Really nice Herb Alpert post from Steve Hoffman.

Not open for further replies.


Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Thread Starter
This appeared on the Steve Hoffman Forum a day or so ago:

Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass Whipped Cream Video 1966: See the old Chaplin Studios
When Charles Chaplin built his own studio at 1416 N. La Brea Avenue (at sunset) and moved in on January 21, 1918 he used it until he was denied entry back into the country in the early 1950's. THE GOLD RUSH, THE KID, THE CIRCUS, CITY LIGHTS, MODERN TIMES, THE GREAT DICTATOR and LIMELIGHT were filmed there. Walter Wanger was the first of many producers to take over the lot and filmed some indie movies there. He stored his screen tests there and left them when he left (including the famous 1948 Greta Garbo screen test you saw on Entertainment Tonight that Jeff Joseph and I found back in 1989 when researching the six-channel 35mm mag tracks for Around The World In 80 Days).

When Wanger sold the studio it was going to be torn down for offices (yikes) and my great uncle Maurice Gebber (who was the fur coat guy to the stars) had a share of the place but flipped his share too quickly. My grandmother bitterly reminded us of this every time we passed the place when I was a little kid. In turn the shareholders elected to sell it to Michael Todd and Todd-AO.

So, Michael Todd had it for a while (anyone remember the big air balloon that hung there during the making of AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS? I was too young but I've seen pictures). The music score for 80 Days was actually recorded there in Todd-AO by Victor Young in 1956 when it was called KLING STUDIOS. After Todd came a few others, including the SUPERMAN and PERRY MASON filming, Red Skelton, a bunch of other stuff, all done there.

Finally, in 1966 after Perry Mason was canceled, Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss bought the property from the Columbia Broadcasting System and made it the permanent home of A&M Records. To their credit, it stayed pretty much the way it looks in this video for many years. When I was working on some project in the late 1980s for DCC I spent some time on the lot and walked in the same gate you see in the video. I actually ran into Herb walking across the lot and waved HI. He waved back even though he didn't know who the hell I was. It was a friendly place and quite an unusual setting for a record company. Of course I found it quite charming, the wooden buildings with the steps leading up to the offices (Chaplin dressing rooms and editing suites, etc.) I remember the bungalow that the art department was in was at one time the SUPERMAN TV show office. Still had some of the stuff there. Neat-o. Everyone who worked there was very nice, low key and friendly. Such a contrast from other entertainment companies.

I loved the actual Karma of the Chaplin lot. I wanted to find Edna's old dressing room from 1919 and lick the floor... I've walked on many sound stages in my time (the Wizard Of Oz stage at MGM/Sony, the big stages at Universal, Paramount, Fox (both Western and Fox Hills) and Warner Bros (both Hollywood and Burbank). The stage in the Chaplin Studio is (to me) the most interesting. It's the oldest I've been on and geez, the spots where Chaplin stood to film THE GOLD RUSH? THE GREAT DICTATOR? MODERN TIMES? "Now THAT (said historian Kevin Brownlow) is movie history!" I took a little piece of the old stage insulation home with me and framed it. Silly but true.

Some great stuff was recorded at A&M Studios (Joni Mitchell "BLUE" among hundreds of others). It's also neat that WE ARE THE WORLD video, the TV series SUPERMAN and the classic film CITY LIGHTS were all filmed on the same stage. That's history come full circle.

Since the place is now a designated cultural landmark, they can't tear it down for condos so we should be grateful for that. I'm OK with Kermit The Frog on the 3D sign now. He's wearing the Chaplin "Tramp" outfit.

At any rate, here is the lot in September of 1966 when Herb filmed a segment for his first ever TV special here using three giant RCA TK-41 three-gun color TV cameras (borrowed from NBC "Color City" in Burbank) and 2" videotape, edited with a razor blade by hand. I remember watching this as a kid and marveled that Charlie Chaplin (the single greatest figure in the history of cinema) and the TJB had something in common (since I liked them both).

Check this old NBC TV clip out, old-timers. Remember it?

It's gotten a lot of positive responses.

Not open for further replies.
Top Bottom