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Garden of Allah Hotel

       ** Click Here To View Photos **

During the teens, Alla Nazimova, a Russian actress, had made quite a name for herself on the New York stage.  Upon arriving in Hollywood in 1918, she paid $50,000 for a 99 year lease on an enormous Spanish house at 8150 Sunset Blvd., with three and one half acres of tropical plants, ferns fruit trees and two large Cedars guarding the entrance.  After several years in Hollywood, her manager advised her to turn her estate into a hotel so it would give her security for the rest of her life.

After months of construction to build  twenty-five villas or bungalows around the pool, Miss. Nazimova’s Garden of Allah Hotel opened on February 9, 1927 with an eighteen hour party.  Entertained by troubadours playing madrigals from the middle of the pool, the guests were treated to a lavish and stately dinner. Some of those in attendance were Jack Dempsey, his wife Estelle Taylor, Clara Bow, Gilbert Rowland, Vilma Banke, Rod LaRoque, Samuel Goldwyn, John Barrymore, H.B. Warner, Marlene Dietrich and Francis X. Bushman.

When the great depression struck, Alla  Nazimova lost every dollar she put into the Garden of Allah.  The Wall Street crash of 1929 took whatever she had left.  In her last years, she was ill and didn’t do much acting.  She died in the summer of 1945.  Her contribution to the film industry was recognized by a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The Garden of Allah continued as a hotel and sanctuary for many on Hollywood’s famed celebrities.  It was notorious for the wild parties allegedly held there by the openly lesbian Alla Nazimova. In the thirty-two year span of its life, the Garden witnessed robbery, murder, fights, suicides, pranks, orgies, marriages, divorce and drunkenness despair.  Yet intellectuals and celebrities from all over the world were to find it a convenient haven and a fascinating home.  Those who frequently stayed at the famous Garden were Ramon Navarro, Errol Flynn, Margaret Sullivan, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sheila Graham, John O’Hara, Robert Benchley, Ginger Rogers,Gilbert Rowland, Clara Bow and may others.

During its heyday, hundreds of photographs were taken at the Garden of Allah.  Many of those photos can be seen on the hollywoodphotographs.com web site.

By the late 1940s and early ‘50s, the Garden of Allah had gained such a questionable reputation that many personalities no longer wish to stay there.  In addition, it didn’t have the modern conveniences that the newer and more glamorous hotels possessed.  In 1959, after years of operating in the red, the last owners of Garden of Allah, Morris Markowitz and Mrs. Beatrice Rosesus, sold the property to Lytton Savings and Loan who bought it to tear it down in order to build it home office.  However the Garden of Allah didn’t go without a whimper. It opened with a party and it closed with one. Three hundred and fifty guest were in attendance, many  to impersonate the  people who had been glamorous stars when the Garden had opened.  Francis X. Bushman and his wife Iva, were the only ones in attendance who were present at the original christening party in 1927. Most of the starlets were scantily dressed, hoping to catch a producer’s roving eye.  By midnight, the pool was full of empty liquor bottles, reminiscent of the Gardens flamboyant history.

The day after the party, the fixtures and furnishings were sold at public auction.  Errol Flynn’s bed was most sought after. Some of the former residents were also among the bidders.  When the wrecking ball demolished the Garden of Allah, it marked the end to a bit of Hollywood history which can only be found in old movie magazines.

All the Garden of Allah photos that are on hollywoodphotographs.com are available for sale. 

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