El Niño, Downtown Los Angeles 1966 - age 3.

El Niño, Downtown Los Angeles 1966 - age 3.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Sunset Blvd Bowling Alley and KTLA Studios

The stylish Jack and Peggy Ament on their Honeymoon in front of the Sunset Bowling Alley - Hollywood, CA - August 1940.

Back of photo with Peggy's notes.

Longtime KTLA news anchorman, Mr. Hal Fishman

Located at 5858 Sunset Blvd in midtown Hollywood, The Sunset Bowling Alley was once known as the world’s largest bowling alley with 52 lanes to choose from and hundreds of bowling shoes to fit any size imaginable. One could bowl in a different lane every week for an entire year just to avoid the monotony amongst the happy hour social gatherings of struggling screenwriters, union gaffers, studio secretaries and sound stage runners. With its Roman columns, this massive structure was originally built in 1922 for the Warner Brothers to function as their West Coast headquarters. In 1927 this location was used as the filming site for the first “talkie“ film, The Jazz Singer with Al Jolson but when Warner Brothers acquired the First National Pictures property in 1929, Harry, Al, Jack and Sam packed it up and moved their operations from Hollywood to Burbank. The building remained unused until it was purchased in 1939 and turned into the "mother of all bowling alleys", where Jack and Peggy Ament spent part of their Honeymoon knocking down pins almost 70 years ago. In 1964 the singing cowboy Gene Autry purchased the building and made it the home of KTLA studios where it still operates to this day. Today, KTLA and KCET are the only Los Angeles broadcasters that are still based in Hollywood, California. Slowly over the decades, CBS, NBC and even ABC once located in the sleepy Franklin Hills area of Los Feliz have all moved out of the “Wood” and onto greener more suburban pastures.

If you grew up in Los Angeles in the second part of the 20th century, you probably caught the KTLA Channel 5 news at 10pm with its iconic anchorman Mr. Hal Fishman. Hal was one of the most durable and well respected broadcasters of our times delivering the news night after night for 40 plus years with his somewhat dry but very likeable delivery. Hal rarely showed emotions as broadcasters are trained to do but a few times a year at the end of one of those slow news nights, he would come out of his shell as he concluded the evening’s broadcast with the segment of the surfing chihuahua in Santa Monica or the champion who consumed 53 hot dogs at a hot dog eating contest in Malibu. Hal Fishman passed away in 2007 and of course the Los Angeles nightly news has never been the same since.

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