Special Collections Room
The Special Collections Room was established in 1985 after a fire which destroyed the old library building and its collections in 1982. The creation of this collection was the result of an outpouring of generosity both from the film and television industry and from citizens and supporters of the Hollywood community. They wanted to have available in a public library setting the kinds of materials that represent Hollywood in film, television, the performing arts and community history.
The Book Collection
Over 2,000 volumes supplement extensive holdings in the regular collections. Included are many out-of-print and signed or inscribed titles. Some are early or scarce such as Samuel Goldwyn's biography, Behind the Screen, published in 1923. Film yearbooks date from the 1920s and 30s and the collection contains a run of The Standard, an early Los Angeles casting directory which began in 1923. There is a small but significant collection of photo-play editions of novels from the silent era which contain photos from the films. Included are The Squaw Man, 1914, Birth of a Nation, 1915 and The Sea-Hawk, 1924.
Unpublished motion picture and television scripts
This collection numbers about 2,500 volumes. Cameraman Mack Stengler, 1895-1962, is represented with a collection of shorts, soundies and feature films scripts -- some shot especially for the black film market. Rod Warren, 1931-1984, award winning television writer, bequeathed his work, which, in addition to scripts, also includes programs, production notes and working papers. Motion picture and television director, John Peyser, donated his television scripts in the 1950s and 1960s. These often include cast and crew sheets, set plans and sometimes even casting notes. There are a few rare silent film scripts, for example the shooting script from Peter Pan, 1924 directed by early silent film director Herbert Brenon, 1880-1958.
The material in these files can include everything from press kits to production stills to programs. They number about 3,500 titles and although they are mainly contemporary, there are a few early silent film items such as handbills from Mabel Normand's Mickey, 1919 and the production stills of silent film actor, George Hackathorne, 1896-1940 in Amarilly of Clothes-Line Alley, 1918 and Human Hearts, 1922.
Special Collections has modest but notable archival holdings. Sketches and designs from MGM films of the 1930s by designer Gilbert Adrian (1903-1959); a collection of screenplays and television scripts from the 1950s by writer Russell Hughes (1911-1958); and scripts, stills, correspondence and personal papers of director Herbert Brenon are highlights of the collection.
Posters and Lobby Cards
Over 1,500 posters and lobby cards are in the collection. They range from Charlie Chaplin's Tango Tangles, 1914 to contemporary films...and thanks to a number of generous donors, there is a good representation of the "B" movies from the 1930s, such as The Pay-Off (1930), Dr. X (1932, and Girl Missing (1933). There are four hundred lobby cards from the Mexican cinema of the 1940s to 1970s.
Theatre and dance programs and playbills
Over 2,000 pieces include representative plays from Los Angeles theatre from the teens to the 1990s and programs of national touring companies. Dance programs are often handsome souvenirs from most of the major touring ballet companies in the 1940s and 1950s. There is a comprehensive collection of Hollywood Bowl programs beginning with the year 1922.
Hollywood, the community is also represented in Special Collections. The Frances Howard Goldwyn Hollywood Regional Library is the archival repository for the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce's Hollywood Christmas Parade material from 1928 to the present. There are scripts, photos, clippings, slides and in recent years, videos documenting the history of this Hollywood tradition. Archives also contain working papers, correspondence, scrapbooks and photos of local Hollywood artist and advocate, Frances William Vreeland, 1879-1954. The family of Gladys Littell, 1893-1977, Hollywood music teacher, founder of the Hollywood Conservatory of Music and Arts and chair of the Hollywood Bowl Sunrise Service Committee in the 1940s donated a collection of her working papers, music programs, correspondence and photographs. A rare set of Holly Leaves, an early Hollywood newspaper is in the collection, as well as materials documenting the Hollywood Library, from its founding in 1906 as part of the new City of Hollywood, through its merger with the City of Los Angeles, to the construction of the new library building, designed by architect Frank Gehry.