July 2008
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Billie Silvey
A Walking Tour
Of Screenland
A couple of years ago, my husband Frank and I took a
walking tour of Palms and Culver City, visiting sites
associated with the early movie industry.  A friend of ours, George
Garrigues, led the tour.

George is a knowledgeable guide.  He’s a former reporter for
the
Los Angeles Times and a journalism professor who has lived
in Palms for 13 years.  A graduate of Inglewood High and  
UCLA, George first worked in Palms in the publications division
of Douglas Aircraft more than 50 years ago.

We met on the organizing committee of the Palms Neighborhood
Council and served together on the council for three years.  He is
the author of
Loud Bark and Curious Eyes, a history of the
Daily Bruin, the UCLA student newspaper.

In 2006, George wrote
He Usually Lived with a Female: The
Life of a California Newspaperman
about his father, Charles
Harris (Brick) Garrigues.  George currently is working on a
history of Palms.
  Ivy Substation and Media Park. First stop is a 1907 Mission
Revival structure set in a park.  But it was built by Los Angeles
Pacific Railway Company as an generation and distribution center
for its electric railway system.
The building is a Historical Monument, retaining its original structure
and setting.  Leased by Culver City in the 50s, the interior was
converted in 202 into a 99-seat theater.  Resident company is Tim
Robbins’ The Actors’ Gang.
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The movie industry is all about making things that aren’t what
they seem, and the sites on our Walking Tour of Screenland are no
different. Here are a few stops I’d suggest that may or may not
have been on George’s tour:
  Culver Studios. Called in a 1918 newspaper article “a
motion picture plant that looks like a beautiful Southern estate,�
Thomas Ince’s second studio was sold in 1925, when it
became DeMille Studio.

Actors who worked there include Bette Davis, Robert Mitchum,
Cary Grant, Carole Lombard, Katharine Hepburn, Fred Astaire
and Ginger Rogers.  
King Kong was released in 1933, and its sets
were burned to film
Gone with the Wind.

In 1956, the lot became Desilu Studios, and TV shows were
produced for the next 15 years.  It became Culver City Studio in
1970, then Culver Studios where independent movies were filmed.  
E.T. was among movies made there.

Hal Roach Studios, known for Marx Brothers and Harold Lloyd
comedies, was located behind Culver Studios on National.
  Kirk Douglas Theater. In 2004, the Moderne style Culver
moviehouse with the 40-foot tower was converted into a 300-seat
live theater by Center Theatre Group to showcase live productions.

Everything from classic drama to musicals to guest productions to
world premiers has been staged at the Culver Boulevard
landmark.  The premier of a David Mamet farce highlights the
2007-08 season.
  Culver Hotel.  In 1924, Harry Culver built the six-story Hunt
Hotel, later known as the Culver Hotel, at the intersection of
Washington and Culver Boulevards.  It was advertised in 1928 as
having “150 modern rooms and apartments, built for you to
enjoy.� Culver’s offices were located on the ground floor
for a short time, and his statue sits on a bench in front.
.
Many stars stayed there, including the casts of
Gone with the
Wind
and The Wizard of Oz.  Clark Gable and Buster Keaton
kept parttime residences at the hotel.  Rumor has it that Charlie
Chaplin once owned it, but sold it to John Wayne for a dollar in a
poker game.  It was renovated and reopened in 1997.
  Sony Pictures Studios. Ince’s original studio, the first of
three major studios in Culver City, was built to look like a classical
colonnade.  Ince/Triangle was the first studio in Culver City.  
Samuel Goldwyn took over the lot in 1918. and it became
Goldwyn Studios.

In 1924, a merger produced Metro Goldwyn Mayer, ushering in
the height of Hollywood.  
The Wizard of Oz was shot on the lot
there in 1930.

MGM became Columbia and, in 1990, Sony Pictures.
  The iconic Film Strip USA in the fountain at Veteran’s
Auditorium, at the corner of Culver and Overland, symbolizes
recent attempts to renew Culver City--building on history, while
looking to a shining future.

Some may not appreciate the increased traffic and prices
gentrification brings.  Others may disagree in matters of taste.  But
most appreciate the increased access to art, restaurants and
entertainment.  I know I do
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History of Screenland
(Im)morality Plays