Broadway Melodies Come to Life in Culver City

Winston Gieseke and Steve Fry - Culver City Historical SocietyThe Culver City Historical Society will feature the history, music, songs and stories from MGM’s Broadway Melody musical movies produced between 1929 and 1944 at its general meeting on Wednesday, April 18, 2012, at 7 p.m. in the Veterans Memorial Building’s Multipurpose Room, 4117 Overland Avenue, Culver City, 90230

The program, presented by tenor Winston Gieseke and pianist Stephen Fry, the latter a member of the CCHS Board, will offer a musical and narrative review of original songs from the immensely popular series of Broadway Melody film productions made in the “Heart of Screenland.” Mostly composed by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown, the tunes will include the popular hits, “You Were Meant for Me,” “The Wedding of the Painted Doll,” “All I Do is Dream of You,” “Temptation,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” and many more. Song sheets will be provided for several of the pieces for a sing-along.

The Broadway Melody of 1929 was the first sound film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. It was one of the first musicals to feature a Technicolor sequence, which sparked the trend of color used in a flurry of musicals that were made in subsequent years. It was the first musical released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayor, and the first all-talking musical.

Winston Gieseke has studied music theory and filmmaking, which serves him well in his various careers as a writer, performer, and aspiring circus freak. He has written for television shows like Hollywood Off-Ramp and Wildfire and penned the made-for-cable movie Romantic Comedy 101, which starred Tom Arnold and Joey Lawrence. He has also performed the National Anthem at several L.A. Dodgers games, and last year enjoyed a sold-out, two-night gig at M Bar in Hollywood. He has served as Managing Editor of The Advocate, a national LGBT news magazine, and recently finished a two-year stint as museum chair at the Culver City Historical Society. His passions include history, criminology, the musicals of Stephen Sondheim, and just about anything Italian. He counts Henry Rollins and Patty Hearst among his many influences. Winston’s debut album, On the Edge, will be released later this year by LML Music.

Stephen M. Fry, former VP for Programs, has lived in Culver City with his wife Frances Talbott-White since 1975. He retired several years ago after a 30-year academic career at UCLA, but continues to write for academic journals. An avid coin and stamp collector, he recently completed the definitive article on music topical stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service for the multi-volumed Grove Dictionary of American Music, 2nd ed. For more than a decade he contributed a weekly newspaper column, called “Music To My Ears” to the Culver City News, and has just completed a book on the country dances published in The Gentleman’s Magazine from 1744-1757. He is a pianist who performs popular music, jazz and sometimes country dance music in many local clubs, hotels and casual venues. He directs the Westside Jazz Ensemble, an exciting big band established in Culver City in the late 1970s, and Razzmatazz, a jazz and pop music combo. He joined the Historical Society a few years ago, after presenting a program at their general meeting on the history of music in Culver City.

All members of the CCHS and the public are welcome to enjoy this free program and students are encouraged to attend. The entrance to the Multipurpose Room is through the back of the building near the parking lot, and through the ARC space.

For more information, please call the Society at (310) 253-6941 or inquire by e-mail.

A Doozy of a Do That Did

Louise Coffey-Webb - Culver City Historical SocietyMore than 80 people, many dressed to the nines in 1920s finery, filled the lobby of the Culver Hotel to celebrate Culver City’s 94th anniversary at the Culver City Historical Society’s Doozy of a Do fundraising event on Sunday, September 18.

Setting the mood with sentimental tunes, Doozy, a band playing sounds of the 1920s and 1930s kept guests entertained with dancing and listening tunes while waiters traversed the room with bountiful trays of appetizers.

One of the highlights of the event was the raffle and auction conducted by former mayors Jozelle Smith and Andy Weissman who performed their duties mimicking characters from Glee. A Tom and Jerry cartoon cel created by Martha Sigall and an original speaker from the Studio Drive-In were just two of the many items that brought a rally of bids to help benefit the Culver City Historical Society.

Among the guests were Mayor Micheal O’Leary; Vice Mayor Scott Malsin; Councilmen Jeffrey Cooper; and Andy Weissman; City Manager John Nachbar; former mayors Gary Silbiger, Jozelle Smith, Paul Jacobs and Steve Rose; and City Attorney Carol Schwab.

Douglas Newton, general manger of the Culver Hotel, who also serves as vice president of ways and means for the CCHS, recently renovated the hotel with Art Deco furnishings, creating an ambiance that made guests feel as if Jay Gatsby would walk through the door at any minute!

Vice Mayor Scott Malsin, Goran Eriksson and Steve Rose - Culver City Historical SocietyRenato Romano, Carol Schwab in 1920s garb and Stu Freeman - Culver City Historical SocietyJozelle Smith & Mayor Micheal O'Leary get the crowd's attention - Culver City Historical SocietyMartha Sigall shows off her cel - Culver City Historical SocietyJulie Lugo Cerra signs books - Culver City Historical Society

All proceeds from this event will benefit the CCHS Archive and Resource Center (ARC) and support its mission in the community. There is no admission charge for visitors to the ARC, which is located at the back of the Veterans Memorial Building at 4117 Overland Avenue, Culver City and open on the first and third Saturday of each month from 1-3 p.m.