CHASE! A Tribute to the Keystone Cops

CHASE! A Tribute to the Keystone Cops, honors these still universally recognized icons of silent comedy with an anthology of entertaining and informative essays assembled and edited by Lon & Debra Davis. Historian Sam Gill provides the foreword, joined by noted authors such as Joe Adamson, Rob King, and Brent Walker, to name a few, making this the first major book devoted to the klutzy troupe. One fun fact I hadn’t appreciated until deftly explained by Lea Stans of Silent-ology fame, in her chapter debunking numerous myths, the Cops never appeared in a starring series of films, but only as supporting characters enhancing the mayhem in other movies. While this is her print book authorial debut, Lea is a wonderful, informed writer, who covers all aspects of silent film history and culture in her always fascinating Silent-ology blog.

One of the best aspects of hosting this Silent Locations blog are the inquiries and fun discoveries shared by readers. Charley Hepperle inquired about a photo of the Cops (left) staged for Hollywood Cavalcade, appearing in his blog devoted to Southern California life in 1939. Where was the photo taken? His post referred to Ralph Cantos’s blog about the LARy and Pacific Electric Railways, which featured a different Cops-trolley photo staged for Hollywood Cavalcade.

That second photo looked familiar, as Hollywood hero Marc Wanamaker had shared the same photo to introduce Randy Skretvedt’s Chapter 12 in the new Cops book. Remarkably, Marc’s photo provided an ever-so-slightly wider view to the right, offering a tantalizing bit of street sign reading “RIDGE.“

Long story short, after crowd-sourcing ideas with Charley and Pacific Electric trolley author Steve Crise, we confirmed these 1939 photos were staged along Douglas Street, a mere 81 years ago, in the hills appropriately adjacent to Echo Park, where so many Keystone comedies took place.

Above, matching views south down Douglas towards the corner of Ridge Way, with the sign detail (inset) from Marc Wanamaker’s 1939 photo. The back apartment with the distinctive stairway was built in 1931, while the front corner apartment, a vacant lot in the 1939 photo, was built in 1940.

Above, the formal porch roof of the quaint bungalow standing at 1008 Douglas, appears to the left in both 1939 photos, and today.

Sadly, this beautiful two-story, four-flat unit at the same site, 1014 Douglas, built in 1907, was demolished in 1960. The house to the left remains standing. BONUS: as reported in the book, and in my blog HERE, even Charlie Chaplin played a Cop, during the previously lost film A Thief Catcher (1914), rediscovered by producer-historian Paul Gierucki.

Above, the Douglas Street filming site near Echo Park was situated at the very north end of the Los Angeles Railway “I” line (circle at left), which allowed the remaining 99% of the line to continue in service during these stunts. This view above north shows the line end, at Douglas and Kensington. Robert T. McVay photo – Robert Cantos Collection.

CHASE! A Tribute to the Keystone Cops. All proceeds from the book will be allocated to the cause of silent film preservation.

Please help support naming the Chaplin Keaton Lloyd alley in Hollywood by posting a review on Google Maps. Prototype alley sign design by noted Dutch graphic artist – Piet Schreuders. Download a 4-page brochure about the alley HERE. This video further explains the alley – if you can, please leave a thumbs up.

Below – site of the 1939 Keystone trolley crash.

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1 Response to CHASE! A Tribute to the Keystone Cops

  1. Bob Borgen says:

    Thanks — these are great — and I guess I need to buy another book!

    Liked by 2 people

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