Glendale and Verdugo Canyon

Kalem Company

California's third studio
followed here by Diando and Astra Film Companies

click to enlarge

Photo courtesy of Marc Wanamaker/Bison Archives


Kalem Film Co. in Glendale

Its first California location

Active 1909-1917 Kalem Broadway and Orange, Glendale and Verdugo Canyon
Active 1917-1919 as Diando
Active 1919-1921 as Astra

Kalem Film Co. was founded in 1907 by two movie men and a Chicago based business man.  The three took the first letters of their respective last name, K,L and M, and wove vowels in between to form Kalem.  George Kleine, Samuel Long, and Frank Marion then hired veteran producer Sydney Olcott as the company president Director-General.

Kalem spent its first year without a studio, Olcott taking the company all over the country and the world.  In 1908 it settled for a while in Florida, using its Jacksonville studio for winter shooting.  In 1909 opened its first full-time, year-round studio in Glendale.  After spending a few months behind a drug store at Broadway and Orange in makeshift set up, the company bought land in Verdugo Canyon and built its first studio.

Known as the "Airdrome" by the locals, the studio was famous for putting up fake backdrops that would blow in the wind as they shot outdoor scenes.  Located on a tract at what is now Verdugo Road and Monterrey Ave., in the notch where Verdugo takes a little bend, Kalem would use this lot as their base of operations until they went out of business in 1917.

One of the biggest companies

Kalem reigned, along with its famous competitors, as on of the largest movie making companies in the nation.  Unlike the others, Kalem seemed content to flit from place to place setting up temporary or semi-permanent studios along the way.  In addition to this lot, they settled in Jacksonville, Florida, Fort Lee, NJ, New Orleans, and various place i the greater Los Angeles area.  But this spot, in the Verdugo Canyon area of Glendale was its primary base of operations for most of its life.

After Kalem-a home for Baby Marie Osborne.
Active 1917-1919

In 1917, after Kalem ceased operations, the lot became the home of Diando Film Company for the purpose of producing the movies of Baby Marie Osborne.  Baby Marie was the first famous child star in the movies and the biggest star at Balboa Amusement Producing Company, whose studio was in Long Beach.  Her father, seeing an opportunity to make more money for his family, took over Kalem's studio complex to produce his daughter's movies.  Unfortunately, Baby Marie's star set, mostly because of the ill-fated move and bad business decisions of her father.

Diando folded in 1919.

Astra Film Co.
Active 1919-1921

In 1919, after Diando's departure, Astra Film Co. moved onto the lot.  They used the studio until 1921 as their primary production facility, as well as leasing it out to other production companies, including the comedic star Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle.  

The lot was absorbed into Vitagraph Studios when it purchased Kalem's assets.

click to enlarge

Photo courtesy of Marc Wanamaker/Bison Archives

Some Photos of Baby Marie

More Kalem Photos

Photos courtesy of Marc Wanamaker/Bison Archives

Kalem Glendale on the Map

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

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