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The Hollywood Photographs Blog

Vintage photos of the Garden of Allah Hotel Part 4

LOVE IS A DOG FROM HELL When actress Talullah Bankhead arrived in the summer of 1933, sexual antics at the Garden increased exponentially. As a child she idolized Nazimova and, appropriately, Bankhead grew into a sexual omnivore. While at the Garden, her conquests included actresses Barbara Stanwyck, Dolores Del Rio and Joan Crawford. Olympic swimmer-turned-Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller, made Talullah “a very satisfied Jane” in the pool. Even the young Gary Cooper was spotted one night with Bankhead, scampering nude from the pool to her bungalow. (She returned to New York with a raging case of gonorrhea, a burning gift, she claimed, from Some Like it Hot star George Raft.)

The Marx Brothers came west in 1929 to make Animal Crackers, and Harpo, a notorious womanizer, took up residence at the Garden. One night after a neighbor was playing piano loudly at midnight, he set his alarm for 5AM and played the first 64 bars of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto...

Vintage photos of the Garden of Allah Hotel Part 3

WELCOME TO WALDEN POND” Although the Garden had easygoing management, often times forsaking rent and bills for months on end, that didn’t mean that they extended their goodwill to everyone. In fact, one group of tenants was denied credit altogether. These were the Hallroom Boys, an assemblage of English actors who had flocked to Hollywood and who found occasional work as bit players in British Empire epics such as The Lives of a Bengal Lancer. These Englishmen, generally down-at-the-heels, inhabited the former servants’ rooms in the hotel’s main building. Their main occupation, it seemed, was to serve as stooges and jesters to the affluent residents of the bungalows. Wearing totally unwarranted Old Etonian ties, and blazers with the armorial emblems of Oxford and Cambridge colleges, with which they had no connection whatsoever, they amused their patrons with prattle about the English Empire, and often had tea on the vicarage lawn. According to John McClain, a...