If you've just stumbled onto this blog, please forgive the appearance; it's still under construction. If I've used one of your photos (found on Google) in a lecture and you don't approve, please write a comment and I'll remove it.

The purpose of this blog is to explain the basics of art and culture to English language learners in secondary school in Slovakia. This is not for profit. If you look to your right, you'll see a long list of topics that I plan to cover. This is a large project that will most likely take years to complete, covering some topics I know little about (like dance), so I will be borrowing heavily from other experts, with their permission, giving credit wherever possible. Please be patient, and, of course, all advice is greatly appreciated.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Short History of Hollywood

  1. Hollywood, California, began in the 19th century as a humble farming village named Napalera (after a kind of cactus), just seven miles from Los Angeles.
  2. A wealthy businessman moved there from Kansas, and bought 160 acres of land, which he named the Hollywood Ranch. It grew into a town.
  3. The first street in this town was originally called Prospect St., but was later changed to the famous Hollywood Boulevard.
  4. In 1904, Hollywood voted to join Los Angeles, to benefit from their superior aqueducts.
  5. Early filmmaking was severely hampered by Thomas Edison, of New Jersey, who held many patents to film technology, and began many legal battles with would-be filmmakers. This pushed the film industry west to Los Angeles, far from prying eyes. If Edison wanted to send a lawyer to deal with them, they could quickly move their whole production to Mexico. California also had ideal weather for filming outdoors.
  6. The first film studios in and around Hollywood included: Biograph, Selig Polyscope, the Charlie Chaplin Studio. Hollywood soon became known as Tinseltown and Movie Biz City.
  7. The famous HOLLYWOOD sign on Mount Lee, was originally an advertisement for a new housing development, erected in 1923, and originally read HOLLYWOODLAND. The last four letters were taken down in 1943.
  8. From 1927-1948, called the Golden Age of Hollywood, there were five film studios: Paramount, RKO, 20th Century Fox, MGM, and Warner Bros. Each owned its own set of theatres across the nation, and only showed its own films. Actors had to sign exclusive contracts, agreeing to work with just one studio.
  9. In 1948, the Supreme Court ruled that this system was unlawful, and gave actors more freedom.
  10. The Academy Awards ceremony first began in 1929 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Academy Awards are also known as Oscars, after some librarian's uncle.
  11. In the 1950's these same studios began making programs for television.
  12. The 50's were also infamous for McCarthyism, led by senator Joseph McCarthy, who began the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He feared the threat of communists in America, and targeted Hollywood, forcing hundreds of actors and directors to testify before congress. Some were imprisoned, and hundreds more were blacklisted, forbidden from working in Hollywood again.
  13. Hollywood Boulevard began its Walk of Fame in 1956, adding stars for every famous actor. There are now 2,200 stars along the walk.
  14. The only major film studio still located in Hollywood is Paramount. All the others have relocated to larger studio spaces around LA. However, most companies involved with filmmaking remain in Hollywood: lighting, editing, special effects, props & costumes, etc.
Many famous writers have worked in Hollywood, including: F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Carl Sandburg, and Maya Angelou. Famous directors include Alfred Hitchcock, Walt Disney, and Howard Hughes.

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