The year is 1928.
Silent films are very popular, as "Talkies" (films with sound) are not possible yet.
To accompany these silent films are Wurlitzer Organs. These organs aren't your everyday church organs... They have many, many different sounds to accompany what's happening in the film. And they were always played live.
People would go to the theater to watch a silent film, while someone would be playing a Wurlitzer Organ in the orchestra pit.
In modern days, there are only about 8 people who play Wurlitzer Organs to accompany silent films. And although Wurlitzer is still making organs, there are only around 100 that are still around that were made especially to play with silent films.
The Paramount Theater in Seattle was built especially to play silent films. And, of course, they would need a Wurlitzer. They had one built especially to match the theater and that's where it's stayed since 1928.
Shortly after Paramount was built, the technology to make "Talkie" films appeared and silent films were slowly silenced... Luckily, not forever.
Theaters like the Paramount still occasionally show these wonderfully funny shows.
I was lucky enough to visit the Paramount this morning with my mom and my best friend and her mom.
Right now the Paramount is going through a "Silent Movie Monday" series, where each Monday evening they play a silent film.
This morning they were also doing a tour of the theater and a man was giving a performance of the Wurlitzer while accompanying a short, silent film called "Cops" by Buster Keaton.
(Here is it on youtube if anyone wants to watch it... It's quite funny! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8rf_w7w0IQ )
The Organist came all the way from Kansas to do this series. He said he started with piano but was completely self taught on the organ. He also said he only plays Wurlitzer Organs. He's been playing for 42 years. =)
Here is a video of him playing the Paramount Overture on the Wurlitzer:
Here are some more pictures.
The Mighty Wurlitzer:
Me admiring the Wurlitzer (it's such a fun name to write... Rachmaninoff is another fun name to write.)
All I can say is I was born in the wrong time period.... I think it would be SO cool to have been able to live in the early late 1800's-early 1900's. Vaudeville.... Silent films.... Women wearing elegant dresses to the theater, accompanied by men in top hats.
When the Paramount Theater opened, 10,000 people came the opening night, paying 60 cents at the door. Although the theater only held 3000 people, men and women came to mingle in the lobby. They came to be seen in their elegant clothes. They came to see silent films accompanied by the beautiful Wurlitzers.
As well as having a Wurlitzer, the Paramount has a "Re-enacting (or reproducing... I forget which) piano" which is different than a player piano. This piano was also made especially for the Paramount. It was amazing to see it play.... Sadly, I didn't get a video.
My family and friends and I also went to a flight museum recently to look at their exhibit on World War One planes.
Here is the first fighter plane, made in Italy before the first Great War. See how the gun is on the top? As planes became more sophisticated, the gun was moved lower down, so it could shoot between the front propeller. How could it fire between the propeller, one might ask? Well, the gun would shoot through the propeller, but would pause when the propeller was directly in front of the gun. It was quite the sophisticated technique!
Of course... I had to go through the entire flight museum and find the ONE mention of Star Trek.... I found it in this picture, when the cast from the original Star Trek series came to see the Enterprise space shuttle.