Paramount Pictures Studios
Paramount Pictures is the longest operating studio in Hollywood. Founded in 1912, the studio has been at the forefront of movie and television production. It has produced many of Hollywood's iconic films such as The Ten Commandments, Psycho, the Indiana Jones series, and Titanic. The studio has the distinction of winning the very first Academy Award in 1927 for its film Wings. The Paramount Lot also includes the old RKO Studios, where Citizen Kane, Gunga Din, and the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers pictures were made. Visitors can get a glimpse of the magic of Paramount Pictures by taking a tour of the historic studios.
The Bronson Gates, which leads into the Paramount Pictures lot. Ca. 1920s.
The Bronson Gates and the Paramount lot under construction. Early 1900s.
A modern photo of the Bronson Gates leading into the Paramount lot.
Adolph Zukor, one of the three founders of Paramount Pictures.
The old RKO Radio Pictures Studio, which is now part of the Paramount lot. Ca. 1937.
Director Cecil B. DeMille and actress Gloria Swanson on the set of Paramount's "Sunset Boulevard." 1950.
The historical marker now located on the Paramount Lot commemorating the production of the first feature-length motion picture, "The Squaw Man," in 1913.
Backstory and Context
Paramount Pictures, the longest operating studio in Hollywood, began in 1912, when New Yorker Adolph Zukor founded the Famous Players Film Company. That year, the company won the rights to distribute the French film, Queen Elizabeth, starring actress Sarah Bernhardt as Elizabeth. This would be the first full-length drama shown in the United States. The following year, the company partnered with the film-distribution company Paramount Pictures. In 1916, the two companies merged with a third—The Jesse L. Lasky Company. The Lasky Company had recently produced The Squaw Man, which was the first full-length feature film to be made in Hollywood and was using Paramount to distribute their pictures. With Zukor as the major stockholder, the three companies became Paramount Pictures.
Paramount started producing successful movies from the outset, and audiences were dazzled by the renowned logo featuring the mountain range and stars. In 1926, construction began on a new $1 million studio, and it was completed the following year. The year that they settled into the new location, Paramount won the first Academy Award for Best Picture with their movie, Wings, a silent film set during the First World War. Wings remains the only silent film to win Best Picture.
Paramount Pictures grew steadily over the following years. During the Great Depression, they released several musicals with Bing Crosby and spectacular films from the famed producer-director, Cecil B. DeMille. In 1944, another Paramount picture took home the Academy Award for Best Picture, Going My Way, and the next year, The Lost Weekend won. The company produced many expensive films in the 1950s like Sunset Boulevard, The Greatest Show on Earth, and The Ten Commandments.
With the booming popularity of television, Paramount began to venture into the new medium in the 1960s. In 1967, they acquired Desilu Studios (formerly the RKO Studios lot) from actress and businesswoman, Lucille Ball. This acquisition led Paramount to produce such shows as The Andy Griffith Show, Mission: Impossible, Star Trek: The Original Series, and Happy Days. Later prominent series to emerge from Paramount included Cheers, Frasier, Dr. Phil, and NCIS: Los Angeles. Although Paramount began to invest more in television, the studio continued to released blockbuster films like The Godfather series, Saturday Night Fever, Friday the 13th, Indiana Jones, Forrest Gump, Titanic, Iron Man, and Selma.
Originally, the Paramount lot consisted of 26 acres and four stages, but that has grown to include 65 acres and 30 stages. In addition to the Paramount Pictures Historic District, the RKO Studios Historic District. Formed in the late 1920s, RKO Studios went on to create movies like King Kong, Gunga Din, Citizen Kane, and nine of the legendary Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musicals. In 1948, Howard Hughes purchased RKO and sold it to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in 1957. Thousands of visitors flock to the Paramount Pictures lot to tour the iconic Hollywood setting. More than 100 years after its birth, Paramount Pictures continues to release popular movies and television shows and remains one of the biggest forces in Hollywood.
Paramount Pictures, Los Angeles Conservancy. Accessed January 24th, 2023. https://www.laconservancy.org/locations/paramount-pictures.
The Paramount Story, Paramount Studios. Accessed January 25th, 2023. https://www.paramountstudios.com/paramount-history.html.
Los Angeles Conservancy
Paramount Studio Tour
The Historical Marker Database