Saturday, May 19, 2012

The best 7 bucks you'll spend in Hollywood

I am on a never ending search for what's left of Old Hollywood, which thanks to heartless demolitions in the name of "progress" is few and far between.  I was reading about DeMille one day and the article kept mentioning "The Barn".  "Famous Players Barn".  "Lasky DeMille Barn".  Well, what the heck is this barn and where is it?

Not like it's hidden, it's just not very well promoted and sits out of the way from all the other Hollywood hustle and bustle.  On Highland Ave across from the Hollywood Bowl, rests one of the more fascinating historic places in all of the wood.

Its been moved twice, first from its original location on Selma and Vine, to Paramount's back lot, then finally in the 80's to it's current spot. The Lasky-Demille barn is one of the very first filming location in town.  Built in 1901, DeMille and Jesse Lasky rented this barn for 250 bucks a month to film 'Squaw Man".

That's fascinating enough in itself, but the building is occupied by the Hollywood Heritage Museum, and there are enough goodies in there to keep you entertained for a few hours and you'll be squealing like a 6 year old in delight at all the awesome, original memorabilia stuffed in this place.  Cecil's office, his first paycheck (350 grand!) his hat, ledgers, shoes, the projectors they used, tons of stuff taken from sets of silent movies, a Valentino tribute, a silent film shrine, a screening of the Squaw Man, a few different documentaries running in different corners, and a huge collection of pictures from the birth of motion pictures.

Did you know that all of the early silent films were filmed outdoors because there hadn't been a bright enough bulb invented yet?  Did you know that DeMille and Lasky sold most of their worldly possessions to obtain a budget of a little under 9 grand to make Squaw Man, and, if it had flopped, we never would've heard of them?   Also, on such a tight budget, they still took time out from filming to round up the cast and take this picture- promotion already being key before they even really knew the selling power on the public:

 (Fun fact about this pic, Although credited as DeMille on numerous sites, the man on stage is actually the other director, Oscar Apfel. DeMille is actually center with hands in pockets)

 Volunteers run this place and I got a magnificent history lesson from the guy running it.  I know it's his job to know but when you go I hope he's there because it's obviously a labor of love for him and he knows every little thing about the place.

There are all kinds of events at this place, silent film screenings, lectures, documentaries,  and its Paramount's 100 year anniversary so there are extra events scheduled for the barn this year. You can walk where DeMille once walked. Touch a camera Buster Keaton used. Browse through 1930's postcards of stars' homes, read letters from DeMille negotiating roles for Mary Pickford, and sit in Cecil's office. While on Paramount's lot, the barn was part of the set for Bonanza!,  Gunsmoke, and others.  It was a gym.  It was storage. It caught fire and survived.  It's been a kind of jack-of-all-trades, just like Chaplin or DeMille.

Here's their site for more info -

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