2018, Mirror Image Edutainment, Alan John Mayer
Around 1987, I met a man who invited me to his home, the derelect mansion of Hollywood’s highest paid 1920’s comedian, Fatty Arbuckle. I followed my new acquaintance west on Sunset Boulevard, past Doheney to the bars on the north side of the hill. We turned up the hill left, pulled in through a grove of trees, around a circle, and parked in front of the house, an early 1920’s relic in the same architectural style as the home of fading star Norma Desmond, in the 1950 Best Picture Academy Award Winner, Sunset Boulevard.
The years of disuse and neglect had taken their toll on the house, but it still stood proud. He opened the massive front door, studded with bolts, and we entered a large round foyer. Though filled with dust, the heavy purple velvet frayed drapes still hung proudly in the alcove entry to the grand room. A fireplace dominated the wall on the opposite end of the chamber, approximately thirty feet by thirty feet.
In the silent dark house, I imagined laughter past. I was bid entry into the 1920’s in-tact kitchen, huge by any standard. He led me down three fifteen feet wide steps, into the grand room, on to the dining room, with French doors opening onto a terrace with a large rectangular pool. Six statues stood the length of the pool, fifteen feet apart, reminding me of my visit to Maerchen Park in East Berlin in 1990. In the park, there is a pond of similar proportions with fairy tale characters standing the length, Snow White, Cinderella,The Frog Prince…
Fatty’s pool has seen many parties, I imagine. Like so many in the roaring 1920’s, Fatty liked to party. An unfortunate event at one of his parties led to an underage girl’s death. Fatty was charged with fornicating with an under age minor, and on top of it, charged with murder. He was acquitted, but not until his career, his life, and his mind were lost. Another victim of gossip.
I was led up the round tile staircase with the wrought iron banister, intricately designed motif, flowers and leaves. The banister became a balustrade on the upper floor, balustrading the entire length of the upper open corridor. Every twenty feet, three bedchamber doors broke the wall, opening into the open corridor. I was led to a small capella, a twelve-foot circular room, open by about forty-five degrees to the corridor on one side, with a painted dome. A-mazing.
He stood in the corridor and spoke “Say something”.
I said something un-memorable, and heard my voice echo at least six times. I seldom use the word awesome, and only when referring to the Divine, but this experience, in this house of the past was AWESOME!
We returned to the staircase “Not much to see here but large rooms, void of furniture, dark, with velvet drapes in place. Let’s go downstairs” he led me back to the foyer, down a round staircase with the same wrought iron railing, into the garden level. What would have been the butler’s quarters, my new acquaintance had established himself in a twelve by fifteen foot room, with a private bath complete with 1920’s tub, porcelains, and tile.
Additional servants quarters lay beyond, an area we did not investigate. Living at the time in a studio apartment on the fifth floor in Hollywood, would have given anything to trade with him. The 1920’s quiet of sleepy Sunset Boulevard was no longer (though at the time I imagine anything was considered ‘rowdy’. Traffic, four to six lanes rushed past. Two giant billboards blocked the ocean view. Trees and the garden were alive, but thirsty, neglected.
It was a wonderful somewhat creepy feeling to be in that house. I am glad I had the opportunity to experience a small piece of old time Hollywood via such an intimate setting. I can say, I vocalized in the same exact spot as one of Hollywood’s greatest entertainers, 1920’s top Producer, Fatty Arbuckle, though I may be one of the only ones to even know who is is.
A good memory of a mansion, since torn down to make way for an apartment building. A beautiful piece of history has been destroyed to make way for ‘progress’ and money.
©2012, Mirror Image Presentations
When I first moved to Los Angeles, I met a young man named Jerry Schmidt who invited me to his home. I got in my car and followed him west down Sunset Boulevard, toward Beverly Hilla. Just before the 8200 block, what was then The Roxbury Lounge, he turned north onto Roxbury Drive. I followed him up a winding driveway through an overgrown garden. He parked in front of a large Spanish revival house, reeking 1922, lit only by the full moon smiling through the heavy clouds. I love architecture, and was immediately captivated by the moment, and the form before me. I followed Jerry, as he walked up to the portico with the large wooden door and the small glass window.
As he put the key in the lock, he turned to me. “This house was once Fatty Arbuckle’s home,” he said.
I knew Fatty…
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