Sunday, October 11, 2009

Timing is everything, as they say

I'll be posting the photos from the Hart Mansion later this morning. The photos need a little help: they let you take photos inside but no flash is allowed. It's dark in the house, so some of these photos need a little Photoshop help in brightening them up.

In the meantime I wanted to let you know of another installment of the Movies in the SCV that will be coming up soon and how it is an example of how sometimes the universe helps you out - in ways you don't expect.

It seems as if this whole series on the Santa Clarita Valley couldn't come at a more perfect time for me. I've been bored to tears over the past six months with not a lot of creative outlet. I've needed a new project. I've been driving my friends crazy complaining about it and spending way too much time on Facebook and on the Internet in general. In addition, I've been going through some difficult transitions over the past month or so. So if there was ever an example of the universe giving you something to get you "through the night" so to speak, this series would be it.

A few weeks ago, through the miracle we all know as Facebook, I was reacquainted with an old friend of mine, Paul Glazer. Fourteen years ago, I was a scuba diving instructor living in Hawaii and I taught Paul how to dive. We kept in touch after that, but we lost touch a few years ago - I'd have to say that was my fault. Paul works for the National Park Service and for many years taught the art of fighting wildfires all over the country. And he lives at the Grand Canyon - how cool of a life is that.

But it gets better. After we reunited on Facebook, I told Paul of the series I've been doing on my blog about the history of making movies in the Santa Clarita Valley. Paul reminded me that his grandfather was involved in making B-Westerns for many years - a lot of those in the SCV. (I vaguely remember him telling me this years ago but, having the memory of a house fly, I forgot.) When I looked his grandfather up on, I realized that Paul was being a little too modest about his grandfather's career.

Paul's grandfather was A. W. Hackel, founder and head of Supreme Pictures. According to, Hackel produced at least 58 movies for Supreme and later for Republic and Lone Star. Many of his movies featured Bob Steele (shown below) and Johnny Mack Brown.

Hackel died in 1959, so if I'm guessing Paul's age correctly, Paul never would have known him. But his mother is still alive, and Paul will be in L.A. next week taking care of his mom when she recuperates from cataract surgery. He says she may be up for talking about her father's career. But even if she isn't, it's given me a new subject to research and I'm sure that there are family photos that I can confiscate. In any event, we're getting together and it'll be good to see my old friend.

I picked up a great book yesterday at the Autry Museum: Poverty Row Studios: 1929-1940, by Michael R. Pitts. A great reference book. I've only had a chance to quickly look at it, but I did notice that there's plenty of copy devoted to Supreme Pictures.

I love being able to dig up these bios on people involved in the old movies. I like to think that I am able to give them a little exposure on their careers that would have otherwise been forgotten or overshadowed by more famous directors and actors. After all, this was what my getting my grandfather's book Pulp Writer published was all about.


Mark E. said...

Believe it or not, it would seem everything happens for a reason. Who knew, all those years ago, the rewards would be returned later. Nice going!

Evan Lewis said...

I think I sense another book coming.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have yet to meet an old friend on facebook. Maybe I need to look more deeply.

Ann Parker said...

Wow! This is great! Can't wait to read aalllll about it...

Ed Hulse said...

Interestingly enough, Hackel was the Poverty Row producer who most frequently licensed pulp stories from which to adapt his B-Westerns. I can think of two dozen such Hackel-produced adaptations off hand, and there are probably more. He seems to have been especially fond of stories by Harry F. Olmsted. Either that or he had a good relationship with Olmsted's agent.

Laurie Powers said...

Great to know, Ed. I'm meeting with Paul and hopefully his mother tomorrow and may get an interview.