvd.?

Chuck, I remember the shards of fake glass that they would show you on the tour. I also took a piece home with me, but I know that it's long gone now. Did they tell us that it was made out of spun sugar or am I just imagining that?

Nanook said...

@ TM!-

On Santa Monica Bl., yes. HERE"S an image when it was United Artists Studios, with Santa Monica Boulevard running diagonally along the right edge of the image.

At one time spun sugar was used in breakaway glasses. But these days it's more-likely some sort of plastic resin. Hey - you should make your own to amuse your friends-!

Chuck said...

Major, I have been mystified by the presence of that Moon rover for decades. At the time, I just accepted it at face value - I'd been to Universal Studios and they had props everywhere, too. It wasn't until years later that it occurred to me that that was kind of odd. They may have used it in some sort of live commentary during Apollo 15, 16, or 17. Or maybe the Moon landings were actually faked in Burbank rather than in Building 248 at Norton AFB.

TM!, I remember them telling us the breakaway glass was made of spun sugar, too. I was afraid to eat it, though.

Anonymous said...

My goodness, what a lot of goodness in this post.

Too much here to comment on, other than there are some very familiar scenes here.

Major, you managed to pull a lot out of Ella's pics.

It is really amazing to see the growth of the studios now in Burbank, WB, Disney, Dreamworks, etc. Tremendous economic engine there.

Thanks Major, and everyone for all the great comments.