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carole lombard 05

In downtown LA tonight, feast on organ-ic 'Oat'

Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.14 at 00:54
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

Imagine how much easier life would be for biographers and researchers if we could go back in time for a moment and place an invisible GPS or tracking device on our subject, one whose signal could only be picked up many years in the future. It would erase mere conjecture on when and where they were during their lifetime.

Above is Jane Alice Peters, the eventual Carole Lombard, as a girl of about 10 helping the Allied effort on the home front during World War I. What were the places this actress-to-be visited during her youth, venues that likely shaped her future? We don't have the exact answers, but chances are that Jane, her two older brothers and mother went to see live theater and film productions after their move to Los Angeles in 1914 (just as they had in Fort Wayne, Ind.). And chances are that much of that time was in the downtown theater district; outlying areas such as Hollywood were only beginning to develop as business and entertainment destinations.

In all honesty, the downtown theater district, centered on Broadway, wasn't all that old itself, as several major venues were built in the 1910s and others were built during the '20s (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/71388.html). One of them opened in February 1926, about the time Jane Alice Peters had adopted the pseudonym Carole Lombard and had just been sidelined from the movie business following an automobile accident.

This theater, the Orpheum, wasn't initially a movie house, but was a venue for vaudeville, then still a major attraction. But the rise of radio and talking pictures doomed that genre and by 1930, the Orpheum was showing movies (which it did through 2000), though it continued with stage shows (one of them, in 1933, featured a young Judy Garland). And two years after its opening, management installed a large Wurlitzer pipe organ.

And tonight, that organ lives again as the Orpheum -- which was restored in 2003 to its vintage splendor -- hosts a silent movie. It's not just any silent, either, but one feared lost until a copy of it was found in the Czech Republic several years ago, then restored by the Academy Film Archive. It was shown in San Francisco in July 2008 (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/118984.html), and now Los Angeles gets to see it again. It's Colleen Moore's romantic comedy, "Her Wild Oat":

Moore -- whose appeal as a comic actress in the mid-1920s was topped only by Clara Bow -- portrays a lunch wagon owner who tries to crash resort society, with hilarious results. One of the bit players is a 14-year-old named Loretta Young (she's second from left, with Moore at right):

Noted organist Bob Salisbury will provide accompaniment for the film, which will start at 8 p.m. The Orpheum is at 842 South Broadway; tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the door. This screening is a part of the Los Angeles Organ Theatre Society's Wurlitzer Weekend (in conjunction with the Broadway Initiative of the Los Angeles Conservancy), with other events slated over the weekend. To learn more, go to http://www.latos.org/ww2011_event.html. If you're in southern California, or will be there tonight, I can't think of a more (Moore?) wonderful way to spend a Friday evening.


caroleirene at 2011-01-15 01:46 (UTC) (Link)
You are so lucky! I've never been to LA, I'm dying to go! Have fun!!!
vp19 at 2011-01-15 01:52 (UTC) (Link)
Not as lucky as you think...I live in Virginia (and I'd love to go, too). I was merely noting this to our readers who are in SoCal.
caroleirene at 2011-01-15 14:43 (UTC) (Link)
Oh woops! Misunderstood the title!
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