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GaylordWilshire Apr 13, 2011 1:01 PM

Cockroaches, gruesome suicides, dead men in polka dots--now we're talkin' noir! Great memories, ethereal, boomer, unihikid, gs. I wish I'd had a chance to live in L.A. then. Well, I do tend to romanticize it...not the palmiest (pun intended) of L.A. days, I suppose, but redolent of a quality of light and architecture and faded glamour that pictures of the Carnation Building symbolized for me, growing up 2000 miles away.

boomer: I can only imagine the shock to the family of that Long Beach Independent article, especially considering the times. I hope somebody such as the studio publicist (like the one played by Jack Carson in the 1954 A Star is Born) quashed it in the L.A. papers. Betty's explanation that her husband often "acted out" his plays... hmmmmmm.

More Ehler's for sopas--not the palmiest or tailfin'iest days for cars either, but at least there's an Eldorado in one shot:

Plus a few more Olde Wilshire:

And a little wood:
All pics above: Anne Laskey/LAPL

rbpjr Apr 13, 2011 8:22 PM

Those were the days!
My parents lived at 440 South Bonnie Brae back in the 50' was still a classy street but beginning to show some wear and tear. I love this photo as it shows a lot of class. I wish I could transport myself back to the late twenties and early thirties and experience that time for several months....

JeffDiego Apr 13, 2011 10:37 PM

Good Lord, LAboomer, what a strange story and tragic story (about beautiful Betty Jane Pettit). That could make an interesting article.
Her first husband hangs himself wearing women's clothes, on a boat no less, then she lives a Hollywood lifestyle for years but end up dying hideously while drunk. Absolutely bizarre.
Thank you for the picture and info. A real LA Noir story.

ethereal_reality Apr 13, 2011 10:44 PM


Originally Posted by LAboomer52 (Post 5239533)
:I vividly remember the carnation sign we could see from a balcony on the second floor at night. (so there was signage on the north facing side of the building too!) It went through a series of changing colors (red, white and yellow) and patterns, (outlining the letters CARNATION MILK one letter at a time with neon, then filling them in with red, white, from left to right, and finally sparkling yellow bulbs inside the letters.) It was a meditation to watch it cycle through that pattern, which took at least a minute, before it repeated itself.

Thanks for your great description of the Carnation Sign. The mid-Wilshire area seems more vivid and exciting to me now.
I always thought the Carnation sign simply glowed red.

The story of Mr. Pettitt hanging himself while wearing a blue polka-dotted sun dress is amazing (for lack of a better word).
You don't hear stories like that every day of the week.

GaylordWilshire Apr 13, 2011 11:10 PM


Just a short block south from your parents was the Cameo:

MikeD Apr 14, 2011 12:40 AM

It's always a pleasure to check in here and view such interesting posts and great pictures.

I don't remember if someone here turned me on to this blog but its latest entry has some nice now and then shots of downtown LA from a 1933 WB film, 'Bureau of Missing Persons'.

Ninja55 Apr 14, 2011 3:21 AM

My first before and now pic. I'm excited. 6069 Pickford where my g-pa and g-ma lived for many years

Ninja55 Apr 14, 2011 3:23 AM

Here it is today. I think if I lived back in the twenties and thirties I wouldn't mind living on a street called Pickford.

Los Angeles Past Apr 14, 2011 5:45 AM

I'm going to lose all my noir cred with this admission, but I just saw Sunset Boulevard for the first time last week. :shrug: It's absolutely brilliant! Anyway, my first of many questions is, where was Norma Desmond's mansion in real life (was it really at 10086 Sunset)? Is it still standing? Or was it all just a movie set?

Also, referencing a mention from earlier in this thread, I noticed that it was actually Perino's across the street from the haberdasher's, not Sardi's. ^^


PS: I'm having cataract surgery tomorrow. May be AWOL here for awhile as a result...

gsjansen Apr 14, 2011 10:22 AM


the mansion used in sunset boulevard, (as well as rebel without a cause), was the old William Jenkins residence located at 3810 wilshire boulevard at crenshaw.

the house and the garage are visible on the left side of this 1934 photograph
USC Digital Archives

in this 1930 aerial, the house is located at the center bottom of the photograph
USC Digital Archive

the house was demolished by J. Paul Getty in 1957 to make way for his Getty Oil headquarters. Now it is the glumly nondescript Harbor Building.

all interior scenes from the movie were actually filmed on location inside the house.

the swimming pool was built for this movie, and was in fact a non-working swimming pool, as it was not equipped with any filtration system.

i wish you all the best on your upcoming eye surgery

GaylordWilshire Apr 14, 2011 1:19 PM



gs: You know it pains me to contradict a master, but I believe that only the exterior of 641 S. Irving was used as "10086 Sunset Boulevard" and that most, if not all, interiors were studio sets. Somewhere I've seen pics and descriptions comparing the front hall, for instance.

In this still from SB you can see the studio ceiling:

In that same place I saw a reference to the actual interiors being used in another Paramount release of 1950, Fancy Pants with Bob Hope and Lucille Ball. The IMDB refers to "641 N. Irving" as a filming location (they mean, of course, S. Irving). Here are a couple of screenshots of that film--I can see some of Norma's mansion in them--perhaps even a lamp or two, and maybe even a corner of "that enormous oil painting that had been presented to her by some Nevada Chamber of Commerce." I am of the mind that these interiors were a reuse of sets for Sunset Blvd. rather than scenes actually shot at 641 S. Irving. Studio sets or actual location shots--either way, it seems that Paramount piggybacked the shooting of Fancy Pants onto SB's schedule:
Three shots above: Paramount Pictures

gsjansen Apr 14, 2011 5:17 PM

i'm ready for my close up mr. wilder
Source: Corbis Images

That camera stand doesn't exactly look OSHA approved!

i'm pretty sure that i read somewhere that the interiors of the mansion were actually filmed there.

A neglected house gets an unhappy look. This one had it in spades
Source: DVD Beaver

i'm ready for my close up mr. demille
Source: Corbis Images

unihikid Apr 14, 2011 5:21 PM

thanks gaylordwilshire
im glad that i have the question now is how would i get the blueprints or a record of who designed the getty mansion,and or my old house and my neighbors house.mrs lewis's house has always been the odd one in the area,ive seen alot of houses in the area which have the same floor plan as some on my street and are exact copies but not mrs lewis' house on the other hand (1442 s spaulding)had a major remodel in the late 60s,the owner before my grandmother was shot dead in the front door,the blood splater messed up mrs lewis's brand new gold caddy(that she got from lou elhers),ive looked online for more info about the murder,but when my grandma bought the two properties (1436 and 1442)in about 69 or 70,my house had been lifted so it could have a basement by the guy who got of the house before that don't exsist.when my grandma sold the house to my dad in 72, the house didnt have a front door for most of my life(our front door was in the back) and was just a did work and made the little barn as i called it a home but never finished and passed away in late 2000.the house was then sold last yr to an artsy type and now its an how would i go about getting info?

gsjansen Apr 14, 2011 6:03 PM

this is an excerpt from pages 291 and 292 of the book, "On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder.

Paramount's location Scouts were busy finding excellent examples of the way HoIIywood's citizens variously lived. The Alto Nido Apartments at 1851 North Ivar at the top of the hill at Franklin, would work well for the drab barracks of an unemployed screen writer. For Norma Desmond's mansion they had to look farther afield than the 10,000 block of Sunset Boulevard, on which the fictitious house is situated in the script. They found it about six miles away, at the northwest corner of Wilshire and irving Boulevards. The immense heap of a house, built in 1924 for the then-astronomical figure of $250,OOO, currently belonged to J. Paul Getty's ex-wife , who hadn't lived there for several years. More ghostly then derelict, the building itself fit the filmmakers' description superbly, as did the vaguely seedy-looking yard and garage.

There was no pool, so Paramount built one. (The ex-Mrs. Getty was said to be thrilled to get a free swimming pool, but the pool the studio built had next to no plumbing and was never used for swimming once filming completed.) Paramount also sweetened the mansion's interior by adding stained glass windows to the front hall, heavy draperies and a pipe organ in the living room and palm trees in the conservatory

They probably did shoot some interiors of the Desmond mansion on a set at paramount, but by the looks of the above, quite a bit of the main interior shots, particularly the living room were filmed on location at the Jenkins Mansion

UNIHIKID, building permit plans are typically considered public records. a visit to the building department microfilm archive records to perform a search on a particular property would reveal if the city has the plans on file. if they do, they normally charge a nominal fee per sheet copied. microfilm records are typically printed out on 11 X 17 paper, and can be somewhat difficult to read

ethereal_reality Apr 14, 2011 8:20 PM


Originally Posted by Los Angeles Past (Post 5240931)
I'm having cataract surgery tomorrow. May be AWOL here for awhile as a result...

Good Luck Scott. Here's wishing you a speedy recovery. -ethereal

GaylordWilshire Apr 15, 2011 12:04 AM

More Sunset, Segueing into Sun

Other than somehow delving into Paramount archives, assuming any detailed records were even kept, we'll probably never know exactly how much the Getty house was used for Sunset Boulevard interiors. From David Wallace's Lost Hollywood:

"There was another problem.... Although the interiors were fine for the story, they weren't spacious enough for Wilder to move his cameras freely, so they were recreated on the Paramount lot. Assigned the task [of recreating the actual rooms] was...Hans Dreier, who had been brought to the studio...the same year the Jenkins house was built.... [Dreier] was responsible for the 'stunningly pretentious rooms and staircase'.... The tiles used for the floor of the New Year's Eve ball sequence were exact copies of those in the Jenkins home.... The interior sets were restyled several times for later films, most memorably by Dreier himself for... A Place in the Sun": Pictures Pictures Pictures Pictures

While I'm at it...the Eastman bathing suit factory in A Place in the Sun... Pictures

was actually the Los Angeles Goodyear tire plant: Pictures

Los Angeles Past Apr 15, 2011 12:31 AM


Originally Posted by ethereal_reality (Post 5241603)
Good Luck Scott. Here's wishing you a speedy recovery. -ethereal

*sighs* The surgeon postponed the operation and sent me home. He decided my heart was beating too slowly and irregularly to safely tolerate the sedation. So the procedure has to be rescheduled for sometime in May. Thanks for your well-wishes, though! (and gsj, too!) I'll just keep them in abeyance until the actual time comes. :)


Los Angeles Past Apr 15, 2011 12:45 AM

Wow, thank you for all the info on Norma Desmond's "great big white elephant!" Interesting that all the other houses on that block are still standing. Apparently, fronting directly on Wilshire Blvd. was the eventual kiss of death for all its original residential properties...


GaylordWilshire Apr 15, 2011 1:49 AM


Well, Scott, not all Wilshire houses got demolished... some were adapted to commerce, a handful of those lasting into the early '80s, even if they weren't still recognizable as once having been major residences. And a number of Wilshire houses were actually moved out of the way of commerce, most famously the Verbeck, which was built at Wilshire and Rampart and moved in the '20s to where it still stands at 637 S. Lucerne, now only in the shadow of commerce. The house at 617 S. Plymouth traveled from the corner of Wilshire and Highland; the O'Melveny house, built at Wilshire and New Hampshire, is now at 501 S. Plymouth. The Gless house at 605 S. Plymouth was originally on Ardmore half a block north of Wilshire. That the Getty house was built after these moves began indicates that not everyone understood what A. W. Ross did: Wilshire was destined to become a linear downtown, and any single residence in its path, from Grand to the sea, had better move or face doom! Moving some of the huge houses was no mean feat, but it doesn't sound as though a fortress like Norma's house could ever have been moved. At least it has been immortalized on film as...


sopas ej Apr 15, 2011 3:59 AM

Great photos, all of them!

Thanks for the pics of Lou Ehlers, guys. :)

And that Pettit story really is bizarre. Would make an interesting screenplay...

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