Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Oasis


I'm just researching the 1920 and 30's, the wilder element of those days! As usual I found a little international gem that led me astray, but thought it would make an entertaining post. Has anyone heard of the Garden of Allah, Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood? Nor had I, but apparently, Alla Nazimova, a mysterious, beautiful and hedonistic silent movie star, producer, stage actress and visionary, plus being a former concert violinist, created this wonderful oasis for the benefit of her actor chums. Nazimova converted her well-situated 1921 mansion estate into a three and a half acre semi-tropical hangout for the benefit of the following Names.Gloria
Swanson, Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Clara Bow, Buster Keaton, Ramon Navarro, the Marx Brothers (especially Harpo), Ava Gardner, Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Ernest Hemingway, Lillian Hellman, Joe E. Lewis, Artie Shaw, Marlene Dietrich, George Kaufman and Larry Olivier. Not everybody wanted to be seen there - like Orson Wells because of the tangle of phony marriages, the fist-fights, the liquor,recreational sex, drugs, robberies and drunken rages that made up the era. Having their souls consumed by the Hollywood system, orgies, more robberies, feuds, money problems and sudden changes of plan caused the Garden of Allah to gain quite a bohemian reputation. I could have lingered in this fire-breathing, head-spinning, seductive area of research, but sadly my charaters are ducking and diving in the East End of London - though, take away the palm trees and champagne, there might not be such a leap of imagination...

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