Dismiss Notice
We are making some updates and reconfigurations to our server. Apologies for any downtime or slow forum loading now or within the next week or so. Thanks!

SH Spotlight Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass Whipped Cream Video 1966: See the old Charlie Chaplin Studios

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Sep 22, 2010.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    When Charles Chaplin built his own studio at 1416 N. La Brea Avenue (at Sunset Blvd.) and moved in on January 21, 1918 he used it until he was denied entry back into the country in the early 1950's. THE GOLD RUSH, THE KID, THE CIRCUS, CITY LIGHTS, MODERN TIMES, THE GREAT DICTATOR and LIMELIGHT were filmed there. Walter Wanger was the first of many producers to take over the lot and filmed some indie movies there. He stored his screen tests there and left them when he left (including the famous 1948 Greta Garbo screen test you saw on Entertainment Tonight that Jeff Joseph and I found back in 1989 when researching the six-channel 35mm mag tracks for Around The World In 80 Days).

    When Wanger sold the studio it was going to be torn down for offices (yikes) and my great uncle Maurice Gebber (who was the fur coat guy to the stars) had a share of the place but flipped his share too quickly. My grandmother bitterly reminded us of this every time we passed the place when I was a little kid. In turn the shareholders elected to sell it to Michael Todd and Todd-AO.

    So, Michael Todd had it for a while (anyone remember the big air balloon that hung there during the making of AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS? I was too young but I've seen pictures). The music score for 80 Days was actually recorded there in Todd-AO by Victor Young in 1956 when it was called KLING STUDIOS. After Todd came a few others, including the SUPERMAN and PERRY MASON filming, Red Skelton, a bunch of other stuff, all done there.

    Finally, in 1966 after Perry Mason was canceled, Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss bought the property from the Columbia Broadcasting System and made it the permanent home of A&M Records. To their credit, it stayed pretty much the way it looks in this video for many years. When I was working on some project in the late 1980s for DCC I spent some time on the lot and walked in the same gate you see in the video. I actually ran into Herb walking across the lot and waved HI. He waved back even though he didn't know who the hell I was. It was a friendly place and quite an unusual setting for a record company. Of course I found it quite charming, the wooden buildings with the steps leading up to the offices (Chaplin dressing rooms and editing suites, etc.) I remember the bungalow that the art department was in was at one time the SUPERMAN TV show office. Still had some of the stuff there. Neat-o. Everyone who worked there was very nice, low key and friendly. Such a contrast from other entertainment companies.

    I loved the actual Karma of the Chaplin lot. I wanted to find Edna's old dressing room from 1919 and lick the floor... I've walked on many sound stages in my time (the Wizard Of Oz stage at MGM/Sony, the big stages at Universal, Paramount, Fox (both Western and Fox Hills) and Warner Bros (both Hollywood and Burbank). The stage in the Chaplin Studio is (to me) the most interesting. It's the oldest I've been on and geez, the spots where Chaplin stood to film THE GOLD RUSH? THE GREAT DICTATOR? MODERN TIMES? "Now THAT (said historian Kevin Brownlow) is movie history!" I took a little piece of the old stage insulation home with me and framed it. Silly but true.

    Some great stuff was recorded at A&M Studios (Joni Mitchell "BLUE" among hundreds of others). It's also neat that WE ARE THE WORLD video, the TV series SUPERMAN and the classic film CITY LIGHTS were all filmed on the same stage. That's history come full circle.

    Since the place is now a designated cultural landmark, they can't tear it down for condos so we should be grateful for that. I'm OK with Kermit The Frog on the 3D sign now. He's wearing the Chaplin "Tramp" outfit.

    At any rate, here is the lot in September of 1966 when Herb filmed a segment for his first ever TV special here using three giant RCA TK-41 three-gun color TV cameras (borrowed from NBC "Color City" in Burbank) and 2" videotape, edited with a razor blade by hand. I remember watching this as a kid and marveled that Charlie Chaplin (the single greatest figure in the history of cinema) and the TJB had something in common (since I liked them both).

    Check this old NBC TV clip out, old-timers. Remember it?

    Three photos:

    Chaplin Studios, 1918. Chaplin Studios now. Edna Purviance, 1918. Chaplin built his studio like a quaint English village so the neighbors wouldn't complain of an ugly movie studio in their neighborhood...

    chaplin one.jpg

    Chaplin two.jpg

  2. xman

    xman Active Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    longdist01 and vonwegen like this.
  3. Chris C

    Chris C Music was my first love and it will be my last!

    Great stuff! I actually have that entire first TV special of Herb on VHS. I also have my own VHS footage of the A&M/CHAPLIN buildings that I shot way back when my wife and I visted the area around 1982 or '83. In my video, one of the buildings has the same A&M record logo wall, that was featured on the front cover of Herb's, "Rise" LP. I also shot the CBS TELEVISION CITY building, which is not far from the CHAPLIN STUDIOS.

    A few years ago, my wife and I ventured back to that same area and I can't believe how much it's changed and sadly, a bit too dirty and rundown.

    edit: I forgot to add that it's just plain weird to now see Kermit The Frog, where the glorious A&M trumpet logo used to spin and spin.

    I also have, on one of my huge CHAPLIN DVD sets on Warner Brothers, the actual footage that Charlie shot himself of the building of the Chaplin Studios, from start to finish, which is really cool to watch.

    Chris C
    longdist01 and McLover like this.
  4. Bob Dobalina

    Bob Dobalina Forum Resident

    Los Angeles
    The Jim Henson Company now owns the Chaplin property and have maintained it quite nicely...there's a big Kermit dressed as The Tramp standing over the front gates now.
    longdist01 likes this.
  5. KeithH

    KeithH Success With Honor...then and now

    Beaver Stadium
    Thanks for sharing that, Steve. I was -4 in 1966 (;)), and I had never seen that video before. That was a cool video, and Herb Alpert was quite the entertainer. That was well done.

    By the way, I love that rotating A&M sign at the start of the video.
    longdist01 likes this.
  6. dbmay75

    dbmay75 Funk & Guitar Junkie

    Excellent video indeed, Steve. Thank you for sharing the link and your memories of the place with us.

    longdist01 likes this.
  7. KeithH

    KeithH Success With Honor...then and now

    Beaver Stadium
    That's cool. I just found it on Google Maps. It's neat to see the same building today as in the '66 Herb Alpert video.
  8. Gary

    Gary Nauga Gort! Staff

    Wow, Steve, what a fantastic history! Thanks!!! I love stuff like this!

    Thank goodness! It would break my heart if they did anything so stupid!
    longdist01 likes this.
  9. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    Great video
    longdist01 likes this.
  10. sprocket

    sprocket Active Member

    Shafter, Ca
    longdist01 likes this.
  11. JA Fant

    JA Fant Well-Known Member

    Very nice!
    longdist01 likes this.
  12. stereoptic

    stereoptic Anaglyphic GORT Staff

    Interesting story. The architecture has a lot of charactor, built when craftmanship meant something besides how it affects the bottom line.
    longdist01 likes this.
  13. apileocole

    apileocole Lush Life Gort

    Think Brian Henson (son of Jim, co-chairman and co-CEO of JHC w/sis Lisa Henson) has made some comments appreciative of the history there, so as the Little Tramp costume Kermit's sporting suggests, they value it very much indeed. Oh if only Brian Henson could have been producing something there with Gigi Edgley as Chiana (of Henson Co's Farscape) - that would have been some really delightful historical symmetry, to me. I like Edna... :love: and Gigi... Gigi and Brian Henson have creative elements in common with Chaplin and silent film. Somebody grab his ear and suggest it. ;) Ah well...

    (Gigi Edgley in Chaplin inspired photo)

    And speaking of (small world ain't it?) - you can see the place yourself! As part of the Farscape convention this year, the convention outfit arranged tours of the Chaplin / A&M / Henson studios. It's open to the public as a separate ticket, so you don't have to nerd out at the convention at all. They say:

    But the tour is Nov 6th so very soon here and it'll run ya $300. So I'll not be there! :D :sigh:

    For more: http://www.creationent.com/cal/farscape.htm if you're interested, scroll about half way down that page, you'll see a pic of the studios; note please nobody at SH Forums including myself are endorsing this or the organizers etc and so forth whatsoever: it just seems relevant to this thread in case anyone is interested in doing that.
  14. HGN2001

    HGN2001 Mystery picture member

    In 1991, A&M put out a career-spanning (at that time) video of Herb Alpert including the Tijuana Brass stuff up through "Rise" and the song he did with Janet Jackson ("Diamonds"), using portions of old TV specials and actual music videos from the later years.

    That video was only released in Japan and Great Britain; this particular "Whipped Cream" segment is on it; and the Japanese put it on a LaserDisc in NTSC video. I'm fortunate enough to have found one and have preserved it at least as a DVD-R.

    The "Whipped Cream" segment is a treasure - that's for sure, and thanks Steve for adding your perspective to this little video.

    Oh, and one little minor correction - the first TV special for Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass aired originally on CBS - and later that year was repeated on NBC.

    longdist01 and vonwegen like this.
  15. Chris C

    Chris C Music was my first love and it will be my last!

    Here are some screen shots of the VHS video that I mentioned in post #3 of this thread, that I filmed myself back in the 80's, of the A&M/CHAPLIN STUDIOS...

    The last picture is also from the same video and I figured that some of you may get a kick out of it? My wife and I found this quiet road, which eventually leads up and looks down, right onto the backlot of UNIVERSAL STUDIOS. Threw the fence, see if you can recognize the "PSYCHO" house and BATES MOTEL, as they stood in the mid '80's? You can also see, behind the "PSYCHO" house, what was used as the ocean, in JAWS III. Pretty cool, that Hollywood stuff!

    Chris C

    Attached Files:

    vonwegen likes this.
  16. Chris C

    Chris C Music was my first love and it will be my last!

    As I also mentioned in my post #3 of this thread, here is the film, shot by Charlie Chaplin himself, that actually shows the building of the infamous CHAPLIN STUDIOS...


    Chris C
    longdist01 and elvissinatra like this.
  17. HGN2001

    HGN2001 Mystery picture member

    Some other images I have of the old studios. The first is from the opening of the VERY BEST OF HERB ALPERT video (I forgot to mention the title).

    The second is a recent capture of the site from Google Earth.

    The third is an image that used to grace the old official A&M Records website from the PolyGram days, before the Universal takeover.

    The fourth is an image from that video of "Whipped Cream" with the dancers all dressed as Chaplin.

    The fifth, somewhat unrelated, is the the house the contained the garage in which Herb and Jerry Moss started A&M.
  18. KeithH

    KeithH Success With Honor...then and now

    Beaver Stadium
    I noticed the building with the record motif. That's obviously the backdrop for the cover of Rise. I always wondered where that picture was taken.
  19. BlueSpeedway

    BlueSpeedway Forum Resident

    Brilliant, I'm a HUGE Chaplin fan, am going to re-watch his classic Behind the Screen after watching this.
    longdist01 likes this.
  20. vonwegen

    vonwegen Forum Resident

    Strange--I get the message "Video not available".

    Guess IP addresses in Germany are blocked from viewing.
  21. thxphotog

    thxphotog Camera Nerd Cycling Nerd Guitar Nerd Dietary Nerd

    Los Angeles, CA
    Great read Steve. Thanks for sharing.

    I was doing some work w/ DTS in the mid-late 90s and we had an industry demo of the relatively new 5.1 CDs in those studios, which if I remember right was hosted by Elliot Scheiner. Around the set-up process I was able to tour the facilities and it was definitely goose-bump inducing.

    Thanks again for the post.
    longdist01 likes this.
  22. paulmock

    paulmock Forum Resident

    Hollywood, CA
    Watching that video of Herb walking LaBrea made me laugh. You'd never see that today. The area has gotten a tad (shall we say?) "gritty". However, it is a great place and I have visited it several times when it had been rented out for special events/parties.
  23. mr_mjb1960

    mr_mjb1960 I'm a Tarrytowner 'Til I die!

    That always seemed to me to be resembling a Gas Station of the '50's,maybe a Sinclair Station,perhaps,minus the mascot Dinosaur...anyone else here get that feeling,too?
  24. Doug Sclar

    Doug Sclar Forum Legend

    The OC
    Thanks Steve,

    I never had any idea of what history was behind that building. I was only there once, to do a few mix minuses of S&C songs for a TV show, and even then I was mesmorized by the history. That said, all I knew about was some of the music that was recorded there.

    I used to spend a fair amount of time at Audio Industries which used to be right across the street.

    Btw, the mixes I did were in these cute little mix studios they had in there. IIRC they were very small and there were several of them.
  25. floyd

    floyd Senior Member

    Spring Green, WI
    Thanks for posting this, I love that video. I think I told this story here before but...

    My grandmother used to work for A&M Records right from the start. She originally had a window cleaning business and would clean windows on construction sites for Dave Alpert (Herb's brother.) One day he told her his brother was starting this record company and why didn't she come work there, it would be study work and she wouldn't have to worry about finding jobs. She took the job and was a cleaning lady at A&M Records.

    I can remember going to work with her a few times as a kid and would help her out, the people around were really nice. I think they all looked out for her, she was an older lady but just felt she needed to be working as long as she still could and the A&M people really liked and cared for her. Herb even gave her a gold record one year for her birthday with its own custom A&M label with her name on it. Karen Carpenter often talked with Grandma too, I can remember getting to watch her rehearse on a soundstage one afternoon, they had a limo with WESING4U I must have been about 10. I also remember one of the recording engineers showing me the control board and what he could do with the sound. Lots of memories and seeing the offices was always cool because she took care of Herb's office and Jerry Moss' as well, I got to meet them and they were very warm and friendly. I also remember seeing lots of references to Chaplin around the place he was revered there, that was cool as my family were big Chaplin fans. A&M was from what I could see a great place to work they were like a big family. Once when I was visiting Grandma, she brought home a stack of Chuck Mangione records and said "he gave these to me to give to you" who I asked, she pointed to the face on the cover, "him." I guess she mentioned here grandkids were visiting and he gave he some records for us.

    Every year our family would go to Los Angeles from Phoenix to visit Grandma. On our stay there we usually hit a few of the fun things like Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, Magic Mountain, the beach, even The Pike (which was a bit scary by then) but if you asked me what I most wanted to do on my trip it I'd say,-"go help Grandma at A&M."

    I can remember walking around those studios well and thats exactly how they looked so seeing this again has been a great pleasure.
    longdist01, ex_mixer, McLover and 5 others like this.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page