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Fire at the Normandie Village Apartments

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jan 3rd, 2011
2011
Jan 3

READERS REQUEST

The Normandie Village Apartments

 

 

The Sunset Strip — where the Normandie Village Apartments

once stood near the upper left part of the photo

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

I love the challenge when a reader requests information about an old landmark or some obscure Hollywood institution. That happened the other day when Patricia asked about an old apartment complex she lived in as a child called The Normandie Village:

 

“Hi, I am trying to find out about a complex of Hollywood bungalows from the late 40′s early 50′s called Normandy or Nomandie Village. I believe it was on, or near Sunset Blvd. It cannot have been expensive because we lived there when my family was very broke. There was a fire, probably in 1953 or 1954? I was only 4 or 5, but I remember it, and that a neighbor and I ended up in a photo in the Los Angeles Times. I doubt that the complex survived at all, but I would love to see any old photos, and just to know the street address it was at!”  — Patricia

 

Well, when she mentioned the Nomandie Village, I knew exactly what she was referring to – a jumble of peaked-roof French Provincial apartments that at one time drove up its chimneys and shingles from the cascading hillside on the Sunset Strip. I couldn’t find any real photographs of the Normandie, which stood at 8474 Sunset Boulevard, but discovered that a fire did occur there in 1955. And there along with the story, just as she said, was a photo of two little girls – and one of them was named Patricia.

 

Built in the 1920s, the Normandie Village competed with the Garden of Allah, farther east on the strip, for Hollywood-type history. In the apartments clustered amid vine-covered pathways that made the Normandie Village resemble medieval suburbia of Marseilles or Toulon, great stars of silent movies and the new “talkies” lived, partied and nervously waited out “between pictures” idleness.

 

There are many stories that circulated about the Normandie but no one can know for sure if some of them are true. One story claims that actor John Barrymore sent an architect to Europe to study French Provincial architecture and that he designed the Normandie Village’s high-peaked buildings as replicas of what he saw on his tour.

 

Over the years, the Normandie was home to many film stars. Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan, did his last writing at the Village. Richard Dix, an aspiring young actor, checked in there about 1924 when he arrived from New York to seek employment in films.

 

Myrna Loy and Billie Dove, two of the Hollywood’s film queens, lived there. Jimmy Stewart once recalled in a Saturday Evening Post story how he and Henry Fonda lived at the Normandie Village in their early Hollywood days.

 

Not only was the Village the scene of some Babylonian bashes, but nearby, according to unofficial history, Charlie Chaplin had a private “key club” for close friends.

 

The fire that Patricia referred to coincidentally occurred in the early morning hours of January 4, 1955 – 56 years ago tomorrow! A cigarette burning in the upholstery of a garaged car was blamed for the fire that destroyed the garage, ten parked cars and 24 of the 55-units of the Sunset Strip apartment building. The fire ravaged the rear half of the Normandie, but all the tenants, including about 25 children, escaped the fires without injury.

 

 

Of those 25 children, were Heather Harzley and Patricia Ann Deberck. Like the other children who had escaped, they clutched their most prized belongings. Someone asked Patricia Ann where she lived. “We lived in Apartment 21,” she said somberly, “but it isn’t there anymore.” The following photo appeared in the Los Angeles Times, just as Patricia remembered.

 

 

The Normandie Village was inhabited for another seven years until it was sold in 1962 to make way for a proposed 22-story hotel to be called the Hollywood Thunderbird. However, the hotel never happened and the Normandie stood vacant for another eight years until it was finally razed for the Sunset Americana, a residential hotel which was built in 1973. I haven’t had a chance to check out the sight currently, but a trip to Google Maps once again shows a vacant lot at the address (8474 Sunset Blvd.).

_________________________________________

 

Robert Dix Booksigning at Hollywood Heritage

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Mar 10th, 2010
2010
Mar 10

HOLLYWOOD EVENTS

Evening @ The Barn

Hollywood Heritage

 

 

 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at 7:30PM

 

An Evening of RICHARD DIX

Presented By His Son,

ROBERT DIX

 

 

 

Robert Dix, actor and author of Out of Hollywood — Two Generations of Actors talks about growing up in Hollywood with a famous father and will share some of the highlights of his own life as an actor from the 1950s — 1970s.

 

The program will include a photo presentation illustrating the careers of both father and son, a screening of a 1925 silent film, with musical accompaniment by Michael Mortilla, and a book signing.

 

Check out Richard Dix in a scene from Val Lewton’s Ghost Ship

 

 

 

 

Hollywood Heritage Museum in the Lasky-DeMille Barn

2100 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood (across from the Hollywood Bowl)

Refreshments available. FREE PARKING Information: (323) 874-2276

Admission – Members: $5 Non-Members: $10

DOORS OPEN AT 7:00PM. SEATING IS LIMITED. ADMISSION IS SOLD ONLY AT THE DOOR.

For more information, visit: www.hollywoodheritage.org

_________________________________

 

 

 

 

Cinecon 45 Wrap-up

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Sep 9th, 2009
2009
Sep 9

FESTIVALS

Cinecon 45

 

 Cinecon 45 poster

 

Another Cinecon has passed into the California sunset

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

Cinecon 45 was presented by the Society of Cinephiles this past Labor Day weekend screening nearly 50 rare silent films and early sound feature films as well as many short subjects at the historic Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. The organization is dedicated to showcasing unusual films that are rarely given public screenings.

 

The celebrity honorees who attended along with the showing of one of their films included: Denise Darcel, Flame of Calcutta (1953); Adrian Booth (aka Lorna Gray), The Last Bandit (1949) and Stella Stevens, The Silencers (1966) who were honored at Sundays banquet with the Cinecon Career Achievement Award along with composer, Richard M. Sherman, who created the music for the films Mary Poppins (1964), The Jungle Book (1967), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) and many more.

 

Some of the films screened included: The Miracle Man (1932), Hatter’s Castle (1948), Broadway Love (1918), Nightmare (1942), Bardelys the Magnificent (1926) and The Bride Comes Home (1935).

 

Highlights of the weekend included the North American premiere of The Dawn of Tomorrow (1915), a Mary Pickford film thought to be lost when a tinted nitrate print with Swedish titles turned up in the Archival Film Collections of the Swedish Film Institute. Pickford’s costars were David Powell, Forrest Robinson and Robert Cain. The film was dedicated to Robert Cushman, photo archivist of the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who recently passed away.

 

Turn to the Right (1922), a Rex Ingram film, was recently restored by the George Eastman House. Made following two of the director’s epics, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) and The Conquering Power (1921), it starred Ingram’s wife, Alice Terry and Jack Mulhall. It was during the making of Turn to the Right that Ingram made one of his greatest discoveries when he cast Ramon Samaniego, later to be known as Ramon Novarro, in his next film, The Prisoner of Zenda (1922)

 

Cinecon 45 - Robert Dix

Author Robert Dix, son of actor Richard Dix, signed his autobiography, Out of Hollywood. With Dix are Sue Guldin and his wife Mary Ellen 

 

 

Author book signings included: Miriam Nelson (My Life Dancing with the Stars); Scott O’Brien (Kay Fancis – I Can’t Wait to be Forgotten and Virginia Bruce – Under My Skin); Robert S. Birchard (Early Universal City); John Gloske (Tough Kid: The Life and Films fo Frankie Darro); Paul Picerni (Steps to Stardon: My Story); Robert Dix (Out of Hollywood) and Michael Hoey (Elvis, Sherlock & Me).

 

 

Cinecon 45- Jane Withers

Former child star, Jane Withers 

 

Celebrity guests at Sunday’s banquet included: Sybil Jason, Lisa Mitchell, Jane Withers, Miriam Nelson, Carla Laemmle, June Foray, Ann Rutherford, Johnny Whitaker, France Nuyen, William Welman, Jr., Robert Dix, and many, many more.

 

The officers of Cinecon 45, who made this weekend such a success are: Robert S. Birchard, president; Marvin Paige, vice-president; Michael Schlesinger, secretary and Stan Taffel, treasuer.

 

Cinecon 45- Stella Grace, Jonathan Chin-Davis and Sue Gulden

Cinecon volunteer coordinator, Stella Grace (left) with volunteers Jonathan Chin-Davis and Sue Guldin.

 

And the volunteer coordinator for Cinecon and my boss for the weekend is the fantastic, one-of-a-kind Rhode Islander, Stella Grace.

 

For more information on Cinecon, please visit: http://www.cinecon.org/

 

Some Cinecon moments

 

 Carla Laemmle and Marvin Paige

Carla Laemmle (left), niece of Universal founder Carl Laemmle and Cinecon officer, Marvin Paige. Miss Laemmle will celebrate her 100th birthday on October 20.

 

 

Cinecon 45- William Wellman Jr.

 William Wellman Jr., son of the famed director

 

 

 Cinecon 45- Sybil Jason

 Actress Sybil Jason and archivist Miles Krueger

 

 

Cinecon 45- Katherine Orrison and Lisa Mitchell

Author Katherine Orrison (Lionheart in Hollywood: The Autobiography of Henry Wilcoxon) and actress Lisa Mitchell (The Ten Commandments)

 

 

 Cinecon 45 - Ann Rutherford

 Gone with the Wind’s Ann Rutherford

 

 

 Cinecon 45- Frederick Hodges

 Accompanist Frederick Hodges

 __________________________________________

 

Celebrity Recipes…Richard Dix

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Sep 12th, 2008
2008
Sep 12

CELEBRITY RECIPES

Richard Dix

 

 

  

“First catch your Alaska cod,” advises Mr. Dix. “But if you are an easterner, you will have to use the old-fashioned cod sacred to the city of Boston.”

 

 

KIPPERED ALASKA COD

 

Piece of kippered cod about 1 ½ pounds

6 medium size onions

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup medium thick white sauce

1 tablespoon butter

Seasoning to taste

 

Boil the kippered cod until tender, drain and put in earthen casserole. Pare and slice the onions and fry to a golden brown in 2 tablespoons butter. Spread over the fish, add a tablespoon butter and put the casserole uncovered in the oven for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Send to the table at once without taking from casserole.

 

In make the white sauce use enough butter to make a good rich sauce or add a little cream when blending.

 

 

— Richard Dix

 

  _____________ 

 

FOR SUE GULDIN AT THE MARGARET HERRICK LIBRARY

A RICHARD DIX FAN!

–HAPPY BIRTHDAY–

 

___________________________

 

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