Essanay Film and Television was formed in San
Francisco in the late 1960's. Two cameramen, Charlie Stanyan, a
documentarian, and Kenneth Allan, a Movietone Newsreeler, wanted to
make films for education and industry. The two men couldn't decide what
to call the company: "Stanyan and Allan?" "Allan and Stanyan?"
They discovered that their initials were a fit with
the then-defunct "Essanay Film Company" which had originated in
Chicago. It had been one of the first movie companies in California.
Essanay produced Charlie Chaplin's early "Tramp" films and countless
Westerns by director, star and owner of "The Face Known 'Round the
World," Bronco Billy Anderson. Studios and locations were based in
Niles, California, a small town east of the San Francisco Bay. Ken
Allan had worked as an extra in Essanay films as a child actor.
Ken, Mark and Milana
Allan on the set of the "China Smith" television series in the early
1950's. Milana worked as a script supervisor, Ken was on the
executive board of the IATSE.
Stanyan and Allan adopted the Essanay name in 1967.
The next year Charlie Stanyan retired. Ken Allan took over the business
and operated it with his wife Milana Allan.