Saturday, April 25, 2009

Rudolph Valentino Looks Very Much Alive

Falcon Lair

When I lived in Los Angeles, I started a personal photography project documenting historical sites throughout the city. Having grown up in the Boston area, I took it for granted that history would be honored and preserved. I was shocked at how callous Los Angelenos seemed to be in regards to their own history and legacy. Many of Hollywood's landmarks were razed to make room for shopping centers and parking lots. So, I went around photographing said shopping centers and parking lots. Some buildings still existed but were being used for different purposes, like most of the old movie palaces on Broadway in downtown L.A. One of the biggest tragedies to me was that they bulldozed the Ambassador Hotel and the Cocoanut Grove. It was closed off when I lived here, used only for filming. The Los Angeles Unified School District owned the property and instead of preserving the building, decided it was cheaper to knock it down and build a new structure. But can you imagine how inspiring it would have been to learn literature in a place where Hemingway and Fitzgerald stayed? Or to learn government in the same place Nixon wrote his famous "Checkers" speech? I was lucky enough to get inside the building before it was destroyed and I was in awe of the structure. It was clearly neglected, but you could just feel its past whooshing by you. It was easy to imagine the glamour of its bygone days. So often with these structures, I think if they could have held off a little longer, they would have made so much money for the city. Who wouldn't want to eat at The Brown Derby? The one shaped like an actual hat? Many of these wonderful landmarks survived well into the 80s and 90s before someone decided they had no more use to them. The same can be said about some of the wonderful and unique architecture of the stars' homes. And I'm not talking about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie; I'm talking about Rudolph Valentino and Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn. The above photo is of Rudolph Valentino's house, Falcon Lair. From my research, I think the front gates are one of the only original things left. Since I don't actually have access to the house, this was the only view I had, so I have no idea what's on the inside. It only makes me sad that instead of updating and modernizing, people knock down and rebuild. When will they realize the value of what they have?


The above photo is what Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks' house has become. Pia Zadora and her husband bought it and although they announced plans to renovate the historical building, they ended up demolishing it and constructed this in its place.

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