early history of the UA studio lot: Mary Pickford and Douglas
Fairbanks at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Formose Avenue
The History of the United Artists Lot (also known as the Samuel Goldwyn
by J. A. Aberdeen
1041 North Formosa Avenue
When United Artists was formed in 1919 by Charlie
Chaplin, Mary Pickford,
Douglas Fairbanks, and D. W. Griffith, the founders never intended the company
to be like a regular Hollywood studio. It started solely as a distribution
company. Its mission was to release films made by independent producers,
therefore it had no studio lot. However, many of the independent producers owned
their own property, like the Charlie Chaplin Studio on Sunset Boulevard.
The closest thing to a studio lot was the 18-acre property owned by Pickford
and Fairbanks on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Formosa Avenue in
Hollywood. It was originally owned by Jesse Durham Hampton, and then became
known as the Pickford-Fairbanks Studio. As United Artists began to lure
independent producers away from the major studios, many of the producers like Samuel
Goldwyn and Joseph Schenck rented offices
and stages on the property. In the early 1920s, the lot was renamed the United
Artists Studio, though it was operated as a separate entity from United Artists
the distribution company.
Goldwyn and Schecnk financed the expansion of the studio, creating an awkward
ownership structure. Pickford and Fairbanks controlled the deed to the land, but
Goldwyn and Scheck owned the actual facilities on the lot. In 1935 when Scheck
left United Artists, Goldwyn took over his share. And when Fairbanks died in
1939, Pickford reclaimed his portion. Thus Mary Pickford and Samuel Goldwyn
remained joint owners of the land, which caused bitter arguments over the years,
as both were head-strong independents, but neither had clear majority control.
When Goldwyn left United Artist under strained conditions in 1940, he renamed
the lot the Samuel Goldwyn Studio, over the protest of Mary Pickford, who still
owned half the property. Goldwyn and Pickford bickered over the studio until
their disagreement created a deadlock that landed them in court, and put the lot
up for sale at auction in 1955. Goldwyn, assisted by James
Pickford, and became sole owner of the property.
The lot provided a home for many independent production companies over the
years, and continued to be known as the Samuel Goldwyn Studio until 1980. Among
the famous movies filmed there were Wuthering Heights (1939), Some
Like It Hot (1959), and West Side Story (1959). Television producers
also called the studio home, including Sid & Marty Krofft. In 1977, after
when George Lucas had wrapped principle photography on Star Wars at the
Elstree Studio in England, he re-shot some of the Cantina scenes at the Samuel
UA-Samuel Goldwyn Studio, now known as The Lot (1998).
In 1980 Warner Bros. purchased the site as an auxiliary to its Burbank
headquarters, and renamed it the Warner Hollywood Studio. After Warner sold the
property to a private film company in 1999, it remained in operation with a new
identity called The Lot.
CLICK HERE for more information on the
UA-Samuel Goldwyn Studio, now known as The Lot.
United Artists Studio lot: Carey, Doug and Mary, p. 90.
Paramount-First National alleged merger and the formation of
United Artists: Balio, United Artists: The Company Built by the Stars,
pp. 11-24; Chaplin, My Autobiography, pp. 219-226; Pickford, p. 110-116.
"We also think that", Moving Picture World, February 1, 1919,
p. 619, also quoted in Balio, p. 13.
Samuel Goldwyn Studio-“History,” Warner Hollywood
In 1999, Warner Bros. agreed to sell the property to a real estate investment
firm for $65 million: Chris Gennusa and David Robb, “Warner Hollywood Sold,”
HR, December 9, 1999, pp. 1, 34.