Ann Dvorak’s Los Angeles, Pt. 11 – Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank
Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 266
When Ann Dvorak first walked onto First National/Warner Bros. studio in December 1931, she probably thought it would only be for a short time. She was, after all, under contract to Howard Hughes’ Caddo Company and was only on loan-out to the Burbank studio at the request of Howard Hawks who had cast her in the James Cagney vehicle The Crowd Roars. Instead, Ann would soon find herself the property of Jack Warner & Bros, and would not leave the Burbank lot permanently until December 1936.
The massive studio lot, which butts up against the Los Angeles River, opposite the Forest Lawn cemetery and Griffith Park was originally built by First National Pictures in 1926. When Warner Bros. merged with First National a couple of years later, they acquired the property while also maintaining a Hollywood studio on Sunset Blvd. The trademarks of the two studios remained separate until 1936, which is why many of the films Ann made in Burbank are credited as First National Productions.
The Warner Bros. studio is still around and well. It has address listings for 3400 W. Riverside Dr. and 4000 Warner Blvd., though back in the day it was listed as being at Olive & Aliso, though Aliso probably became Rowland which became Warner Blvd. (Burbank experts feel free to correct me). I believe the backlot has suffered fires in the past, but if I am not mistaken, some of the facades from Ann’s day are still there. I have been fortunate enough to attend some screenings on the lot, where my husband and I will spend some time wandering around beforehand.
There is a studio tour available, and while I have not taken the formal tour, a friend of mine who works there was nice enough to spend his lunch break giving me his own tour in a golf cart two years ago (as a Gilmore Girls fan, it was delightful). My daughter was less than a year old at the time, and I had her strapped in the Baby Bijorn. She loved every minute of the golf cart ride, though she was too young to remember it. Something tells me that will not be her last go around on Ann Dvorak’s old stomping grounds.