Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
  • Author
  • Message
Offline
User avatar

mwalls

  • Posts: 528
  • Joined: Sun Jun 19, 2011 10:02 am
  • Location: Greensboro, NC

Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

PostSat Nov 25, 2017 12:00 pm

I just finished reading Colleen Moore's wonderful autobiography. In her discussion of the elaborate architecture of homes built by the Stars, she mentioned having a home theater was pretty standard. I was aware of this before, but it just never clicked in my head as to how elaborate (or not) these tended to be. For instance, what did they do for musical accompaniment? Was it a small piano in the corner, or did some go as elaborate as to have an organ installed in the home? Were they often equipped with two projectors so as to not need time for a switchover?

Has anyone read any accounts of these home theaters to get an idea of how well they were designed?

Thanks,
Matthew
Offline

moviepas

  • Posts: 1046
  • Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 12:51 am

Re: Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

PostSun Nov 26, 2017 1:38 am

Actor Joseph Kearns(the original Mr Wilson in TV's Dennis the Menace) had a Wurlitzer that he built a house around. He bought the Warner Bros Studio instrument. Not sure what he used it for or what happened to it. He died during the making of the TV series and Mrs Wilson lost her job, with a bachelor Mr Wilson played by Lucy's friend Gale Gordon taking over. Gordon never married in real life.
Last edited by moviepas on Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
Offline
User avatar

syd

  • Posts: 638
  • Joined: Fri Jun 11, 2010 11:55 am

Re: Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

PostSun Nov 26, 2017 4:53 pm

Erich Von Stroheim, who operated the projection booth in
Sunset Boulevard for silent star Norma Desmond (Gloria
Swanson) in her mansion seemed to perform duties
beyond his job title as butler. That is who may have provided
projection duties and musical assistance, servants performing
diverse tasks.
Offline
User avatar

Donald Binks

  • Posts: 3081
  • Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:08 am
  • Location: Somewhere, over the rainbow

Re: Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

PostSun Nov 26, 2017 5:07 pm

I believe Ramon Navarro had a theatre in his home and apart from screening pictures used the stage to perform "live" as well - probably doing his singing.
Regards from
Donald Binks

"So, she said: "Elly, it's no use letting Lou have the sherry glasses..."She won't appreciate them,
she won't polish them..."You know what she's like." So I said:..."
Offline
User avatar

Brooksie

  • Posts: 2782
  • Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2010 6:41 pm
  • Location: Portland, Oregon via Sydney, Australia

Re: Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

PostTue Nov 28, 2017 3:08 pm

Buster Keaton had a screening room inside his famous Italian Villa mansion. I understand that it has recently been restored and is back in action.
Offline

VaneWimsey

  • Posts: 2
  • Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2018 11:29 pm

Re: Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

PostSun Jun 10, 2018 11:55 pm

Buster had a cutting room in his house, too.
Offline

Chris Snowden

  • Posts: 767
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 1:20 am

Re: Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

PostMon Jun 11, 2018 1:47 pm

Harold Lloyd had a home screening room at Greenacres, and William Randolph Hearst had a home theater at his San Simeon estate.
-------------------------------------
Chris Snowden
https://televisiondiary.wordpress.com
Offline
User avatar

missdupont

  • Posts: 2405
  • Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 9:48 pm
  • Location: California

Re: Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

PostMon Jun 11, 2018 10:09 pm

Most stars, if they didn't have a theatre, converted their living room into screening rooms. The Selznick Archive had records of people like Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, and Norma Shearer borrowing prints.
Offline
User avatar

Rodney

  • Posts: 2342
  • Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2008 11:09 am
  • Location: Louisville, Colorado

Re: Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

PostTue Jun 12, 2018 7:19 am

Chris Snowden wrote:Harold Lloyd had a home screening room at Greenacres, and William Randolph Hearst had a home theater at his San Simeon estate.


I know nothing of this topic really... but somehow I can see Hearst having a live musician or three. I picture the people with less lavish lifestyles watching the films in silence other than talking about how that shot was made, what a stiff that extra was, how I really wish I done this differently, how hot it was that day even though we were filming a snow scene.

I wouldn't be surprised if they brought in a projectionist, though. If they were projecting in 35, that's not a casual thing to do at an evening party.
Rodney Sauer
The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
www.mont-alto.com
"Let the Music do the Talking!"
Offline
User avatar

Donald Binks

  • Posts: 3081
  • Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:08 am
  • Location: Somewhere, over the rainbow

Re: Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

PostTue Jun 12, 2018 3:09 pm

Rodney wrote:I wouldn't be surprised if they brought in a projectionist, though. If they were projecting in 35, that's not a casual thing to do at an evening party.


I think they had someone like "Max" - when he wasn't playing the organ...
Regards from
Donald Binks

"So, she said: "Elly, it's no use letting Lou have the sherry glasses..."She won't appreciate them,
she won't polish them..."You know what she's like." So I said:..."
Offline
User avatar

The Blackbird

  • Posts: 510
  • Joined: Fri Jul 03, 2009 3:38 pm
  • Location: London, Ontario

Re: Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

PostWed Jun 13, 2018 4:46 am

I seem to remember reading about Pickfair having a home theatre in it during the Fairbanks-Pickford marriage. Olive Thomas talked in an interview about having films she screened at her home and seemed pretty proud of it.
Offline
User avatar

Jack Theakston

  • Posts: 1839
  • Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:25 pm
  • Location: New York, USA

Re: Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

PostFri Jun 15, 2018 11:45 pm

I've seen pictures, and in once case, an existing setup of a home theater during the silent days. Most seemed to have been 35mm, and in some cases, scaled down theater organs were installed, but in other cases, no musical accompaniment looked to have been present, so in those cases, I assume either a piano was rolled in or the show was silent.
J. Theakston
"You get more out of life when you go out to a movie!"

Return to Talking About Silents

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: cinefan, drednm and 7 guests