The studio lot that gave Studio City its name will open to the public on Saturday for a daylong event commemorating the 75th anniversary of Republic Pictures.
Republic was born in 1935 through the merger of eight Poverty Row production shops, including Monogram and Mascot.
Monogram and others owed a lot of money to a film processing company run by showbiz entrepreneur Herbert Yates, so Yates decided to seize the opportunity to roll them up into one banner. Yates then bought the lot now known as CBS Studio Center (or CBS Radford in biz shorthand), which had been vacated two years before by Mack Sennett Studios, of “Keystone Kops” fame. In 1928, Sennett established the first production facilities on what had been a 50-acre lettuce ranch at the intersection of Ventura Boulevard and Colfax Avenue. Enterprising locals quickly adopted the “Studio City” moniker.
Republic’s specialty was B-grade genre pics and serials with B-plus stars like John Wayne (during a low ebb in his career), Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Hugh O’Brian, Theodore Bikel and Jane Withers. Its most prestigious fare came from John Ford, who produced “The Quiet Man,” “Rio Grande” and a few other pics with Republic.
O’Brian, Bikel, Withers and many other Republic vets will be on hand Saturday for the carnival-style event, which will feature numerous panel seshes, screenings, photo and autograph ops and a kids’ area where horses and other western-themed activities will be offered.
The free event is sponsored by the Studio City Neighborhood Council.
By 1967, eight years after Republic shut its doors, CBS acquired the property. The dawn of TV and other biz changes made it hard for minimajors to stay afloat (sound familiar?). And there was also the problem of Yates alienating creative talent by insisting that his wife, Vera Ralston (deemed devoid of talent by critics), be featured in most of Republic’s major productions.