Hollywood Studio Tour

Welcome to the Grace Market Research Hollywood Studio Tour. Click the description to view or download larger files. Photographs are copyrighted and may not be used for commercial purposes

Even though there really is a district in the city of Los Angeles called Hollywood, the "Hollywood" of movie and television production studios encompasses a much larger geographic area. Warner Bros. and Disney are in Burbank, Columbia Pictures in Culver City, while Universal Pictures is located in Universal City - the name chosen by Carl Laemmle for the chicken farm he purchased on the outskirts of Los Angeles in 1914.

Nevertheless, from the earliest days, the area called Hollywood was the home to many movie pioneers. And as you will see, many of these historic sites are not in ruins or parking lots. In fact they continue to be thriving production factories. Only the names have changed. We hope you enjoy this glimpse of Hollywood, past and present.

Click one of the links below to take one of our other photo tours.
Broadway Theater Tour
Portraits of Los Angeles Tour, Sunset and La Brea
Portraits of Los Angeles, Wilshire and La Cienega

26K JPG file This studio was built in 1912 by film pioneer Sigmund "Pop" Lubin. Lubin had made and distributed some of America's earliest films. One of his early shorts (1897) featured by peep-show exhibitors showed his two daughters having a pillow fight. With Thomas Edison he was a member of the Motion Picture Patents Company, which attempted to control all U.S. film production and projection through its' ownership of patents. When Lubin's film company folded in 1917, the studio went through a succession of owners. Notable among these was Monogram Pictures who filmed numerous "B" pictures during the 1940's and 1950's including the Bowery Boys, Charlie Chan, and Shadow series. The studio was known as the Colorvision TV Studios in 1970 when it was purchased by the present owner/occupant, KCET, a PBS affiliated station. This photo shows the red brick buildings built in 1920. 4376 Sunset Drive, East Hollywood.

38K JPG file In 1913 Jesse Lasky formed the Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company in partnership with Cecil B. DeMille and his brother-in-law, Samuel Goldfish. Goldfish later changed his name to Goldwyn. This yellow barn was the tiny company's first studio and the place where they filmed Hollywood's first full-length motion picture, "The Squaw Man", directed by DeMille in 1914. Actors' dressing rooms were the empty horse stalls. The film was enormously successful, grossing $245,000 on an investment of only $47,000. Originally located at 1521 Vine Street, the structure was later moved to the Paramount lot on Melrose Avenue, where it remained for 50 years. In 1982, the barn was moved to its' present location on Highland Avenue across from the Hollywood Bowl, and is now a museum dedicated to the silent film era. 2100 N. Highland Ave. Central Hollywood.

29K JPG file In the 1910's the block now occupied by the Sunset Gower Studios was populated by fledgling production companies whose lack of capital lead to the area being dubbed "Poverty Row". Across Gower Street was "Gower Gulch", the hangout for movie cowboys in search of work. Amid this hotbed of hustle Harry Cohn opened the West Coast production arm of the New York film distribution company, Cohn-Brandt-Cohn. Columbia Pictures was born. Cohn's autocratic rule made for tempestuous times at the Gower lot, with many feuds between Harry and his top stars and directors, including the studios principal assets, Frank Capra and Rita Hayworth. Nevertheless the studio grew steadily, and produced a number of hit comedies, including "It Happened One Night " (1934), "Mr. Deeds Goes To Town" (1936), and "His Girl Friday" (1940). Columbia closed their offices here in 1972 and moved to Warner Bros'. Burbank Studios. Today the studios are rented to independent producers although the indies who work here today are not so cash poor as when the block was known as "Poverty Row". This entrance to the lot is actually faces Sunset Boulevard. 1438 Gower Street, Central Hollywood.

11K JPG file In 1915, Carl Laemmle bought a 230 acre chicken ranch on the outskirts of Los Angeles, and dubbed his new studio "Universal City". Laemmle had opened his first nickelodeon in 1906 in Chicago, and by 1909 was producing his own one-reelers. His earliest stars included Mary Pickford, and the Australian swimming star Annette Kellerman. Growing in size to 420 acres, Universal City was ideally situated over a large tract of land that included diverse outdoor locations, and large standing sets. Both Irving Thalberg who ran the studio in 1920 at age 20, and Harry Cohn, founder of Columbia Pictures got their starts as private secretary to Laemmle. In the 1930's Universal developed the horror genre with nightmarish monsters like Frankenstein (Boris Karloff), Dracula (Bela Lugosi) and the Wolfman (Lon Chaney, Jr.). In recent years, Universal has been home to a number of Steven Spielberg's blockbusters, including "Jaws " , "E.T." and "Jurassic Park". This photograph of Universal's famous "Black Tower" houses the executive offices. 3900 Lankershim Blvd., Universal City.

20K JPG file The studio was called Triangle Studios when it was built in 1915 by D.W. Griffith, Mack Sennett, and Tom Ince. It became the Sam Goldwyn Studio in 1918, and in 1924, following the merger of Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures and Louis B. Mayer Productions, it became Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Ironically, Samuel Goldwyn had been forced to relinquish ownership of Goldwyn Pictures in 1922, and was never a part of the company that bore his name. Under Louis Mayer, and Irving Thalberg, the "boy wonder" who was 24 at the time, MGM became hugely successful, and the home of "more stars than there are in heaven", including Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Judy Garland, Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, Elizabeth Taylor, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Lana Turner, all three Barrymores, and many others (the distinguished list goes on and on). After falling on hard times, MGM sold the lot to Lorimar Television in the 1980's. Today, the lot is owned by Sony Corp. of America, who got into the movie business in a big way with the acquisition of Columbia and Tri-Star Pictures. 10202 Washington Blvd., Culver City.

31K JPG file Nestled against the Franklin Hills in East Hollywood is the front gate of ABC's local affiliate, Channel 7. Although ABC uses this location primarily for local broadcasting these days, in 1917 this was the site of Vitagraph Studios, one of the most prolific and popular producers of the silent screen era. Built by film pioneers Stuart Blackton and Albert Smith, Vitagraph was one of the largest early studios in Hollywood, employing such stars as Lillian and Dorothy Gish, Mary Pickford, Adolphe Menjou and Rudolph Valentino. This photo was made looking east off Talmadge Avenue, named for Norma Talmadge, Vitagraphs' premier leading lady. Warner Bros. acquired Vitagraph in 1925, and sold the studio lot to ABC in 1949. 4151 Prospect Ave., East Hollywood.

44K JPG file Built in 1918 by production pioneer Tom Ince, this plantation-style building was built to resemble George Washington's home, Mount Vernon, and was the first major studio building in Culver City. Ince was regarded as a true visionary, and was partnered at different times with such luminaries as D.W. Griffith and Mack Sennett. One of his most successful collaborations was with famous cowboy actor William S. Hart. Rumors continue to surround Ince's mysterious death in 1924. Some say that he was shot aboard William Randolph Hearst's yacht. Some say that he drowned. We believe the truth is that Ince suffered a heart attck aboard the yacht, but was taken back to his home in Benedict Canyon where he died two days later on November 18. Since Ince's death, the studio has had many owners. The studio was acquired by RKO Radio in 1931 when that company took over Pathe Exchange, Inc. who had owned it since at least 1927. It was called RKO Pathe Studio and was owned by RKO until 1958 when it was sold to Desilu. RKO filmed "Citizen Kane" on this lot. David Selznick leased part of the studio from RKO and produced many films on the lot during this period, most notably, "Gone With The Wind". The lot was acquired by the Sony Corporation as part of its Culver City expansion. Despite the peaceful exterior, this is a very busy place. 9336 Washington Blvd., Culver City.

20K JPG file Charlie Chaplin built this studio in 1918 after signing a contract with First National Pictures for more than one million dollars following the release of his first masterpiece, "The Tramp". All of Chaplin's classic movies were made here, including "The Kid " (1920), "The Gold Rush" (1925), "City Lights" (1931), "Modern Times" (1936), and "The Great Dictator" (1940). More recent occupants have been CBS and Red Skelton. In 1966, Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss purchased the property, and made it the home of A&M Records. The Jim Henson Company purchased the historic studio in April, 2000, resettling the Muppets and all operations from the Raleigh Studios. 1416 La Brea Ave. Central Hollywood.

30K JPG file Originally called the Jasper Studio when it was built in 1919, this is the site of Howard Hughes 1927 production "Hell's Angels", starring his "discovery" Jean Harlow. Francis Ford Coppola bought the studio in 1980 as headquarters for his Zoetrope production company. In 1983 Zoetrope vacated the studio and it was reincarnated as the Hollywood Center Studios and is a busy center of independent productions. Directors (and brothers) Ridley ("Alien", "Blade Runner") and Tony Scott ("Top Gun", "Crimson Tide") occupied the studio during the 1980's. George Burns, who celebrated his 100th birthday on January 20th of this year, was an occupant until his recent death. The great comedian invariably went to his office on this lot every Monday thru Friday. All the world will miss him. 1040 Las Palmas Avenue. Central Hollywood.

33K JPG file This photograph shows the administration building built in 1922 as the West Coast headquarters of the Warner brothers - Harry, Albert, Sam, and Jack. In 1927, Warner produced the first talking picture, "The Jazz Singer" starring the immensely popular Al Jolson on its sound stages, and changed the future of the film business. Warner's corporate offices were moved to Burbank in 1929 after the acquisition of First National Pictures. In 1939 the studio was bought and made into a 52 lane bowling alley. Gene Autry purchased the building in 1964 and since that time it has been the home of KTLA Channel 5. 5858 Sunset Blvd. Central Hollywood.

13K JPG file This old door opens into the Warner Bros. Hollywood Studios on Formosa Street just south of Santa Monica Blvd. Built in 1920 and called The Hampton Studios, they were purchased by the Mary Pickford Company in 1918 and renamed Pickford-Fairbanks Studios in 1919 following the merger of Hollywood's "First Couple". Fairbanks early classics "Robin Hood" (1922) and "The Thief of Bagdad" (1924) were made here. The name above the main gate became United Artists in 1921 although UA did not take ownership until 1928. Ua controlled the studio until 1939 when Samuel Goldwyn became a partner and the studio was renamed The Samuel Goldwyn Studios. Goldwyn acquired complete ownership in 1955, after a long and bitter court battle with Mary Pickford. Frances Goldwyn, Sam's widow, left the studio to the Motion Picture Home, who sold it in turn to Warner Bros. in 1980. 1041 Formosa, Central Hollywood.

22K JPG fileParamount's story begins in 1916 when Adolph Zukor merged his Famous Players Film Company with Lasky Films to form Famous Players-Lasky. The following year Zukor took over Paramount Film Distribution and the new company was named Paramount Pictures. "America's Sweetheart", Mary Pickford provided the box-office punch for Zukor as he built Paramount into the nations leading film company. Paramount acquired the United Studios lot in 1926 and continues to occupy them. Paramount's roster of stars included Rudolph Valentino, Gloria Swanson, Clara Bow, Gary Cooper, the comedy team Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, Cary Grant, W.C. Fields, Mae West, William Holden, Alan Ladd, as well as Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Paramount was home to directors Cecil B. DeMille, Joseph von Sternberg, Ernst Lubitsch, Henry Hathaway, Preston Sturges, and Billy Wilder. This photo shows one of the two new main gates on Melrose Avenue. The famous old gate still exists and will be featured in a future album. This is the only major studio still resident in the "real" Hollywood. 5500 Melrose Ave., Central Hollywood.

29K JPG file Part of the Paramount lot now, these studios were built in 1921 and called the Robertson-Cole Studios. Joseph Kennedy bought it as FBO studios in 1923 in his ill-fated foray into filmmaking. RKO Pictures bought it in 1928 and in 1941 RKO produced Orson Welles' screen classic, "Citizen Kane" , as well as other Welles' films. RKO was responsible for the pairing of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, producing two musical vehicles for them a year from 1934 to 1937. RKO was instrumental in establishing "film noire" as a popular genre with such films as "Murder My Sweet" (directed by Edward Dmytryk), "Notorious" (Alfred Hitchcock), and "While the City Sleeps" (Fritz Lang). Desilu bought the studio in 1953 following the success of the television series "I Love Lucy". The blue globe in the picture is the old RKO Globe. 780 Gower Street, Central Hollywood.

24K JPG file After building a penny arcade into a film distribution business William Fox founded the Fox Film Corporation in 1915. Legendary sex-goddess Theda Bara starred in Fox films during the silent era but in 1930 Fox was forced out of his own company following a federal anti-trust investigation. This studio was constructed in 1928 by William Fox, and was an innovator in both sound and the wide-screen process. In 1935, Fox Film merged with Twentieth Century to form Twentieth Century-Fox. Darryl Zanuck and Joseph Schenk came from Twentieth Century to take over the helm of the corporation they would lead for decades to come. Fox featured players over the years included Shirley Temple, Will Rogers, Sonja Henie, Loretta Young, Betty Grable, Henry Fonda, Tyrone Power, and the inimitable Marilyn Monroe. Fox collected Best Picture Oscars for "Cavalcade"(1933), "How Green Was My Valley" (1941), "Gentlemen's Agreement" (1947), "All About Eve"(1950), "The Sound of Music"(1965), and "The French Connection" (1971), among others. 10201 Pico Boulevard, Century City.

19K JPG file The Burbank Studios were built in 1926 by First National Pictures and purchased in 1929 by the ever expanding Warner Bros., Inc. Corporate headquarters were moved here from the Hollywood offices on Sunset Blvd., and the Burbank studios became the center for film production. In the 1930's the company produced many gangster pictures starring the likes of James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, and of course Humphrey Bogart. The gangster genre has continued to be a staple in the Warner's output with Warren Beatty's "Bonnie and Clyde" as well as the Clint Eastwood "Dirty Harry" movies continuing the tradition. Although the studio's first bona fide stars were Rin Tin Tin and John Barrymore (not necessarily in that order), the studio signed up many important talents over the years including Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Jane Wyman, Olivia de Havilland, John Wayne, Doris Day, Joan Crawford, John Garfield, Paul Muni, and James Dean. Jack Warner had his offices in this building in the 1930's. It still houses executive suites. 4000 Warner Blvd., Burbank.

42K JPG file Raleigh Studios has grown during the past 15 years to become perhaps the largest, best equipped, independent studio in town. The studio was built during the 1920's by William H. "Billy" Clune and called the Clune Studios. Clune also built Clune's Broadway theater in downtown Los Angeles. The studio was the California Studio in the 30's when William Boyd and Gabby Hayes made their popular "Hopalong Cassidy"films here. Future president Ronald Reagan filmed "Death Valley Days"here in the early 1960's when the studio was aptly called the Producers Studio. 650 N. Bronson, Central Hollywood.

30K JPG file In 1911 the Nestor film Company rented a tavern and a barn on this site and turned them into Hollywood's first studio. Nestor films merged with Universal Studios in 1915. CBS built Columbia Square on this site in 1938, and the studio facilities were home to many classic radio programs. "Lux Radio Theater", "Beulah", "Gene Autry's Melody Ranch", "My Friend Irma", "Life With Luigi", and "The Jack Benny Show" were among many produced here. Today the buildings are occupied by CBS local affiliate KCBS TV, Channel 2. 6101 Sunset Blvd., Central Hollywood.

17K JPG file Known as the RenMar Studios today, this site was used by Metro Pictures as an outdoor set in the 20's before Metro became part of MGM in the 1924 merger. The studios were built in the 1940's and called the Motion Picture Studios. It has been the home of a number of television productions including Danny Thomas' "Make Room For Daddy". 846 Cahuenga Blvd., Central Hollywood.

22K JPG file In 1938, the NBC radio building was located at the corner of Sunset Blvd. and Vine St. in Hollywood, just down the street from the CBS Columbia Square - also completed in 1938. Hollywood became not only the center of movie production, but also the center of radio production. The Hollywood studio no longer exists, but NBC's Burbank headquarters houses both West Coast corporate offices, and production facilities. This NBC main gate leads to the taping studios and executive offices. It is here that "The Tonight Show" has been taped since Johnny Carson was a fresh face. The show is still broadcast from this location, starring new host, Jay Leno. 3000 W. Alameda Avenue., Burbank

23K JPG CBS began construction of the Television Center in 1952 after bulldozing Gilmore Stadium, first home of the L.A. Rams. Earl Gilmore, who built the stadium, was born in 1887 in an adobe house still owned by the Gilmore family and located behind this building - the headquarters of CBS Entertainment Division, CBS News, and other network corporate offices. CBS executives share the site with several television productions. Tickets for "The Price Is Right", "Politically Incorrect", and "Dennis Miller Live" are currently available here. 7800 Beverly Blvd. West Hollywood.

20K JPG file From an inauspicious beginning in 1925 in a storefront studio in the Los Feliz section of Hollywood, the animation genius Walt Disney expanded his studio first to a location now occupied by a Mayfair grocery store, and then to his campus-like headquarters on Buena Vista Street in Burbank. Greatly revitalized in recent years, Disney's new state-of-the-art Animation Building symbolizes the company's meteoric rise after 20 years of doldrums following founder Walt Disney's death. The building is the focal point for the many animated film projects produced since Disney's dramatic reversal of fortune. The Animation Building is located just south of the Buena Vista Studios (built by Walt himself in 1939 on 51 acres that he purchased for $100,000). 500 S. Buena Vista, Burbank.

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