Central Ave. and 29th St. in South-Central L.A.

Jesse Robbins Photo Play Company

Silent era producer/director who owned his own studios.

Photo courtesy of Marc Wanamaker / Bison Archives     click to enlarge

Jesse Robbins Studio

2901 S. Central Ave. Los Angeles

A very minor mogul, Jesse Robbins gets mogul status from having owned his own studio for about a year in the mid 19 teens.  That said, he was a well-known producer/director and had several claims to fame.  

His little studio stood at the corner of South Central Ave. and 29th St. in what today is known as South-Central Los Angeles, not far from downtown L.A., The tiny studio just over half an acre in size and, according to press clippings, was the first studio on the west coast to have a dark enclosed stage with artificial lighting.  He was with the company until early 1914 when he opened this little south L.A. studio. He produced 14 films for release through Pathe, then closed the studio.

Jesse Jerome Robbins was born April 30, 1888, in Gailon, Ohio, and began his career with the Essanay company out of Chicago in 1908 as one of the company's cameraman.  He married Nancy Scarborough in 1907, who traveled with him while he was on the road with Essanay.  They had a daughter, Jessie, born in Niles in 1913.

As a businessman, he used his legal name spelling it "Jesse" while for screen credits he shortened it to "Jess."

After closing the Central Ave. studio, Robbins returned to Essanay and was the producer and occasional director of Charles Chaplins' famous Essanay short subjects beginning in 1915.  This is the period that was credited for making Chaplin a famous household name.  Legend also credits him  (correctly or not) along with Essanay owner Gilbert M.Anderson, with creating Anderson's seminal character "Broncho Billy."

Jess Robbins stayed with the company until Essanay shut its doors in 1920.

He also directed the very first teaming of the famous comedy duo, Laurel and Hardy in 1921 (before they were later permanently teamed by Hal Roach).

Jesse Robbins started a new production company and housed his at the Fine Arts Studio from 1921-1923, along with longtime friend "Broncho Billy" Anderson, whose Amalgamated Productions also resided there. When talkies came along, Jess Robbins retired the movie business and started a taxi cab business.

Jesse Jerome Robbins died March 11, 1973, at his Los Angeles home.  He had a good long run in the movie business.

Photo courtesy of David Kiehn / Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum     click to enlarge

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Studio Maps Robbins Photo Plays Co., Inc.

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