100 Years of Universal: The Lot (10 minutes): A behind-the-scenes look at the movie magic created on the famous Universal Studios lot.
On March 15, 1915, Carl Laemmle officially opened the gates of Universal City, the world’s first self-contained community dedicated to making movies. According to eyewitness accounts, over 15,000 people were present for Universal City’s opening day ceremonies. At the time of Universal City’s opening, the new municipality had nearly 500 residents. Among them were 75 Indians who lived in tepees on the backlot, western riders, movie “soldiers” and workmen.
Although the studio officially opened in 1915, film production on the lot began in 1914. Damon and Pythias, co-starring William Worthington and Herbert Rowlinson, was the first picture completed at Universal City.
As movie production at Universal City increased, a steady stream of silent films including westerns, comedies, and action-adventures became Universal’s trademark. Laemmle also began inviting visitors to Universal City to observe his movie making, establishing Universal’s long-standing tradition of welcoming guests to enjoy the behind-the-scenes magic. However, the Universal tour was temporarily halted in the late 1920s, when “talkies” became the norm and producers demanded a set free of visitor noise.
A few of Universal’s most notable feature films of these early years include The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), The Phantom of the Opera (1925), and All Quiet on the Western Front (1930). All Quiet on the Western Front won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1930. Universal also became well known for its horror films of the early 1930s. These productions included such classics as Dracula, The Mummy,m Frankenstein, and Bride of Frankenstein.
In 1936, Carl Laemmle retired from the movie industry and sold Universal to the Standard Capital Company. In the years that immediately followed, the studio relied heavily on Deanna Durbin musicals, Abbott and Costello comedies, and Francis the Talking Mule. When Universal merged with International Pictures in 1946, Leo Spitz and William Goetz from International took over production, and the company became known as Universal-International. The production of Hamlet by Universal-International in association with J. Arthur Rank of England won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1948.
In 1950, Universal acquired 140 acres of land adjoining the southern boundary of the studio, increasing the overall size of Universal City to 400 acres.
1952 brought another merger to Universal when Decca Records bought the company. Under the leadership of Milton Rackmil, President of Decca and Universal, and Edward Muhl, production head, some of the notable features of this era included Pillow Talk, Operation Petticoat, To Kill A Mocking Bird, The Glenn Miller Story, and Spartacus.
In December 1958, MCA, Inc. purchased the Universal City Studio Lot. MCA’s Revue Television Productions relocated to Universal City, and Universal Pictures then leased back its property from MCA. This arrangement lasted three years until MCA and Universal officially merged in 1962.
Jules Stein founded MCA, or the Music Corporation of America, in 1924 as a Chicago-based agency that booked bands into clubs and dance halls. The legacy of MCA was expanded and enriched by Lew Wasserman, who joined the company in 1936, became President in 1946, and over the years built MCA from a leading talent agency into a diversified global leader in the world of entertainment..." ~ http://www.universalstudioslot.com/about-us
Steven Spielberg - Director, Jurassic Park
Michael Mann - Co-Writer/Director, Public Enemies
Paul Rudd - Actor, The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Peyton Reed - Director, The Break-Up
Jeff Pirtle - Director, Archives & Collections NBC Universal
Ivan Reitman - Producer, National Lampoon's Animal House
Peter Berg - Director/Producer, Battleship
Dan Aykroyd - Actor, The Blues Brothers
Molly Orr - Studio Tour Guide, Universal Studios Hollywood
John Landis - Director, National Lampoon's Animal House
Ron Howard - Director, Apollo 13
John Carpenter - Director, The Thing (1982)
Phil Alden Robinson - Writer/Director, Field of Dreams
Meryl Streep - Actor, Out of Africa
Stage 28 - Phantom Stage (Phantom of The Opera - 1924) Theatre
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