Steve Vaught has been studying the history of Hollywood and its historic residential architecture for more than a decade and has written seven articles on the subject for Architectural Digest including three articles in the November 2008 “Hollywood at Home” issue of the magazine.
Vaught first became fascinated with Hollywood’s history after moving there from Texas where he had abandoned his former life in politics, having served as an aide to three legislators on summer breaks in high school and college. In between classes at USC, his summer job as a Universal Studios Tour Guide and small parts on such shows as Star Trek: Voyager and Days of Our Lives, Vaught enjoyed exploring Hollywood and its surrounding hills, often wandering around late at night in search of intriguing neighborhoods and interesting buildings. This naïve foolhardiness did on occasion have unexpected consequences, but even two muggings at gunpoint failed to dampen Vaught’s enthusiasm for his adopted home and seeking out (albeit more carefully) the stories behind the historic houses, apartments and hotels he found there. Finding the dearth of information on the subject frustrating, Vaught began conducting his own research, a project that grew from a hobby to an obsession, one that continues to this day.
As his knowledge increased Vaught began gravitating towards jobs that both benefited from and furthered his research. Between 2000 and 2003, Vaught worked for the documentary production company Van Ness Films where he served as associate producer and senior researcher on the highly acclaimed, award-winning Backstory series for AMC. Some of the shows Vaught worked on for Backstory included such diverse titles as How Green Was My Valley, Rain Man, Valley of the Dolls, Gentleman’s Agreement, Die Hard, Young Frankenstein, Hush…Hush…Sweet Charlotte, The Seven Year Itch and Myra Breckinridge, among numerous others. Vaught also wrote the script for the well received Backstory on There’s Something About Mary.
After Backstory, Vaught became an associate producer/writer for several other prominent documentary companies where he specialized in writing and producing documentaries and featurettes that were added on to the release of classic films on DVD. Vaught had the great honor of working on some of the most important classic films released over the last several years including Gone With the Wind, The Public Enemy, Little Caesar, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, King Kong, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Elia Kazan’s Baby Doll, John Ford’s The Searchers, Criterion’s Brute Force and The Naked City, Disney’s Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Buster Keaton’s The Cameraman and Battling Butler and New Line’s major 2006 release of the multivolume Harold Lloyd Collection in association with Sue Lloyd, among many others. Vaught is most proud of his work on the highly acclaimed and award-winning 2005 DVD release of the painstakingly restored The Wizard of Oz, which included a documentary by Vaught on the life of Oz’s creator, L. Frank Baum.
As part of his experience in documentary work and writing, Vaught has had the honor of working with and interviewing a number of important figures in Hollywood including actors, directors, writers, cinematographers, makeup artists, costume designers, biographers and historians. Some of his favorites include Martin Scorsese, Karl Malden, Eli Wallach, Maureen O’Hara, Sydney Pollack, Angela Lansbury, Gore Vidal, Cloris Leachman, Kim Novak, Dennis Hopper, Joanne Worley (who wouldn’t enjoy interviewing Joanne Worley?), Glen Campbell, Rick Baker, Carleton Carpenter, Shirley Knight, Henry Bumstead, George Axelrod, Donald Spoto, Eric Lax, John Bengtson and Rudy Behlmer among many others.