Images of America: Aviators in Early Hollywood
Hollywood’s leading aviators were heroic knights of the sky on the screen as well as in real life. These leading aviators performed aerial stunt sequences and acted, plus some wrote and directed motion pictures. Directing giant Cecil B. DeMille was so enthralled with aviation that he owned three airfields. Charlie Chaplin’s family airfield also doubled as a motion-picture set. Thomas H. Ince, the famous producer who invented the studio system, owned Ince Airfield, which became the hub of Hollywood aviation. Eternal legends Rudolph Valentino, Oliver Hardy, Harry Houdini, and Mary Pickford performed in aerials. Many aviators gave their lives making motion pictures; three fatalities were incurred for Howard Hughes’s great air epic, Hell’s Angels. Hughes himself broke records within aircraft and film production. Aviators brought their screen work to life between films through barnstorming. The roaring in 1920s Hollywood was often aviators soaring beyond limits.