Kalem Moving Picture Company

The New Jersey Branch

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

See Kalem on the Map

Kalem Studio-New Jersey

199 Palisade Ave,
Laird Estate, Cliffside Park, NJ
Active 1913-1916

New Jersey and the Fort Lee area was a mix of established and new companies.  Kalem was one of the large established firms who opened a New jersey branch.  Founded in 1907 they were one of the few companies that did not have a formal studio.  Instead they chose to shoot on location.  That changed in 1908 when they set up a winter studio in Jacksonville, Florida, then in 1910 when they sent a unit to Verdugo Canyon, CA and set up a small studio.   When they set up shop in 1913 in Cliffside, just south of Fort Lee, they did not build a glass stage, like the other studios.  They built outdoor stages and shot their interiors there.  That changed in 1915 when they finally built their glass enclosed stage.

The name Kalem came from the first letter of the last names of its three owners, George Kleine, Samuel Long, and Frank J. Marion (with vowels slipped in between).  This naming convention was a common practice for the day (Essanay, Kay bee, and others).  Kalem was one of the early members of the Motion Picture Patents Company (the "Trust"), Thomas Edison's attempt at monopolizing the movies business, making them one of the early major movie making companies just by virtue of the fact that they paid to use Edison's patents on camera and projection equipment.

Kalem ceased production here in 1916  throwing the lot onto the rental market.  Among the companies who leased the studio were Jester Comedies (1918 owned by William Steiner, who expanded the studio), Artco Productions (ca 1919) and Creations Films (1919) (I have  a source that says Creation actually bought the studio.  Since Kalem leased the land from Mrs. Laird that implies that Creation may have bought the structures while subleasing the land). 

In 1917 Kalem was purchased by Vitagraph, one of the industry's early 800 pound Gorillas, which was, in turn, was bought by Warner Brothers on April 25, 1925.

Five of the seven studio buildings burned down on December 8, 1922, the flames could be seen across the Hudson in Manhattan. 

Click to enlarge

Kalem panorama

Please contact me if you would like a copy of this image

Scroll to Top