Albert Vera, Jr. will tell the story of his father, Albert Vera, the founder of the Sorrento Market, at the general meeting of the Culver City Historical Society, Wednesday, April 15, 2015, at 7:00 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Room in the Veterans Memorial Building at 4117 Overland Avenue, Culver City. Albert Vera, an immigrant who came to America to pursue the American Dream created the famous market on Sepulveda Boulevard and the Vera Family holdings. He served time in the military, raised his family in Culver City and eventually became a member of the Culver City Council and Mayor of the city. Albert Jr. will present a power point presentation and discussion of the family’s history with other members of the Vera family. Door prizes will be offered and there will be a drawing for Julie Lugo Cerra’s cookbook Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble. The public is invited to enjoy this free program and students are encouraged to attend. Entry is through the Archives and Resource Center in the back parking lot.
Notes From Your City Historian
by Julie Lugo Cerra
Harry H. Culver’s interest in the emerging movie industry paved the way for Culver City to host three major movie studios, smaller studios and support services. Moviemaking offered a source of employment and generated a significant part of the revenue stream for a balanced community. Many families boasted at least one friend or relative who worked in the industry. The wide scope of occupations ranged from actors to artists, craftsmen, writers, directors, barbers, to drivers and…
From early times, productions like The Last of the Mohicans, Ben Hur and Gone with the Wind offered locals a bonus, like a box lunch and a little added income to act as “Extras!” Other locals collected autographs at studio gates. Gwen Verdon lived in Culver City, where her mother taught dance. (Her “merry widow” from the movie of that name is currently on display.) Before Culver High was built, Myrna Loy lived in Culver City and attended Venice High. She was a student when she posed for the famous statue in the front of the school. Culver City’s “Mayor Emeritus,” Dan Patacchia, was a limousine driver for the studios before he opened Culver Park Realty. Linda Gray, destined to play Sue Ellen on MGM’s “Dallas,” grew up in the area south of the studio where it was filmed. Most locals have family or friends who worked in the industry. Martha Sigall worked in animation, June Caldwell worked for studio bosses, and our Parrish family boasts generations of prop masters!
As the movie studios grew, so did the city economy. The industry flourished in spite of The Great Depression. Moviemaking was a source of local pride. The current Culver City seal was designed in 1936. It reads: “Culver City, The Heart of Screenland.”
By the 1930s, most movie credits showed “Made in Hollywood,” or nothing at all. The locals’ irritation at the lack of credit reached its high point. It was estimated at the time that 60% of California releases were made in Culver City. The business community reacted. The Citizen newspaper ran a contest to rename the city. “Filmville” and “Cinema City” were popular entries. “Culver City, where Hollywood Movies are made,” appeared on the stationery of the Culver City Chamber of Commerce in the 1930s! In 1937, as irritation peaked, a “Bury the Hatchet” ceremony was held at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Culver City people rode to the event in vehicles from “The Prisoner of Zenda.” The governor was invited, and local officials watched a hatchet thrust into wet concrete. It was not until 1991 that Culver City was mentioned regularly in any movie credits.
Marc Wanamaker will present a unique “behind-the-scenes” view on the making of the film Gone With The Wind, which marked its 75th anniversary in 2014, at the general meeting of the Culver City Historical Society, Wednesday, January 21, 2015, at 7:00pm in the Multi-Purpose Room in the Veterans Memorial Building at 4117 Overland Ave.
From David O. Selznick to the technical advisors brought from Atlanta, Wanamaker will explain through a chronological presentation of rare and interesting photos, how the film was made and the people who made it from pre-production, to production, post production, and exhibition. Wanamaker is a renown historian, archivist, and lecturer in film history. In 1971, he founded Bison Archives in Los Angeles, a leading repository of research and photographs of motion picture history. He assisted in forming the American Film Institute facilities in Beverly Hills in 1969 and was an AFI staff member for seven years.
His extensive list of publications includes over a dozen books as well as articles in the Los Angeles Times and interviews in numerous documentaries related to motion picture history.
The public is invited to enjoy this free program and students are encouraged to attend.
Harry Culver’s dream that became Culver City is inspiring. Young Harry was not rich. But he had a plan. Many said it was risky starting a town in the middle of nowhere. But his idea became reality. Today, Culver City stands proud.
As Harry Culver’s grandson, people ask me if Harry’s success came from some secret technique. The answer is, “Yes.” He often called it the “Culver Way.” He developed a thoughtful marketing strategy plus a set of rules that relied on optimism, honesty and hard work.
Harry Culver’s Rules that Built Culver City
- Follow the Golden Rule (Treat others as you’d be treated.)
- Always offer a “Square Deal.” (Be honest, be open and fully inform.)
- Treat competitors like partners. Share knowledge and praise them.
- Understand the buyer’s “worries” better than they do.
- It’s better to undersell than oversell.
- Smiling will not build relations, but lack of a smile can loose them.
7. Responsibilities are not handicaps. They are stepping stones.
My grandfather would later advance to President of both the California and National Association of Realtors. Many major newspapers in the mid-1900s reported that he continued to promote these same rules across the country.
Harry Culver’s full marketing strategy is a longer story. But just looking at these seven rules reveals Harry Culver’s integrity. It’s easy to see that he truly looked beyond “just selling” and cared about the people and businesses wanting to call Culver City their home.