Alison Martino brings Vintage LA to WEHOville

WEHOville is proud to introduce a bright new West Hollywood voice to our readers, a contributor who truly loves our city and the history behind it. As creator of the popular social media page Vintage Los Angeles, Alison Martino brings a wealth of first-hand experience and historical insight to her fascinating columns and photo essays. Stay tuned to WEHOville over the coming months as she gives readers a trip down Memory Lane we’ll never forget.

Alison Martino has spent more than a decade on a quest to retrieve the lost relics of a forgotten era: the glory days of Greater Hollywood, long before West Hollywood became a city. The obscure pieces of the past she has rescued and preserved — from priceless personal effects to photographs, menus, matchbooks, and all sorts of kitschy memorabilia — together tell a story far grander than can be found in any history book.

“I call myself a DeLorean of the internet,” she says, and indeed her spacious condo on the West Side occupies a place beyond time, where past and present exist side by side.

Martino, 51, makes her home among this vast collection, and the collection lives through her.

As the daughter of singer and actor Al Martino, known for his role in The Godfather, Alison grew up in Beverly Hills among the glitz and glamour of the midcentury Hollywood lifestyle. Despite her proximity to the lights and action of the movie business, she looks back fondly on the quiet, close-knit neighborhoods she remembers from her childhoo

“I grew up in the 70’s which was a very, very different place,” she told CinemaScholars.com. “When I grew up in Beverly Hills, nobody had ever heard of the ZIP code 90210. I never thought anything of growing up in my neighborhood. 

A young Alison Martino and her parents, Al and Judi.

Martino’s brush with destiny came while she was a producer at E! Entertainment Television working on the classic cult series Mysteries & Scandals, a Hollywood Babylon-esque show which focused on the flip side of fame.

“It was during that show that I collected a lot of images of L.A. to help tell my stories. So if I was doing the history of Marilyn Monroe’s life or Charlie Chaplin or anyone that was from back in the Hollywood days, I collected a lot of photographs, a lot of material to push along the story as a visual. and I became very obsessed with the history of L.A. and especially my city now that I live in West Hollywood.”

Martino’s affection for old Hollywood and her hometown’s architecture led her to create the wildly popular Vintage Los Angeles — an ever growing photo-centric Facebook and Instagram account dedicated to highlighting L.A.’s physical transformation during the 20th Century, as well as its history as the center of the entertainment industry and community. Vintage Los Angeles not only focuses on sharing photos, but also on creating an active online community. Vintage Los Angeles has nearly 500,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram combined, and has become a go-to site for commentary and conversation on the entertainment industry and Hollywood history.

Martino is also an advocate for historic preservation of the architecture that makes Los Angeles and its surrounding communities like West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica unique, and for the buildings that are iconic representations of the entertainment industry. She worked to bring back the original Chasen’s Chili, helped save vintage signs on Sunset Strip and to preserve the original caricatures on the walls of The Palm Restaurant, and advocated removal of vendor carts that blocked public access to the historic Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

“The greatest part about being a collector or an archivist, historian — whatever you want to say — is having this online community,” she said. “To post images and content about the history of L.A. that’s just so accessible. Before, you’d have to write a book. Today it’s like I can just put it out. I mean, I give a lot away for free but it’s something I really enjoy doing and I’m always learning from the community as well.”

“I think the era that I celebrate — the ‘50s and ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s — a lot of people that are still here lived through it, so they’re able to communicate and also offer a lot of inside information I never would have known.”

“I’m very protective of L.A.,” Martino said. “I think what’s great about Vintage L.A. is I’m not only praising the past, but I hoping by learning about our past we can preserve the future too.  There are a lot of followers on Vintage L.A. who live in other countries who have never even been to L.A. yet, and I want to get them the best historical experience.”

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Karen Liszkiewicz
Karen Liszkiewicz
8 months ago

It’s a great article and I love your vintage Los Angeles website,I have enjoyed your videos and all you do❤❤❤

Jack Blunck
Jack Blunck
8 months ago

I’ve dealt with Alison first hand for years. Granted, she does have great posts but her Wikipedia page claims she’s the godmother of the Sunset Strip. That’s a stretch. She wasn’t even born in the 60s.
She also claims she’s a journalist but why is it the grammar of her Vintage LA posts atrocious? She likes you if you have something for her. She has stolen from so many people and claim it’s her own. I digress… her site is great.

David
David
8 months ago
Reply to  Jack Blunck

Grandmother, not Godmother. Alison Martino has given so much of her time to keep the imagery and history of past decades in LA alive for both those who lived through those eras, and those interested in knowing about it.

Jack Blunck
Jack Blunck
8 months ago
Reply to  David

My point even more.
But there’s another side. Enjoy!

Brian
Brian
8 months ago
Reply to  David

The fact that she has a Wikipedia page is a red flag. Nevertheless, efforts aside, her resume is tenuous at best. Enjoyable to look through lots of history for sure, and appreciated by many. But I think her reputation as gatekeeper of history is overblown and manufactured by herself.

Todd
Todd
8 months ago

How wonderful to add Alison Martino to the content of Wehoville. I’ve followed her for years on FB and Twitter. She has a detailed, almost encyclopedic memory of the past history of the Sunset Strip and other areas/personalities around Hollywood that shaped our history. Sure, her father was the gateway to much of the past, but so what? She produces features for Spectrum Channel 1 and her online posts and updates are always informative, nostalgic, funny, sometimes sad but always positive. Welcome, Alison!

Jack Blunck
Jack Blunck
8 months ago
Reply to  Todd

*Sigh*

Laurie
Laurie
8 months ago
Reply to  Todd

No doubt she has amassed a great collection of collectibles but the Facebook page is mostly photos of herself. Kinda vain and gross.

Encyclopedic memory? Wiki research probably! I don’t have cable so I guess I’m missing out.

E. Buchanan
E. Buchanan
8 months ago

Why all the disparaging, personal comments about Ms. Martino? She’s enlightening wehoville’s readers to the vast contributions of Los Angeles and “Hollywood” to the pop culture firmament. I’m also an LA native, with parents who toiled for decades in the nascent broadcast television business, and I have learned a ton from her highly readable and informative pieces. You naysayers obviously have a right to your opinion, but perhaps try and ascertain the source of your enmity for this woman and her work, an area of history with little on its bookshelf. The negativity you’re all expressing over Wehoville’s positive steps… Read more »

Emma Radalescu
Emma Radalescu
8 months ago

Ok, so she’s not a Mensa candidate by any stretch and she’s a popular contributor and self-appointed figurehead based more on her ability to mine her families name for all it’s worth. Still, people like me enjoy seeing her kitchy wares and she’ll add some fluff to a local outlet. Nothing wrong with that I guess.

Last edited 8 months ago by Emma Radalescu
David
David
8 months ago
Reply to  Emma Radalescu

It’s easy to criticize (even when criticism is not warranted), but in support of Alison, she has established herself by her own efforts as a media personality and cultural historian. I enjoy her videos and articles. I am thrilled that she will be contributing to Wehoville!

Bruce Richoehr
Bruce Richoehr
8 months ago
Reply to  David

Who says it’s not warranted? Anyway, ‘media personality’ is a joke. She’s a collector and not much else. I agree with the other person about her coming off as self-absorbed. Some of the posts I like, but I could do without the endless parade of ‘look at me’ photos.

Curtis
Curtis
8 months ago

I love reading her stories about old Hollywood

Stephen
Stephen
8 months ago

Wow this is great news. I love her Instagram, she’s introduced me to so many facets of L.A. and Weho that I never even heard about before

Admirer
Admirer
8 months ago

Nice to see wehoville expand the community contributions and outreach.

Ouch!
Ouch!
8 months ago

Ouch! Although Ms. Martino did not introduce herself as a Curator of the Smithsonian, she did generously share some insight into the world of memorabilia and vintage wares. Some folks appreciate that and others may not. If not, please keep your unkind comments to yourself as it portrays WeHo as a petty, snarky community instead of that which they wish to be known as of being welcoming to all.

Illana H.
Illana H.
8 months ago
Reply to  Ouch!

Pretty sure you’re not the arbiter of all that is acceptable in weho. I don’t think what the other poster said was unkind. Like you said, she’s not for everyone. She seems to rub some folk the wrong way with her ingratiating manner.

Ouch!
Ouch!
8 months ago
Reply to  Illana H.

Double ouch!

David
David
8 months ago
Reply to  Illana H.

So a “food fight in the cafeteria” over Alison Martino is acceptable in WeHo? Speaking of cafeterias, I wouldn’t doubt that Alison knows of all the cool ones that existed in WeHo and surrounds in the past decades. 😉

Curtis Carver
Curtis Carver
8 months ago

Some people are never happy! Easy to be the keyboard critic, takes a lot more effort to actually DO something, however imperfect it MAY be. Cheers.

Tom
Tom
8 months ago

Ms. Martino also has had a hand in the revival of and the return of Tail O’ The Pup and the Bullwinkle statue, as well as publicizing and educating people about things as diverse as the recent Rudi Gernreich show at the Skirball and the Ed Ruscha online show put on by the Getty. Her knowledge and appreciation of Los Angeles culture (and it IS culture) of the mid-century is unparalleled. The photos of her memorabilia are a bit misleading- she isn’t some mid-mod Norma Desmond lamenting the days she rode her big wheel to the Bee-Gees. I look forward… Read more »

West
8 months ago

This is so cool! I got a sweet spot for stewards of culture.

WehoQueen
WehoQueen
8 months ago
Reply to  West

I thought “culture” was going Tuesday night to the Hollywood Bowl listening to some orchestra play Brahms piano sonatas, or maybe going to the L.A. County Museum of Art to see their impressive Greek ceramic collection. You think “culture” is this entitled girl’s wall hanging of daddy’s framed gold record of his 1952 hit? Or is it her Flip Wilson “Geraldine” doll from 1972? You think that makes her a “steward of culture”? I must be out of touch.

Tom
Tom
8 months ago
Reply to  WehoQueen

You are.

william Johnson
william Johnson
8 months ago
Reply to  WehoQueen

ha ha!

Derek Greer
Derek Greer
8 months ago
Reply to  WehoQueen

she appears more of a curator/observer than anything else. no? i guess having a famous parent has done wonders for her ability to network and collect etc. the blurb above gives the impression she’s a self-styled historian and people soak up every word! i enjoy looking over some of her collections on fb but beyond that, she has nothing new to say.

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