Universally Me: Antonia Carlotta and a Laemmle Legacy

June 4, 2015, 2:15 PM · In Los Angeles, you can bump into someone with a Hollywood lineage on almost a daily basis. But it’s not everyday that you meet a descendant of true Tinseltown—and theme park—royalty. I recently sat down with Antonia Carlotta, the great, great niece of Universal Studios founder Carl Laemmle, and spoke with her about Universal parks and her Web series, Universally Me.

Antonia Carlotta

What is Universally Me? What made you want to start doing it?

Universally Me is my Web series basically where I explore the start of Universal, and the people involved and the places and things and all that started it. My mom is a genealogist, so she studies family history. We have a huge collection of Laemmle stuff, old Universal stuff, so I have all these resources at home. I would sit in her office and go through old pictures and I’d be like, “Oh, this is cool!” Or, you know, I’d find some old letter and be like, “This is great!” And I’d tell my friends about it — and I don’t know if they were appeasing me or not — but they seemed to say, “That’s really cool,” or “That’s really great,” so then I just decided that there might be other people out there who would find it interesting and they’d want to learn a little bit too.

Why is doing this Web series important to you?

I think it’s great for people to know about their own lineage and history and family, so it’s important to me just because it’s where I come from. And, it’s great because through doing it I’ll found out all these things about Carl, or about Eddie Laemmle, who’s my great-grandfather, or you know, my aunt Carla when she was alive. I would find out all these things about them that are so similar to me. Whether it was something stupid like Carl loved to play poker, and I used to play in weekly poker games. Or, my great-grandfather Eddie would travel all over the world and do crazy adventures and stuff, and that’s stuff that I love to do also. Who doesn’t? But I still connected to that. So, in that way, it’s important to me. And also because I feel like so many people forget history and we lose so much of it. So for every place that my mom can point out and say, “Your uncle owned that building,” there’s a place that’s just been torn down.

Stage 28 was just torn down in September. [According to Variety.com, Stage 28 was one of the oldest stages on the Universal Hollywood lot, and housed the set for the 1925 silent film The Phantom of The Opera. It is suspected that the space will be used for theme park expansion.] It’s just a lot of 'let’s just raze the old and bring in something new and modern and generic.' I think it’s important to do as much as we can to bring appreciation for history.

What is the Universal theme park brand? What makes an experience at a Universal park different from another?

I don’t want to call it a mom-and-pop, but Universal was small and it was started by one man who had an idea and brought a bunch of people together. He did the first studio tours back in 1915 and ’16, which you could almost say was the start to parks and bringing people into film studios specifically. As a theme park now, I think it’s just a really great mix of just fun and film and history. You’ve got the rides that have to do with the films. You’ve got the little exhibition of all the historical stuff. I think as a brand it’s doing a pretty good job — or as well as it can right now — of being a new, fun, exciting, theme park, while bringing some of the films and the history and legacy. Universal is about having fun while you’re there, but I wish that more people would appreciate the history while they’re in the theme park — especially in Hollywood because there is so much history there.

What do you like about the current Universal parks? What direction would you like to see them take?

I love rides and roller coasters, so I love that. I do love that there’s a touch of history — especially here at Universal Hollywood. I think that there’s a slightly less sense of history in Orlando because it’s a separate park. I’ve never been to Singapore or Japan, but I like that the Universal out here has a real sense of the community, filmmaking history.

I understand that they have to stay modern and new and exciting. I guess I just wish that there was more space to just do everything as opposed to eliminating things.

What are you excited about at the Universal Parks? What new attractions are you looking forward to?

I love the Transformers ride! I’m excited for The Fast & Furious one — and I think that’s all great, I just wish we were able to preserve the old stuff as well. Oh, and the Studio Tour! The studio tour is my absolute favorite thing. That’s really where you get the best mix of rides and films and history. My favorite ride is The Revenge of The Mummy, other than the studio tour.

The name of the website is Theme Park Insider. Any insider knowledge you can give us?

This is kind of a cool fact about Universal Hollywood: you know there’s the escalators? The eight million, tall escalators? Some of the hills underneath are hills because they used to be the trash dump for Universal way back in the day. And they haven’t actually done any excavating to find out what’s underneath, but there have been rumors over the years of everything from elephant bones from when they used to have the zoo there, to just old films, papers, everything. It’s my dream to take a metal detector and just traverse those hills.

Universally Me can be seen at youtube.com/antoniacarlotta. You can follow Antonia Carlotta on Instagram @AntoniaCarlotta.

Replies (3)

June 4, 2015 at 4:02 PM · Very cool interview. You can see how she's very passionate about preserving Universal Studios culture (she only mentioned it at least 10 times) but totally understandable. Sometimes we get so focused on the next new ride, the buzz, or the shows that it's easy to forget that it all started from... Someone.

And I never knew that about the USH hills!!

June 4, 2015 at 6:58 PM · Thank you! And here I thought I was the only one who had a problem with Universal taking out all the classics just to make way for popular trends! I thought I was alone! Not only that, but it's the descendant of the same guy who created Universal! Nice to know that I'm in such good company!
June 5, 2015 at 10:48 AM · Laemmle is a name that I haven't heard in a long time. The Laemmle theater chain is still around. I didn't know the Universal hills are filled with treasures and trash.

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