How much did you know about Universal (and Universal City)?
Note that date. Tours given immediately on opening of studio.
Unlike the other major Hollywood studios, Universal welcomed tourists on its considerable lot soon after its opening. By the end of 1915, the studio had amassed a 230-acre spread — former farmland — over the Cahuenga Pass — making the lot Hollywood’s biggest. And the tourists came.
Universal has maintained this tradition in highly profitable fashion. The studio now operates big-time, heavily trafficked parks in Hollywood and Orlando, Florida, as well as in Japan, Singapore, China and Russia. (Most are re-opening or preparing to re-open amidst the pandemic.)
Universal is, incidentally, the world’s fifth oldest movie studio after France’s Gaumont and Pathe, Italy’s Titanus and Denmark’s Nordisk Film.
Ok, on to the answers to our Universal Pictures Quiz.
1) Question: Which one of the following was the principal founder of Universal? a) Marcus Loew; b) Charlie Chaplin; c) Carl Laemmle; or d) Adolph Zukor.
Answer: c) Carl Laemmle (below) was the principal figure in the original ownership group, his name most closely associated with the studio’s founding. The German immigrant ran the place until the mid-Thirties. He also instituted one of Hollywood’s most revered traditions — that of nepotism. Laemmle Sr. appointed Carl Laemmle Jr. head of the studio for his 21st birthday. Some 70, by one count, of Senior’s relatives worked at the place over the years. As Ogden Nash quipped: Uncle Carl Laemmle/ Has a very large faemmle.
2) Question: Which one of the following was the studio’s biggest star of the mid-Thirties and early Forties? a) Peggy Ryan; b) Deanna Durbin; c) Judy Garland; or d) Gloria Jean.
Answer: Deanna Durbin (below). The Canadian-born singer/actress ‘string of pictures, beginning in 1936’s Three Smart Girls, were big hits and solved the studio’s financial problems.
3) Question: Universal is noted for its horror movie output of the Thirties and Forties. Which one of the following studio releases didn’t make the cut? a) 1931’s Dracula; b) 1935’s Bride of Frankenstein; c) 1932’s The Mummy; or d) 1934’s Imitation of Life.
Answer: Imitation of Life is a domestic drama starring Claudette Colbert, and not a horror film like the three other options.
4) Question: Which one of the following was NOT among Universal’s biggest stars of the 1950’s? a) Tony Curtis; b) Audie Murphy; c) Jeff Chandler; or d) Farley Granger.
Answer: Farley Granger.
5) Question: Although Universal was principally known in the Thirties and Forties as the producer of lower-budget features, usually westerns, dramas, serials and horror movie sequels, the studio did splurge on one production that almost wrecked the company financially. Which one? a) 1936’s Three Smart Girls; b) 1939’s Destry Rides Again; 1936’s Show Boat; or d) 1943’s Shadow of a Doubt.
Answer: Show Boat, a lavish screen version of the Broadway musical, which Universal decided to produce as a big-budget adventure rather than just another of its B pictures. Production cost overruns and production loans strapped the studio. The result: the end of the stewardship of Carl Laemmle Sr. and Jr.