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The Powder Room

The dish on classic Hollywood.

Lucille Ball Home

Lucille Ball got a golden ticket to Hollywood after a successful modeling career and an unsuccessful first attempt at dramatic acting in New York.  After a brief stint in an apartment on Formosa, she rented a little bungalow in West Hollywood, and remained there until her famous marriage to Desi Arnaz.

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The home is still there, well-maintained on a quiet residential street…you can imagine Lucy hopping on her bike and pedaling off to RKO as a contract player, long before she became loved by millions.

After the advent of her hit TV show and long after she’d moved on to her ranch with Desi and her children, the activities at this little home once more became the center of her life for a brief time…charges were brought against her as a communist during the McCarthy-era witch hunt that ruined many Hollywood careers.

Lucy’s grandfather had held political meetings in the garage behind this little house, and even pled with Lucy and her family to register to vote under the communist party for him.  Depression and an unfair trail that cost her grandfather his life savings and home had made him distrustful of the government.  Lucy responded honestly to the charges, telling the FBI that she was much too exhausted to attend any meetings her grandfather held in her garage during her days as a starlet, starting early and working late into the night.  Although she had registered under the communist party once at her grandfather’s pleading, she’d done it to avoid upsetting him and never actually voted communist.

America DID love Lucy, and after a live broadcast in which she directly addressed her audience regarding the accusations, the charges were dropped, and she became one of Hollywood’s first stars to survive a “red scare” unscathed.

Except for this, Lucy was always fond of this little house where she was first able to make her own way in Hollywood and support her family, and Lucy fans will be glad to know its still as well cared for today as when it was occupied by America’s favorite comedienne.

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Neighborhood Watch: Gloria Swanson’s new garage

This historic Whitley Heights residence, which hosted Gloria Swanson, William Faulkner, and other Hollywood greats, is getting a small facelift.

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Posted permits filed by the homeowner  which seem to indicate a new garage.  Not that I begrudge them a new one…(imagine your dad’s garage after almost 100 years), but it’s just another small piece of history erased by progress, and in this case, most likely, necessity.  We can’t make everything a museum.

I’ll be sad to see this garage of Gloria’s go, especially since the famous garage from Sunset Boulevard is long gone.

I am dying to know what it the actual house looks like under all that ivy though.  Old Hollywood homes are so mysterious.

Noir Walk of Fame: Raymond Chandler

Noir fans unite!  Raymond Chandler was announced as a 2015 nominee for a Star on the Walk of Fame.

Rumor is that an Indiegogo campaign will soon be up to help fund Raymond Chandler’s star…check back for the link.

There’s even a nice blank star waiting for his name at Chandler Square, on the southwest corner of Hollywood and Cahuenga.

Until the star ceremony, you can get your Raymond Chandler fix here.

What’s your favorite Raymond Chandler work?

The Disco House

If you’re a fan of disco, then this is a cool place to see in Hollywood…

This plaque is on a house at the base of one of the stairways in the Beachwood Canyon original “Hollywoodland” neighborhood, and I can’t believe it took me so long to notice it.

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Is this where Perry L. Kibble lived when he wrote and recorded the #1 song “Boogie Oogie Oogie” and won the 1978 Grammy for Best New Artist?  I really hope so!

I also really wish I had been in the neighborhood then, and gotten invited to one of the parties that earned this house the title “The Disco House.”

Stalking Hollywood: Mary Miles Minter

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Mary Miles Minter was one of Hollywood’s bright but brief star burn-outs of the silent film era, but her career wasn’t cut short by the arrival of talkies.  Mary was a part of one of Hollywood’s first real scandals, the still-unsolved murder of director William Desmond Taylor.  Her self-proclaimed “love affair” with Taylor around the time of his death landed herself and her mother right in the middle of the lurid headlines, and her career never recovered.

In “Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood,” author William J. Mann diagnoses Mary as a normal adolescent dealing with the typical unrequited crush on an older man and at the same time wanting to rebel against her mom.  I highly recommend this well-researched, super-entertaining read for more details on that…

Mary Miles Minter moved out on her own briefly and rented a small house on Argyle around 1922-23, according to the author’s research.  Living walking distance from that area, I HAD to find this house, if it still existed.

A quick google search and this article provided me with an exact street address, 2183 Argyle.  The home is still there according to Zillow, but I couldn’t find a specific street address and the property is gated off.   Still if you’re curious, here’s what you’ll find at the top of that hill:

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It doesn’t look as “vintage” as I’d like (although the wreath is quite festive), but according to the property records I can find online, this is where Mary mourned her murdered lover.

Happy Stalking!

Classic Movie Bling – Hitchcock’s “A Shadow of a Doubt”

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“Good Emeralds are the most beautiful things in the world”….the movie’s not so bad either.  I love the jewelry in classic films, and even more when it’s used as a plot device.  It’s hard to imagine film noir without black and white, but I would LOVE to see a shot of this ring in color!

I got lucky, and my beau brought me this back from an antique shop:

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To get this look, you can search the Hollywood Collection here and find something similar, or try your luck on ebay, etsy, or in your local antique shop.  Post your pretty finds in the comments below, and if anyone has a close up of the ring from the film, a shot of it in color, or knows what became of it after the film…then please, tell, tell!

The Hollywood Sign: Resident vs. Tourist

This is a great article on the hurculean efforts local Hollywood residents have made prevent people from hiking to the Hollywood sign.  I think it should be open to everyone, but I’ve seen tourists be amazingly insensitive to the fact that people live in the area.  I sit somewhere in the middle of this debate, but I don’t agree with the closure of the Hollyridge Trail.  Fortunately there is more than one way to get to the trail from the Beachwood neighborhood, and I always love the look of confusion I get from the security guard at the bottom of the trail when I’m exiting the trail at the entrance they’ve tried to close off.
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Beachwood Residents: You live under a world famous landmark…so, you do kind of need to deal with it a little better.

Tourists:  Don’t try to DIY a Hollywood Sign excursion.  This website tells you how to get good views without anyone yelling at you.

Why you should buy a romper this season…and why you’ll still be wearing it in 10 years

This isn’t about any specific Hollywood starlet, but back in the day, those dames had style.  Style is timeless, and about creating a look, which is why classic Hollywood stars’s styling still looks amazing.  Here are a few of their secrets you can borrow:

The Trend: Romper/Jumpsuit

Rompers, jumpsuits, whatever you call them, they’re back this season.  At first blush, it seems like a ridiculously trendy item that won’t make it past 2015 runways.  And honestly, a majority of them won’t.  Here is where you can buy smart.  I’m convinced a romper is second only to being able to wear pajamas to work in terms of comfort, so my challenge is to translate this trend into something that looks timeless.

Color: Black.  MAYBE you can get away with a dramatic solid, but I believe anything brighter than navy or plum and less neutral will date the look.  Black is your safest bet, as color schemes and prints are more memorable and associated with a specific season.

Fit: Must be immaculate.  If a jumpsuit will stand the test of time, a classic silhouette is a sure-fire way to keep it timeless and chic.  Flared pants or a classically fitted leg.  Long sleeve, blouse-style top.  Sleeveless could work, but I’d play it safe mimicing the look of a matched trouser and top.  And make sure the pants are not too tight, the cleavage not too low, and the pant length is just right.  Any of those amiss will ruin the look before it has a chance to become dated.

Fabric: Should be great quality, nothing too thin or slinky or your romper will look cheap.  And it needs to hold up if you’re investing for the long haul.

If you treat the romper as a blank canvas for your trendy accessories, then I think you’ll look fabulous in it tomorrow and ten years from now!  What do you think?  Let me know if you’d invest in a romper this season in the comments below.

An Ode to the Perfect Black Pant

BlackPantAudrey

My perfect black pant

would be

side-zip

no pockets

Fashionistas carry

purses to avoid

pockets that create an unflattering horizontal line

My perfect black pant

would be the perfect

length

With hem to raise or lower

as Karl Lagerfield and my shoe choice

Dictate

My perfect black pant

Would be perfectly slim cigarette cut

Audrey Hepburn

Where did you shop

For Alas, my perfect black pant

Eludes me

So for now I wear

Dresses

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