Local Historian Chronicles Warner Bros. Studio
Try to imagine Santa Clarita in 1935, before Awesometown, before traffic congested our city’s streets, and even before the establishment of this city. Now imagine Charlie Chaplin waddling down Sierra Highway, holding hands with co-star Paulette Goddard of the last silent film ever made, “Modern Times.” Who would have known that Santa Clarita is home to the end of an era?
Writer, historian, and director at the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, E.J. Stephens describes Santa Clarita as a city with a colorful background in film and media. In fact, Stephens says Santa Clarita is, “Truly the Old West. This was the spot were thousands of westerns were filmed and portrayed to the rest of the world.”
Originally from Indiana, Stephens has been a resident of Santa Clarita for almost 7 years, through the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, he learned that Santa Clarita was a place of film history.
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Always with an interest in the film industry, Stephens worked for more than 20 years at Warner Bros. Studios and on break time he would explore the sets and be absolutely fascinated by the rich history behind it. This fascination led Stephens to create a book that showcases just that, the history behind Warner Bros. Studios.
“I became pretty interested in the history of this studio. I felt like I knew the place and I had a pretty good handle on it,” said Stephens who teamed up with Marc Wanamaker to put evocative images of Warner Bros. Studios to detail the fiery history behind the studios, “When I came to write the book, I really didn’t know anything about the place.”
As his co-author, Wanamaker, brought out unique images from his notable repository, Bison Archives, Stephens would work to find out the history behind the old black and white photographs. The book which was released last month is titled “Images of America Early Warner Bros. Studios” and features more than 200 unique photos that focus on the legacy of the Warner Brothers and their studios, home to such classics as “Casablanca” and “East of Eden.”
Stephens explained that behind the infamous “WB” symbol is the fascinating tale of Harry, Albert, Sam, and Jack Warner, poor Polish immigrants who started early in the theater business and climbed the ladder to become iconic film industry moguls.
Trouble was constantly brewing between the brothers as the studio’s notoriety grew and eventually created a schism between them.
E.J. Stephens will be signing copies of his newly released book at the Barnes and Nobles Bookstore in Valencia at 2 pm, Saturday, September 11 at 2 PM.