At first glance, this simple wood-frame structure certainly doesn't look very important. Situated on a patch of green lawn right across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, the little building has yellow paint with white trim, a redwood porch and a shingled roof - at first glance, it most resembles an average California tract house - even though it was built in 1896.
But the sign above the porch reading "Lasky-DeMille Barn" should give you a clue. In fact, this unassuming building is one of the most historic structures from the Golden Age of Hollywood: the very first major movie studio in Hollywood.
In 1913, director Cecil B. DeMille rented a horse barn for $250 a month, and used it to shoot Hollywood's first full-length feature film, a Western named "The Squaw Man." DeMille was only 32 years old at the time, and his partners included Sam Goldwyn and Jesse Lasky.
Although it was DeMille's first film (he even appeared in it as an extra), "The Squaw Man" went on to become a major box-office smash - the first hit movie made in Los Angeles. Made for only $15,0000, the movie grossed over $200,000 nationwide, and led to Hollywood becoming the movie capital of the world. The little "Famous Players-Lasky Co." went on to become the giant Paramount Studios, which produced everything from "The Sheik" to "Star Trek." (See the separate page about Paramount Studios).
Back in 1913, many movie-makers headed out west to avoid the fees imposed by Thomas Edison, who owned patents on the movie-making process. DeMille had originally wanted to make his movie in Arizona, but it was raining there when he arrived. So, like countless movie-makers who were to follow in his footsteps, DeMille came to California for the dependable sunshine. He used this little barn as his first studio; his actors used the empty stalls as dressing rooms. And while DeMille was shooting the film, the barn's owner actually kept his horse and carriage inside the "studio"!
The small barn/studio was originally located at Selma & Vine - 1521 Vine Street, to be precise (
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