Saturday, June 30, 2012

Quiet On The Set! Part Two

John Ford shoots a scene with Dorothy Lamour for "The Hurricane" 1937

Bette Davis and George Brent shoot a scene for "Jezebel" 1938

Greta Garbo on the set of "Anna Christie" 1930

Cyd Charisse rests those gorgeous legs.

Myrna Loy poses for famed studio photographer, Clarence Sinclair Bull on the set of "The Thin Man" 1934

Betty Grable checks her hair and makeup.

Mae West performs her number for "She Done Him Wrong" 1933

Carroll Baker gets direction from William Wyler on the set of "The Big Country" 1958

Linda Darnell takes a break on the set of "Two Flags West" 1950

Boris Karloff and Colin Clive take a break on the set of "Frankenstein" 1931

Doris Day takes a moment to sign autographs on the set of "The Man Who Knew Too Much" 1956

Dorothy Revier cuts up on the set of "The Black Camel" 1931

Thanks for stopping by for a peek at the stars behind the scenes. 
See ya soon!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hollywood at Home: Theda Bara, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle and Raoul Walsh

As I mentioned in my previous Hollywood at Home article on Pickfair, during the 1910's the stars were making their way to southern California in droves. One star who was making a name for herself was the silent actress, Theda Bara or as she was labeled, The Vamp. 

With the wealthy directors of the day opening their wallets to rent then eventually build mansions in and around Benedict Canyon, Theda Bara was actually the first actress to buy a home, splurge upon her success in motion pictures. And unlike other stars during the 1910's she wasn't afraid of the wealthy society folk who lived in the only bustling neighborhood that would later make up Beverly Hills.

Theda Bara vamping it up in Salome, 1916

Under contract with Fox Studios in 1914 and certain she would be a popular star for years, Theda purchased a roomy Tudor style mansion on the corner of what was once Beverly Drive and Park Way and actually the first spec home built by developer, Burton Green and his partners.  

The beginning of Beverly Hills, 1915. Looking at Crescent Drive and the first home built by Henry Clark on the right with the newly built Beverly Hills Hotel on the left in the distance.

Once in residence in her new home, Theda set out decorating it in the "Gothic" style in order to live up to her on screen image. When you're the original 'goth girl' with white makeup to give you that "recently embalmed" look and heavy black charcoal around your eyes, the jet black hair, you're expected to live in the fashion that made you famous which would seem ludicrous today. 

One of the first mansions built in what would in this area of Los Angeles. This Tudor style home on the corner of Beverly Drive and Park Way as it appeared in 1915 while Theda Bara resided there.

Theda Bara in "Cleopatra" 1917

The home may have looked like it came out of the English countryside from the exterior, perfectly manicured gardens and guest house in the same style but the interiors were decorated with plush animal skin rugs in every room, heavy dark velvet draperies, skulls, candles, dark painted walls and even a few crystal balls thrown in for good measure. (If anyone has seen the inside of Cher's home I think she got her style from Theda.) 

We get a rare glimpse of Theda Bara dressed in 'normal' attire as she poses in her plush English garden in front of her guest house.

From 1915 through 1918, Theda held court, threw lavish parties to show off her new found success at the chagrin of her wealthy neighbors who didn't find her late night entertaining all that amusing. Late night traffic, guests frolicking on the lawn, loud music, drunks stumbling about with no regard for the neighbors who just wanted a quiet existence in a very exclusive neighborhood that Theda and her movie friends were treating more like a roadhouse.  Luckily, they would get rid of this gauche thespian, strange outsider soon enough. 

As audiences grew tired of Theda's 'vamping' on-screen and her box office draw waned, Fox Studios canceled her contract at the beginning of 1918. Not having put any money away, Bara had no choice but to hoist her Tudor mansion up on the market to the delight of her neighbors. Of course that delight would soon turn to horror as an even more rambunctious and lewd neighbor was movin in. 

The beautifully manicured Tudor mansion as it appeared in 1924. On what now sits on Adams Avenue in the heart of Los Angeles.

You know the old saying "Be careful what you wish for"?  Well, the privileged residents of Beverly Hills were getting ready to be shocked and filled with regret!  While Theda's career was coming to an end, a comedic actor named Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle was finding success in motion pictures under the guidance of Joe Schenck. A popular comedian in Keystone shorts, Arbuckle's popularity was on the rise and with that success, Schenck felt it was time that Roscoe lived like a star, settle down with his dutiful wife, Minta.  Arbuckle purchased Theda's home on now 649 West Adams Avenue. (The neighbors were getting ready to brace for a hurricane and they didn't even know it!) 

Roscoe Arbuckle and wife Minta pose for pictures on the grounds of their newly purchased home in 1919.

Now in residence in 1918, Roscoe and Minta set out to make the estate their own with renovations to erase Theda's 'dark existence'.  I'm certain the neighbors were welcoming at first, after all this was a large unassuming man who was married to a very meek woman who was ready to live a quiet life after retiring from motion pictures that same year.

For the first few months all was quiet on Adams Avenue then the parties began and these weren't your 'invite a few close friends over for a fancy dinner' parties. Roscoe, now a very popular star was hosting large parties at the Adams Avenue home every weekend starting after everyone drove off the studio lots on Friday night and ending come Monday morning when the still intoxicated or hungover guests found their way home or back to the studios.

An aerial view of Beverly Hills (Beverly Hills Hotel center) as it appeared in the early 1920's, now occupied by the wealthy of southern California with it's busy tree lined streets and large homes popping up on large parcels of land.

Some of Fatty's frequent guests were Mabel Normand, Buster Keaton, the Talmadge sisters, Adolph Zukor, Charlie Chaplin, Wallace Beery, Mary Miles Minter, Raoul Walsh, Miriam Cooper, Nita Naldi, Mae Murray, Thomas Ince and Corinne Griffith.  The booze flowed, the guests were loud and the lavish spare bedrooms were often occupied for late night dalliances. Dalliances which would often lead to a jealous ex or furious spouse fighting and brawling on the front lawn. The neighbors, yearning for their sedate street back would have to wait because Hollywood was here to stay and live like there was no tomorrow and alcohol was actually legal.  

Fatty Arbuckle at the height of his fame with his $25,000 Pierce Arrow.

As the 1920's arrived, Arbuckle's career was still on the rise and the parties continued in full swing until that fateful night in 1921 when Fatty found himself embroiled in the biggest scandal to ever hit the motion picture industry. After a party hosted by Fatty Arbuckle at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco left a guest close to death, and ugly speculation and rumors left everyone pointing fingers at Arbuckle as the cause, the party was over!

With Arbuckle being charged for the murder of silent actress, Virginia Rappe in 1922 and his once loyal bosses distancing themselves from him as quickly as possible, Fatty's life was in turmoil and on a downward spiral.  No longer employed and with his former co-stars unwilling to associate with him, Arbuckle and his wife Minta were now abandoned and to make matters worse, every church, women's group, anyone with access to a newspaper wanted Roscoe's head on a spit.  

Eventually cleared of all charges in the death of Virginia Rappe by 1923, Fatty would assume an alias and find work in motion pictures but by now it was too late to repair his image. In the public eye he would always be a murderer.  Earning far less than he did during the time he was under contract at Paramount, Arbuckle needed to make money fast so he reluctantly made the decision to rent out the Adams Avenue home that he and Minta had once viewed as their dream home, where they would grow old together.

Actor/Director Raoul Walsh and his actress wife, Miriam Cooper, now very successful and looking for a larger residence, helped Arbuckle out by renting the property. (In my previous post on Pickfair you may recall that Walsh and Cooper had looked at what would become that residence before Douglas Fairbanks purchased it. Miriam felt it was too isolated, practically a wilderness.)  

Walsh and Cooper would rent the Adams Avenue home for several months before purchasing their dream house at 624 South Plymouth Boulevard. The next renters would be film executive, Joe Schenck and his beautiful wife, silent actress, Norma Talmadge.  (That had to sting a bit since Schenck was Arbuckle's old boss.)

An aerial view of the large home that Raoul Walsh and wife, Miriam Cooper would purchase in 1924 not far from their rented home still owned by Roscoe Arbuckle.

Street views of the Walsh, Cooper home as it appears today at 626 South Plymouth Blvd, Los Angeles.

A beautiful home today.

Eventually Norma and Joe would tire of renting and move to their own grand estate just as Walsh and Cooper did, leaving the still grand Adams Avenue home and their disgruntled neighbors behind. (I'll be writing about the Talmadge girls and their grand estates at a future date.)  By 1926, under the strain of debt and scandal, Minta and Roscoe were divorced and the Adams Avenue residence was put up for sale. Falling into the hands of non movie people at last.  (I wonder how many of the 'society people' sold their own homes on that street before that day came?)

The once lively home is still intact on West Adams Avenue just off of South Figueroa Street. With it's beautifully manicured lawns and all existing buildings restored, fully intact I wonder if the new owners have any idea of what went on there, just how many stars walked through those beautiful ornate doors so many years ago?

An aerial view of the Theda Bara estate as it appears today via Google Earth. The beautiful English gardens remain to the left with the original guest house in the back (top right of photo)

A recent street view of the gorgeous Tudor style home. 

The home looks virtually unchanged from the time it was owned by Bara in the 1910's.

In case you were wondering where Theda Bara moved to in 1918, after she was forced out of motion pictures. She would marry the British screenwriter/director, Charles Brabin in 1921 and live a quieter life in Beverly Hills as a housewife. They purchased another Tudor style home at 632 North Alpine Drive, Beverly Hills where they would live for several years.  Charles and Theda would remain happily married until her death in 1955 from cancer.

The Alpine Drive home where Theda Bara would live a quiet life with husband, Charles Brabin.

Same view recently via Google Earth.

An aerial view of the Theda Bara, Charles Brabin residence as it appears today, still taking up an entire corner lot. You can see that the original guest house remains intact.

A side view with the private guest house on the left of photo (back of property).

A recent street view of the Bara home and it's guest house as it appears from the side.

The home, back gates and guest cottage accessible from Elevado Avenue.

A closer view of the guest cottage at the back of Bara's Alpine property.

The front entrance, circular drive of the stately home on Alpine Drive.

Thanks for joining me for another look back at the early homes of Hollywood's Golden Age and stay tuned as we visit other homes of our favorite stars. Also, if you missed my previous post on Pickfair you can view it HERE and my article on Valentino's Falcon Lair can be viewed HERE. (With newly added photos to both posts!)

*Please keep in mind that these are private residences if you happen to drive by any of the homes featured here.

Friday, June 22, 2012

More Fun In The Sun!

Ann Francis sizzles in her one piece.

Janet Leigh shows off her perfect figure over a game of table tennis.

Ann Rutherford relaxes poolside.

Claire Trevor finds a way to stay cool.

Dorothy Lamour gives Lana Turner a run for her money in that sweater.

Jane Russell shows off her hourglass shape while enjoying a day by the pool.

Rita Hayworth is flawless. Darn her!

Joan Blondell is cute as a button as she tries to make a board look comfortable.

No bathing suit post would be complete without the gorgeous Esther Williams. 

Rita Moreno shows off her polka dots.

Lana Turner is ready for a day of fun.

Jean Parker enjoys a day at the beach. 

Frances Farmer is lovely in her one piece.

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer so far. 
Thanks for stopping by!