Considering the long trend of razing older buildings in cities all over the country, the Screen Actors Guild is fortunate in that each of the five previous structures that housed our National Headquarters, beginning in 1933, may still be seen today, generally with little external change, in and near Hollywood – from the first home in the Hollywood Center building, where the Guild started with one employee in one small office off a long, narrow corridor, through the former Hollywood Congregational Church. All have been sites of creation, innovation, frustration, cooperation and conflict, hilarity and sadness, victory and defeat. They remain visual reminders of the growth and change of the Screen Actors Guild over more than 70 years.
Important events: first employee hired in July, 1933 (Marjorie"Midge" Van Buren) – National Recovery Act Code hearingsin Washington – exodus of major stars from Academy of MotionPicture Arts & Sciences membership into the Guild – Guildexpands its membership to include extra players; publishes first newsletter Screen Actors' News; holds first fund-raiser-the Screen Actors GuildBall; first magazine The Screen Player – jointly publishes magazine The Screen Guilds' Magazine with the Screen Writers Guild (headquartered across the hall) – holds second fundraiser The Film Stars Frolic (a financial failure that wipes out the Guild's treasury) – Actors' Equity Association gives up jurisdictionover motion picture players to the Guild – the Associated Actorsand Artistes of America grants the Guild a charter.
Important events: Guild recognized by the major motion picture producers in June, 1937, signs first contract, and is flooded with new applicants – first Guild branch office opened (in New York, headed by Mrs. Florence "Bobbie" Marston) – American Federation of Radio Artists formed, with Eddie Cantor as first President– first threat by International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employes (IATSE) International President George Browne and his "personal representative" in Hollywood, Willie Bioff to take over all actorunions (after President Robert Montgomery refused Bioff's requestto re-instate a suspended Guild/IATSE joint-member. Bioff felt his contribution in getting Louis B. Mayer and Joseph Scheck to recognizethe Guild entitled him to "favors" from it) – IATSE requests American Federation of Labor revoke the Guild's charter; Montgomery initiates investigation of Bioff; Guild temporarily closesmembership to new extra players.
Presidents: Robert Montgomery, Ralph Morgan.
Secretary: Kenneth Thomson.
The Guild rented the entire eighthfloor. Executive offices overlooked Hollywood Blvd. Board Room was at building's rear, southeast corner.
Important events: IATSE grants charter to expelled AFofL union, the American Federation of Actors, initiating second attempt byBioff and Browne to take over all actor union jurisdiction - Guildthreatens strike against signatories if IATSE fails to back down – Bioff/Browne action results in serious discussion of mergeramong the actor unions – Congressman Martin Dies comes to Hollywood seeking Communists – first Agency Regulations enacted by theGuild – U.S. enters World War II – Conference of StudioUnions (CSU) conducts several strikes – extras leave the Guild– fight ensues between Screen Players Union and Screen ExtrasGuild over representation of extras – first atomic bomb exploded – WWII ends – Communism spreads/Cold War begins – television goes national – "Hollywood Ten" HUAC hearings – Paramount Decree of 1948 ends the "studio system" – Korean War begins – Runaway Production becomes a notableproblem – MCA waiver granted – Guild wins jurisdiction for filmed TV programs over the Television Authority (TvA) – TvA & the American Federation of Radio Artists merge to become AFTRA – first Screen Actors Guild strike (filmed TV Commercials) – second Guild strike (TV Programs) – first televisionprogram residuals.
Presidents: Ralph Morgan, Edward Arnold, JamesCagney, George Murphy, Robert Montgomery, Ronald Reagan. WalterPidgeon.
Executive Secretaries: Kenneth Thomson to Dec. 1943, succeeded by his assistant, John L. "Jack" Dales.
Important events: second story added to the building, as spacegets tight – Guild branch representatives added to NationalBoard of Directors – "pay-per-play" enters CommercialsContract – Theatrical strike (March/April 1960) results infirst pension & health plan, and residuals for films sold toTV – President John F. Kennedy assassinated – RunawayProduction on-going concern – "American Scene" languageenters contract – U.S. enters Vietnam War - in 1968 –Guild Board tightens "conflict of interest rule" to precludea member with any production interest, no matter how small, fromserving on the Board of Directors – SAG Conservatory established– non-Communist "loyalty oath" removed as requirementof Guild membership – SAG Film Society begins – CommercialsStrike (Dec. 1978 - Feb. 1979) – Theatrical/TV strike (July-October, 1980) gives new impetus to discussion of SAG/AFTRA merger – SAG Foundation established.
Presidents: Walter Pidgeon, Leon Ames, HowardKeel, Ronald Reagan, George Chandler, Dana Andrews, Charlton Heston,John Gavin, Dennis Weaver, Kathleen Nolan, William Schallert, Ed Asner, Patty Duke.
National Executive Secretaries: Jack Dales, until close of 1972; Chester "Chet" Migden 1973 - 1981; A. Kendall "Ken"Orsatti, from 1981.
National Executive Secretaries: Chester "Chet" Migden 1973 - 1981; A. Kendall "Ken" Orsatti, from 1981.
Thirty years after moving national headquarters from 7046 HollywoodBlvd., the Guild found itself back in the ol' neighborhood, diagonally across Hollywood Blvd. from its 1938-1956 location. Just up the block, on North Sycamore, was Masquers Club clubhouse, from which the Guildsprang in 1933.
Important events: 1987: Guild announces distribution of one billion dollars in film/TV residuals since their inception in 1952 - Animation Strike (June 15 - July 24, 1987) - Writers Guild strike (March 7 -August 8), 1988 - Patty Duke resigns Guild presidency June 15, 1988 - actress Rebecca Schaeffer murdered July 18, 1988, leading to theGuild's push for privacy legislation - SAG regains partial jurisdiction over Hollywood extras, 1990 - In 1992, Guild regains remaining jurisdiction over Hollywood extras, in wake of Screen Extras Guild's demise - SAG Foundation establishes BookPals program - 2 billion dollars in film/TVresiduals distributed since 1952.
Presidents: Patty Duke, Barry Gordon.
National Executive Director: Ken Orsatti.
Museum Square (which opened in 1948 as the Prudential Building)just down the street from the famous La Brea Tar Pits and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It rises nine stories, plus a penthouse, and the Guild occupies space on three different floors. First Guild headquarters to be non-smoking. American Federation of Televisionand Radio Artists (AFTRA) and a branch of the Actors' Equity Associationhave offices here as well.
Important events: Northridge earthquake hits January 17,1994 – SAG Awards show debuts – President Barry Gordonresigns – Guild website debuts in December 1996 – SAG/AFTRAmerger vote fails – Runaway Production continues as a concern – Guild begins " Indie Outreach" program – digital film making begins – Guild changes contract terminology fromtraditional term "extras" to "background actors" in June 1999 – incumbent SAG President Richard Masur defeatedby challenger William Daniels – six-month Commercials Strike May - October 2000 – CastSAG debuts on internet – September 11 terrorist attacks - anthrax scare across USA – Robert Pisanobegins Guild re-structuring - SAG national election rerun for President, Recording Secretary and Treasurer – new Agency Franchise agreementvoted down by SAG membership – "Global Rule 1" goes into effect.
Presidents: Barry Gordon, Richard Masur, William Daniels, Melissa Gilbert, Alan Rosenberg.
NationalExecutive Directors: A. Robert Pisano(NED/CEO 2001-2005), Greg Hessinger (NED/CEO 2005), Peter C. Frank, (Interim National Executive Director 2005-2006), Doug Allen (NED 2007-current).