universal centennial


The new Universal animated logo, updated in honor of our 100th anniversary.


Did You Know…

There was a Spanish language version of Dracula produced the same year as the original one starring Bela Lugosi?  In 1930, Paul Kohner, Head of Universal’s Foreign Department, approached Carl Laemmle to discuss options to recreate Universal films into Spanish language versions.  Kohner proposed that his productions reuse the same sets as the original domestic releases and filming take place during off-hours in the nighttime.  Each foreign production would have an estimated budget of $35,000.  Laemmle agreed with Kohner’s proposal and chose a Spanish version of The Cat Creeps as Universal’s first attempt in this new market.

 Starring Lupita Tovar in Helen Twelvetrees’ original role as Annabelle West, La Voluntad del Muerto had a triumphant tour in Mexico.  The success of this production paved the way for Universal to produce a Spanish version of Dracula with Tovar assigned as the feminine lead role.  Directed by veteran director George Melford and starring Carlos Villar as Dracula, the Spanish version began filming on the night of October 23, 1931.  The domestic version of Dracula directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi began filming on September 29, 1931.  By utilizing the same sets, filming timetable, and learning from Browning’s mishaps with his production, the Spanish version of Dracula cost one-tenth of its domestic contemporary and in the view of many critics, it is considered to be the more polished of the two films. As part of Universal’s 100th anniversary film restoration commitment, the Spanish Dracula was selected to be fully restored this year.

Paul Kohner and Lupita Tovar eventually married and had two grandsons, Paul and Chris Weitz.  The Weitz Brothers are known for directing and writing many of Universal’s hit films including:  American Pie, About a Boy, and In Good Company.

To help celebrate our Centennial (100 Years ago to the day, yesterday 4/30/12) - here is our original Certificate of Incorporation, along with some of the fun facts around Universal’s History. Hope you enjoy! - Jeff


1. Universal Film Manufacturing Company was officially incorporated in New York on April 30, 1912. Company legend says Carl Laemmle was inspired to name his company Universal after seeing “Universal Pipe Fittings” written on a passing delivery wagon.

2. The only physical damage made during the filming of National Lampoon’s Animal House was when John Belushi made a hole in the wall with a guitar. The actual Sigma Nu fraternity house (which subbed for the fictitious Delta House) never repaired it, and instead framed the hole in honor of the film.

3. The working title for E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial was “A Boy’s Life.”

4. In the movie All Quiet on the Western Front, the Greek writing on the blackboard in the schoolroom is the beginning of Homer’s Odyssey: “Tell me, oh Muse, of that ingenious hero who traveled far and wide.”

5. In 1969, a then 22-year old Steven Spielberg was assigned to direct the Universal Television series pilot, Night Gallery. It’s safe to say things went pretty well for Steven after that.

6. The word “dude” in The Big Lebowski is used approximately 161 times in the movie: 160 times spoken and once in text (in the credits for “Gutterballs” the second dream sequence). The F-word or a variation of the F-word is used 292 times. The Dude says “man” 147 times in the movie—that’s nearly 1.5 times a minute.

7. The first feature filmed at Universal City was Damon and Pythias in 1914.

8. President Ronald Reagan starred in the 1951 Universal feature film, Bedtime for Bonzo.

9. Back to the Future’s DeLorean time machine is actually a licensed, registered vehicle in the state of California. While the vanity license plate used in the film says “OUTATIME,” the DeLorean’s actual license plate reads 3CZV657.

10. The film A Beautiful Mind was shot in sequence in order to help Russell Crowe better develop his character’s emotional and physical arc.

11. American Graffiti’s budget was exactly $777,777.77, and it was delivered on time – and on budget.

12. In the Alfred Hitchcock classic The Birds, Tippi Hedren was actually cut in the face by a bird during the shooting of one sequence.

13. Throughout his career, Rock Hudson appeared in 46 feature films with Universal including Pillow Talk, All That Heaven Allows and Magnificent Obsession. In 1953, he was elected Mayor of Universal City.

14. The infamous apple pie in the movie American Pie was purchased by the production from Costco.

15. In the movie The Breakfast Club, the students ate the following for lunch: Andrew: A bag of chips, chocolate cookies, three sandwiches, milk, a banana and an apple. Claire: Sushi. Allison: Sandwich with Pixie Stix and Captain Crunch cereal. Brian: Soup, sandwich with peanut butter and jam and apple juice. Bender: Nothing.

16. In Brokeback Mountain, the song Jack plays on his harmonica is “He Was a Friend of Mine,” the same song Willie Nelson sings during the closing credits.

17. The film Buck Privates took in $4 million at the U.S. Box Office (at a time when theater admission ranged between 10 and 25 cents).

18. A sneak preview of the film Buck Privates was held in late January 1941 for soldiers at Fort MacArthur, California.

19. The Munster’s House on Colonial Street was originally built for the 1946 production, So Goes My Love.

20. The title of the movie Do The Right Thing comes from a Malcolm X quote: “You’ve got to do the right thing.”


Did you know…

Two actors portrayed the famous Creature character from The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)? For all sequences taking place on-land, stuntman Ben Chapman served as the man in the Gill-man costume. For all sequences taking place underwater, champion swimmer Ricou Browning served the role.

Conceptualized and designed by Millicent Patrick with credit going to legendary make-up artist Bud Westmore, the Creature’s costume featured foam rubber construction with a latex skin. Due to the detailed design, both Chapman and Browning had their own unique challenges with the costume. With his looming 6’5” frame, Chapman had trouble seeing out of the Creature’s well-crafted mask, thus making it difficult to coordinate movement for action sequences. Julie Adams, lead actress from the film, even recalled a time when Chapman was carrying her and he inadvertently bumped her into a plaster rock, skinning her head.

Browning on the other hand, had the difficult task of bringing the Creature to life underwater by swimming with the costume. To provide a better sense of movement and appearance, Patrick and Westmore lightened the texture and color of Browning’s costume for his action sequences. The one major setback with Browning’s costume was the lack of a direct air supply, however. For certain prolonged takes, director Jack Arnold required Browning to hold his breath for up to four or five minutes.

Even though this film served as Ben Chapman’s only performance as the Creature, Ricou Browning continued with the role in the two follow-up films: Revenge of the Creature (1955) and The Creature Walks Among Us (1956).


Did you know…

There was once a school on the lot for Universal’s contracted child stars?  Formerly located on the lower Universal lot, the school was set in a little gray cottage that sat adjacent to the old executive bungalows. The cottage was later converted to a three-room schoolhouse in 1939 to consolidate the teaching of child actors in one location.  Before this time, young starlets were educated whenever possible on the movie sets.

Gladys Hoene (pronounced “Haney”), was the lone teacher at the school from 1939 – 1962.  Qualified to teach everything from kindergarten to college courses, Mrs. Hoene was responsible for the education of many child actors, including Deanna Durbin, Ann Blythe, Donald O’Connor, Gigi Perreau, Piper Laurie, and Sandra Dee.  9-year-old Elizabeth Taylor attended the school in 1941 during the filming of her first feature film, There’s One Born Every Minute.

Mrs. Hoene worked under the supervision of the Los Angeles Board of Education, and the lesson plans were based on a close cooperation between Mrs. Hoene and each student’s regular public or private school teacher.  All high school diplomas at Universal’s school were awarded by University High School in Los Angeles, although the students rarely attended the school.

Some of the last students at Universal’s little schoolhouse were Mary Badham, Philip Alford, and John Vegna, who starred in Universal’s 1962 production, To Kill a Mockingbird.  The school was demolished in March 1965 to make room for the current Universal City Plaza.


Elizabeth: The Golden Age
In the case of period films, jewelry often plays a very prominent role in the creation of a character’s look.  Jewelry might include such obvious items as rings, necklace, bracelets, etc., but it might also include hair jewelry like this one, worn by Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth I in the center of one of her wigs dinner a dinner scene.