Bizarre Los Angeles: The Movie Page

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Shhhh…here is another extremely rare piece of Hollywood history that even the die hard historians may not know. 

I was able to help a Western historian piece together a little information about the mysterious Victor Adamson, considered by some to be the Ed Wood, Jr., of the 1920s and 1930s.

Victor created a screen hero named Art Mix, who rode the range in a number of very cheap, westerns. Many people played Art Mix, including Adamson, who also acted under the name Denver Dixon.

The use of the name “Art Mix” eventually angered Tom Mix and the Fox Studios, who sued Adamson for using Tom Mix’s name and screen persona without permission. So, you know what Adamson allegedly did? As the story goes, he searched for a real person named Art Mix and hired him for the movies. Err—uh—Fox’s attorneys didn’t know what to do.

Anyway, in the late 1920s, Victor Adamson mysteriously appeared on Myrtle Street near Library Park in Monrovia, shooting a comedy short, which caused considerable interest among the locals. Later, it appears as though Adamson conned the Monrovia Chamber of Commerce into helping him build the Victor Adams Studio near the Santa Fe depot (by the Live Oak Cemetery), and for a brief period of time, Adamson was treated like a king, hiring a number of pie-eyed locals to work as extras, while promising to bring A list stars from Hollywood to Monrovia to act in his future films. However, he only shot about 2-3 westerns in Monrovia before he lost his studio. Another company took it over, shooting Spanish language films until around 1930. Meanwhile, a lawsuit broke out about illegal funds being taken from the Live Oak Cemetery for building the studio. Adamson was long gone by then, and managed to avoid litigation. In time, the studio faded into obscurity and was torn down.

Sadly, I cannot find any photos of the Victor Adams Studio in Monrovia. My impression was that it was very small. It was also built near the railroad, so that he could use the train (and the depot) as a location/backdrop. However, Adamson was thinking like a silent movie director at the time, not factoring in the noise, which would have made talkies almost impossible. 

Below is a link to more information on Victor Adamson. The “J.Craig Owens” mentioned on the page is me:

http://www.b-westerns.com/barrel3.htm