Saturday, May 12, 2018

Tom Tyler and the Motion Picture Hall of Fame in Anaheim, California

The Motion Picture Hall of Fame in Anaheim, California sounds like a prestigious institution in the domain of Hollywood glamour, but at the height of its operation between 1971 and 1979, it was a combination historical Hollywood museum and cinema which specialized in exhibiting films made before 1950. These films included all genres, even silent films, and film serials. The theatre originally had 48 seats but was eventually remodeled to include 98 seats, with enough space left over to display the collection of the cinema owner, Doug Wright, who worked in movie promotion for a major Hollywood agency. Doug's collection included 2000 items ranging from celebrity autographs, films scripts, movie posters, movie props of all kinds, and early motion picture cameras. Located in what was an old banquet hall located in back of the Saga Hotel (now called Grand Legacy at the Park) on 1650 S. Harbor Boulevard in Anaheim, with the nearest crossroad being Disney Way, Motion Picture Hall of Fame became a destination for connoisseurs of classic film. What diehard cinema patron would not want to be surrounded by a plethora of film memorabilia while enjoying pre-1950's classic films? At the same time, any funds generated from ticket and museum prices went towards a permanent home in the form of a museum for Doug's entire collection.

Most importantly, Doug Wright held an annual event which honored a number of stars in memorable roles, films that were relevant to Hollywood history. In 1975, one of those films happened to be “Adventures of Captain Marvel”,  the 1941 Republic production which is considered to be the greatest serial of all time. Frank Coghlan, William Benedict, Louise Currie, and David Sharpe attended the event during the second week of March, 1975. Tom Tyler was also honored posthumously at the event,  and most importantly, the cinema ran “Adventures of Captain Marvel” from February 27 to May 20 of that year, one chapter per week, in true film serial style.

From The Los Angeles Times, CA, March 14, 1975

Cinema ticket prices were only $1.50 on weekends for the matinee, and for children under the age of 12, $.75 cents. Museum admission was $2.00. While the Motion Picture Hall of Fame generated enough interest among locals and tourists,  funding for the permanent museum ran short and by 1979, ceased operation as a cinema.

Sadly, the Motion Picture Hall of Fame of Anaheim no longer exists although the hotel remains, along with a number of businesses that include Pizzaterian, Jimboy's Tacos, Alpha Mart, Discount Tickets & Tours and Creamistry on the ground floor. Despite its brief period of operation – just barely one decade long – it held an important position in Hollywood cinema history.

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