THE CULVER STUDIOS AND TARA

Harry Culver

Harry Culver

 

 

Maybe we need to add a name to the pantheon of Hollywood history. HARRY CULVER (1880-1946) was an enterprising real estate developer who founded Culver City in 1917, with a population of 500.

He had bought 93 acres of fields between Los Angeles and the sea and started a city.. As of 2010,Culver City,11 miles west of downtown L.A., had 39,000 residents and is part of Los Angeles County.

Harry Culver encouraged film maker Thomas Ince to move his film studio to Culver City in 1918. Ince joined with Mack Sennett and D.W. Griffiths to form Triangle Motion Pictures at 10202 West Washington Boulevard.

Goldwyn Pictures bought the studio in 1921 and by 1924, the Triangle sign became MGM.Meanwhile,Ince moved along West Washington Boulevard to 9336 and built another studio which included the landmark administration building which stands today. The second Ince studio and its 28 acre backlot was subsequently owned by Cecil B.De Mille,then RKO and then in 1935 it became Selznick International. David Selznick made the admin building famous forever as his signature before every one of his films.

 

Thomas Ince

Thomas Ince

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Thomas Ince’s first studio. The Triangle sign changed to MGM

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After a while as Desilu from 1956, the studio finally became the Culver  Studios and the trade mark mansion, with its grand colonial facade ,fronted by green lawns, can still be  seen today.

 

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In the photo below, the famous  administration building can be seen at the very bottom of the picture.

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Alfred Hitchcock

 

So Culver City, not Hollywood,hosted the mighty  MGM and Selznick International, both on Washington Boulevard.

In 1934,Culver City’s residents were annoyed at their  lack of recognition in movie credits – movies made in Culver City read ‘Made in Hollywood’.

They had a contest in the local paper to re-name the city Filmville or Cinema City. But the name didn’t change.

The backlot was where REBECCA,SINCE YOU WENT AWAY,MADE FOR EACH OTHER,PRISONER OF ZENDA and NOTORIOUS  were filmed under Selznick.

And Stages 11 and 12 were used for the GONE WITH THE WIND interiors. All the exteriors for GWTW – Tara,the train depot and the city of Atlanta – were built on the backlot.

For the burning of Atlanta, Selznick burned down some of the old sets including the former KING KONG sets. It was quite a blaze!

Tara, the O’Hara mansion, was only a façade, though a real front porch was built. The front door is now on display at Atlanta’s Margaret Mitchell House and Museum.

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TARA

 

 

In the first scene in GWTW where Hattie McDaniel appears to be leaning out of a second floor window, she was actually perched on a scaffold inside the structure!

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Hattie McDaniel

 

 

The Tara exterior set was left standing until 1959 when it was finally taken down. As far as I know, some portions were salvaged – windows,doors,wood beams – are in storage.

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TARA on the backlot at Selznick International

 

David o.Selznick standing in the GWTW set of the train depot,looking up to TARA

David O.Selznick standing in the GWTW set of the train depot,looking up to TARA

 

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The burning of Atlanta

 

 

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Tara’s entrance,preserved at the Margaret Mitchell museum

 

Vivien Leigh

Vivien Leigh

Clark Gable

Clark Gable,Vivien Leigh

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LOQUE EL VIENTO SE LLEVO.    GONE WITH THE WIND
EL RUGIDO DEL LEON.     THE ROAR OF THE LION.

4 responses »

  1. Loved your post, Vienna — so interesting and informative! And now I want to visit the Margaret Mitchell museum. I went to school in Atlanta and have going back the last couple of years to Homecoming — I will have to make sure to go next time!

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