Bathing Beauty Put Our Town in the History Books

By JOHN HARLOW | Editor-in-Chief

Film historians believe that the first Californian beach location immortalized for the moving pictures was shot at Castle Rock, just below where the Getty Villa is today, according to the guide “Location Filming in Los Angeles,” published by Arcadia.

The first film produced at Castle Rock was pioneering mogul William Selig’s “Count of Monte Cristo,” released in short bursts after 1912. Selig only made short movies because he believed young people did not have the ability to concentrate on anything for more than 15 minutes.

Selig, trying to escape Thomas Edison’s lawyers, who wanted him to pay IP fees for using copyrighted cameras, was the first movie producer to set up shop in Hollywood.

The first true star to dazzle the lens at Castle Rock is believed to be Claire Anderson, a first-generation Mack Sennett Bathing Beauty.

Anderson worked in silent melodramas such as “She Loved a Sailor,” “The Love Comet” and “Bath Tub Perils” before going to full-length movies with silent movie stars Constance Talmidge and Harry Carey.

After the talkies arrived in the 1930s, Anderson became a stage actress.

Claire Anderson
Photo courtesy of Arcadia Publishing

She appeared at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York City in 1944 in a production called “Mexican Hayride.”

But California called her home.

Anderson passed in Venice in 1964, about the same time as PCH engineers expanded the road and reduced Castle Rock to a relative pebble—although the street name remains.