Robert "Bob" Board Historian in Marion Davies Museum
Robert Board-Marion Davies Museum
Hollywood Hills, Ca.-As I drove through Hollywood Hills and up Gower Avenue with The famous and nostalgic Hollywood sign in sight, I couldn’t help thinking of “Old Hollywood.”and times long past. The glitter and the glamor that was once Hollywood. An earlier time in Hollywood history you may have seen movie stars, young starlets, famous producers, directors and the like having lunch on a break from filming or maybe just hitting the social scene at their favorite restaurants like Firmosa on Santa Monica Boulevard who has served just about everyone who was anyone since 1934, the famous Brown Derby and Chasen’s to name a few. I believe the change came about slowly, studios doing more filming on location, new studios being built the unfortunate dilapidation of buildings as they have aged, so whatever the reason, the early stars and places of "Old Hollywood" have begun to burn out. You can still see glimpses of what it might have been like as you drive down and through the area, especially on Hollywood Boulevard, the old buildings with beautiful neon signs that once screamed their existence into the night for all to see, the signature stars that make up the sidewalks with the names of stars of yesterday and today. Covering up the old nostalgia are street performers dressed like Batman and Spiderman charging a dollar for a chance at a picture with them, homeless and of course, tourist who still remember or want to learn more about "Old Hollywood" and "New Hollywood" too. The reason for my visit to this nostalgic place is to meet with an incredible man form the era of the old Hollywood scene his name is Robert Board and he does remember what it was like , if fact he was part of it.
As you approach Mr. Board's Hollywood home you see a beautiful garden with a vine and plant covered patio perfect for reading and listening to soft music while you sit and relax in the perfect California weather. Robert Board, born in Los Angeles to a Restaurant manager father and his mother was a homemaker. Interestingly enough his father worked across the street from the Examiner, a Hearst owned newspaper, little did he know the connection that would be formed as the years went by. As he told me this he said in passing that a woman named Louella Parsons used to cash her paycheck there every week. She was “a longtime employee and column writer for William Randolf Hearst”. Board was a stand in for the MGM studios working for celebrities such as Robert Young, James Stewart and even Elvis Presley. A stand in is a person that does just what its called they stand in for the actor while the correct lighting is being set up before the actual scene is shot. They have to be the same height as the actor with similar body structure. He worked on many films throughout his career at the studios, working with numerous actors and actresses Rita Hayworth was one of the many that he worked with, and he described her as very nice and a shy person not the sex goddess that she portrayed. “She was not treated well by her husbands”. His favorite actress’ include Irene Dunn and Marion Davies who he would carry on a passionate interest in for 78 years now.
Robert has collected Marion Davies Memorabilia since he was nine years old and has the largest collection of her items in existence. In order to display his collection he has three rooms dedicated to her career. It started when he moved form the back house located on his property to the front house and he always had wanted to have a cinema for himself and to share with others and that’s how Le Petite Cinema was born. As he leads you up the stairs to his first museum he will tell you who were the last visitors or fill you in on the latest interesting fact on Marion. When he opens the door your taken aback by all the pictures of the beautiful star around the room. Pictures of her at all ages and stages of her life. It is incredible to see the beautiful display done with love and dedication to her. His most prized an valuable piece is a jacket worn by Marion Davies in one of her films. The museum started as a place for him to show his extensive collection of 16 millimeter films Since he started collecting films with the introduction of VHS he has acquired over 10,000 films in his collection.
He is also a film maker, He has made four films that were entered into The Cann film festival amateur division and won each time. He is also a member of the L.A. Club and has entered 10 films and 10 Best of The Year Awards. He is not working on any projects now enjoying retirement and still having showings at Le Petite Cinema attended by many.
Board says “I don’t think the Industry has now what it had then.” He cited the fact that so much of the movie production is done with special effects and the industry is not run by one boss head anymore it has lost the art of what it once was.
If you are ever in Hollywood and you want a piece of the of the original Hollywood look Mr Robert Board up and he will provide you with a piece of Hollywood that only appears to be long gone.
Picture Essay Marion Davies
- Movie Legends - Marion Davies - YouTube
Tribute to the successful star of both the Silent Screen and the Talkies.
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