Flagstaff over Hollywood? Things could have been different.

“In 1913 Cecil B. DeMille was looking for a place to shoot a western, The Squaw Man. He was living in New York City, so he boarded a train heading west and got off at Flagstaff, Arizona. Surprisingly, the weather was bad there. He sent a telegram to his partners back east, Jessy Lasky and Sam Goldfish (later Goldwyn): “Flagstaff no good. Want authority to rent barn for $75 a month in place called Hollywood.” The yellow barn was at Selma and Vine streets and was still being used for horses. The Squaw Man was released a year later, and is one of the first full-length films made in Hollywood. It was certainly the most successful. In 1926 the barn was moved to the United Studios on Marathon and Van Ness Streets, which soon became the home of Paramount Pictures.

If the weather in Flagstaff hadn’t been bad, if the barn in Hollywood hadn’t been for rent, if The Squaw Man had not been a hit, there wouldn’t have been a Hollywood. In later years the old weather-beaten barn in which The Squaw Man was photographed was converted into a gymnasium on the Paramount lot, equipped with weights, mats, rings, chin-up bars, and, most important: the best steam room in Los Angeles. From the time of its reincarnation as the Paramount gym, the man who ran it was a short, bald, good-natured fellow named Orlando Perry, or Perry Orlando – not even he was sure of which was correct. I got to know Perry and his gym when I was directing Good Times on the Paramount lot. I remained a regular for sixteen years, until the old barn was designated a landmark, moved off the lot, and relocated opposite the Hollywood Bowl, where it is now the Hollywood Heritage Museum.”

Friedkin, William. The Friedkin Connection: A Memoir.

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