This 1934 article from PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE was illustrated with the pictures of shanties, tents and makeshift shelters that once surrounded many of the major Hollywood movie studios during the Great Depression - it is the sad story of Hollywood movie extras, and those who aspired to be, and the challenging lives they led during the economic collapse of the Thirties:
"Tossed out of other work by the recent depression, attracted by the false stories of Hollywood's squandering and extravagances, excited by the thrill of living and working in the same town and the same industry with world famous personalities, they drifted to Hollywood and attached themselves to the motion picture industry. They registered with the Central Casting Bureau, and joined the great army of extras."
The story reaches an end when bureaucrats from FDR's National Recovery Agency arrived in Hollywood and forced the extras casting agencies to remove thousands of names from their lists of able-bodied extras. At that point the shantytowns were depopulated and the crowds dispersed. What was not discussed is that there is no portion of the U.S. Constitution that grants any agency of the Federal Government the power to decide who works and who doesn't; but there is no real money or forceful personality in the extras game and so this issue never came up.
Read about the wages paid to extras during Hollywood's silent film days.
CLICK HERE to read additional primary source articles about the Great Depression...
Hollywood Unknowns: A History of Extras,
Bit Players, and Stand-Ins