The Silver Screen & The Boob Tube
By LIZ GOFF & RICHARD FASANELLA
Excerpt from the Queens Tribune online edition article:
However, to truly understand the film industry means looking at early American cinema as it was produced in New York City. One of the most significant pioneering studios was Lasky and Zukorís Famous Players Film Company which officially opened its studios in September of 1920 at Pierce and Sixth Streets, now known as 35th Street and 35th Avenue in Astoria. With the creation of these studios, the area quickly became the movie-making capital of the East Coast.
Famous Players-Lasky was formed when Adolph Zukorís Famous Players Film Company merged with the Jesse Lasky Feature Play Company. By 1920, the company had studios across the country with the Astoria location at the center of its film production projects.
Indeed, the studio would thrive in its Queens location. Many east coast writers and producers reacted negatively to the mass exodus that many film executives made to Hollywood.
Famous stars from the silent movie era like Rudolph Valentino and Gloria Swanson found Astoria to be a perfect haven from the overbearing Hollywood lifestyle.
Later, the studios proved to be a convenient location for Broadway writers and actors who wanted to moonlight in the motion picture industry.
After two decades of making movies, then 30 years of turning out instructional films as the U.S. Army Pictorial Center (1942-72), the buildings fell into disuse and were badly vandalized until a coalition of Queens officials and motion-picture labor unions organized a restoration project in 1976.
Since reverting back to the City and becoming a studio again, "The Glass Menagerie," Woody Allenís "Radio Days," a TV version of "Death of a Salesman" with Dustin Hoffman and the "Cosby Show" are among the productions that have gone before the cameras.