Thursday, June 23, 2011

Huntington Beach, Yost Theatre, and bye to pie

My computer is still thrashed and awaiting delivery of TWO new harddrives. So the posts are still few and far between here -- using a borrowed computer. Anyway,... Today's photos show one of the most under-appreciated (but very cool) buildings in Downtown Huntington Beach: The deco/moderne Cut-Rate Drug Store, which still stands today at the corner of Main St. and Walnut.

The store was built in 1938 by well-known local oil-tool mogul S. R. Bowen. A number of sources place the construction date earlier, but this photo (below) from the 3-3-1938 issue of The Huntington Beach News settles the issue.

I received the following email about Santa Ana's historic Yost Theatre today, and I thought someone might be able to help:

Hello. I'm working on the Yost Theatre, reconstructing the upper part of the stage area, and I was wondering if you had (or knew of anyone with) photos from say 1940 to 1960. If so, please pass along my email address. ...Thanks.
Sad news: Orange County restaurant chain Marie Callender's is in Chapter 11, and many locations are closing. The story is in the Register.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Los Alamitos and technical difficulties

Today's photo shows Downtown Los Alamitos in about 1920. Note the dirt roads, false front Western buildings and the sugar factory in the background. You can see why Hollywood filmmakers used Los Alamitos as a location for shooting westerns. The image comes from the Orange County Archives.

I'm afraid my computer at home is seriously screwed up at the moment. Accordingly, I'm not posting much to this blog or even getting much access to my home email account. My apologies. I hope to get the problems dealt with over the next week or so. Thanks for your patience. (Not that I really gave you a choice.)

Sunday, June 05, 2011

From Golden Horseshoe to Pearly Gates

The two biggest stars of Disneyland's record-setting Golden Horseshoe Revue (1955-1986) died only a day apart from each other this past week. The "Clown Prince of Disneyland," Wally Boag, who played Pecos Bill for 39,522 performances between 1955 and 1982, died Friday. His long-time co-star, Betty Taylor, who played the role of Slue-Foot Sue for about 30 years, died Saturday.

The Golden Horseshoe Revue was the longest continually running stage show in history. Both actors and the Revue itself are in the Guiness Book of World Records for their record-setting run. Taylor and Boag also appeared in a made-for-TV movie version of the Revue which also starred Annette Funicello, Ed Wynn, Gene Sheldon, Fulton Burley and Walt Disney. Taylor also performed on stage with well-known Big Bands and performing alongside stars like Frank Sinatra in Las Vegas.

Boag was an inspiration to many comedic performers. Steve Martin, who grew up working at Disneyland, tweeted, "My hero, the first comedian I ever saw live, my influence, a man to whom I aspired, has passed on. Wally Boag."

Speaking of Steve Martin at Disneyland, a rare 1957 photo of a very young Martin selling guidebooks at the Main Gate has surfaced in a recent post on the Daveland Blog. It's definitely one of those "holy grail" photos we never thought we'd see. (Speaking of which, have any of you found a photo of Walter Knott and Walt Disney together yet?)

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Silent Movies Shot In Orange County

Today I'm posting a series of photos from the special Saturday open house we held today at the exhibit, "On Location: Orange County in Silent Film," at the Old Orange County Courthouse. This afternoon we screened Buster Keaton's "College," with live accompaniment on the organ by William Campbell. It was a packed house! Today's Register featured a very nice article about the exhibit and this event.

The exhibit, as I mentioned earlier, is about the many movies shot in Orange County during the silent film era. The staff of the Orange County Archives put the exhibit together, with funding and technical help from OC Parks. I know I'm biased, but I think the mix of original props and movie equipment, photos, movie posters, replica costumes and other artifacts is fairly impressive for our first build-it-from-scratch exhibit. And it tells an interesting story that few people know. The exhibit is free to the public and can be viewed on the third floor of the Old Courthouse, 211 W. Santa Ana Blvd., Santa Ana, from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday, until Aug. 5th.

I should have posted this earlier. Sometimes I'm so busy prepping for events that I don't realize I haven't blogged about something. But if you missed out on today's event, all is not lost. Not only can you still see the exhibit, but you can also be part of yet another Silent Movies Shot In O.C. screening this Thursday.

The very first movie shot in Orange County, D.W. Griffith's "Two Brothers" will be shown in its entirety -- along with clips of other silent films shot locally -- at this month's meeting of the Orange County Historical Society. The show will begin at 7:30 p.m., Thurs., June 9th, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., Orange.

"Two Brothers" is a tale set in California's Rancho era, and shows many identifiable scenes of San Juan Capistrano as it appeared in 1910. Long considered lost, a copy of the film was recently found by the Smithsonian. It is essentially a Western, set in the "days of the Dons." Still-unknown talents Mary Pickford, Hoot Gibson and Mack Sennett are featured in bit parts.

This OCHS program is free and open to the public. Popcorn and refreshments will be available in the "lobby," and copies of Jim Sleeper's book, "Great Movies Shot in Orange County" will be available for sale.

But let's go back to the exhibit at the Old Courthouse,... The exhibit (and thus, these accompanying events) couldn't have happened without Jim Sleeper's aforementioned book. Although the artifacts were provided by a variety of generous sources, Jim's thorough research gave us the framework and background to make the exhibit more than just a roomful of interesting stuff.

In the photo above, County Archivist Susan Berumen introduces theater organist, Bill Campbell, of the Orange County Theatre Organ Society. He did an amazing job for us! (See a film clip of his performance here.)

This last photo shows the audience watching "College" in Courtroom 2 of the Old Courthouse. Seeing a big crowd of people laughing loudly at Buster Keaton's inspired hijinks, it's hard to imagine that this is the same room where the nationally infamous Overell murder trial was held in 1947.

Anyway,... Whether you make it to the exhibit in Santa Ana or to the program in Orange, (or hopefully both), please stop by and say hello.