Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Old Stomping Grounds Are Sold!

Several Flaming Nose correspondents have roots at the KTLA studio lot, which had been up for sale by Tribune as a consequence of that company's recent sale to Sam Zell. The transaction was completed a few days ago, and you can read about it here. There's quite a bit of nostalgia in that square block, not only for Hollywood history in general but also for the folks here at TFN.

Back when we worked there (and we're talking circa 1980), there were still fascinating traces of its origins as the original Warner Brothers studio lot: historic glass-sided stages to capture the sunlight for filming, other stages with dressing rooms supposedly used by John Barrymore and his co-stars back in the silent days, one end of the building where classic WB cartoons had been crafted. We were also aware that the powers that be were always renovating, and that any of these amazing spaces could disappear at any moment (and eventually they did).

Always intrepid and interested in history, several of us used to regularly poke around the lot, venturing into closed-off spaces, exploring abandoned offices and mysterious bricked-up tunnels (intriguingly labeled "The Organ Blower"*See Below! -- our favorite find!). We also undertook a bold expedition to the grand former KMPC building across the lot. Formerly home to a bowling alley, on the walls we found extant scribbles and autographs from "pin boys" who worked there long ago. We had wonderful fun, and I just wish we had taken cameras along. Many a lunch hour was spent doing our studio spelunking. Those indeed were the days!

Even a place that drenched in history ultimately becomes mere real estate, but at least it stands now and for that we celebrate it and our fortunate connection to it!
*New info about the "Organ Blower" as follows: "In October 1983, the "Kearns" theatre organ was purchased, one of only three of its kind, and one of the top-of-the-line instruments manufactured by the WurliTzer Company. The organ was originally built for Warner Brothers Vitaphone Company and installed in its Sunset Boulevard Studio in 1929. From here, it was moved to Radio Station KMX, a CBS unit, where it was used daily to play the "Amos ‘n' Andy Show" theme song. In 1955, the late Hollywood actor Joseph Kearns (best known as Mr. Wilson on TV's "Dennis the Menace") bought it and actually built his entire home around it."
So it really was an "organ blower" which is part of the mechanism for a pipe organ! The tunnel was partially bricked up, making it even more creepy! This info comes from the website for the Mansfield Ohio Theatre which now hosts the magnificent organ!

1 comment:

Jane said...

What a fantastic story about the Organ Blower! You should send this into the History Channel!