Wednesday, September 8, 2010

In the Days When Kentucky Came to California

You never know what you’re going to come across while working in the archives, especially when you’re unsure of what you’re looking for. When I began searching for a blog topic, I didn’t even know where to begin. There are so many interesting pieces just waiting to be uncovered. After much deliberation, I finally settled on a portion of a collection of Keen Johnson’s photographs from his time as Lieutenant Governor under "Happy" Chandler. Though KJ had tons of photos, I’m particularly drawn to the Hollywood Glam shots with stars like Shirley Temple, Loretta Young, Richard Greene, and many more.

In these particular photos, Governor Chandler and his family are spiffed up in their best duds at the movie premier of Kentucky at Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles, California on December 14, 1938 (if you look closely at the marquee on the theater front, you can see this information very clearly). From the photo, one can see that the theater drew massive crowds, huge stars, and its fair share of paparazzi. Since its opening in 1926 and the following years, especially the 1930s and '40s, Carthay Circle Theatre was “the place” for big Hollywood releases for the Fox Corporation, such as Gone with the Wind, Romeo and Juliet, and even Walt Disney’s first animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Though the true Carthay Circle Theatre met its demolition in 1969, Disney constructed its own replica of the theatre at its California Adventure park in Anaheim. The Carthay Circle Theatre exemplifies that as long as people are around to remember something, it most certainly won't be forgotten, but will carry on in a new form from generation to generation. I suppose that statement is true with much of the treasures here in the Archives. Each time something, from a photo to an old championship football to a famous autographed record, is found, there's a story to be interpreted and a piece of history to be recreated in the research.

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