Hollywood Before Hollywood

Content on these pages was generated by students in HST 371, Southern California History, at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, in Spring 2013.

By 1910 Edendale had become the home to the first movie studios in Los Angeles. Numerous production companies called Edendale home. Two of the major ‘players’ in the film industry, Universal Studios and Fox Studios, originally located their offices in Edendale before moving to their current locations in Los Angeles.

However, they were far from the only production companies in town. Keystone Studios, Selig-Polyscope Studio, and Bison Studio also found the foothills of Edendale as the prime location for film production.

Within the film industry was an influx of people, these new residents helped to foster the culture of Edendale. There were several reasons why the film industry centered around Edendale, but the most obvious reason was based on the environment.

Jack White, a film director for both Keystone and Fox Studios, described the decision to build in Edendale: “The first picture companies settled in Edendale because it offered everything they wanted: Indians, Cowboys, open country. It was all right there.” (Bruskin, 167). 

Max Sennett, head of keystone Studio, summed up the perfection of Edendale for film production “because it happened to be a location he felt was right.” (Bruskin, 168) The area offered everything for these companies from different landscapes, diversity of race and most importantly good weather year round.

Though by the 1920s the majority of the film industry had moved to Hollywood, Edendale was home to many prominent movies and actors and directors.

The most prominent of these was Charlie Chaplin who had his first film made in Edendale in Keystone Studios, which closed in 1917. This is also where he created the character he is so well known for, the Tramp.  

One last landmark event that occurred in the Edendale movie industry is the first Pie Throw. Jack White recalls, “It was a one-pie deal, not pies, I threw the one pie, and it didn’t even hit him…When they put the scenes together, I’m the one who threw the pie that hit Arbuckle in the face, Actually, I missed him.” (Bruskin, 169)  

While the movie industry was not long lasting, the foundation was firmly established for a booming neighborhood of artists nestled in along the winding staircases in the foothills of Edendale.