Photo // Jack Benny Advertisement
Photo // Marc Wanamaker photo of completed
Photo // William S Paley
Photo // Blandeu Tavern
Photo // Blandeu Tavern
THE VIBRANT HISTORY OF
EARLY HOLLYWOOD HISTORY
Even before the construction of Columbia Broadcast Studios, the site at the northwest corner of Sunset and Gower had long been engrained in the entertainment industry. In 1911, the Nestor Film Company opened the first movie studio in Hollywood - under English-born, American film pioneers David and William Horsley. The site was formerly the Blondeau Tavern, and the first motion picture stage in Hollywood was built behind the tavern.
ROWDY ANNE - CHRISTIE FILM CO.
In 1919, short film producer Al Christie took ownership, and Nestor Film Company was dubbed a part of “Poverty Row” - 1920s slang for small B movie studios, many of which were located in the area of Sunset and Gower.
In the 1920s there were great improvements made in sound recording and radio technology, allowing for radio to spread across the country with Hollywood as an early epicenter for the industry. In 1936 KNX Radio was purchased by Columbia Broadcasting System, one of two nationwide broadcast networks, and plans were made to construct Columbia Square, which would serve as CBS’ West Coast Flagship.
THE BEGINNING OF COLUMBIA SQUARE
William S. Paley, founder of CBS, commissioned the construction of CBS Columbia Square and hired high-profile architect William Lescaze to design the complex.
The exteriors were designed in Lescaze’s trademark International Modernism Style, and the interiors were designed to accommodate the latest innovations in broadcast technology; it was the first building to integrate broadcast technology with the capability to include a live studio audience.
ARMY NAVY SCREEN MAGAZINE #20
The radio industry played a momentous role at the outset of World War II - many Americans turned primarily to the radio for breaking news on the war, and CBS radio correspondent Edward R. Murrow first rose to prominence while reporting from the field during the London Blitz
MY FAVORITE HUSBAND
At Columbia Square, CBS produced popular radio shows including Gunsmoke, Dr. Christian, Suspense, The Whistler, The Passing Parade, My Favorite Husband (starring Lucille Ball), Our Miss Brooks, and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.
NEW YEAR'S RADIO DANCE PARTY / 1945-46
Big band music also became a radio phenomenon in the 1940s, with live orchestras led by bandleaders including Tommy Dorsey, Stan Kenton, and Ray Anthony broadcast coast to coast by CBS.
HISTORY OF RADIO AT COLUMBIA SQUARE
In 1949, for the first time in twenty years, CBS beat NBC in the radio broadcast ratings, thanks to iconic shows such as Lucky Strike Program Starring Jack Benny.
Photo // Herman Scultheis photo of KNX radio with
Columbia Square being built
"IT IS BECAUSE WE BELIEVE THESE NEW HOLLYWOOD HEADQUARTERS, REFLECTING MANY INNOVATIONS OF DESIGN AND ACOUSTICS AND CONTROL, WILL IMPROVE THE ART OF BROADCASTING THAT WE HAVE BUILT THEM AND ARE DEDICATING THEM HERE TONIGHT."
- William S. Paley, Inaugural Speech
"A SALUTE TO COLUMBIA SQUARE"
The grand opening celebration included a star-studded radio program, "A Salute to Columbia Square," which was broadcasted nation wide and included guests Al Jolson, Bob Hope, Cecil B. Demille.
TELEVISION TAKES THE STAGE
Photo // Beach Boys
Photo // Television Takes the Stage
By the 1950s, radio's popularity waned and its golden age was over. Taking its place: Television.
CBS launched the first variety television program to be broadcast from the West Coast at CBS Columbia Square with the debut of the Ed Wynn Show in 1949. The show would mark the first television appearance of budding starlet Lucille Ball and her husband, bandleader Desi Arnaz.
Photo // Ed Wynn Show MV
I LOVE LUCY PILOT
Two years later, the couple filmed the pilot for their iconic television show, I Love Lucy, in Studio A.
James Dean worked as an usher at Columbia Square, before being discovered and starring in films such as Rebel Without a Cause and East of Eden.
FUN FACT //
THE SOUND OF THE SIXTIES
Photo // Columbia Records
Columbia Records announced plans to convert the former Radio Studio One into a single recording studio in 1960, giving the label its own dedicated West Coast recording facilities for the first time.
Columbia Records executives approached renowned orchestra conductor Bruno Walter and asked him to make new recordings for the label using the latest technology – stereo sound. A symphony orchestra was assembled from freelance West Coast musicians, and under Walter’s direction, formed a Los Angeles-based version of the Columbia Symphony Orchestra.
A SYMPHONY RECORDING
+ click to hear clip
As rock and roll quickly gained momentum, Columbia Records expanded its recording efforts at Columbia Square to include not only classical recording but more popular music. Throughout the 1960s Columbia Square was host to some of the biggest recording artists in the industry including Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and Mahalia Jackson.
COLUMBIA SQUARE REBORN
Photo // Columbia Square, ~2010
Following years of under-use and deferred maintenance, the Columbia Square site was chosen for redevelopment by Kilroy Realty Corporation in 2012.
Photo // Columbia Square, 2016
The Columbia Square site is richly entwined with Hollywood history. It was the site of the first movie studio in Hollywood, as well as radio and television studios dating back to 1937. Radio stations KNX, KCBS-FM (formerly KNX-FM), and television stations KCBS-TV (Channel 2, formerly KNXT and KTSL) have all produced at the site. Independent television station KCAL-TV (formerly KHJ-TV) moved to Columbia Square in 2002.
Columbia Square is Kilroy Realty’s first mixed-use redevelopment in Hollywood; it blends historical reuse with new construction to create a beautiful, modern environment where people live, work and play. This stylish lifestyle has already attracted noteworthy tenants such as Viacom, Fender and Neuehouse. The upgrade for the Hollywood community is long awaited, and it’s here.