Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
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mwalls
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Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

Unread post by mwalls » Sat 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

moviepas
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Re: Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

Unread post by moviepas » Sun 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.

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syd
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Re: Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

Unread post by syd » Sun 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.

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Donald Binks
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Re: Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

Unread post by Donald Binks » Sun 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.
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Brooksie
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Re: Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

Unread post by Brooksie » Tue 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.

VaneWimsey
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Re: Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

Unread post by VaneWimsey » Sun Jun 10, 2018 11:55 pm

Buster had a cutting room in his house, too.

Chris Snowden
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Re: Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

Unread post by Chris Snowden » Mon 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.
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missdupont
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Re: Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

Unread post by missdupont » Mon 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.

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Rodney
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Re: Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

Unread post by Rodney » Tue 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.
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Donald Binks
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Re: Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

Unread post by Donald Binks » Tue 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...
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The Blackbird
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Re: Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

Unread post by The Blackbird » Wed 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.

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Re: Home Theaters in Stars' Homes

Unread post by Jack Theakston » Fri 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!"

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