Monday, August 6, 2012

What's In A Name?

"It was one of those crazy houses that actors built int he crazy 20's"
-Bill Holden Sunset Blvd.

 (Pickfair- The Home of Mary Pickford & Douglas Fairbanks, photo circa 1935)
Well Readers apparently a legacy...
I have always had a fascination with houses that were given names, I guess simply because a name rather than just an address lends some elegance to a places existence. Due to this fascination I later named my home "The Casablanca" (after a line about "being misinformed" in the 1943 movie Casablanca.) In the movie "Singing in the Rain"(1953) Debbie Reynolds sums up 1920's Hollywood living best with the line she delivers to Gene Kelly "I know all about you MOVIE actors. WILD parties, swimming pools, dancing girls!" The estate Pickford was one of the first mansions built in Beverly Hills way back in 1919. They bought the tiny house and turned it into a four story 48 room mansion that was in its heyday the stuff of fairytale.  In the 20's Pickford and her husband Fairbanks were Hollywood Royalty and Pickfair was their Camelot.
From what i've read and heard tell about, Mary Pickford could throw one hell of a party! (not so much wild as they were lavish.) Her fame and hospitality made it easy, and she would throw in surprises (for example eating off china that Napoleon had given to Josephine.) Anyone who was anyone waited on pins and needles for an invitation- frequent guests included Charlie Chaplin, (who also lived next door), the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Greta Garbo, George Bernard Shaw, Albert Einstein, Elinor Glyn, Helen Keller, H.G. Wells, Amelia Earhart, Zelda & F. Scott Fitzgerald,Joan Crawford, Noel Coward, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, Pearl S. Buck, Charles Lindbergh,Thomas Edison, Lillian Gish, Gloria Swanson, the Duke and Duchess of Alba, AND the King and Queen of Siam. Causing the house to become almost, if not more famous than the White House on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The interior of the home had the best of everything the world had to offer...until 1936. Fairbanks had a scandalous affair (aren't they all?!) Pickford divorced him, kept the house in the settlement and became a recluse until her death in 1979. After that the estate switched hands, was divided and then to the shock of historic Hollywood- was mostly torn down and replaced by another gawdy structure.

*  *  *
(The Garden of Allah- The Home of actress Alla Nazimova.)
This complex also originally started as one modest house that was transformed into a mansion. During the 20's especially during Prohibition it was one of the most glamorous and WILD party hot spots on Sunset Blvd. 
Nazimova started with her home, and friends stayed so often and for such periods of time she ran it out as a hotel and artistic village of sorts. I noticed while doing research on these places that residents of Los Angels did a lot of flocking from place to place!
(With curb appeal like that who wouldn't flock there?!)
Once again this was the life of the party right up until the mid 50's, by then it was rundown and nothing near what it had once been and in 1959 it was torn down to make way for a mall. Way. to. go. Progress. NOT.

*  *  *
(La Cuesta Encantada, "The Enchanted Hill"- 
The home of millionaire William Randolph Hearst.)
This one started our as the plan for a modest bungalow getaway and ended up spiraling into the history books! Construction started in 1919 and wasn't completed until 1947. This estate is a whirlwind of Spanish Revival/ Mexican Colonial/ Spanish Renaissance and Baroque... What can I say? Hearst was fickle?!  He infamously drove his architects crazy as he would take a trip to Europe only to return with new plans that almost always involved a major overhaul or the import of some old ruins, like the ones in the backyard...
(Neptune's Pool)
Redesigned THREE TIMES before completion it certainly is striking. The ancient temple ruin was purchased and transported from Europe and reassembled poolside. Cards stating "your presence is requested." to Hearst Castle were highly coveted during its heyday in the 1920s and '30s. The Hollywood Royalty and political elite often visited, either by flying into the estate's airfield or taking a private Hearst-owned train car from Los Angeles. Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, the Marx Brothers, Charles Lindbergh, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, James Stewart, Bob Hope, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt, Dolores Del Rio, and Winston Churchill were among Hearst's A-list guests. While guests were expected to attend the formal dinners each evening, this immaculate playground was theirs for leisure during the day. When Hearst died in 1951 the estate remained in the family until it was donated as a park to the city of Los Angles in 1957 with the stipulation that the Hearst family could use it when they please and still do to this day.

*  *  *
Are we starting to see a pattern here?  What do these fabulous and legendary places have in common? I suppose the first thought that comes to mind is $MONEY$, but not for me. I mean money helps, but what makes these places the stuff of legend are the memories that were made while at them. I see places that started with modest beginnings, that gradually became bigger, were frequented by family good friends, and were the backdrops to some fabulous parties... Hmm lets see here-

 (The Casablanca- The home of Mick Jordan.)
[  ] Money.
[ X ] Started with modest beginnings.
[ X ] Gradually became bigger.
[ X ] Frequented by family and good friends.
[ X ] Backdrop to fabulous parties.
[ X ] Wonderful memories made on premises .

Five out of six  isn't to shabby!  Granted its not terribly grand or lavish, but can you really sit there and tell me that all of this isn't fabulous on some scale?! Maybe with some hard work and a little time I'll accomplish that first one, and then I too will have a Legacy.



Vonlipi said...

You are sooo right!

The Casablanca is grand and fabulous and in the blogosphere it is a legend!

BTW I saw the movie from the pagent; it was too cool.

You throw the best parties :)

Dana@Mid2Mod said...

The Casablanca is truly the stuff of legends...and it already is one in my mind! Thanks for a really entertaining post!

Jim said...

I know about Casablanca and I know that you too Mick will be a legend! And I will say that I 'know' that guy! I know I am much older and maybe I won't 'see' that day, but hey, many will!

DearHelenHartman said...

It looks like the beginning of a long home-ship. Love the pics and the name. I wanted to name our home but couldn't think of anything that didn't include a curse word. Great post.