Flynn created the legendary Mulholland Farm when he was 32 years old. The leading ladies man of his era was also Hollywood’s original bad boy. Flynn bought 11.5 acres on top of a ravine off Mullholland Drive in 1941 and built a modest’ ranch style Colonial mansion. It had a pool, tennis court, barn, and the estate even had a casino where famed Mobsters and starlets such as Linda Christian, Hedy Lamarr, Faith De Burgh and many others would gamble and party non-stop
all weekend long. He even had secret passages built for notorious reasons.
Unfortunately, Flynn’s fast living ways caught up to him in 1959 when he died at age 50. Mulholland Farm estate was then purchased by Stuart Hamblen, one of American radio’s first singing cowboys. In 1980 singer-songwriter Ricky Nelson and his family bought the Mulholland estate. A few years after Ricky Nelson’s death,in 1988. a real estate developer bought the Mulholland Corridor property and demolished Flynn’s notorious home. Perhaps Errol’s ghost was disturbed because in 1997, when actress Helen Hunt purchased the property, she built a home that she never lived in, for reasons never really explained. Fittingly, history seemed to repeat itself in 2002 when she sold it for $8.2 million to a modern swashbuckler of another sort: pop star Justin Timberlake. What a sale!
How Mulholland Drive Bridge Was Constructed
On Monday, April 4, 1960 Ben Hur, still considered a landmark film, won the Best Picture award at the 1959 Academy Awards, held at RKO’s Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. That very same day Peter Kiewit Sons Co. completed a bridge across the Sepulveda Pass. The new Mulholland Dr Bridge received far fewer headlines than the Academy Awards… After all, the bridge overlooked an undeveloped canyon. No freeway ran beneath it. No rapid route between West Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley existed.
It’s amazing how much has changed. Today the San Diego Freeway carries more than 300,000 vehicles each workday, making it one of the busiest freeways in the United States.
Mulholland Drive Today
Today, the thoroughfare comprises fifty five breathtaking miles. Mulholland drive real estate is some of the best in the world. The winding road begins West of the 101 Freeway in Hollywood, offering scenic views of pure natural wonder and leads to Franklin Canyon Park and Fryman Canyon Park. Seven scenic overlooks are maintained by the Conservancy for visitors. Meanwhile the Mulholland Highway starts at Calabasas and twists through the mountains of Santa Monica then onwards to Leo Carrillo State Beach.
View at dusk from Mulholland Drive across the southeast San Fernando Valley
The 21-mile long, mostly two-lane, minor arterial road loosely follows the ridgeline of the eastern Santa Monica Mountains and the Hollywood Hills. Mulholland Drive connects the two sections of U.S. Route 101, and crossing Sepulveda Boulevard… Beverly Glen Boulevard, Coldwater Canyon, Laurel Canyon Boulevard, Nichols Canyon Road, and Outpost Drive.
The road offers spectacular views of the Los Angeles Basin, the San Fernando Valley, and the Hollywood Sign.
The eastern terminus of Mulholland Drive is at its intersection with Cahuenga Boulevard at the Cahuenga Pass over the Santa Monica Mountains (at this point Cahuenga Boulevard runs parallel to Highway 101/The Hollywood Freeway). The road continues to the west, offering vistas of the Hollywood Sign, downtown Los Angeles, and then Burbank, Universal City, and the rest of the San Fernando Valley with the San Gabriel, Verdugo, and Santa Susana Mountains.
The road winds along the top of the mountains until a few miles west of the 405 Freeway. Just west of the intersection with Encino Hills Drive, it becomes an unpaved road not open to motor vehicles. This part is known by many as Dirt Mulholland. This portion connects with other unpaved roads and bike trails and allows access to a de-commissioned Project Nike command post that is now a Cold War memorial park.
The paved road begins again east of Topanga Canyon Boulevard at Santa Maria Road. Shortly thereafter, the thoroughfare splits into Mulholland Drive and Mulholland Highway. Mulholland Drive terminates at U.S. Highway 101 (the Ventura Freeway), where it becomes Valley Circle Boulevard. Mulholland Highway continues to the southwest until it terminates at State Route 1 (PCH) in Leo Carrillo State Park at the Pacific Ocean coast and the border of Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
Mulholland Drive Racing
Back in its heyday, Mulholland Drive was affectionately coined Mulholland Raceway International, Largest amateur Road Race Course and race car enthusiasts would print up and hand out small business cards (especially on Wednesday nights which were traditionally cruising night on Venice Blvd) informing unsuspecting cruisers that they could and should race their cars on their own private racecourse, up on Mulholland Drive.
So punters would come clutching their tickets, Any night, dusk till dawn, this ticket admits 1, and race whatever cars they owned on what turned out to be treacherous roads with wild twists and turns. It was the norm to compete for road space with tow trucks who just happened to be right there when the virgin racers went off the track and down the hill and would for an usually pricey sum, tow their cars off the hillside and back onto the Track.
The road was originally designed for the road enthusiast by DeWitt Raeburn in 1924. In the 1940’s when actors John Carradine and Cary Cooper had finished their day’s work at Paramount Studios in whatever film they were working on, they would go to work on their Duesenberg’s, which were the fastest cars of the time. These cars needed special tools and wrenches and the shop that sold these tools was conveniently opposite to Paramount, so these famous movie stars would wrench on their Duesenberg’s and then go racing on Mulholland Drive.
Phil Hill, Max Balchowsky, Dan Gurney, Steve McQueen and others all found that the ridge route road of Mulholland corridor atop the Santa Monica Mountains, was a perfect playground for sports cars.
Dick Guldstrand, better known as Mr. Corvette, (responsible for designing the later corvettes including the 1955 Grand Sport Corvette with infamous blue and white stripes), would race his car on Mulholland Drive and was notorious for being pursued by the police and apparently even more so for avoiding them.
Skyline Drive was the formal end of the racecourse which had many twists and turns, some of them very dangerous. The turns were given ominous names by locals and frequent racers such as Dead Man’s Curve, Corkscrew, Sweeper and Grandstands. Originally Grandstands was called the Pits because in the 60’s and 70’s people would bring their SSCA and ENSA race cars on trailers, to race on Mulholland Drive. They would come all the way from Newport Beach or Long beach, back their race cars off the trailer and after spending all night racing on Mulholland Drive, and then they would get back in the Pits and back their cars onto their trailers and drive home.
Many young men and women would gather on weekend evenings, sometimes as many as 60 to 70 people could be found at elect spots on the hill to watch the action on the racecourse. Some of the kids would spontaneously pick out a car that was on the track and then decide to race them to skyline drive the end of the racetrack and then turn around and come back.
No one raced side by side like on a real race course, one car would be in front, one in the back and they would race one length and then turn around and exchange places. The person who was pulling or who was tailgating the other when they changed places was the winner.
Apart from the Grandstands, Beaumont Drive below the water tower was another gathering place where people would corrugate to watch the racing. From time to time the police would have huge busts, they would close off Mulholland Drive and arrest everybody, some 50 people at a time, and impound their cars. Normally they would let everyone go; it was really more of a scare tactic than anything else
There were different groups that congregated there at different eras in time. They called themselves names such as CRE (Clandestine Racing Enterprise) and MRA, (Mulholland Racing Association,) ACR (Associated Canyon Racers,) and TVL (Turkeys Very Limited.) These were groups of young men who would hang out and race their cars, often not knowing of the groups that came before them or the groups that would come after them because in time they would go off to college or get married or move away.
The Friday and Saturday night racing rituals are said to have started sometime in the 1950’s and extended all the way into the 1980’s, until a minor (who was a passenger of a racing car) died in a fatal collision. The tragic event caught the attention of the public, and in turn, pressured the police to crack down with roadblocks, curfews, and an increased presence. Thus, the racing moved out of the hills and into the valley. Still, some people who would go on to become very well know race car drivers began their career on Mulholland Drive.
Many people lost their lives on the windy canyon roads. Perhaps the most famous of all who met an unfortunate early demise, was James Dean. He was on his way to a race in Salinas in his very fast RSK Porsche Spyder when he met his death, but in the time leading up to that day he had spent some 1000 miles racing on Los Angeles streets in his Porsche Speedster to prepare himself for the race. His favorite was Mulholland Drive, after all it was the Largest amateur Road Race Course.