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Tuesday, June 10, 2008 – Down at RKO

RKO Hollywood Studios - 780 Gower Street, at Melrose Avenue - now owned by CBS Paramount Television

RKO Hollywood Studios – 780 Gower Street, at Melrose Avenue – now owned by CBS Paramount Television. All Radio Pictures and RKO Radio Pictures films produced between 1929 and 1957 have an opening logo displaying the studio's famous trademark, the spinning globe and radio tower, nicknamed "The Transmitter."   This is the globe. The transmitter is long gone - but Orson Welles called it "my favorite among the old logos, not just because it was so often a reliable portent... it reminds us to listen." And this studio brought us the two most famous films in what they call motion picture history – King Kong and Citizen Kane.

The thirties musicals starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were filmed here.  And this was the studio of Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and, later, Robert Mitchum.  This is what's left.

RKO Hollywood Studios - 780 Gower Street, at Melrose Avenue - now owned by CBS Paramount Television
RKO Hollywood Studios - 780 Gower Street, at Melrose Avenue - now owned by CBS Paramount Television

From Wikipedia, some of more than you ever wanted to know about RKO:

    RKO (Radio-Keith-Orpheum) Pictures is an American film production and distribution company. As Radio Pictures Inc. and then RKO Radio Pictures Inc., it was one of the so-called Big Five studios of Hollywood's Golden Age. The business was formed after the Keith-Albee-Orpheum (KAO) theater chains and Joseph P. Kennedy's Film Booking Offices of America (FBO) studio were brought together under the control of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in October 1928. RCA chief

    … In its later years, RKO was taken over by maverick industrialist Howard Hughes and finally by the General Tire and Rubber Company. The original RKO Pictures ceased production in 1957 and was effectively dissolved two years later. In 1981, broadcaster RKO General, the corporate heir, revived it as a production subsidiary, RKO Pictures Inc. In 1989, this business with its few remaining assets, the trademarks, and remake rights to many classic RKO films, was sold to new owners, who now operate the small independent company RKO Pictures LLC.

Other RKO facilities –

  • RKO-Pathι Culver City Studios - 9336 Washington Boulevard, Culver City - established by Thomas H. Ince in 1919 - now owned by PCCP Studio City Los Angeles
  • RKO Forty Acres (backlot) - Culver City -established by Ince in 1919 - razed in 1976
  • RKO Encino Ranch (backlot) – Encino - established by RKO in 1929 - razed in 1954
  • RKO Building (corporate headquarters) – 1270 Sixth Avenue, New York – the Art Deco skyscraper in Rockefeller Center, built in 1931–32, now known as the Amax Building - but you know the building, as it houses Radio City Music Hall

And these days in Los Angeles –

Paramount Studios - Gower Street entrance

Ah, it's an old neighborhood –

Recording studio, Melrose at Gower

And across the street from RKO, there's this 1951 Nash sedan for sale –

1951 Nash sedan for sale

And it has a cool spotlight –

1951 Nash sedan - spotlight

But of course the neighborhood is full of odd vehicles –

Jesus Bike
Jesus Bike

The Jesus Bike was parked here.  No explanation –

Sidewalk plaque regarding parakeets

What's left of Hollywood's Golden Age –

Yellow face on wall, Melrose Avenue near Paramount Studios

If you wish to use any of these photos for commercial purposes I assume you'll discuss that with me. And should you choose to download any of these images and use them invoking the "fair use" provisions of the Copyright Act of 1976, please provide credit, and, on the web, a link back this site. 

Technical Note:

Photographs after March 3, 2008, were taken with a Nikon D200 – or a Nikon D70 when noted. All previous photographs were taken with the D70. The lenses used are (1) AF-S Nikkor 18-70 mm 1:35-4.5G ED, or (2) AF Nikkor 70-300 mm telephoto, or (3) AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 55-200 mm f/4-5.6G ED. Photography here is modified for web posting using Adobe Photoshop 7.0.  The earliest photography in the archives was done with a Sony Mavica digital still camera (MVC-FD-88) with built-in digital zoom.

[Down at RKO]

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 - Alan M. Pavlik