Packed House! Buster Keaton & Live Orchestra

Video courtesy of Stan Taffel, the evening’s Master of Ceremonies.

What hap­pens when you com­bine a live orches­tra with a silent film? A packed house! Over 300 peo­ple showed up, and we had to open up the bal­cony. There was laugh­ter, applause, and excite­ment through­out the entire show. 

As Bob Dun­can says, “An impres­sive evening in every way — the orchestra’s score was in sync with the film from begin­ning to end and def­i­nite­ly enhanced the audience’s enjoy­ment and the film print was crys­tal clear. A mem­o­rable evening that all the par­tic­i­pants can be very proud of.”

The show includ­ed a cou­ple car­toons and the pop­u­lar “Steam­boat Bill Jr.” star­ring Buster Keaton; hand-cranked on a Power’s 1909 Cam­er­a­gragh Mod­el 6 Motion Pic­ture Machine by Joe Rin­au­do; and accom­pa­nied by the Famous Play­ers Orches­tra, scored and con­duct­ed by Scott Lasky. Stan Taffel served as Mas­ter of Cer­e­monies and Shane Glan­der pro­ject­ed the glass lantern slides.

In addi­tion to the silent cin­e­ma and live orches­tra, there was a raf­fle of orig­i­nal Dis­ney art­work, hot dogs, refresh­ments, and of course pop­corn. 

Famous Players Orchestra Board of Directors

Famous Players Orchestra Board of Directors

The evening was an over­whelm­ing suc­cess. As Mr. Taffel says, “It’s an hon­or to be involved with Famous Play­ers Orches­tra and to serve on the board of direc­tors with Scott Lasky, Joe Rin­au­do, Joni Varn­er, Gary Lach­er, Gary Gib­son, Paul But­ler, and Dean Mora.”

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March 11 • Live Orchestra • 1928 Buster Keaton

Steamboat Bill Jr

Join us this Sat­ur­day, March 11th, 2017 as we present Buster Keaton and Ernest Tor­rence in the 1928 silent com­e­dy clas­sic Steam­boat Bill Jr. with Live Accom­pa­ni­ment by the Famous Play­ers Orches­tra.

This is going to bean amaz­ing show and we real­ly need your help to get the word out. Please tell your friends about us. Or if you’re on Face­book, please use this link: to “share” this rare event. 

The film will be pre­sent­ed with a live peri­od musi­cal score per­formed by The Famous Play­ers Orches­tra under the direc­tion of Scott Lasky.  §  Joe Rin­au­do will project a high-def­i­n­i­tion restored 35mm film print on an orig­i­nal hand-cranked Power’s 1909 Cam­er­a­gragh Mod­el 6 Motion Pic­ture Machine. § Your Mas­ter of Cer­e­monies will be film his­to­ri­an Stan Taffel.

Show­time is 7pm. Doors open at 6:15pm. Pro­gram will include a 30 minute inter­mis­sion and raf­fle with prizes. Con­ces­sions will be avail­able down­stairs at the snack bar.

Admis­sion is $10. Tick­ets may be pur­chased at the door begin­ning approx­i­mate­ly one hour before show­time, or in advance online here:

Christ Luther­an Church
2400 W. Bur­bank Blvd.
Bur­bank, CA 91506
(south­east cor­ner of Bur­bank Bl. & Bue­na Vista St., direct­ly behind the Dunn-Edwards paint store)

Famous Play­ers Orches­tra

David Shepard 1940 – 2017

David Shepard 1940-2017


I was great­ly sad­dened by the news of the death of my friend David Shep­ard. It is a loss for his fam­i­ly, friends, film preser­va­tion and to all peo­ple, young and old alike, who love the art of film. His loss to the film com­mu­ni­ty will be felt for gen­er­a­tions yet to come.

David was not only a good friend but my men­tor, advis­er, and fel­low film col­lec­tor whose pas­sion can only be described as a “call­ing.” It is unimag­in­able to think of a world with­out a per­son such as David. I first met David when I bought a 16mm Black­hawk print from him at a film con­ven­tion in the ear­ly 1970’s.  A few years lat­er David had heard that I had a Pho­to­play­er and asked if he might use it for musi­cal accom­pa­ni­ment for one of his video releas­es.  I jumped at the chance to work with David and to be involved in film preser­va­tion — it was a dream come true!

David Shep­ard is the unsung hero who always would lend a print or do a show for free if it meant enter­tain­ing and edu­cat­ing the audi­ence at the same time. He would dri­ve great dis­tances and bring his 16mm pro­jec­tors to do these shows, not ask­ing for any­thing in return oth­er than the great joy these shows would give his audi­ences. It was this kind­ness and the want to share the film expe­ri­ence with younger audi­ences that gave me the inspi­ra­tion to do, what I call, 16mm “kid­die” shows at local pri­ma­ry schools. To hear the young chil­dren laugh at the films, of long for­got­ten and unknown come­di­ans to them, is a unique expe­ri­ence I shall nev­er soon for­get.

In 2000 I went to a friend’s house that had a 35mm hand crank pro­jec­tor. I was so fas­ci­nat­ed by the mechan­ics and the beau­ty of the 35mm image that I asked if I might crank a reel or two.  At 2:00 a.m. , after I had cranked 20,000 feet of film, they had to pull me away from the pro­jec­tor! I was hooked! I pur­chased a pro­jec­tor which I had to do a com­plete restora­tion on and found some old 35mm sound film and began doing 35mm hand crank demon­stra­tions in my dri­ve­way.

In Octo­ber of 2002 David asked me if I could do him a favor. Would I hand crank two shows at the Silent Movie The­ater with Bob Mitchell play­ing the music for the film. This would be for the 100th anniver­sary of George Melies’ Trip To The Moon! So there I was with my assis­tant Gary Gib­son dressed in full cos­tume as itin­er­ant pro­jec­tion­ists crank­ing out two silent film shows for David as he read the copy aloud for “Moon.” After the last show David said: “Keep the print of Trip To The Moon as a gift for the help you gave me.” Hell, I would have paid him for the oppor­tu­ni­ty! It was these two shows that gave me the inspi­ra­tion to recre­ate itin­er­ant pro­jec­tion motion pic­ture shows. David and his busi­ness part­ner Serge Bromberg (of Lob­ster Films) have always let me bor­row and helped me find and/or pur­chase 35mm silent films to be used in my shows for the edu­ca­tion of new audi­ences.

We have done some two hun­dred 35mm hand crank shows since that first one at the Silent Movie The­ater. We have appeared  at muse­ums, col­leges, schools, church­es and reg­u­lar­ly at the Nether­cutt Muse­um spread­ing the art of the silent film,  all thanks to David Shep­ard.

Serge Bromberg has the spark and pas­sion to car­ry on David’s work. Serge is a true lover of film. Serge and David have saved so much film and then have made it acces­si­ble to the pub­lic through their videos that it is a great hon­or to have been able to work with them when they have asked me.

How do you sum up a man’s life and work in a few para­graphs? I don’t think that it is pos­si­ble with David Shepard’s life. What I do think is pos­si­ble is to car­ry on his pas­sion for the art of film and to share it as much as pos­si­ble as he did so well, so it may nev­er be for­got­ten.

David, I will nev­er for­get you. I will know that when I hear young audi­ences laugh, cheer or scream with joy at a film that is being shown because of you, my heart will swell with pride for know­ing you. May GOD for­ev­er bless you.

Joe Rin­au­do

Below, film archivists and his­to­ri­ans Serge Bromberg, Leonard Maltin and Kevin Brown­low on DAVID SHEPARD: AMERICAN FILM PRESERVATIONIST, a film trib­ute to Shep­ard on Mon­day, Novem­ber 7, 2016 at at Loew Audi­to­ri­um, Dart­mouth Col­lege:

This trib­ute appeared in The Hol­ly­wood Reporter.

The Hollywood Reporter



Here are sev­er­al shows through­out Los Ange­les in ear­ly 2017 fea­tur­ing the sights, sounds and his­to­ry of enter­tain­ment as expe­ri­enced a cen­tu­ry ago dur­ing the Silent Cin­e­ma era:

Jan­u­ary 26, 2017 ♦ 5:30 pm

Los Angeles In The Ragtime Era

Ragtime Era in Los Angeles

Pre­sent­ed by Galen Wilkes
Cal­abasas-Las Vir­genes His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety
Cal­abasas Library, 200 Civic Cen­ter Way, Cal­abasas

Feb­ru­ary 10 and 11, 2017 ♦ 2:00 and 8:00 pm


Mighty Wurlitzer at The Nethercutt Collection

For those of you who have tick­ets for the Feb­ru­ary Nether­cutt show, here is the pro­gram:

The theme will be LOVE for Valentines Day. 

The show will fea­ture:


Buster Keaton in “Neigh­bors”

Lar­ry Semon in “Plagues And Pup­py Love”

A very rare Edi­son Film from 1907 “The Ted­dy Bears”

 A rarely seen Charley Chase com­e­dy “There Ain’t No San­ta Claus”

 Plus a sur­prise from the Black­hawk film col­lec­tion with spe­cial thanks to Mr. David Shep­ard

Joe Rin­au­do will be assist­ed on the hand-cranked Pow­ers Cam­er­a­graph Motion Pic­ture Machine by Gary Gib­son, pro­ject­ing glass lantern slides, and Dean Mora on the mighty Wurl­itzer The­ater Organ (third largest the­ater organ in the world).


Sorry, this event is sold out. If you have your tickets, enjoy the show! If not, hope to see you next October for our annual Halloween Spooktacular at the Nethercutt.

March 11, 2017  7:00 pm

Steamboat Bill, Jr.” with
Live Orchestra
Steamboat Bill Jr


Fea­tur­ing a live musi­cal score per­formed by The Famous Play­ers Orches­tra under the direc­tion of Scott Lasky.

Pro­ject­ed by Joe Rin­au­do in 35mm on an orig­i­nal hand-cranked Power’s 1909 Cam­er­a­gragh Mod­el 6 Motion Pic­ture Machine. Your Mas­ter of Cer­e­monies will be Stan Taffel.

The pro­gram will include a 30 minute inter­mis­sion and there will also be a raf­fle with prizes. Con­ces­sions will be avail­able down­stairs at the snack bar.

Sat­ur­day, March 11, 2017
Doors open at 6:15 p.m.
Show starts at 7:00 p.m.

Christ Luther­an Church
2400 W. Bur­bank Blvd.
Bur­bank, CA 91506
(south­east cor­ner of Bur­bank Bl. & Bue­na Vista St., direct­ly behind the Dunn-Edwards paint store)

Admis­sion is $10.00 (sug­gest­ed dona­tion)

Tick­ets will go on sale at the door approx­i­mate­ly one hour before show­time.

You can also pur­chase tick­ets online start­ing Feb­ru­ary 1 through the Famous Play­ers Orches­tra web­site.

Famous Play­ers Orches­tra

March 25, June 17, and Novem­ber 11, 2017  7:00 pm

On three spe­cial dates through­out the year,
Galen Wilkes will present

An Edwardian Evening of Entertainment


Edwardian Evening of Entertainment

Enjoy a peri­od vaude­ville show, wit­ness a live record­ing of the audi­ence onto an Edi­son wax cylin­der, and expe­ri­ence oth­er fas­ci­nat­ing exam­ples of the Edwar­dian era.

Per­ry Man­sion, Her­itage Square Muse­um
3800 Homer St., High­land Park



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Call Wed. Jan 11 for Nethercutt Tickets


For tick­ets to the Feb­ru­ary Nether­cutt Show you must

4 – 6 PM*
818 – 364-6464

*The best chance of obtain­ing tick­ets is to call start­ing at 4pm. You will prob­a­bly get a busy sig­nal. Just keep call­ing, then fol­low prompts. This is for the fol­low­ing event only:

Nether­cutt Valen­tines Silent Come­dies Show
Fri­day, Feb­ru­ary 10, 2017 at 8 PM
Sat­ur­day, Feb­ru­ary 11, 2017 at 2 PM & 8PM
Nether­cutt Muse­um
Syl­mar, Cal­i­for­nia


Admis­sion is free, but tick­ets must be obtained in advance, only on Wednes­day, Jan­u­ary 11, 2017.
Address and oth­er infor­ma­tion is also at the link above.

For more enter­tain­ment and enlight­en­ment, join us in March, June and Novem­ber for


Edwardian Evening of Entertainment


Vis­it Mr. Wilkes’ web­site here.

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