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HOLLYWOOD’S MAGICAL ISLAND – CATALINA A GREG REITMAN Film celebrates its 20th year anniversary on Avalon



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Hollywood’s Magical Island – Catalina A Greg Reitman Film

Through the remarkable eye of film director Greg Reitman, we embark on an adventure through time and nature in exploring Hollywood’s playground of the stars.

Looking back twenty years, it’s amazing to see the film still captures the imagination and love of the Islands allure.”

— Greg Reitman, Film Director

SANTA MONICA, CA, UNITED STATES, May 27, 2023/ — Through the remarkable eye of first-time film director Greg Reitman, we embark on an armchair adventure through time and nature in this captivating exploration of the romantic history of Santa Catalina Island, Hollywood’s private playground for the better part of a century. The audience experiences the island’s golden era beginning with William Wrigley Jr.’s acquisition of the Santa Catalina Island Company in 1919.

Narrated by Emmy-winning actor Peter Coyote, “Hollywood’s Magical Island – Catalina” presents the fascinating history of California’s own paradise isle using rare 16mm archival film and vintage black & white still photographs, inter-cut with interviews of longtime island residents, historians and celebrities. Hollywood’s Magical Island chronicles Catalina from the Wrigley era through the present day resurrection of Avalon as a center for art, sports, music, and entertainment.

Looking back at the 20th anniversary one can begin to appreciate the vision of William Wrigley, Jr. in his preservation efforts of forming the Catalina Island Conservancy with the intention of finding balance between civil society and the natural habitat and ecology of the island. As we continue to explore, define, and understand the true mean meaning of sustainability, Reitman’s film will serve as a catalyst for government and future generations to learn from.

Among those featured on-camera are:

William Wrigley, Jr.’s granddaughter, Ada Wrigley Schreiner, in her first-ever interview.

Actor Gregory Harrison – a third-generation islander and son of the captain of the famous Glass Bottom Boat that ferried tourists around Avalon Bay.

Tony Dow – one of our favorite childhood stars as Wally Cleaver on the classic series, “Leave it to Beaver” – who spent every summer there with his family.

Oscar-nominated actress Kathleen Quinlan, who was born in Avalon and returned each summer.

The late Les Brown in his last interview, talking about playing the famed Catalina Ballroom with his Band of Renown orchestra.

Fitness guru Jack LaLanne, who frequently visited during his bodybuilding years.

Oceanographer and explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau, an admirer of how well the island has been preserved.

Surf guitar legend Dick Dale.

Veteran film producer A. C. Lyles, who was working for Paramount Pictures when buffaloes were imported to Catalina for the filming of Zane Gray’s “The Vanishing American” in 1924, and shot many of his own pictures there.

The late screen siren Peggy Moran, a cult favorite for her 1940 role in “The Mummy’s Hand,” who was a regular during the Big Band era.

“HOLLYWOOD’S MAGICAL ISLAND” takes viewers on an intimate journey through such history-making developments and moments as:

The construction of the Sugarloaf Casino in 1920 – an eight-sided, steel-framed stucco structure designed to accommodate 250 couples at a cost $250,000 – which later became the world’s largest birdcage.

The discovery of the island’s real treasure in 1926, the clay deposits that were manufactured into the widely known ‘Catalina tile,’ evident throughout Avalon.

The design and construction of the island’s world-famous landmark, the 140-foot circular Catalina Casino, unveiled in 1929 at a cost of $2 million – where, notably, gambling has never been allowed.

The first theater ever built for “talkies” – which later became an acoustical model for Radio City Music Hall.

The 15,000 square foot Avalon Casino Ballroom, where all the big band greats played to crowds of 6000 or more during the Golden Age of swing music.

The stunning art deco-style murals by artist John Gabriel Beckman, a designer of Grauman’s Chinese Theater a year earlier.

The instrumental role that Catalina’s fleet of steamships played in transporting the hordes of tourists who visited from the mainland daily.

The advent of amphibious seaplane service to the island, launched in 1919 by Charlie Chaplin’s half-brother in a failed venture.

The 30-year history of Catalina as the spring training ground of the Chicago Cubs.

The unlikelihood of Ronald Reagan’s being signed to an acting contract, as a result of covering the Cubs on Catalina as a Chicago radio announcer.

Best-selling novelist Zane Gray’s famed fishing exploits as a member of the Catalina Tuna Club.

The trend-setting fashion influence of the Catalina Swimsuit Company.

Marilyn Monroe’s life as the wife of a serviceman stationed on the island during World War II – while she was still Norma Jean Baker.


Greg Reitman is an American producer, director, screenwriter, author and Founder, Blue Water Film Festival. Described by Movie Maker Magazine as “one of the top ten filmmakers in the world producing content that impacts our world. Greg Reitman runs Blue Water Entertainment, Inc., an independent production company focusing on environmentally conscious entertainment. “Hollywood’s Magical Island” marks the 20th Anniversary of his directorial debut as a writer, producer, and director.

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Hollywood’s Magical Island – Catalina Official Trailer


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