vp19 (vp19) wrote in carole_and_co,

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Tour where she worked

The "she" of course being Carole Lombard, shown posing with a Renault during the filming of 1931's "Up Pops The Devil" (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/132264.html). In fact, you can effectively visit two studios in one:

That's because Paramount (where "Up Pops The Devil" was filmed) some years ago absorbed the adjacent RKO lot (where Carole made four films). It's one of only a few studios that currently hold actual tours, as opposed to having sites that are glorified theme parks.

I took the tour in 1996, then returned four years later to attend a "Frasier" filming, and for any movie buff, the location is enveloped in history. Now, you can learn more about it online, thanks to a site called thestudiotour.com.

As its name indicates, it's dedicated to the studio tour experience, and of course Paramount plays a major part. Specifically, it's at http://www.thestudiotour.com/paramount/index.shtml.

At top is an aerial view of Paramount during the 1970s, followed by studio maps, first from 1992 and below in 2009.

Films have been made on the Melrose Avenue site since 1918, although Paramount wasn't the initial company there but an entity named United Pictures, which produced films by Rudolph Valentino and Norma Talmadge, among others. Paramount moved to Melrose Avenue in 1926.

One thing I especially like about the Paramount site of thestudiotour.com is that it provides some detail on most of the lot's various soundstages. In recent years, the studio has installed plaques outside each soundstage, providing some information; each plaque is designed to resemble the studio's famed Bronson Avenue entrance. For example, here's the plaque for Stage 5:

Nice idea, with one glaring drawback: The plaque notes that the stage was constructed in 1922, but the oldest movie listed is "Road To Rio," from 1947. What gives? (It's like this for most of the soundstages, though the ones on the RKO portion of the site at least acknowledge that "Citizen Kane" and the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musicals were made there.)

Evidently, someone at Paramount decided to largely ignore its pre-1948 history, since virtually all of those films are now property of Universal. So consequently, we know that "Vampire In Brooklyn" was shot on Stage 5, but as for films from much of the Golden Age (Ernst Lubitsch's groundbreaking musical comedies, Marlene Dietrich's work with Josef von Sternberg, Mae West's movies that rescued Paramount out of bankruptcy), forget it.

From construction dates, we can at least guess what stages Lombard may have used -- they include:

Stage 1 (1922)
Stage 2 (1922)
Stage 4 (1918)
Stage 5 (1922)
Stage 10* (1926)
Stage 12 (1929)
Stage 14 (1929)
Stage 19 (RKO, 1935)
Stage 20 (RKO, 1935)
Stage 23 (1928)
Stage 24 (1927)
Stage 25 (1929)
Stage 27 (1930)
Stage 28 (1930)
Stage 29 (RKO, 1930)
Stage 30 (RKO, 1930)
Stage 31 (RKO, 1930)
Stage 32 (RKO, 1930)

*Stage 10 was torn down this year to make way for a new post-production facility.

In addition, stages 16 through 18 were built during Lombard's lifetime, but in 1941, after she had worked for Paramount and RKO.

I'm certain there are records somewhere (the Margaret Herrick Library, perhaps?) indicating on what specific stages Lombard films were shot. A building adjacent to stages 20 and 21 is named for her; Carole's one of many people associated with the studio to earn such honors.

Stage 25 was where I saw the "Frasier" filming. It was a second home for Kelsey Grammer, who worked on that stage for two decades as Frasier Crane, first on "Cheers" before getting his own series. The place also means a lot to Ken Levine, who not only wrote many of those "Cheers" and "Frasier" scripts but has worked as a major league baseball announcer and a big-market Top 40 DJ. (Sitcoms, baseball and rock -- quite a hat trick.) He has an excellent blog, "...by Ken Levine" (http://kenlevine.blogspot.com/), that manages to be both uproarious and thought-provoking at the same time. Well worth checking out.

For more on the tours, which last about two hours and are conducted at 10 and 11 a.m. and 1 and 2 p.m. most weekdays, go to http://www.paramountstudios.com/special-events/tours.html. Advance reservations are required, and it's something every film fan should take.

Meanwhile, Paramount, brush up on your history. You've effectively turned many legends into nonpersons a la "The Great Soviet Encyclopedia," and you wouldn't want to rile up their ghosts, would you?

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