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Flashback: 'Hollywood on the Prairie'

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Every now and again it's worth revisiting our town's cinematic legacy. After all, Chicago was Hollywood before Hollywood. The Tribune rekindles those pioneering times in an article on early film making in the hinterland. Thomas Edison debuted his moving images at the World's Columbian Exposition, and soon filmmakers began to build studios thanks in part to the numerous large theaters available for screenings. Even the remains of the Exposition factored in— William Selig used replicas of Columbus' ships in his 1912 movie "The Coming of Columbus." On screen, Columbus disembarks onto a Chicago beach. In another strange instance, a 1909 movie was filmed in an artificial jungle on Western Avenue. A lot of big actors and directors joined in. Even Charlie Chaplin gave it a go— for a few weeks. After gushing about the friendliness and creative potential of the place he returned to California—with studio in hand—decrying Chicago as "too damn cold" to work in. Internal conflict fractured the industry in the 20s, and the rest is history. [Trib, Photo: Getty Images]