From almost any point in Hollywood one only has to look up to spot what I like to call “Tara”. Like the great estate in Gone with the Wind, this towering example of a Southern Antebellum Colonial sited high atop the hills in the shadow of the Hollywood sign makes you long for a mint julep. Although not of vintage age and no notorious history yet, it is an extraordinary estate with over 10, 000 sq ft of living space with massive Ionic columns and wrap-around verandas and of course a cozy chapel to atone for your sins.
Marshall Chess-Rolling Stone's Producer
A little known hillside community much like its sister neighborhood Hollywoodland, the Hollywood Dell was developed in 1910 after Avocado and orange growers gave up and sold to real estate developers and where many of the same Mediterranean and European style homes can be found. One exception was The Roy Rogers Ranch which had stables, a riding ring and guest quarters on over two acres of land. Spacious by Hollywood standards. It stood since the 1920’s until a fire in 2000 burnt the last remaining structures. Today Plans for a Mc Mansion are underway. The Dell as it was originally known was named after an active brook that ran from what is now the Lake Hollywood Reservoir to the end of Franklin and the Cahuenga Pass. The brook, more like a stream now still exists on a very small scale and goes through a house once owned by actress Brooke Adams and Monk star on Holly and San Marcos. The looming Mediteranean home straddling the hill on the upper corner near the dam was known as a brothel and speakeasy during Prohibition years.
As with many of these hillside neighborhoods, Privacy had its appeal not only to the famous but to many bootleggers, gamblers even a few gangsters made it their hideout. Just a few blocks from the Vine hills near Franklin are the Lido apartments where the main character lived in Nathaniel West’s classic tale of destruction and disillusionment in Hollywood, “The Day of the Locusts” A four story Mediterranean mini castle on San Marcos was purported to be Mary Astor’s and the site of her affair with married playwright George S. Kaufman. “He was one man I’d go over a cliff for” . She nearly did.
She was brought to trial in the divorce proceedings by Kaufmans estranged wife where letters and a diary dubbed the “purple diary” uncovered their affair. Every detail was dragged through the press and it almost cost her her career.It has since had a laundry list of other famous owners. Marshall Chess, Manager of the Rolling Stones when Charlie Watts was producing his first album he would have a running limo waiting day and night for him to be wisked away to the studio at a moments notice.
He also had Billy Preston, Graham Parson and Keith Richards, among other staying there while they rehearsed and played on his album. Marshall was very generous. He could leave them alone to be creative, he had a home in Malibu. Marilyn Manson also lived there in early 2000. Writer, artists, actors and musicians still populate these hills.