Not many people will disagree that much of popular culture has been influenced (and continues to be influenced) by Hollywood history and its films (in both good and bad ways). In many instances, Hollywood has educated the younger generation and retold stories in colorful cinematic fashion that were either forgotten or only discussed in university-level history or literature courses, with 300 and the Battle of Thermopylae between the Persians and the Greeks being a somewhat recent example.
However, the fact that Hollywood and its movie releases clearly have a significant impact on billions of people across the globe isn’t always a good thing; quite often Hollywood has a negative influence on modern thought and culture. Many stereotypes and misconceptions about certain population groups, countries, and cultures have been disseminated by Hollywood films to the point where people tend to believe they are true. Also, movies are often used as political propaganda with many—especially during the Cold War—being totally inaccurate with a clear desire and objective to mislead the masses about certain ideas and actions. We could write a whole book about the pros and cons, the positives and negatives, of the film industry’s impact on society and culture, but for now we’ll just present you with 25 Intriguing Facts About Hollywood History that will enlighten you about your favorite movie industry
Originally, “movies” did not refer to films, but rather to the people who produced them. It was widely used with great scorn by early Hollywood locals who disliked the “invading” Easterners.
The first film made in Hollywood was D. W. Griffith’s In Old California (1910), a melodrama about a Spanish woman who has an illegitimate son with a man who later becomes governor of California. It was shot in two days.
When Horace and Daeida Wilcox founded Hollywood in 1887, they hoped it would become a religious community. As prohibitionists, they banned liquor and offered free land to anyone interested in constructing a church in the area.
During the “chest bursting” scene in Alien, director Ridley Scott had the actors unexpectedly showered with actual entrails purchased at a butcher shop so that their horrific screams would sound truly real and natural.
Thomas Edison’s Black Maria, a frame building covered in black roofing paper built at Edison Laboratories in New Jersey, was the first film studio. It cost $637.67 to construct in 1893.
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The largest indoor set was the UFO landing site created for Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
The largest makeup budget was $1 million for Planet of the Apes (1968), which was nearly seventeen percent of the film’s total production cost.
Twenty-two million bees were employed by Irwin Allen in The Swarm, the largest number of living creatures used in a Hollywood movie.
The most fatalities ever to occur during a film’s production happened while shooting 1931’s Viking. Twenty-seven people died, including the director and cinematographer, when a ship they were filming from exploded in the ice off the coast of Newfoundland.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) was the most expensive black-and-white movie ever made. Production costs totaled $7.5 million, due mainly to the salaries of its stars, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
Adolf Hitler put studio head Jack Warner on his “extinction list” because of his film Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939).
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The Passion of the Christ set the all-time box office record for an R-rated movie at $370,782,930.
Jaws was the first film to gross over $100 million.
Mary Pickford, who along with Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and D. W. Griffith formed United Artists Corp in 1919, is arguably the first Hollywood film star. At her peak in the 1920's, she made a record-breaking $10,000 a week.
Thomas Edison invented the first moving pictures, which were small film images that could be viewed in a box. He was originally against showing movies on a big screen because he thought one-on-one viewing would be more profitable.
According to the Movie Mistakes website, the film with the most goofs is Apocalypse Now, with a total of 390 screw-ups.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding is the highest-grossing movie never to reach number one at the box office.
In 1923, Mark Sennett, Harry Chandler, and the Los Angeles Times put up the “Hollywoodland”—later shortened to “Hollywood”—sign to publicize real estate development. The sign cost $21,000.
The first nude shot in a major movie was of swimmer and actress Annette Kellerman in A Daughter of the Gods (1916).
The first film fashion fad was Mary Pickford’s curls, which were enhanced by the hair of employees of Bit Suzy’s French Whorehouse.
The actor who has played the most leading roles is John Wayne, who appeared in 153 movies.
The first African American to play a leading role was Sam Lucas, who was cast in the title role of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1914).
The first film to depict a sex act was Extase (1933), starring Hedwig Kiesler, known to movie fans as Hedy Lamarr. Her character flees an impotent husband, runs naked through the woods, bathes, and then has sex with a young engineer in a hut.
Count Dracula is the horror movie character most often portrayed in Hollywood history.
William Shakespeare is the most filmed writer in the history of Hollywood filmmaking.
If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy this one: 25 Misconceptions Hollywood Has Taught Us.