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Wednesday December 8th 2021

Los Angeles for Film Fans: Beverly Hills 3

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Spadena House, Beverly Hills
The Witch's House, at Halloween of course.

The bungalow styles of Beverly Hills are an eclectic mix: Mediterranean-Tudor, Tudor-Moderne, Adobe-Italianate, Moderne Adobe… The best term for this style of architecture is ‘I’m paying for it, this is how I want it’.

As Alicia Silverstone says in Clueless, ‘Isn’t my house classic? The columns date all the way back to 1972”

In the same film you can glimpse one of Beverly Hills’ quirkier residences, the Spadena House, 516 North Walden Drive, familiarly known as The Witch’s House. It was built in the Twenties in Culver City as a movie set. With characteristically frugal inventiveness, Roger Corman cloaked neighbouring properties in thick smoke and used it for period flashback scenes in his 1957 reincarnation thriller, The Undead.

614 Walden Drive was the renovated house squatted by ‘Beverly Hills Building Investigator’ Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) in Beverly Hills Cop II, and the huge house now coyly hiding behind a screen of trees at 802 North Bedford Drive was home to the Whitemans (Bette Midler and Richard Dreyfuss), where homeless Jerry Baskin (Nick Nolte) caused mayhem in Down And Out in Beverly Hills.

Walden Drive, Beverly Hills
Walden Drive – the house squatted in Beverly Hills Cop II

730 Bedford Drive, incidentally, was home to Lana Turner, where mobster Johnny Stompanato was stabbed to death – supposedly by Turner’s daughter, Cheryl Crane (though popular opinion tends to the theory that Cheryl bravely took the rap to protect her mum).

In general, though, Hollywood tends to use the mansions of Pasadena as more economical stand-ins for Beverly Hills, but occasionally the real thing makes it to the screen though, apart from the gates, there's rarely anything for the tourist to see.

One of the 12 themed gardens of Harold Lloyd’s Greenacres, 1740 Green Acres Drive, provided the ‘Roman’ backdrops for Michael Crichton’s 1973 sci-fi, Westworld. Overshadowed nowadays by Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, the bespectacled, ledge-dangling comic Lloyd was one of the biggest stars of his day, and in 1928 his 44-room mansion nestled in an estate covering a staggering 20 acres. It’s since shrunk down to a meagre five.

1011 North Beverly Drive, once home to newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst (the model for Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane) became the estate of uncooperative studio head Jack Woltz and his unfortunate racehorse in The Godfather. 20 years later, singer Rachel Marron (Whitney Houston) lived here in The Bodyguard. The estate was put up for sale at $165 million in 2007. Times change. In 2010, it was put on the market at a mere $95 million.

There’s little to see from the street, though, unless the owner has invited you for cocktails round the pool.

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