Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Palooza Finale: Confused at MGM



Just when I thought the weekend couldn't get better, it ended with a bang. Not even a bang...more of a sonic boom. I arrived at the Sony Pictures Studio on Monday morning for the final event of the Shirley Palooza weekend. Once the home of the mighty Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studio, the Culver City facility was minus its famous backlot and had gone through a major rebranding since its heyday of the 1930s and 1940s. I was in shock to learn that our tour guide for the morning was none other than Keith Mitchell. If that name doesn't ring a bell, his stage name might: Keith Coogan, the grandson of Jackie Coogan. And please don't say "Jackie who?" or I might have to banish you from my blog. Jackie Coogan played Uncle Fester on "The Addams Family" TV show (below at far left) and also costarred with Charlie Chaplin as "The Kid" back in 1921.



But I digress...back to Keith Mitchell. He starred in one of my ashamedly favorite movies of all time, "Adventures in Babysitting," with Elisabeth Shue and can be seen on the right of this photo:



Our tour began with Keith introducing a movie about the history of the Studio. I was expecting Judy and Mickey; and instead I saw Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, and the Three Stooges. It was odd to see a reel about the history of Columbia Pictures while sitting on the old MGM lot. It wasn't until well into the film that MGM's presence here was even acknowledged.



Studio 15 was where Munchkinland once existed. Although we didn't get to go inside, it sure was cool to at least be able to walk by it. Let me spell it out for you..."The Wizard of Oz" was filmed here back in 1938.



We did get to see where "Wheel of Fortune" is filmed. My mom would be so jealous; many an evening we rushed through dinner so that she and her hubby could watch "Jeopardy" and "Wheel." Before seeing the studio we got to see some of Vanna White's costumes on display. Ooooooh......



The actual set for one of America's favorite game shows, currently on hiatus and slipcovered for cleanliness:



Keith told us a few behind the scenes secrets about the show and kept us all entertained.



Yes, you can see his name tag.



Like most tours, I would have preferred to wander off on my own to study the details and stick my nose where it probably wouldn't be allowed, but still, I really enjoyed being able to walk around this historic property. Just check out some of these original architectural details:







An original MGM manhole cover; at least Sony left a few things untouched!



Then I was reminded that Columbia had moved in. Check out the Ectomobile from "Ghostbusters":



The Capra Building, named after Frank Capra, director of Columbia's 1934 runaway hit, "It Happened One Night."



Murals based on Columbia's hits of the past:





The most iconic building of the lot is the Thalberg building, where many an MGM star was photographed walking down these very steps:



Here are Clark Gable, Shirley Temple, Mickey Rooney, and Judy Garland in 1941:



...and little old me in the exact same spot in 2018 (Thanks Kelly K. for the photo!):



Inside you can see the Oscar for "Oliver!":



and a large photo of Thalberg himself:



Back outside, we got to see the fancy doors for Studio 8:



zooming in, you can see Melissa (aka The Colonel) and me in the reflection.



Right by the Thalberg Building is a piece of sculptural "art" representing the rainbow from "The Wizard of Oz." I'll refrain from my commentary.



Many thanks to Gayle S. for encouraging me to get this reflection shot:



This historic recording stage where Judy Garland, Lena Horne, and MGM's orchestra recorded some of the most beautiful and memorable music is still being used today. I had to try hard not to get sick to my stomach when I saw what it had been renamed.



And then before we knew it, the tour was over. And the weekend. I cannot say enough good things for all that Melissa and David S. did to make this a very special time for all of the people who came to celebrate Shirley Temple's 90th birthday. It was an incredible time that I will not forget and definitely set the bar high for next year!



See more MGM/Sony Pictures Studio photos at my main website..

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Palooza Pt. 6: The Big Reveal!



FINALLY! About a week later than I promised, but I'm still delivering the "Big Reveal" from the Shirley Palooza weekend that occurred last month in honor of what would have been Shirley Temple's 90th Birthday. At the Santa Monica History Museum guests were treated to a number of speakers, starting with Tonya Bervaldi, author, collector, wife, mom, and the person who went through the stress of the loss of her priceless Shirley Temple movie costumes. She told the audience of how she came to know of Shirley through her movies and saved up her babysitting money to buy the Danbury Mint "Little Princess" doll, dressed in royal regal garb that included a crown and scepter.



Twice Tonya wrote to Shirley, and twice she responded. Tonya was blown away by this; in the audience, Shirley's daughter Susan was not. "Of course she did," you could hear her say. That was the kind of person Shirley Temple Black was. Tonya told the audience how years later she attended the auction of Shirley's movie costumes with baby in tow and ended up walking away with a treasure trove of iconic outfits. The story of how those outfits were almost lost by UPS kept the audience enthralled. By the time Tonya was done, emotions were beginning to run high.



As if things needed to be kicked up a notch, Susan Falaschi (Shirley's daughter) took over the reigns and spoke of convergence. How all of us came to be in this place together to celebrate a legend's birthday is a tale in itself, but today's story was mainly about a reunion, aka The Big Reveal.



Susan blew a kiss to her mom who all knew was watching the proceedings and the audience just about lost it.



Shirley's son Charlie took over next and picked up where Tonya left off.



Joined by Tina Joseff, the daughter of famed Hollywood jeweler Eugene Joseff, he kept us on the edge of our seats as he entertained us with the drama of bidding on Shirley's "Little Princess" crown and scepter which were auctioned off by the Joseff family. Not together...but separately. After the crown was bid up to a crazy price, Charlie thought that perhaps the scepter would be an easier win. Not so!



The loser of the crown did what Charlie referred to as "revenge bidding." Determined to reunite the two items, Charlie prevailed and quickly exited the auction afterwards so that his identity would not become public. Otherwise, how could we have had a big reveal?



Tina brought a few tears as she told us how much she loved the crown and scepter, especially as they were her daughter's favorite pieces from the collection. As soon as she could balance them, Tina's daughter would parade around the house showing off her royal prizes. Before the auction there was one last wearing of the jewels. Could somebody please turn off the tears?



With a salute from the Colonel (aka Melissa), all of us went to the display room to see what we had already guessed was going to be on display.



There they were, reunited for the first time in almost 80 years: Shirley Temple's costume and jewels from the dream sequence of "The Little Princess." Look at that train of faux ermine!



Yes Melissa...I got some detail shots.













Here Tonya and her family stand by the goods!



A smiling shot of Shirley's Army, who played a crucial part in getting Tonya's costumes back safe and sound from the UPS debacle.



Once the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles is finished (currently set for 2019), the costume, crown, and scepter will be on permanent display there. And if you think this is the last part of the Shirley Palooza weekend, you are greatly mistaken!

See more Santa Monica History Museum photos at my main website..

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Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Temple Tuesday: Trip to Stonefield



On one of those rare days when I was just lounging on the couch I decided to watch the Shirley Temple movie "Young People." Although it may not be her best, I do love the songs. In the sequence where Shirley and her parents (Charlotte Greenwood and Jack Oakie) arrive in Stonefield, for the first time ever I noticed that the train depot looked damn good. Almost too good to be a set. The tracks also seemed to go on forever, and not in the matte painting way, either. I wondered if this was an actual station...that might still exist. Contacting Shirley expert supreme Melissa (aka "The Colonel") I asked her what she thought. Initially she thought it was probably shot at the studio, but did express a slight amount of doubt after she looked at her 20th Century Fox book filled with vintage pictures about what the backlot once looked like. I decided to contact Robby Cress from Dear Old Hollywood and see what he thought. I was pleasantly surprised when he quickly responded:

Hi Dave!

I’m 99% sure that is the old Arcadia Santa Anita Station. The building still exists, but not in the original location. It was moved to near the LA Arboretum.

I haven’t seen that Shirley Temple film. Now I’ll have to watch!

Kind Regards,
Robby Cress


Although I normally would have taken an "I told you so" stance, with Melissa I went a different route.

I kind of went ape s#$t.

With her impending visit to the West Coast, I announced that we were going to Stonefield. Although this was all through texting, I know she probably lost her s#$t as well, as "Young People" is a favorite of hers, too. Sadly, it was not in the cards for Melissa to join me (at least not this time!) as her plane arrived two hours late, squashing the small window of opportunity we had to share our discovery together.

Well folks, here it is. I was absolutely blown away that this little depot still exists.



If I hadn't known it had been rebuilt in a different location, I would have sworn it was the same building. They did a fantastic job of putting it back together.



From the plaque on the building I learned that it was originally constructed in 1890 in Rancho Santa Anita. Due to the construction of the Foothill Freeway it was moved and reconstructed here in 1969 with the support of the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce, California Arboretum Foundation, Inc., and the Arcadia Historical Society, Inc.



My good friend, actress Amanda Kruger, accompanied me on this historic journey.



There were two antique luggage carts sitting outside the building. Could they be the same ones?





Melissa dove in and watched the movie again, comparing every detail. At first she thought one was a definite match, but both carts exhibited either changes or differences.



Folks, I just don't care. I'm printing the legend and saying that at least one was featured in the movie shot almost 80 years ago. And that's final!



Here's a still from the movie showing the other side of the building:



...and how it looks today:



Although it was closed during my visit, the interior looks damn good (and vintage!):



Melissa: pack your bags! Next April we are going to Stonefield!

See more Shirley Temple "Young People" photos at my main website..

Follow my Daveland updates on Twitter and view my most recent photos on Flickr & Instagram.