This Week in Movie History: 1/4/16

January 10, 1923: The “Hollywoodland” sign, built on the hills above Los Angeles to promote sales of homes in Beachwood Canyon, is dedicated.

January 10, 1924:  Columbia Pictures Corporation, formerly CBC Film Sales, is founded by Joseph Brandt and brothers Harry and Jack Cohn.

January 7, 1926: Vaudeville duo George Burns and Gracie Allen marry. The couple would co-star in films, radio and TV until Gracie’s death in 1964.

January 10, 1927: Set in the year 2000, Fritz Lang‘s sci-fi opus Metropolis opens. It’s among the first to use miniatures in place of enormous sets.

January 9, 1931: Short-statured actor Edward G. Robinson creates a chilling persona as ruthless gangster “Rico” Bandello in Warner Bros.’ Little Caesar.

January 9. 1936: Silent screen idol John Gilbert, whose career faded with the rise of sound, dies from a heart attack at 38.

January 10, 1936: After nearly 16 years of marriage, Hollywood “golden couple” Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and Mary Pickford finalize their divorce.

January 9, 1940: Radio’s masked crimefighter, The Green Hornet, is brought to big-screen life in a Universal serial. Gordon Jones stars in the title role.

January 5, 1945: Casanova skunk Pepé Le Pew makes his debut in the Warner Bros. cartoon Odor-able Kitty.

January 7, 1947: After premiering in New York the month before, Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life opens in wide release to a lackluster box office.

January 5, 1948: It’s “Up, up and away!” for Man of Steel Kirk Alyn, with the debut of the Columbia serial Superman.

January 10, 1949: Actor Robert Mitchum is sentenced to two months’ jail time after being convicted on marijuana charges.

January 4, 1954: The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the right of film distributors to confine first-run engagements to downtown theaters.

January 8, 1954: Sydney Greenstreet, memorable screen heavy (in every sense of the term) of The Maltese Falcon and other films of the ’40s, dies at age 75.

January 10, 1959: Former Cahiers du Cinéma critic Claude Chabrol releases Le Beau Serge, considered the first film in the “French New Wave” movement ignited by young cinema enthusiasts.

January 8, 1964: The Pink Panther, starring Peter Sellers as maladroit manhunter Inspector Clouseau, has its premiere in London.

January 5, 1967: Charles Chaplin releases what will be his final directorial effort, A Countess from Hong Kong, starring Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren.

January 10, 1990: The largest communications merger to date is accomplished when Warner Bros. and Time Inc. form Time/Warner. Cost: some $14 billion.

January 4, 1998: The voice of cartoon heroines Betty Boop and Olive Oyl, actress Mae Questel, passes away at the age of 89.

January  10, 2008: Actress Maila Nurmi, who gained fame as Vampira and co-starred in Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space, dies at 85.