Author Joann Deutch – a Studio City based lawyer who served on the Chamber of Commerce Board for over 15 years as the President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary – tracked down the many untold stories which have left their mark not only on her community, but as well on Hollywood. A riveting and fascinating book that reveals the untold story of a more than often under-exposed, under-valued city and its rich and influential contribution to the film industry.
Deutch throws a bright light into a corner of our film heritage that has been habitually, even sinfully, ignored. In “Studio City A Mile of Style – What’s History What’s Gossip” the whimsical and the unexpected accompany the serious history – like seeing John Wayne riding along Ventura Boulevard in an English saddle, or hitch hiking up Laurel Canyon and getting a lift from John Lennon.
Finally Studio City’s real history and true identity is assembled in one book! Dozens of never-before seen lithographs, broadsides, archival materials and remembrances throw into relief the astonishing development of the Mile of Style as founded by Mack Sennett (a famous film director/producer in the early 1900s) on old-fashioned Progressive Era ideas – “If you reach for a goal, you can achieve it.”
When we talk about the film industry we all immediately, mistakenly, think “Hollywood”, but Studio Cityplays a huge and crucial role in the overall history of said “film industry”; not to mention the making of the film & TV studios. That Hollywood is more an idea and a dream rather than a place these days.
It was and still is Studio City with its backlots and open space that truly constitutes the heart of the film industry. Yet we keep defining that city by the one fact that has become common knowledge: the presence of the CBS/Radford lot, but Studio City is the real “Hollywood”.
This is where Joann Deutch comes in.
Wanting to understand what drove Studio City residents to be so civically committed to the community and what made her city such a special place in a sea of satellite communities in Los Angeles, she took on the challenge of investigating and uncovering the real story, and breaking some of the word-of-mouth stereotypes attached to its history.
No one thinks of Studio City as a suburb. Why? Who would have expected that the phrase in America the Beautiful “ from sea to shining sea” would refer to the Battles fought in the Cahuenga Pass, which bought California into the United States? Who thinks about Cahuenga Pass’ role as a Free State as a part of the balancing act to avoid the Civil War? Who knew that Studio City was a petri dish experiment about the Progressive Movement?
Want to know where Jay Leno started his career? Want to see where the Beatles and Rolling Stones hung out in between gigs? Want to know where Joni Mitchell and Errol Flynn lived?
This is your invitation to dive into the living dream!
I was excited when the hardcopy give away came in the mail and my PDF copy was delivered via e-mail. I quickly loaded the PDF onto my nook and packed my bags to head to the most relaxing place to read, Hilton Head Island.
As I began reading I was surprised to find that Chapter One began with the early Native American settlers, and the closest village to modern day Studio City, the Cahuenga village. Before this point I didn’t realize Joann R. Deutch started her research at the very beginning, I expected her to pick up with the growth of the entertainment industry in the west. It was nice to see she started with the real roots of the town, and it was interesting to read about the Native American’s beliefs and traditions, but I quickly realized this was more like a textbook than a novel.
Perhaps I had the preconceived notion this would read more like a story or a novel because that is the style I typically read. However, I was still surprised when I found a book full of bullet points and short stories rather than a continuous storyline. In addition to the formatting I was also a little put off by the way Deutch chose to organize the information in the book.
Although the book does somewhat follow chronological order, Deutch tends to bounce around from year to year depending on what topic she is covering in her chapter. Each chapter reflects a different aspect of Studio City, for example Chapter 5 covers the early history of the city, Chapter 9 covers the music scene, and Chapter 11 covers areas that are named after people. Within the chapters are short stories or bulleted facts about “Studio City’s Architecture”, “Bits and Pieces of Local History”, or whatever other topic the chapter is focusing on.
As I hit Chapter 13-“Gossip, People, and Colorful History” I read interesting facts, funny stories, and learned information about stars I never knew. As much as I enjoyed all of the information provided, I again was put off by the way it was organized. While the overall book does carry a loose chronological order, it still maintains a somewhat chronological order. However, chapter 13 is instead organized alphabetically by celebrity last name. Each new section within the chapter starts off with the name of the celebrity, followed by bulleted information and paragraph style stories. It took me a minute to figure out why I was reading about a modern day star, then suddenly was transported back to silent film actors.
As I read through the first couple of chapters I enjoyed the information I was learning, but came to the conclusion that this is a better coffee table book than a read-through-novel. I would enjoy digesting this better by flipping through the pages, looking at the amazing pictures, and learning facts from time to time rather than sitting down and committing to reading it cover to cover.
I must give props to Joann Deutch for the amount of time, research, and information that was poured into this book. It is chock-full of interesting images, old lithographs, vintage posters, and snapshots of the amazing architecture, studio lots, and celebrities. I learned so much about this small section of Los Angeles and laughed out loud at stories. One of my favorite sections was a story about early filmmakers being attracted to the area for the close proximity to Mexico as an easy hideout to avoid Thomas Edison Patent Agents.
This book is obviously a labor of love, written by someone who appreciates Studio City for everything it is and has become due to its rich history. This book is perfect for any history, film, or Los Angeles enthusiast. It is a great guide for anyone planning a trip to Los Angeles and a visit to Studio City. The last chapter even hits on interesting places to visit nearby! I hope you pick this book up and add it to your coffee table collection!
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