Producer Buys Mack Sennett Studio

Times Staff Writer

The Mack Sennett Studio, famous for films made there of such show-business legends as Charlie Chaplin and the Keystone Kops, has been acquired by Don Cornelius Productions, producer of the TV program “Soul Train.”

Cornelius bought the building, in the Silver Lake District at 1712 Glendale Blvd., from the Theatre Group of Los Angeles for more than $1 million, according to Anthony Brent, executive vice president of Daum/Johnstown American, who represented both parties in the transaction.

Now Cornelius is restoring the 35,000-square-foot facility, built in the 1920s, and expects to occupy it in February. Cornelius is now at 9110 Sunset Blvd.


The studio, declared a historical landmark in 1982, gained prominence in the ‘20s due to Sennett and the artists who worked on the sound stages there. The main building, on Glendale Boulevard, has two sound stages, offices and a large basement.

Sennett, famous for his two-reeler comedies, employed Roscoe (Fatty) Arbuckle, Mabel Normand and Harry Langdon, as well as the Keystone Kops and Chaplin.

A West Hollywood landmark, the Coronet Apartments at 8439 Sunset Blvd., has been turned into the Piazza del Sol office building.

A champagne reception Wednesday toasted the completion.

Once also known as Hacienda Park Apartments, the Italian Renaissance-style building was constructed in 1927 as a luxury apartment house. In its heyday, it was next door to Ciro’s, a famous Sunset Strip nightclub, and Marie Dressler, the actress, was an occupant. As the years went on, the Coronet deteriorated along with much of its neighborhood.

Rock star Rod Stewart bought it with a partner in the late ‘70s with plans to turn the blighted and deserted building into a posh European-style hotel. That didn’t materialize, and a spectacular fire in 1983 gutted the interior.

Westcap Financial Group came to the rescue in 1984, buying the building and spending “millions,” its principals say, in restoring it. (The purchase price in ’84 was said to be $2 million.) Schneider Commercial Real Estate is handling leasing.


Redken Laboratories, manufacturer of hair-care products sold exclusively in salons, held a party Thursday to mark the opening of its $6-million research-and-product development center across from its national headquarters in Canoga Park.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the company was founded by Paula Kent Meehan with $3,000 earned from starring in a beer commercial and playing a hatcheck girl on the old weekly television program “77 Sunset Strip,” which aired from 1958 to 1964. The firm reported annual sales last year of $108 million.

“The ultimate sports and fitness center in America” is how Michael Talla modestly (?) bills his $18-million Sports Club/L. A., which is now being built on a two-acre property in West Los Angeles.

Talla, you might remember, left a boutique bikini manufacturing business in Newport Beach 10 years ago to build the Sports Connection fitness empire, which reportedly made $20 million gross and $4 million net in 1984. It has six health clubs (Torrance, Long Beach, Beverly Hills, Encino, Santa Monica and Manhattan Beach) with 400 employees and 60,000 members.

For the L. A. project (a separate undertaking from the Sports Connection), Talla took on some interesting partners:

L. A. Lakers star Kareem Abdul Jabaar, who is participating through his investment group, headed by his manager and business agent, Thomas M. Collins. The group also includes Ralph Sampson of the Houston Rockets, Terry Cummings of the Milwaukee Bucks, Alex English of the Denver Nuggets and Brad Davis of the Dallas Mavericks.


The sports club (which will have “a deliberately limited membership targeted at Talla’s projected status-conscious clientele”) will be housed in a remodeled warehouse at 1835 Sepulveda Blvd.

When completed next spring, the three-story, 120,000-square-foot facility is planned (by architects Miller/Truax with a $2.5-million interior by Swimmer Cole Martinez & Curtis) to have a gourmet restaurant, private dining and conference rooms, seafood and juice bars, an indoor-outdoor swimming pool, indoor track, split-level sun deck, and 12,000 square feet of fully equipped gyms. It will have courts for volleyball, racquetball, squash, paddle tennis and (of course!) basketball.