Marc Wanamaker and Film Fans Celebrate the 80th Anniversary of the Famous Studio City Motion Picture Company
Studio City Library and the Gracious Folks at the Studio City Neighborhood Council Sponsored Historic Lecture.
The Studio City Neighborhood Council, an advisory group to the Los Angeles City Council, teamed up with the Studio City Library to sponsor film historian Marc Wanamaker to give a fantastic presentation on the history of the beginnings of Studio City and the motion picture company Republic Studios that was so important in the early part of the 20th century here in the valley. The Library provided the meeting hall, screen and projector, the Neighborhood Council brought a picnic style luncheon for attendees, and Marc Wanamaker brought his wonderful collection of photos to share with the audience.
Film Historian Marc Wanamaker
Mr. Wanamaker is a renowned historian, archivist, and lecturer in film history. In 1971, he founded Bison Archives in Los Angeles, a leading repository of research and photographs of motion picture history. He assisted in forming the American Film Institute facilities in Beverly Hills in 1969 and was an AFI staff member for seven years. His extensive list of publications includes over a dozen books as well as articles in the Los Angeles Times and interviews in numerous documentaries related to motion picture history.Wanamaker is a founder of the Los Angeles International Film Exposition and assisted in forming The American Cinematheque. His vast experience co-producing film festivals and expositions led to an appointment as a program consultant with the Pordenone Silent Film Conference in Italy. He has tapped into his vast collection in Bison Archives to produce several historical film festivals, conferences, and programs. His lively talk on the history of the beloved Republic Pictures gave us new insights on how the studio came to settle in at Ventura Blvd. and Radford Avenue. It was built on the cultural and business foundation of earlier studios who were active in Hollywood in the days of the silent movies.
If you were not able to attend the presentation, no problem, just click on the box below and watch the video of the entire event, filmed for WhatUpHollywood.com by Big Fun Video:
To view the website of the Studio City Neighborhood Council click here.
To view the website of the Studio City Branch Library click here
Laverne & Shirley Co-Star Meets Up With Fans at Larry Edmunds Bookshop in Hollywood
A playful, vivacious Cindy Williams met up with many of her loving fans at Larry Edmunds Bookshop in Hollywood Tuesday night, June 16th. She talked about her career in film and television, took questions from the audience, showed an episode of The Laverne & Shirley show, and signed copies of her new book “Shirley, I Jest.” Wow, what a great evening!
Herbie J. Pilato
Hosting this fantastic free event was the wonderful film historian Herbie J. Pilato, a friend of Cindy’s, and author of many books on Hollywood, including “Twitch Upon a Star – the Bewitched Life and Career of Elizabeth Montgomery”, “Glamour, Gidgets, and the Girl Next Door”, “Kung Fu Book of Caine”, and many others. The reason that events like this are so popular at Larry Edmunds, is that unlike a book signing at some of the big chain stores, the atmosphere is very intimate, everyone gets a chance to ask questions as well as getting a personalized copy of the book signed by the author.
The only thing missing is the popcorn. Jeff, the head honcho of Larry Edmunds, usually shows a film or episode related to the event. In this case it was an episode of Laverne & Shirley, called Dating Slump. This is from the very first season, Episode 9, and the story revolves around Shirley’s problem getting a date. She goes into a slump and begins to act in a bizarre manner around the apartment, taking the telephone apart and other strange things. Laverne finally arranges a double-date for them, but it turns out the guys are both bus drivers. With their dates driving the bus, the girls have to ride with them, picking up fares on the way, to their destination, which is a seedy pool hall. The hilarious episodes of the show always take twists and turns, nobody knows where it’s going to end up, which is part of the brilliance of the story lines. The comedic charisma between Cindy and Penny Marshall is equal to any of the greatest comedy teams on a television series – it’s the real thing, something that can’t be faked. Many of the Laverne & Shirley episodes are free to watch on youtube.com, click here to see Dating Slump. Cindy Williams is a home-town gal, born in Van Nuys and a graduate of Los Angeles City College and their Theater Arts program.
It was such a treat for fans to spend the evening with Cindy Williams and Herbie Pilato. Please show your appreciation to Larry Edmunds Bookshop for these great events. If you would like a copy of Cindy’s new book, “Shirley, I Jest,” you can order it directly by calling the book shop at 323-463-3273, or click here to go to the Larry Edmunds website. They may still have signed copies available. By getting the book from Larry Edmunds you help to allow them to continue to put on so many of these great free events. We all know that there are places on the internet that flog used copies for cheap, but it’s not the same as actually being in the room with the author and being able to ask questions and interact. These events in themselves become cherished memories. Also, when you get a signed copy of a book from Larry Edmunds, you know that it is a real signature. There has been a lot of chatter over the years by fans who have purchased so-called signed copies of photos and books and found out later that the signature is phoney. And fans should know that when a celebrity is at Larry Edmunds, it is permissible to bring one or two other items to get signed, along with the purchased book. Ya can’t do that through the mail! Watch the website for upcoming events, they hope to see you there!
To watch the entire event at Larry Edmunds click on the box below:
Or to watch the entire event on youtube: click here
Famous Sunset Strip Book Store Throws A Literary Party
It’s only fitting that when a famous bookstore throws a party, that some famous authors will show up. Book Soup, the Sunset Strip’s fortress of literature, held their 40th Anniversary party on Friday, June 12, 2015. Many of L.A.’s favorite writers showed up to show their support and many gave readings. In the spirit of camaraderie, the authors did not read from their own books, but from their favorite current books written by other authors.
Paul Neuman Presenting Proclamation
The evening’s events started with Paul Neuman, Director of Communications for Los Angeles Councilmember Paul Koretz reading a Proclamation from the City of Los Angeles to Book Soup. This is probably the most humorous piece of literature that the City has ever issued, and you can hear it being read on the video of the event. Don’t miss this, it’s a treasure. The Proclamation was accepted by Jennifer Ramos, who is head of events for Book Soup and Vromans Book Store in Pasadena.
The first reading was from the book Wonderland Avenue, the memoirs of Danny Sugerman, the late manager of the Doors. Beth Lapides read from the beginning of the book, about Sugerman’s privileged but troubled childhood in Beverly Hills. Beth is not only an author (“Did I Wake You”), but also an entertainer and comedienne. She and her partner husband Greg Miller opened a Los Angeles hot spot called “Un-Cabaret” in 1993 in the Larchmont area, which is still going strong. Danny Sugerman was also the manager for Iggy Pop. For more on this era, have a look at the recent video we filmed at Book Soup of Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain reading from the shocking, hilarious book “Please Kill Me – The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Rock”. The video can be found in the What Up Hollywood archives in February 2015 under “Go Ask Alice.”
Next was the vivacious Pam Ward, a Los Angeles poet, writer, and graphic designer. She read from “Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington” by Terry Teachout. Ward related some incidents about her aunt and Duke Ellington, focusing on Ellington’s legendary sexual prowess. Ward said that The Duke would rent 6 motel rooms for the night and put a different lady in each one, and then spend the night moving from room to room. Her spicy off the cuff remarks and reading had the audience in stitches.
Frank DeCaro, Sirius XM radio host, writer (“Dead Celebrity Cookbook”) and comedian read from “Candy at Last”, by Candy Spelling, the uber-rich widow of Hollywood Producer Aaron Spelling. DeCaro is a really funny guy, and he relates his own issues with food and overeating with Candy Spelling’s self-absorbed, maxed-out fixation on her own body and eating habits. Her book might be a big seller in Beverly Hills, which hosts armies of obnoxious, narcissistic men and women, but probably not in the farming flatlands of Indiana, where one bookseller is offering a used copy of her book for 24 cents (plus shipping).
Another funnyman and author, Tony DuShane, read from master of illustration Ralph Steadman’s book “The Joke’s Over: Bruised Memories: Gonzo, Hunter S. Thompson and Me.” Steadman was a long-time illustrator of Hunter Thompson’s books and articles in Rolling Stone Magazine in the 1970s. Steadman has a lot of memories of the weird times with Thompson, and DuShane read from an incident where Thompson finally convinces Steadman to try some drugs he happens to have, and the disastrous results that ensued. Tony DuShane is the author of “Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk”, a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, a radio host and a writing instructor at UCLA Extension. Afterward, we had a nice chat about Hunter Thompson. I had met him and interviewed him way back in the early 1970s, and the stories of his alcoholism (he loved gin and grapefruit juice), and speed (he sometimes carried around a bag of whites to give him a lift when needed) was not exaggerated. I was totally amazed over the years, not only that he could write so well when he was stoned out of his mind, but that he actually lived as long as he did. As to Ralph Steadman, DuShane and I both consider him to be one of most creative guys alive today.
Meredith Maran is a major journalist and author. She has written for every major magazine you can think of, and has put out 10 non-fiction books and a novel. She read from “Just Kids” by Patti Smith, which is about Smith’s relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Singer-songwriter Patti Smith has been called the poet laureate of the Punk Rock movement. Ms Maran’s reading covered a touching period in Smith’s life, dealing with the impending death of Mapplethorpe, a man she was so deeply in love with.
If you weren’t able to be part of the enthusiastic crowd at Book Soup that night, no problem, just click on the box below to see the entire event. You’ll have to provide your own chocolate cake and wine, though. Your punishment for not showing up at the live event.
The Last Days of Hollywood Book and Poster and its Legendary Owner
Eric Near The End. Photo by Reese Vogel
Like a lot of people the news of Eric Caidin’s sudden death left me deeply stunned and extremely sad. Although I only really got to know him the last few years, that time was a fun eye-opening experience. It seemed like every convention, retro-screening and other old time movie function I ever went to he was there, but we never became friends until my business partner John and I started setting up our memorabilia table next to his at the Hollywood Collector’s show. At the slow times of the convention (and believe me they were many), Eric would recount stories by the hour of his crazy past that were unforgettably entertaining. His bookstore was in Hollywood for decades and he had been selling at the movie, rock’n roll and sci-fi conventions since the early 70′s, so no matter what aspect of entertainment you were talking about he had a story about someone who had come into his store, he had met at a convention or he had been out drinking with.
Eric Caidin Presents: Meet David Friedman
Not only were his tales about Hollywood, stories of his own life could fill volumes. As a drug induced rebellious teenager growing up near the Sunset Strip in the late sixties he got to see and hang out with all the giants of rock. And from there his mind blowing adventures just kept getting better. Starting from running a packed movie poster shop on Hollywood Boulevard, his love of gambling and the constant obsession with watching grindhouse flicks and Lucha Libre wrestling at run down midnight movie theatres, he was like a no one else I had ever met.
I always loved to pick Eric’s brain on information about any movie facts but especially on old horror,or low budget and film noir titles. On those he was the true expert. And as time went on, we started bouncing price ideas back and fourth on various items as well as keeping an eye on each other’s stuff when breaks were needed at memorabilia conventions. This continued to other shows where we would try to get a table close together. Eric was always so generous with his knowledge. If he didn’t know the answer, someone else was provided who could, because there was never a shortage of insightful, different and interesting people that would pop by his table for a brief visit, and it seemed that Eric knew everyone
Eric Looking Out. Photo by Reese Vogel
The last show we did together, Eric was walking hunched over and looked very depressed. He told me the lease on the store had been up and the landlord had just raised the rent to an exorbitant amount. To make stressful matters worse, there was no where else in the area that was even close to affordable because of Hollywood’s “urban renewal” trend. Most of the other small bookstores and memorabilia shops on the boulevard had suffered the same plight by being forced out by high rents after their leases had expired. A trendy Starbucks, a crappy tourist T-shirt trap or a hipster night club seems to be the wave of the future on the boulevard. So Eric had to move out of Hollywood. His complicated plan was to have his legendary Hollywood Book and Poster shop relocate to Burbank. However, the space he was planning on making his new home was not available yet.
Eric Packing Up
Now every item in the shop had to be moved into a temporary warehouse in the valley until the permanent store front opened up. That meant around seventy five thousand film and television scripts, fifty thousand vintage movie posters, a hundred thousand movie photo stills and countless magazines and other memorabilia of the genre had to be boxed up, labeled and hauled over there. A major up-rooting since the store had been in Tinsel Town for almost forty three years. At this point, Eric was running low on funds. In order keep his two loyal long time employees ( and I mean long time, I think they had both worked for him for over 30 something years) he wanted the bookstore running as an internet mail order business until the next upheaval would begin.
Loading the Truck
John and I spent a couple of days volunteering with Eric’s monumental transplant and then I was able to take a couple more days off of work and help get the final things out of the store, at which point he had dangerously run over his time to vacate with the landlord. Quite a few personal items were still in the shop like his collection of Mexican wrestling and early exploitation movie posters. That vast and unique assortment was the best I’ve ever seen. I even found a “Rock ‘N’ Roll High School” one sheet signed by all of the Ramones which I bought from him. And in typical Eric fashion then he started to relate to me how the Ramones were his pals and that not only did they hang out in the shop but at one time invited him as a personal guest along on their tour. I never heard the full story, I just figured I would get the real crazy details on that adventure during the slow points at the next Hollywood Collector’s Show. We always think we have tomorrow.
Rock ‘n’ Roll High School
A lot of the stuff I helped to haul didn’t go into the warehouse, it ended up being stored in Eric’s empty guest house, which we filled up in no time. His previous tenet was a former employee named Jerry who was tragically killed one night a couple of years before in a brawl at the Frolic Room bar. Appropriately one of the last items to be removed from Hollywood Book and Poster was a portrait of Jerry.
Picture of Jerry, killed at the Frolic Room in Hollywood. Photo: Reese Vogel
The last few trips with Eric in the rental truck we moved loads of posters and assorted fixtures to his packed homestead. There were framed posters and photos signed by Spielberg, Landis, Carpenter and many more that had hung in the store for years and now were going to his house. While we were driving, I got to hear more great epics about his life particularly his love-hate relationship with gambling. He told me about one of the many times in his younger years when the family went to Las Vegas. His father, who was a big entertainment lawyer, had arranged to meet Elvis backstage after a show. Eric angrily told me that he had skipped the one-time-only invite because he didn’t want to end his winning streak at the tables. After the lament, Eric wanted to take me to lunch. It was his favorite dining spot on Hollywood Boulevard and he proclaimed they had the best all- you-can-eat specials in town. It’s called the Las Vegas Buffet.
As we moved out our final load and Eric locked the door for the last time, he wasn’t depressed anymore. Although the future was uncertain, he was excited about the next adventure…….
When Eric Caidin was in his young teens, he had figured out something that most folks never do: How he could spend his entire life doing pretty much what he wanted to do, shunning the things that the established culture, schools, and authorities wanted and expected him to do. Back in the mid-1970s when I first met Eric, he had decided to open a movie memorabilia shop, specializing in science fiction and horror. This would become the famous Hollywood Book and Poster. His father, Stan Caidin, a Beverly Hills entertainment attorney, was perplexed about it, but had decided to support his son and help him go down a somewhat crazy life path.
It becomes clear that Eric’s early teen years, hanging out with The Beachboys for a while, taking LSD and other drugs had something to do with it. Mind altering psychedelics expanded his young mind. He was also allegedly hanging out with the Manson family, who had latched on to Dennis Wilson at the time. Eric’s father Stan eventually had enough of such wild behavior, and according to musician Dukey Flyswatter, had Eric “kidnapped” from the Manson group and put in a convalescent dry-out facility for a while. Eric went to college after that, but had determined to resist any kind of establishment job. He wanted to create his own life, his own alternative reality, an EricWorld, in which he could do what he wanted, and keep the outside influence and the rotted establishment, wars, and politicians at bay, and totally out of his consciousness. Unlike most of us, it was a big boost to him that his family was somewhat wealthy, and in the end they helped him out instead of trying to stifle his plans and creativity.
Eric’s father Stan, as fine a gentleman as I have ever met, would sometimes just shake his head and say something like “I just can’t figure him out, maybe he’ll get it out of his system someday.” Eric never got “it” out of his system, and spent his life building a complex universe to his own liking, his alternative universe populated with movie memorabilia, cult movies, posters, wrestling, science fiction and horror films, B-movie actors, directors, producers, fans, conventions of all kinds, and anything else that he wanted to plug into his world. His world became as real to him as his father’s world of entertainment law. Many of us who knew or met Eric, after some initial puzzlement, were quite comfortable in plugging in to EricWorld. It was a fun place to be: the constant excitement of conventions, movies, and pop culture figures who had been pulled out of the swamp of movieland obscurity by Eric, who made them his heroes.
Since I had some business with Stan Caidin, I remember a couple of incidents of Eric’s early days. Stan was a big collector of memorabilia from the Silent Movies. He loved the era and it’s stars, especially Pola Negri and Bebe Daniels. His poster collection was the finest, but he also had rare movie magazines from the time period and lots of other memorabilia. At one point, the contents of an entire movie poster exchange became available, it was from a French-Canadian exchange, I think in Montreal. Stan bought the entire load of thousands of posters and lobby cards. The drawback was that many of the titles of the mostly American films had been painted over with thick poster paint, and a new translated title in French painted on. The colorful graphics were still great, but the title shlocked out in French was annoying to collectors who wanted “original” posters, not “defaced” ones. When the massive load arrived at Stan’s Beverly Hills house, he was irritated that his son Eric would only take the science fiction and cult posters. Stan had purchased the load to help Eric start his store, but no dice, Eric didn’t want any of the mainstream stuff. His alternative world was taking shape in his mind, and he clung to it, like one of the giant leeches clung to its victims in one of Eric’s favorite films.
Stan was upset, having paid a lot for the posters, but finally accepted the fact that Eric was not going to take the bulk of the load, which was over-flowing in the garage and house. It had to go, and he ended up selling it off by the truckload to more appreciative memorabilia dealers, including me. He was sad that Eric didn’t want it all, but what the hell are you going to do? The kid had a mind of his own. Looking back, I would say that he had an “expanded” mind of his own. LSD might not be for everyone, but it worked for Eric, although in strange and seemingly irrational ways.
I was over at Stan’s house quite a few times, usually hauling in a big load of movie memorabilia. Once, Leonard Schulman, an ephemera dealer, and I had run across a monster load of movie magazines, a collection dating to the early 1920s. Some folks I met at the Rose Bowl swap meet had purchased a house in Pasadena, and in the process of renovation, had discovered a sealed off room, stacked with old boxes of movie memorabilia. Stan, Leonard and I bought the whole load, and we hauled it over to Stan’s house. The crumbling boxes were stacked in the dining room, making a huge mess, with bits of decaying cardboard trailing in from the front door. I don’t remember ever seeing Stan so excited. Here were stacks of silent era movie magazines with all his favorite stars in color on the covers. We divvied up the load working and chattering late into the night, and tried to clean up best we could knowing how unhappy Stan’s wife would be when she got up the next morning and saw her beautiful house turned into a magazine landfill. It was great fun, but not a lot of it was of much interest to Eric, unless it had Lon Chaney or Frankenstein on the cover.
Although I was only at the house a few times, I talked with Stan or saw him regularly at shows. Once, we tried to buy a big bookshop including the building in Pasadena. He was a great guy, and luckily Eric inherited a lot of his dad’s good character. He was just like his dad in many ways, a little abrupt at times, very kind, and a good sense of humor. He also inherited his dad’s gambling fever. Stan liked horse racing and even owned some race horses. He and his daughter spent a lot of weekends at Santa Anita. The joke was that a big piece of his income went to feeding ponies, as well as buying posters. Eric later got to love gambling in casinos. Maybe it’s in the Caidin DNA. The weird thing is that in those days I didn’t see much of Eric. He was probably at the movies or a wrestling match. I saw his sister, who had been in a terrible car accident, but I never knew that Eric had a brother until the night of the memorial party at the Beverly Cinema. Stan never mentioned him, and in later years, neither did Eric. To hear the brother Robert, with his thick Texas accent, describe the wild times at the Beverly Hills house, and how Eric turned him on to LSD and drugs, was gut splitting funny.
The Eric Caidin Memorial Party is 3 hours of stories about Eric, as told by his friends, fans, and others who had contact with him. The stories are mainly funny, classic Eric. One of his friends said that Eric died doing what he liked most, watching old films at a Palm Springs Film Noire Festival. He was watching the light dancing on the screen, he died and he himself went into the light and became one with the film. It was a touching remark, but what really happened is that Eric was chowing down at Sherman’s Deli, according to filmmaker Bill Lustig, enjoying a big plate of pastrami and chopped liver. Eric kept ordering extra rye bread from the waitress, making stacks of mini sandwiches. He later went back to his hotel where he got severe chest pains and called 911. He died at the local hospital of a heart attack.
One thing is clear, Eric loved life and lived it to the max. But it was his life, not the straight-jacket life that society imposes on the masses, to some extent on all of us. Film Historian David del Valle called Eric one of the “Lost Boys”, a growing army of boys who never wanted to grow up. Influenced by Forry Ackerman, the man who coined the term “science fiction”, Eric made it a point not to “grow up”. He was just an innocent kid in his heart, immersing his soul in the soup of pop culture, and doing all the things every kid would want to do, every minute of his life, until his last day on earth and his very last breath. I can’t help thinking that somewhere out there, Eric Caidin is still doing it, and I for one, cheer him on. Bravo Eric.
To view the 3 part Memorial Party click on the boxes below:
Or go directly to youtube.com:
Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViGQ0jSpyzo
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tk8Hd-pv0uY
Artist and Illustrator Nathan Anderson has created a really cool stylized mural of L.A.’s great writer and poet Charles Bukowski. It’s in the Los Feliz area, at Kingswell and Vermont, on the sidestreet wall of Co-Op. The artist just so happens to be a big fan of Bukowski.
Nathan Anderson can be contacted at www.naarrt.com
Walk up Vermont a block to Skylight Books, they always stock Bukowski’s fiction and poetry.
Archive Footage of Krassner Reading from his Book “Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut”.
Photos by Uncle Paulie
The great satirist Paul Krassner read some clips from his book to an over-flow audience. The famous founder of the Yippies, political activist, and stand-up comedian is still a hoot and a half. He has that wonderful ability to point out the absurdities of politics, religion, and just plain old everyday Americanism. His razor-sharp wit makes you laugh and makes you think through the lies of our times, the advertising hype, the religious clamor, and the constant bombardment of slime and spin from our elected fraudsters. Krassner, Mort Sahl, and George Carlin are the three musketeers of American Satire. Carlin lives on from the other side, sometimes I hear his voice coming through the ether, even penetrating the chemtrail clouds. Please enjoy our archive video of Mr. Krassner’s reading, just click below on the box.
And go to Krassner’s website: www.paulkrassner.com to get to the link to the now complete archive of The Realist. He also has available a new colorized version of the famous Disney orgy poster. Skylight Books usually stocks many of his books, click here to go to their website.
And click here to watch the event on youtube. Or click on the box below:
Gong Show Star Was Stagehand at NBC Studios in Burbank
Bill Nelson with Gene
Eugene Patton, known as Gene Gene the Dancing Machine on the old Gong Show has died at 82, on March 9, 2015. He is shown above with What Up Hollywood contributor Bill Nelson. Mr. Patton worked at NBC Studios in Burbank, and was discovered by Chuck Barris of the Gong Show. “Gene Gene” would come on the stage, dancing to the old Count Basie melody “Jumpin at the Woodside” and the audience would go wild. There was something about him, he made folks so happy, everyone was up dancing. Check out youtube for some of his appearances, or click on the box below for a compilation.
Legs McNeil tells the story of discovering the diary when his postman’s daughter came over to borrow some books. “She said that the best thing she had read lately wasn’t a book, it was a manuscript diary of a young woman who was struggling with drugs, boys, and her own thoughts of low self esteem,” said McNeil at a reading at Book Soup in Hollywood.
McNeil got a photocopy of the diary and it blew him away. It was the real “Go Ask Alice”, a devastating glimpse into our decaying culture, as revealed by the inner thoughts of a teenage girl. The popular “Go Ask Alice”, a purported diary of a troubled teen, is widely thought to be fiction. The diary McNeil found was real, and just as savage. He called his co-author Gillian McCain and they agreed to try to bring this diary into print, a project that took years. McNeil titled the diary “Dear Nobody, The True Diary of Mary Rose.” He and Gillian read powerful entries to a rapt audience at Book Soup. They also took turns reading from “Please Kill Me, The Uncensored Oral History of Punk.” The event was hosted by the great British actor and singer Michael Des Barres, whose lively commentary sparked the afternoon gathering. To view this shocking reading, click the box below. Warning: Strong language.
To see the entire program right now click the box below.