A Great New Year Ahead for Hollywood
by Kay Tornborg
THE BAD NEWS FIRST: our collaboration with the California Art Club on “Hollywood and the Landscape of the Imagination,” celebrating 75 years of filming at Paramount Ranch, is on the rocks…six feet under…86’d…dead.
This is a major disappointment because I felt this exhibition, with its combination of archival photographs and contemporary paintings in the “California Impressionist” style, would be GOOD FOR HOLLYWOOD. The plan was to make the exhibition into a walking tour of Hollywood by locating parts of the exhibit in 2-3 different sites along the Entertainment District section of Hollywood Boulevard (in addition to the Barn, of course). The paintings would have attracted a new audience in addition to the one already on the lookout for movie-related events.
The ‘layers’ structuring the exhibit were fascinating and thought-provoking:
1) The starting point of the exhibit is the idea that movie audiences the world over have, for years, looked at different movie scenes thinking they were looking at a coal mining village in Wales (Century Ranch aka Fox/Malibu), 1870s San Francisco in Wells Fargo (1937Paramount Ranch), or Notre Dame Cathedral in Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939RKO Ranch, at Roscoe and Louise, in the Valley) and what they were REALLY looking at was a movie ranch!
2) The archival photos on exhibit will show the movie ranch site as it was in the film, transformed into whatever exotic or banal locale it needed to be…Alaska, a castle in Transylvania, a Chinese farm.
3) The painting(s) would have represented another eye on the same scene, that of the contemporary painter, today rendering a painting in a ‘historic’ style (plein-air or California Impressionism).
4) The archival photograph (‘yesterday’) and the contemporary painting (‘today’), displayed together, celebrate the iconic sites seen in movies for decades.
But that’s not going to happen. The California Art Club had committed to a “paint out” in Malibu that will be exhibited at the Wiseman/Pepperdine about the same time as our exhibit. They were also concerned that the exhibition spaces in Hollywood were not yet secured. The working relationship was not working. So it’s Splitsville.
NOW HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS:
There will still be an exhibition celebrating 75 years of filming at Paramount Ranch, and it will still be called Hollywood and the Landscape of the Imagination. It just won’t have any paintings. Look for the opening mid-June.
What else? On Sunday, March 2nd, the New York Times ran a 3/4 page long article entitled Eyes Wide Open to the Wide Open Spaces, about an exhibition of photographs by Ned Scott (still photographer for John Ford’s Stagecoach1939and many other Hollywood subjects). A sidebar to the article lists “a sampling of museums and special exhibitions devoted to film.” There are five museums listed, starting with the Guggenheim in New York. The third one is: HOLLYWOOD HERITAGE MUSEUM! We’re in good company! And note that the article is about photo exhibitions of film-related sites.
MORE GOOD NEWS:
Thanks to the feverish work of Natalie Shivers, Fran Offenhauser (and her assistant Carol Ward) and Steve Sylvester, our second proposal to the Getty for a Preserve L.A. planning grant was on time and...TA-DA…we got it!!!!
This grant will fund a study of ways to bring back ‘low-tech’ solutions to the decades-old drainage problem above Wattles Mansion and Gardens that modern technology has not mitigated. Gurdon Wattles and his architects did not have the same run-off problems we have today and it is important that we figure out what they did and go back to it. The $75,000 grant from the Getty Grant Program (thank you, John Oddy!!) will make that study possible.
Special mention must be made of the work done by EIP Associates in the preparation of the Wattles Cultural Landscape Report, which was summarized in the last newsletter. They were inadvertently omitted from the introduction. Thank you, EIP.
GOOD NEWS FROM THE BARN:
We’ve been fortunate to have really wonderful, well-attended presentations for our Evenings At The Barn series. Just to remind you of the Budd Schulberg event, see the terrific photo.
January featured historian/archivist Bruce Torrence, with many hitherto-unseen photos of early Hollywood streets, homes and film sites.
In February we all donned 3-D glasses and saw amazing, 3-D shots of famous Hollywood sites and faces, presented by Ray Zone. The lively Q&A session afterwards was as entertaining as the photos!
Also in February was the Silent Society evening, Remembering Mary Brian, with a screening of Running Wild, starring Brian and W.C. Fields. Interesting anecdotes and recollections were offered by Fields’ grandson and also Stu Irwin, Jr., whose family was closely involved with Mary Brian for many years. Anthony Slide was the entertaining speaker on various aspects of Brian’s life and career and was also kind enough to donate the refreshments that evening, so there were NO leftovers. He also donated a lovely gift for each person who attended: an original sepia-tone, signed, 5x7 photo of Mary Brian, with its original postcard insert, in its original envelope from Paramount Famous Lasky Studios! Michael Mortilla did his usual masterful job on the piano and Randy Haberkamp secured the MOST BEAUTIFUL 4-page, 4-color program, through his friend Sue Slutzky (thank you!!!).
Paul Zollo’s presentation on his new book, Hollywood Remembered, was peppered with hilarious anecdotes and moving reminiscenses from Paul’s myriad interviews with Hollywood denizens, from movie stars to ticket-takers to gaffers. Many of those “talking” are describing a Hollywood we can ony imagine and the question, “What ever happened to Hollywood?” came up more than once during the evening. The answer remains elusive but a good start is made in this entertaining work.
Hollywood Remembered and other books from previous (and future) signings are on sale in the Museum shop.
Ray Bradbury occurred while The Newsletter was going to press, so more on him in the next issue.
On April 30th we’ll have author
Emily Leider talking about her new book, Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino.
In May we’ll have a rehearsed reading of Malvin Wald’s 4 one-act plays on movie subjects (see the calendar on the back page), with John McDonald directing a cast from the First Stage.
And on Friday, May 30, we’ll welcome Rod Kennedy, Jr. with his book Hollywood in Vintage Postcards, written in association with Hollywood Heritage, Inc. Yes, that’s US!! Right there on the COVER!!! And many of the fabulous postcards in this attractive and well-priced volume are from the Hollywood Heritage collection. And our very-own Bob Birchard wrote the very graceful and informative Foreword, mentioning the birth of Hollywood Heritage, the Barn, Wattles, the Silent Society…it’s all there.
Our own book, Hollywood: A Centennial History, will be available for Christmas purchases. Robert Nudelman and Marc Wanamaker are hard at work on the text and photos.
Robert Nudelman has added some wonderful exhibits at the Barn…on Hollywood Boulevard theatres, on the Hollywood Bowl, on myriad Hollywood businesses…and soon…there will be an exhibit devoted to the great Bob Hope who turns 100 May 29.
We are also slowly re-establishing our Museum Shop, which presently features books, film-related memorabilia and occasional one-of-a-kind items relative to Hollywood. We want to restore it to the special place it was. Robert Nudelman masterminds this, too.
If you have any film-related or Hollywood-related items that you would like to donate (which we will acknowledge by letter for the benefit of the IRS), please call Kay Tornborg @ (323)467-0287.
The pottery and porcelain shards excavated from the former Hollywood Hotel site prior to building the MTA stop at Hollywood Highland have now been put on display at the Museum. They are on loan from the San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands for at least a year, thanks to the assistance and cooperation of Jim Sowell from the MTA. Anyone interested in domestic science history, porcelain, pottery and glass patterns and/or midden pits will find these broken bits wholly entertaining and informative.
A SPECIAL PLEA: If you have been thinking that you have too much spare time please remember that the Hollywood Heritage Museum REALLY NEEDS DOCENTS. We are only open Saturdays and Sundays, 11-4. We have a training tape covering the entire exhibit, thanks to board member Tyler Cassity at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. We want to expand our hours and start home/public building walking tours but WE NEED VOLUNTEERS. Please call Kay Tornborg @ (323)467-0287 if you are interested.