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"Gone With The Wind" Atlanta set built for that film
|Known as the Forty Acres even though the actual acreage is little more than 28 acres (the backlot and the Culver City Studio sites cover approximately 40 acres), this primary backlot for the RKO Studio (another one existed in the San Fernando Valley community of Encino) came into existence around 1926/27.|
The history of the Culver City Studio and backlot actually goes back to September 1918 when Thomas Ince purchased property from Henry Culver. The Ince Studios were in business from 1919 to 1924. In 1925, Cecil B. DeMille acquired Ince's holdings. To film his "King of Kings", DeMille leased 28 1/2 acres of land close to the studio. This property became known as the Forty Acres backlot. On this property, DeMille built the biblical city of Jerusalem.
In 1928, RKO was created and took over the ownership of the Culver City property. For the movie "The Bird of Paradise", they built a jungle and native village. This jungle became the nucleus of the future Tarzan jungle. The native village and the Jerusalem gates can be see in "King Kong".
In 1935, David O. Selznick leased the property from RKO for his Selznick International Pictures. On the backlot, he constructed the town of Atlanta, a railroad station, and the Tara mansion for "Gone With The Wind". Portions of the Jerusalem sets, including the gates, were dressed to appear as Atlanta and they were burned to the ground. Portions of the Atlanta sets were later used in "The Andy Griffith Show" television show as the town of Mayberry. To see where the Mayberry portion of the set was in comparison to the entire Atlanta set, watch the film "The Magnificent Ambersons".
The Selznick picture, "The Garden of Allah", in 1936 redressed the remaining Jerusalem sets into an Arab village. This set was utilized in the RKO Tarzan flicks.
Across Ballona Creek from the main backlot, the lake and jungle for the Tarzan features was created. It was here that Sol Lesser recreated the MGM treehouse, but only one half. The right portion was a matte painting.
In 1948, Howard Hughes purchased the property. In 1955, the General Tire and Rubber Company became the new owners, while in 1957, Desilu gained ownership of the lot. Paramount purchased the Desilu holdings in 1967 and sold off the Culver City property in 1968 to Perfect Film and Chemical. In 1969, OSF Industries Limited became the new owners; in 1977, Laird Industries; in 1986, Grant Tinker and Gannett Company; and finally in 1991, Sony Corporation.
To the right: Selznick at the train depot gazing at Tara
The stalag in "Hogan Heroes" was also located on the backlot.
In 1976, the Forty Acres backlot was bulldozed and turned into an industrial park. On the opposite side of Ballona Creek, a fire station occupies the area of the jungle.
The Studio is located at 9336 Washington Blvd in Culver City. The nearby backlot location is bounded by Ince Street, Lucerne Avenue, Higuera Street, and Jefferson Blvd.
"Bird of Paradise" (RKO 1932) Directed by: King Vidor. Cast: Dolores del Rio, Joel McCrea, John Halliday, Richard Gallagher, Bert Roach, Lon Chaney Jr., Wade Boteler.
"The Return of Chandu" (Principal 1934) Directed by: Ray Taylor. Cast: Bela Lugosi, Maria Alba, Clara Kimball Young, Lucien Prival, Deane Benton, Phyllis Ludwig, Cyril Armbrister.
"Gone With The Wind" (Selznick 1939) Directed by: Victor Fleming. Cast: Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland, Hattie McDaniel, Thomas Mitchell, Trevor Bardette, Ward Bond.
"The Magnificent Ambersons" (RKO 1942) Directed by: Orson Welles. Cast: Joseph Cotten, Dolores Costello, Anne Baxter, Tim Holt, Agnes Moorehead, Ray Collins, Erskine Sanford, Richard Bennett.
"Tarzan's Desert Mystery" (RKO 1943) Directed by: William Thiele. Cast: Johnny Weissmuller, Nancy Kelly, Johnny Sheffield, Otto Kruger, Joe Sawyer, Lloyd Corrigan, Robert Lowery, Frank Puglia, Phil Van Zandt.
"Tarzan's Peril" (RKO 1951) Directed by: Byron Haskin. Cast: Lex Barker, Virginia Huston, George Macready, Douglas Fowley, Glenn Anders, Dorothy Dandridge, Alan Napier, Frederick O'Neal.