Where Roscoe Arbuckle Filmed His Brooklyn Vitaphone Shorts

View north. (C) 2017 Google.

View north – Ave M a few blocks east of the studio. (C) 2017 Google.

Remember to click each image for a larger view.

As shown so far, Arbuckle filmed mostly at commercial buildings along the south side of Ave M – presumably because the light, while shady, would be more consistent throughout the long shooting day. Hey Pop features brief scenes of Roscoe and Bill fleeing the orphanage thugs running past brightly sunlit storefronts, which turned out to be along the north side of Ave M between E 18th and Ocean Ave, a few blocks east of the studio. Why weren’t these north-side sunny street scenes filmed closer to home? Because, as shown in (6) and (16) previously, at the time the north side of Ave M near the studio had no commercial buildings.

Hey Pop - ca

Hey Pop – wearing drag in disguise, and pushing Bill in a stroller, Roscoe runs past, and later somersaults in front of Ollie’s Beauty Salon, 1811 Ave M. A bit of the store’s upper rectangular sign (yellow oval above) appears within the yellow oval below.

Hey Pop = Brooklyn Public Library Brooklyn Collection. The oval marks Ollie's 'Beauty Shop' sign.

The NE corner of E 18th and Ave M – the oval marks the rectangular Ollie’s ‘Beauty Shop’ sign, 1811 Ave M, partially visible above. Brooklyn Public Library Brooklyn Collection.

View east down Ave M towards Ocean View.

Hey Pop – further east, the thugs chase Roscoe and Bill past 1915 Ave M towards Ocean Ave.

hey-pop-41The orphanage thugs continue to chase Roscoe and Bill east along the north side of Ave M, from E 19th towards Ocean Ave. The storefronts were quite new in 1932, as they were built sometime after the 1930 Sanborn fire insurance maps for this block were surveyed. The 1915 store awning above, and the adjacent Berger’s store window shown at left, both announce in Hebrew that they are strictly kosher, real-life signs not commonly seen in mainstream comedies of that era. The Midwood community has deep Jewish roots, reflected by the signs here in 1932, and remains predominantly Jewish today.

Hey Pop - note the bottom of the Shell gas station sign on the corner.

Hey Pop – note the bottom of the Shell gas station sign (oval) on the corner.

Racing east down Ave M, Roscoe and Bill turn left (north) at Ocean Ave past the corner Shell gas station. The matching details of the building on the far back corner confirm the site, first discovered by searching for gas stations on the Sanborn fire insurance maps.

Hey Pop Casa del Ritz

Hey Pop – the Casa del Ritz at 1270 E. 19th

Turning a corner, Roscoe and Bill race north up E 19th from Ave M past the “Casa del Ritz” apartments (a small sign for the apartment appears to the far left at the start of the scene). For some reason the name “Casa del Ritz” amuses me – maybe “Pueblo del Posh” was already taken! This apartment was also brand new, built after the 1930 Sanborn fire map survey.

Below – the NE corner of E 18th and Ave M. Next, filming in Bay Ridge, and a few Shemp Howard appearances.

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12 Responses to Where Roscoe Arbuckle Filmed His Brooklyn Vitaphone Shorts

  1. Bill Counter says:

    Thanks, John! Great as always.


  2. Tom Carr says:

    John, your remarkable eye works equally well on both coasts! I really enjoyed this post, because I’m a native New Yorker and I own the Arbuckle-Shemp Howard DVD. I’m not from Brooklyn, though (Manhattan), so I was stumped trying to figure out just where these films were made. Brooklyn or Queens, obviously, but just WHERE? Now I know. Thanks!

    Poor Roscoe, though… he still “had it,” but cruel fate cut him down.


  3. travsd says:

    Reblogged this on Travalanche and commented:
    There’s no way the Travalanche readers won’t LOVE this article and the blog it comes from. Thanks John Bengtson!


    • Thank you Trav – given LA’s dismal preservation record it’s remarkable to see how little in Brooklyn has changed after 85 years. Do you know any local history groups that might appreciate this information? John


  4. Pingback: Arbuckle – Keaton at the Bronx Biograph Studio | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

  5. Sandy says:

    Loved this information. Late 50’s early 60’s I lived one block south of Wilshire on Detroit in a building I can see! It has since been torn down and is a parking lot. So many familiar landmarks where movies and history were made.


  6. DW Miller says:

    The Midwood, Brooklyn neighborhood near the Avenue M subway stop has changed so in the past 5 years. The demolition of the former Vitagraph studio site that was used by an Orthodox Jewish girls’ school and the building of rental apartments there, and the transformation of the former NBC Brooklyn I & II studios across East 14th Street into a Jewish social services & community center (Brooklyn I) and a self-storage facility (Brooklyn II) Progress. At least the Vitagraph smokestack still stands.


    • Thanks for the update DW – change is inevitable, but it always makes me a bit sad when some classic building or neighborhood is demolished, or loses its character. It was fun tracking these down using Google maps – I’ve never visited in person


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