Jul 30, 2008
Earthquakes old and new
I was standing in the entrance to my cubicle yesterday around 11:45 (talking to, of all people, visiting Disney veteran Floyd Norman) when that trundling heavy truck passing by on the 134 freeway turned out to be...not a truck passing by. "Uh-oh", I thought.
Funny, because no one panicked or in fact uttered much of anything although the building certainly shook for what seemed like a long time. "6.0" someone called out, calmly. "5.9" said another. I love southern californians.
Anyway, the little quake and the evidence of our stringent building codes at work(no damage!), made me wonder what the 1933 Long Beach earthquake was like for the Disney studio of those times-the old, (presumably stucco) Hyperion building?
That one measured 6.4 which would have made it roughly 100 times stronger than what we experienced yesterday. I've read and seen very few contemporaneous accounts but it was apparently quite destructive and certainly would have been felt in Silverlake. What happened? Was there enough of a scare or damage for production to be shut down at all?
I'd think the most likely person to ask would be the Disney expert and historian Michael Barrier.
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Good question! But I don't find a trace of a mention of the Long Beach quake in my 1933 Disney file, and I don't recall anyone's mentioning it an interview. It was probably not a major event in the studio's life--unlike the '94 Northridge quake, which shut down the Roy O. Disney building for months, making most of the Disney Archives inaccessible (and creating considerable anguish in those of us who were spending a lot of time there).
I've never heard anything about the effect of the Long Beach Quake on Disney Hyperion. I do recall Shamus Culhane saying how he was ascending a staircase behind Ub Iwerks at his studio, when Iwerks casually murmured " earthquake", then everything began to violently shake.
The Movie actors who would form the Screen Actors Guild were having mass meetings at the El Capitan theater, and because of the shaking they moved their deliberations across the Hollywood Blvd to the parking lot adjacent to Grauman's Chinese.
Frank Thomas once told of an earthquake during the shooting of that long multiplane pan scene in the Ave Maria. Despite being up against the clock, they had to start the filming again since they weren't sure whether the quakes would be seen on film.
I can't think of a nicer person to spend an earthquake with.
Since they scrapped that take, I wonder if the three strip negative still exists? It would be curious to see if the shaking threw things enough out of alignment during that long truck in to need the re-shoot. Especially 68 years later.
Floyd--same here. : )
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