Archive for October, 2008

Celebrity Homes…Pola Negri

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008


Pola Negri

Then & Now



621 North Beverly Boulevard

Beverly Hills, California


“When Rudy returned from Europe, he came directly to my house. He bounded out of the car and raced to the door, shouting, “Polita, I am free! I am free! — Pola Negri, from her autobiography, Memoirs of a Star



Pola Negri lived here during her relationship with Rudolph Valentino in 1925-1926. She sold the house several months after Valentino’s death.



An artists rendition of Negri’s residence, circa 1925


Negri’s former residence today, which has changed very little since the 1920s


(Courtesy Joe Yranski)



Photo of residence with Pola standing at door


The residence as it looked from the backyard in the 1920s


Pola standing at door of residence



Obit…Guillaume Depardieu

Monday, October 13th, 2008


Actor Guillaume Depardieu dead at 37

PARIS (AP) — Hospital officials say 37-year-old French actor Guillaume Depardieu has died from complications linked to a sudden case of pneumonia.


The son of French movie star Gerard Depardieu had been hospitalized since Sunday night, said officials at the Raymond-Poincare de Garches hospital in the western suburbs of Paris.


Guillaume Depardieu won the prize in 1996 as the most promising young actor at the Cesar awards — France’s equivalent of the Academy Awards — for his role in the film Les Apprentis (The Apprentices).


He starred with his father in a 1991 film, but they had a public falling-out in 2003. Guillaume Depardieu had his right leg amputated in 2003 to end years of pain from a bacterial infection following a motorcycle accident in 1996.



Diane Keaton on The Ambassador…

Monday, October 13th, 2008


The Ambassador Hotel lesson



The Ambassador Hotel just before its demolition


Demolishing such iconic buildings not only destroys history, it wastes resources.


By Diane Keaton

From The Los Angeles Times
October 13, 2008


Last week, I drove past the 22-acre vacant lot once known as the Ambassador Hotel. As I looked at the rubble of our lost cause, I pulled over, sat back and gave in to a feeling I can only describe as guilt. I thought about my connection to the once-iconic hotel, about why places like it are so difficult to save, and about what it takes to be a better, more effective advocate for historic buildings.


I was just a little girl the first time I visited the Ambassador. My father held my hand and led me down a long hallway before we stopped in front of an ornate facade. I remember Dad’s smile as he slowly opened the door to … the fabulous Cocoanut Grove nightclub! In the magic of a perfect moment, I looked up and saw a parade of dreams etched across the face of the man I loved more than anyone in the world. It was at that moment that something clicked inside my little 9-year-old brain, something that helps me, even today, believe in the ability of the built world to change the trajectory of our lives.


In our battle against the Los Angeles Unified School District’s decision to tear down the Ambassador and put up a new school, we made many arguments. We focused on “reuse” as an economic incentive. The LAUSD wasn’t buying it. We hired a team of architects to come up with options that would transform Myron Hunt’s 350,000-square-foot building into a series of classrooms, administrative offices and low- and moderate-income housing. That didn’t fly either. Neither did the argument that the Ambassador was a national landmark, or that six Oscar ceremonies had been hosted there, or that Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra and even Barbra Streisand broke hearts on the stage of the Cocoanut Grove. It didn’t matter. Nothing stopped the Ambassador from becoming another little death of no consequence.


Preservation has always been a hard sell in Los Angeles. But maybe in the years ahead it won’t be as hard as it used to be, considering several new facts. No. 1, as my Dad would have said, a building represents an enormous investment of energy — much bigger than we thought when we were fighting to save the Ambassador. No. 2, we now know that construction of new structures alone consumes 40% of the raw materials that enter our economy every year. No. 3, according to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the resources required to manufacture these materials and transport them to a site and assemble them into a structure is the equivalent of consuming 5 to 15 gallons of oil per square foot. No. 4, a Brookings Institution study indicates that the construction of new buildings alone will destroy one-third of our existing building stock by 2030. And finally, No. 5, the energy used to destroy older buildings in addition to the energy used to build new ones could power the entire state of California for 10 years, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


The Ambassador in its heyday


We’ve treated old buildings like we once treated plastic shopping bags — we haven’t reused them, and when we’ve finished with them, we’ve tossed them out. This has to stop. Preservation must stand alongside conservation as an equal force in the sustainability game. More older and historic buildings have to be protected from demolition, not only because it affects our pocketbooks but more important because it threatens our environment. Let’s face it, our free ride at the expense of the planet is over.


I’ll never understand why architecture is considered a second cousin to painting and film. We’ve never been married to our romance with architecture. A building, unlike a canvas or a DVD, is a massive work of art with many diverse uses. We watch movies in buildings. We look at paintings on their walls. We pray in cathedrals. We live inside places we call homes. Home gives us faith in the belief of a well-lived life. When we tear down a building, we are wiping out lessons for the future. If we think of it that way, we will begin to understand the emotional impact of wasting the energy and resources used to build it in the first place.


As for me, I’m keeping the door to the Cocoanut Grove open. I’m still holding on to my father’s hand and the memory that grew to inspire my dream of a golden — now green — future among structures that stand as invitations to a past we can only imagine by being in their presence.


Diane Keaton is an Oscar-winning actress. She is a former board member of the Los Angeles Conservancy and is currently a trustee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.



Fan Mail Stolen!

Monday, October 13th, 2008

Stolen fan mail of Crawford and Novarro discovered!




By Allan R. Ellenberger



For decades, fan mail has always been a way for admirers to communicate with their favorite. However its fairly rare for fans to steal the fan mail. That was the case in September of 1933 when it was revealed that more than 100 unopened letters addressed to Joan Crawford and Ramon Novarro were discovered in a recently vacate suite of rooms at the Ambrose Apartments, 68 North Los Robles Avenue, and turned over to police.


Although the authorities did not suspect that the letters were stolen for any sinister reasons such as formulation of a kidnap plot or extortion  conspiracy, they admitted they were looking for a former Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer employee whom they wished to interview.


The bundle of letters, tied with a string, was turned over to Police Detective Collins by Mrs. Robert C. Crawford (who insisted she was not a relative of Joan’s’), an occupant of the apartment house.


Detective Collins was of the opinion that most of the letters were from film fans, in view of the fact that they are addressed to the M-G-M Studio. Some of the foreign stamps were steamed from the envelopes, indicating that whoever stole or was given the stars’ unopened mail was a stamp collector. It is not known if the thief was ever caught.



Matthew Shepard Anniversay…

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

Fear, ignorance, hatred take lives of Shepard and King


Matthew Shepard


Today is the 10th anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard. Ten years ago, on a cold October night on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming, the 21-year-old gay college student was brutally beaten, tied to a fence and left for dead. He was found 18 hours later and rushed to the hospital, where he lingered on the edge of death for nearly five days before succumbing to his injuries.  OFFICIAL WEBSITE



On the night of Oct. 6, 1998, a young man in Laramie, Wyo., was brutally beaten and then hogtied to a split-rail fence where he lay for more than 18 hours. The 21-year-old, who had been left to die, was Matthew Shepard.


Six days after the savage attack, Matthew died with his family by his side.


His death was a wake-up call. Many were appalled by the horrific, senseless nature of the crime. But as time passed, we forgot. We were lulled into complacency until last winter.


On Feb. 12, almost 10 years after Matthew’s death, our community was struck by a similar tragedy. Fifteen-year-old Lawrence King was shot in the head by a fellow classmate in his English class. Though doctors initially thought he would survive, he was declared brain dead the next day. Lawrence died two days later.


Although Wyoming and California are hundreds of miles apart, and these tragedies are separated by an entire decade, they are tied together by common threads.


Matthew was brutally killed for being gay. To justify their crime, his attackers said they were driven to violence after Matthew hit on them. Attorneys for Lawrence’s shooter have used a similar line of defense. According to friends and classmates, Lawrence told friends he was gay. He was sometimes harassed for his appearance. I was overwhelmed by the fact that such violence could take place right here in my own community. Hadn’t we learned our lesson after what happened to Matthew Shepard?


Lawrence King


The facts are still emerging in Lawrence’s case, but what is clear in both of these heartbreaking instances is that two lives were cut drastically short because of fear, ignorance and hatred. Neither Lawrence nor Matthew will have the opportunity to realize their dreams, to enjoy another Thanksgiving with their families, to watch a movie with friends, to pursue a career and find their places in the world.


These tragic deaths highlight the need for us to stand up and ensure young people feel safe in their schools and in their communities, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We must find a way to prepare teachers and parents to deal with school bullying and hate in our communities. We must ask ourselves, do we want to be responsible for creating an environment where gay and transgender youths live on the margins of society in fear, or do we want to lead the charge in fostering an environment where everyone is valued, accepted and nurtured?


As Californians who value fairness and just communities, we must resolve to put a stop to bias-motivated crimes and such vicious acts of intolerance. Implying that an openly gay victim shares responsibility for being attacked, or that an attack was justified because of an unwanted romantic or sexual advance, is totally unacceptable. We must focus on solutions, so that no family and no community is touched by this kind of violence and bigotry ever again. After another decade passes and we pause to remember the deaths of Matthew and Lawrence, I pray that we will live in place where no one is targeted for their sexual orientation or gender identity.


Jay Smith is executive director of the Ventura County Rainbow Alliance in Ventura.



Hollywood Heritage Support…

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

Support Hollywood Heritage!


(Hollywood Heritage)


The City of Los Angeles has presented Hollywood Heritage with an eviction notice on Wattles Mansion and Gardens (see Los Angeles Times article that follows this post), a historic landmark that has been preserved and maintained by Hollywood Heritage for 20 years.


To read their press release reponse to the Los Angeles Times article, click HERE



To view the brochure that documents the restoration efforts of Hollywood Heritage at Wattles, click HERE (PDF file)







Hollywood Heritage Receives Eviction Notice…

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

L.A. orders Hollywood preservation group out of mansion



City says Hollywood Heritage ignored rules and rented out the Wattles Mansion for disruptive parties. The organization denies the events are a nuisance and says the eviction notice was a shock.

By Bob Pool
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer


NOTE: The following is from an Los Angeles Times article from September 20, 2008. A response from Hollywood Heritage follows on this blog and you can also check it out at their website,


Hollywood’s leading preservation group has been ordered out of the community’s most prominent historic estate for allegedly ignoring city rules and renting out the mansion for disruptive parties.


Hollywood Heritage has supervised the famed Wattles Mansion for 25 years under an exclusive agreement with the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. The city purchased the mansion for about $2 million in 1968.   (click on ‘Continue Reading’ for more)



Walk of Fame…Tim Robbins

Friday, October 10th, 2008


Robbins honored on Hollywood’s ‘Walk of Fame’

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Oscar-winner Tim Robbins became the 2,371st celebrity to be immortalized on the “Walk of Fame” here Friday, the star-studded stretch of sidewalk on Hollywood Boulevard.


Robbins, 49, received the star in front of well-wishers that included longtime partner Susan Sarandon and actor Jack Black in a ceremony that coincided with the release of his latest film City of Ember.


“I’m really honored to get this,” Robbins told onlookers at the Kodak Theater. As a teenager newly arrived in Hollywood, Robbins said he had often stubbed out cigarettes on the stars set in the sidewalk.


“Now I’m honored that someone else will do that to me,” he joked.


Robbins’ star is next to that of Sarandon, his domestic partner of 20 years.


“As a director, a writer and an actor, Tim has received so many awards and attempted so many things and done them so beautifully,” Sarandon said.


Robbins won a best supporting actor Oscar for his portrayal of a worker still haunted by his abduction as a youth in the 2003 film Mystic River.


Other notable film roles have included a baseball pitcher in Bull Durham, a studio executive in The Player and wrongly convicted prison inmate in The Shawshank Redemption.



Anniversary of Miriam Hopkins’ Death….

Thursday, October 9th, 2008


Miriam Hopkins, Veteran Of Film and Stage, Dies



October 18, 1902 – October 9, 1972



Diminutive blond actress Miriam Hopkins, who left the ranks of Broadway hoofers to gain stardom in Hollywood in the 1930s, died thirty-six years ago today at the Hotel Alrae (37 East 64th Street), apparently of a heart attack. She was 69.


She made her first film, Fast and Loose, in 1930, and for the next 35 years starred in an average of one a year. Her last major motion pictures were The Chase (1963) and Fanny Hill: A Memoir of a Woman of Pleasure (1964). Some of Hopkins’ more memorable movies included Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), The Story of Temple Drake (1933), Design for Living (1933), Becky Sharp (1935), These Three (1936) and The Heiress (1949).


“Me temperamental?” she once remarked concerning a reputation she gained on the movie lots. “I never was. Proof of that is that I made four pictures for Willie Wyler, who is a very demanding director. I made two with Rouben Mamoulian, who is the same.


“When you are asked to work again with such directors, you cannot be temperamental.”


As for her rumored feuds with Bette Davis, with whom she costarred in The Old Maid (1939), and Old Acquaintance (1943), Hopkins declared:


“Utter rubbish. The Warners’ publicity department tried to dream that one up. They even wanted us to pose with boxing gloves on (see below). Bette and I got along fine.”


Bette Davis, Edmund Goulding and Miriam Hopkins


Between movies, Hopkins returned to Broadway to appear in such productions as Jezebel, The Skin of Our Teeth, A Perfect Marriage, and Look Homeward Angel.


Hopkins came to New York in mid-July of 1972 to help inaugurate a showing of old movies at the Museum of Modern Art, in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of Paramount Studios. The first film shown was The Story of Temple Drake, in which she starred.


Taken ill, Hopkins was treated at Harkness Pavilion of Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, until September 2 when she was released. After that she remained in her suite at the Hotel Alrae.


A native of Savannah, Georgia, Hopkins attended Goddard, a small private college in Plainfield, Vermont, and Syracuse University. Stage struck, she headed for Broadway in the waning 1920s. She got a job in the inaugural chorus of The Music Box Revue (1921) and later danced at the Garrick Theater.


She first won recognition in 1926 in An American Tragedy. Among her other plays were Lysistrata (1930) and The Batchelor Father (1929).


She was married to actor, Brandon Peters in 1926, to writer, Austin Parker in 1931, to director, Anatole Litvak in 1937 and to New York Times correspondent, Ray Brock in 1945. She remained single after her last marriage ended in divorce in 1951.


Funeral services for Hopkins were held on October 13th in the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation, Madison Avenue at 35th Street.


At the time, Hopkins was survived by a sister, Ruby Welch; a niece, actress, Margot Welch; an adopted son, Air Force Sgt. Michael Hopkins and his wife, Christine, and a grandson, Thomas.


Miriam Hopkins was cremated and buried in the family plot at Oak City Cemetery in Bainbridge, Georgia, where she spent a portion of her childhood.



Carole Lombard in the 1930 Census…

Thursday, October 9th, 2008


Carole Lombard


née Jane Alice Peters

Film actress

Irene Bullock in My Man Godfrey (1936)





138 North Wilton Place

Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California



Rent, $100


Census taken on April 9, 1930





  1. Elizabeth K. Peters (head), 53 / divorced / Indiana / None.
  2. Frederick C. Peters, Jr. (son), 26 / Indiana / Retail dry goods.
  3. J. Stuart Peters (son), 24 / Indiana / Clerk / Stock exchange.
  4. Carole Peters (daughter), 21 / Indiana / Actress / Motion pictures.




* Information includes relationship to head of household, age / place of birth (year of arrival in this country, if applicable) / occupation / industry.


The preceeding text is taken from my recent book, Celebrities in the 1930 Census (McFarland & Co., Inc., 2008). This directory provides an extensive listing of household information collected for over 2,265 famous or notorious individuals who were alive during the 1930 United States Census. Please note: The above photographs do not appear in the book.