Alexander Film Co. remembered
Old Colorado City… cinema hotspot?
The Alexander Film Company, a world leader in movie advertising in the decades before television, briefly had offices in Old Town before moving to an 18-acre site on North Nevada Avenue.
Steve Antonuccio of the Pikes Peak Library District, who has created two DVDs from preserved Alexander films and commercials, told the company story at a meeting of the El Paso County Pioneers' Associa-tion last month at the Westside's Masonic Center.
The company was started and led by two brothers, J. Don and Don M. Alexander, who also were respected airplane manufacturers. Their early years were in Englewood (near Denver). They moved their film operations to Old Colorado City in 1928.
Antonuccio's presentation scope did not take in the Westside aspect. However, local historian Mel McFarland provided some background in a March 2005 “Cobweb Corners” column in the Westside Pioneer. “Alexan-der Film Company and several associated businesses moved into offices all along Colorado Avenue,” the column reads, in part. “The shops in Colorado City housed mainly artists who worked on illustrations used in the films. A couple of buildings were used to actually do the filming. One shop was the home of the developing lab, while several were business offices.”
In his talk, Antonuccio drew in large part on the written and oral recollections of area writer Leland Feitz, who had worked for Alexander.
“At one time, the company had over 24,000 clients with movie ads showing in some 10,000 theaters in the United States and 1,400 in other countries,” Feitz writes in the February 2007 issue of the Pioneer Courier. “An estimated 50 million people saw Alexander theater commercials every week!”
The business thrived until television began undercutting the movie-theater trade in the 1950s - although the company gained wide notoriety for a 1964 TV ad in which a Chevrolet with a waving model was filmed on top of a tall rock in Utah after being placed there by a helicopter.
Antonuccio said afterward that he discovered Alexander films in his job as the Library District's producer for Channel 17 programming. Much of the footage came from former employees in the area. “I'm sure there are thousands of films that were destroyed over the years,” he said. “I just try to find what I can.”
Alexander also made videos of the region. A couple that Antonnucio has, which he played during his talk, showed Spencer Penrose and a ride on the Midland Railway.
The two DVDs can be borrowed from the library. The titles are: “Colorado Springs the Way It Was - Alexander Film Company” and “Colorado Springs the Way It Was - The Early Films of the Pikes Peak Region.”
Westside Pioneer article