When I was a little kid my parents let me stay up late and watch a show called Fractured Flickers. Narrated by the brilliant Hans Conreid, the show was sort of a precursor to Mystery Science Theater. Scenes from old silent movies were chopped up and re-edited with new comedic voiceovers creating, at least in my five year-old opinion, the funniest thing I ever saw. Bathed in the flickering light of our old black-and-white television, I would sit there in the otherwise darkened living room completely enthralled and laugh myself hoarse for the entire half-hour that show was on. I must have looked absolutely ridiculous. Thankfully there were no witnesses to this ritualistic silliness other than the family cat who mercifully kept her opinions to herself, at least most of time.
I can’t imagine what I’d think of this show if I saw it today, but, as inane as it must have been, it planted within in me the seeds of a lifelong fascination with early Hollywood, particularly the 1920’s. It may not have been in actuality, but the Hollywood of that era looked to me like it must have been paradise on earth.
When I moved out here to Hollywood to go to college that fascination kicked into hyper drive. Every night, I’d wander the streets making my way up into the hills looking at all the old houses and imagining Valentino, or Chaplin or Mary Pickford behind every door. I became obsessed with finding out the history of these houses and the old apartments and hotels as well, an obsession that shows no sign of letting up. Over the years I’ve collected tons (and I mean that literally!) of material on the subject and have been working to put it all together in a book (More on that later. Much more.). But there is more history in Hollywood than could ever be reduced to just one book so I thought I would jump into the blogosphere and start sharing some of the stuff I have found in the hopes others might enjoy it as well. While this blog will mostly be about historic Hollywood architecture and real estate porn it will also, on occasion, veer off a little farther afield into other parts of the Southland and throughout the West. As novelist Morton Thompson declared “Hollywood is a state of mind.” It’s also a real geographic place and I hope you will enjoy rooting around and discovering with me some of its amazing secrets. And there are many!
So please enjoy and let me know what you think. The more I study on the subject the less I feel I know and I’m always looking for new information about Hollywood’s history and architecture. Hooray for Hollywood!