By Bob Bennett
Eva Scott Fenyes, the grande dame of Fenyes Mansion (now the site of Pasadena Museum of History) is much remembered for her interest in art and art collecting. She included motion pictures in her artistic interests and was an early proponent of the new technology. In the early 1900s, just a few years after moving into her new home at 170 North Orange Grove Boulevard, she allowed the famous director D. W. Griffith to use the property as a location for several films. Later, she would own motion picture theaters in Los Angeles—Clunes Theatre and the Cameo Theatre. She also considered constructing a theater on one of her many properties on East Colorado Street.
In 1912, D. W. Griffith directed The Queen’s Necklace (PHS 5-8) for the American Biograph Company, starring Wilfred Lukas and Dorothy Bernard. It was a short epic, running 17 minutes, shot on location at the Fenyes Estate. Pasadena Museum of History possesses a print, which will be screened just a few yards away from the actual filming site on Thursday evening, February 21st, with live musical accompaniement by musician/historian Galen Wilkes. Wilkes will continue the evening with an illustrated presentation “The Movies Before Hollywood,” covering the less-than-sedate experiences of movie-going in its earliest years.
In 1915, Robert Z. Leonard directed Renunciation for Universal Pictures, starring Harry Carey and Julia Dean. The release title was Judge Not or the Woman of Mona Diggins. (PHS 5-24; above)
In 1916, Douglas Fairbanks is seen in a still from a film produced by Universal Films (PHS 5-13, below) and in 1918, the Fox Film Corporation filmed Western Blood starring Tom Mix and Victoria Ford at the Fenyes Mansion (PHS 5-16).
Throughout the years, the Fenyes Mansion has been used for many other productions, both for major motion picture studios and television. More recent credits have included the award-winning TV series The West Wing, and the films The Prestige with Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale, and David Fincher’s award-winning The Social Network.
The Queen’s Necklace and “The Movies Before Hollywood”
Thursday, Feb. 21st, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: general, $15; PMH members, $10
Purchase tickets at BrownPaperTickets or call 800.838.3006, ext. 1
Limited tickets may be available at the door for an additional $5
Bob Bennett is a volunteer in the Archives at Pasadena Museum of History. all photographs are courtesy of the Research Library and Archives, Pasadena Museum of History.