I have just recently learned that novelist, minister, lecturer, and all-around swell egg Thomas Dixon, Jr. threw his hat in the movie business ring early in the 20th century. You will most likely remember Dixon from some of his overly sentimentalized and virulently racist depictions of the old South, the Civil War, and Reconstruction in such novels as The Leopard’s Spots and The Clansman. Well, D. W. Griffith’s film adaptation of these books – The Birth of a Nation – was so immeasurably popular (and simultaneously controversial) when it debuted in 1915 that Dixon thought he might cash in on the film’s success and make some movies of his own.
This was news to me. But it turns Dixon set up shop down the street from my house. Yes indeed friends, I drive by the former location of the Dixon Studios, Hollywood nearly every day. Located at Sunset Blvd and Western Ave, the lot was only a matter of a few blocks from from where Griffith shot much of Birth, and thus a few blocks (in the other direction) from the future location of the Harristorian Archives.
Dixon was a largely unsuccessful in the “business” as we call it here in Hollywood. In 1916, he directed The Fall of a Nation (hmmm….) that warned against pacifism, and several others based on his novels. His production company eventually went bust, and he moved on to other endeavors in 1926.
These days there are no traces of the former studio – just some East Hollywood sprawl. But if anyone out there has some images that they would like to share – send them on.