"A Visit to Movieland" reprinted from The Forum magazine, January 1920. This is the 1st of 9 parts. Written by "The Forum's Correspondent."
I have just come from Movieland, that place of studios and bungalows on the edge of Los Angeles, called Hollywood. And away from the clatter and grease paint of it all, one thinks of Movieland--a "Babylon" of plaster and slats.
There, where one hundred and sixty companies grind out the thousands of miles of gelatine plays that you and I see in darkened theatres, the atmosphere is laden with money madness. A thousand dollars! It;'s the coin of the daily patter as was twenty-five cents the minimum a few years ago. And there is a hotel of the type called "palatial," mostly frequented by the movie people; and there's a "million-dollar rug" in the lobby, upon which no movie star or magnate ventures to stand unless he's planned, at least once, a "million-dollar deal." And in Movieland is a youth, who used to deliver milk, now drawing a thousand dollars a week. He is a star in filmland. And there is a girl who used to plug a switchboard in a San Francisco hotel who now gets $1500 a week; she is a "star!"
Of course when you tell an Angelo--which term the Los Angeles press uses for its citizens--that the present booming prosperity of the city is due to motion pictures and tourists--the Angelo rises and paws the air. But everyone knows that the factories are trivial, that the fruit-growing lands are miles removed from the city, and that the money is pouring into Los Angeles coffers, from movies and tourists. They are the folk of the film whom you see spending lavishly in the best shops and the best restaurants; and when the autumn begins to bring the tourists, one of the first places the Angelos shepherd them is to Movieland. For they live pictures and think pictures in Los Angeles. Scarcely a clerk in the city but who fancies himself some day before the camera with a beauteous leading lady clinging to his neck; scarcely a waitress or shopgirl who hasn't been told, "Why, Fanny, you look like Mary Pickford!" Yes, it's a motion-picture city.
When the kingly Albert visited Los Angeles the Mayor promptly commandeered a squadron of motors to whirl the royal visitor and his suite, where? To the venerable missions? Nay--to the movie studios! And, scandal of scandals, when Albert called, "Doug" Fairbanks wasn't in; he was out on "location," hurling Mexicans over his shoulders. But Albert went ot other studios, too, and what he saw--come with me.