Thursday, June 28, 2012

Southern California Manuscript Society visits the Academy of Motion Picture Library

Members of the Southern California Manuscript Society with Howard Prouty

*Have you ever seen Winston Churchill's autograph next to Adolf Hitler's?

*Have you ever seen an autograph album with three (3) clear, dark Greta Garbo signatures?

*A letter, on White House stationery, from Franklin Roosevelt, inviting political enemy, William Randolph Hearst to the White House?

* A signed Picasso sketch and a signed Walt Disney get well card from the Disney Studio!

I just did, and so did a half dozen other members of the Southern California Manuscript Society on Tuesday June 19, 2012. We visited the Academy of Motion Picture Library in the Douglas Fairbanks Building. We were greeted by the Acquisitions Archivist Howard Prouty. He gave us a quick tour of the outstanding 1927 building that was once used as Beverly Hills Water department! In the 1980's it was converted into the Academy's library. What treasures are inside that beautiful building. Howard took us into the reading rooms, and through the poster and photo coping room and into the vaults!

*We saw a "paybook" from MGM and saw that John Gilbert was getting $3000 a week and Greta Garbo only $400 a week. (They fell in love anyhow!)

*We saw the wig used by Bert Lahr's lion in the 1939 The Wizard of Oz. (Tom Folenta had to be held back from trying it on)

*We also saw terrific black and white photos from Charles De Gaulle and Maurice Chevalier, inscribed to Charles Boyer!

*We saw the correspondence from the "Hays" office to film makers asking for every possible change to clean up films.

But for me, the Crown Jewel was the autograph album kept by William Randolph Hearst friend Harry Crocker. It was this autograph album I described above, and I have only mention 5 % of the signatures!

The best part was dinner after the tour. Pat Mock joined Beverly Hill and Bill and Monique Coleman drove in from Riverside. Tom Folenta joined us only after being assured he could visit the library again on his own.

A great time with great autographs and great autograph people.The only sad part was we missed visiting with Kevin and Stephanie Segall, who were not able to be there.

Below is a photo of your guide, Howard Prouty. This photo captures his intelligence, but not his humor, which was on display during our trip.
Howard Prouty
Article by Michael Hecht, Manuscript Society member and UACC President

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