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The glitz, the glitter, the fun, and the illusions

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Canadian comics Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster established international stardom with their appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. (Photo: Public Domain)

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I am a Canadian baby boomer. Like most of my generation, I grew up suckling at the breast of American television in the years when Canadian television and cinema were still in their formative years.

Watching everything from the Mickey Mouse Club to My Three Sons and the Dick Van Dyke show, I absolutely adored Jerry Mather as the Beaver and was amused by Bob Denver as Maynard G. Crebs on Dobie Gillis. I swooned when Conrad Birdy sang “One Last Kiss” in Bye Bye Birdie” and rejoiced each time Doris Day and Rock Hudson fell in love. I might as well have lived in Chicago or Detroit. Except for the amazing all-Canadian Wayne and Shuster Comedy Hour, whenever I turned on the TV or went to a movie matinee, I felt as American as apple pie.

Years later, while living in New York City, I was drawn to such famous movie landmarks as FAO Schwarz, the wondrous Plaza Hotel – I could easily imagine Barbra Streisand picketing out front-, the Statue of Liberty and Empire State building. To my great disappointment, neither Cary Grant nor Meg Ryan were ever there when I visited the observation deck.

I soon realized that the images of these seemingly magical places were imprinted on my brain by years of exposure to the hypnotic world of television and film. Fifth Avenue became my Yellow Brick Road and Times Square a special place where I could imagine Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers painting the town red.

As I am now living in Hollywood North, aka Toronto, Canada, I have access to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and can, as a result, gawk along with the masses, at the red carpet premieres of world class films made by equally world class directors.

These include some highly accomplished Canadian icons such as Atom Egoyan, David Cronenberg and Norman Jewison who, by the way, filmed the memorable final scene of Moonstruck in a downtown Toronto studio. I enjoyed every detail of the recent Stanley Kubrick exhibit at the TIFF Bell Lighthouse, a wonderful building dedicated to film, that Ivan Reitman built on the former site of his parents’ car wash.

I finally made it to L.A. with my husband a few winters ago, I arrived starry-eyed and armed with a deep desire to experience the mecca of glamor and glitz. It was not at all what I expected.

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Our first stop was for lunch at the delightful Milky Way as I wanted to meet Steven Spielberg’s charming mother, Leah Adler. She welcomed us graciously, a pleasure we had not anticipated. It was a truly grand introduction to L.A.

The two studio tours we went on were informative but generally disappointing. We saw the actual buildings and grounds where the film industry began and found this to be historically interesting (meaningful). However, the illusions and images that were created on the sound stages revealed to me how contrived the world of film can really be.

Yes, I could envision Clark Gable strolling through the original Columbia Studios, now the Sony Studios, hand in hand with Carole Lombard and imagine scenes from Gremlins as I passed by the steps of the fabricated New York brownstone at the Warner Brothers studios, where the main character buys his pet Mogwai, a creature who must never be exposed it to bright light, touch water, or be fed after midnight. 

The historic Sony Studio lot in Hollywood. (Photo: sonypicturesstudios.com)

However, I was not as thrilled to see Adam Sandler’s golf cart or even the original Ghostbusters car, but then, what did I expect, Adam to run out to greet us or ghosts to fly out of the car’s trunk? I was actually amused that I, the Canadian tourist, knew more Hollywood trivia than our Sony Studios tour guide but I must say that I had fun testing his knowledge.

So what does all this mean? Do we need to dig into the closets of the fabulous homes of golden era movie stars to discover hidden secrets about what makes Hollywood Hollywood? Of course, movies today are filmed on location all over the planet in order to capture the beauty and flavor of their setting or in Canada to save tax dollars. Still, LA continues to be a fascinating and colorful place to visit and is still a major focal point for creative expression.

I look forward to my next opportunity to visit. As for now, I’ll rather just sit back in a Toronto movie theater with my bag of buttered popcorn and keep enjoying the magical world of cinema.

Judy Weinryb is a published author who facilitates a Creative Writing class on zoom at the Bernard Betel Centre for Creative Living. She has been a freelance writer for the Canadian Jewish News, the Jewish Tribune and the Markham Review. A social worker for many years, she has an interest in Jewish Community from both a professional and personal perspective.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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