Tag Archives: Hollywood

Grauman’s Chinese Theater turns 90!

Grauman's Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Grauman's Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Grauman's Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Grauman's Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Grauman's Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Grauman's Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Chinese Heaven Dog, Ming Dynasty, 1403 - 1643, Grauman's Chinese Theater, Photo Romi Cortier
Chinese Heaven Dog, Ming Dynasty, 1403 – 1643, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Photo Romi Cortier

On May 18th,  2017,  Grauman’s Chinese Theater will turn 90!

Try to imagine it’s 1927, and you’re invited to one of Hollywood’s most spectacular events.  Thousands of people are lining Hollywood Boulevard in hopes of catching a glimpse of movie stars and  celebrities of the era. Massive spotlights can be seen for miles. A Wurlitzer organ and 65-piece orchestra provide music for the prologue.  And the premiere film is Cecil B. DeMille’s The King of Kings, preceded by Glories of the Scriptures, a live prologue devised by master showman Sid Grauman. $2,000,000 sure could buy a lot back in those days.

Grauman's Chinese Theater, 1927, Photo courtesy www.waterandpower.org/museum
Grauman’s Chinese Theater, 1927, Photo courtesy www.waterandpower.org/museum

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of standing in front of the theater, it still thrills. And the change of energy as you step from the sidewalk into the forecourt, is palpable. Could it be the footprints and signatures of those glorious stars from Hollywood’s Golden Era who’ve left echoes of their lives in the concrete, letting us literally touch the past?  Is it the feeling of being wrapped by 40-foot high curved walls with copper turrets, creating a big warm cosmic hug? Or is it the effects of amazing feng shui, as chi is channeled from the heavens down into those curved walls circling the forecourt before it breaks out onto the sidewalk. Whatever the case, it’s tangible and it’s exciting.

I was surprised to learn that the forecourt, designed by architect Raymond M. Kennedy of the firm Meyer and Holler,  was inspired by St. Peter’s Square. Apparently there were lots of issues regarding morality during the early days of filmmaking, with great concern about the impact of movies on society in general. There was great social change happening at the turn of the 20th century as we transitioned from a  Victorian sensibility into our modern era. It was absolutely scandalous for women to even show their ankles. And who could imagine that within 20 years women would be lopping off their hair into bobs, smoking cigarettes in public, and wearing slinky glitzy sheath dresses.  Quite frankly, morality was going to hell in a hand basket, and those movies were promoting a degenerate lifestyle… as some would say. Therefore, the subtext of the theaters forecourt was meant to have a religious, and thus moral feeling to it. What a great way to use architecture and design to shape social attitudes. Below is a fantastic 1925 rendering by Mr. Kennedy, illustrating his idea for this slice of chinoiserie heaven.

Grauman's Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Presentation paing by Architect Raymond M. Kennedy, about 1925. Tempera on cardboard.
Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Presentation painting by Architect Raymond M. Kennedy, about 1925. Tempera on cardboard.

The 18th of May is just a few days away, and I may have to drop by the theater again to see what kind of celebration is happening. In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy this interview that I recently had with Barbie artist Judy Ragagli, as she discusses the inspiration behind her painting Barbie in Hollywood.

Learn more about Judy’s artwork HERE.

Stampd Puma Hosts Launch Party on Roosevelt Rooftop

 Grauman's Chinese Theater, Photo Romi Cortier
Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Photo Romi Cortier
Roosevelt Hotel Sign, Hollywood, Ca. Photo Romi Cortier
Roosevelt Hotel Sign, Hollywood, Ca. Photo Romi Cortier
Roosevelt Hotel rooftop view of Hollywood Boulevard, Photo Romi Cortier
Roosevelt Hotel rooftop view of Hollywood Boulevard, Photo Romi Cortier
Roosevelt Hotel Sign, Hollwyood, Ca. Photo Romi Cortier
Roosevelt Hotel Sign, Hollwyood, Ca. Photo Romi Cortier
Roosevelt Hotel Sign seen from Roosevelt Hotel Rooftop, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Roosevelt Hotel Sign seen from Roosevelt Hotel Rooftop, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
PUMA STAMPD Launch Party, April 2, 2016: Ferdinand Prinz von Anhalt, Dustin Walker, Skyler Campbell, Recio Carrington Young, Guest, Romi Cortier (left to right)
STAMPD PUMA Launch Party, April 2, 2016:  Prinz Maximilian Ferdinand von Anhalt, Dustin Walker, Skyler Campbell, Recio Carrington Young, Jay Denton, Romi Cortier (left to right)

I recently attended the STAMPD PUMA launch party on the roof of Hollywood’s iconic Roosevelt Hotel. We arrived a bit late to the event and were denied access in the Lobby, as the party was at full capacity. We texted our host on the roof to pull some strings… her suggestion: take the stairs. Climb thirteen floors,  in leather pants and boots?  Well, ok. We ducked into one of those doors labelled ‘EXIT only’, with cameras everywhere. Up and and up we went. Would security stop us half way up, or worse yet, at the very top? Of course the door to the roof was locked, but 2 texts later our host gave us entry, and there was no security to kick us out. We’d made it!

The view from the roof was so spectacular. Looking down on Hollywood boulevard from such an amazing vantage point and seeing the world famous Mann’s Chinese Theater made me giddy. Of course, it makes sense, this is where  so many of those vintage photos of Hollywood had been taken. Having a cocktail under the splashy neon sign was also super cool. And to be honest, probably my favorite thing about the party…. that, and meeting Ferdinand.  No, I’d never seen Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker, so I wasn’t familiar with his quest to find a bride. He just seemed like a cool guy from Europe with an interesting story. Eventually the name of his dad and step mom came up: Frederic Prinz von Anhalt and Zsa Zsa Gabor. He’s also a lawyer and realtor, who’s also in the process of shooting a reality show. This is what makes Hollywood, well, Hollywood.

There were also plenty of gorgeous young people at the party, of which none looked familiar. And where was the product placement? Shouldn’t there be some kick-ass shoes on display somewhere? I’m guessing the party was way to cool for that, or I’d just arrived a bit to late. Whatever the case, those folks we’d seen lined up downstairs in the lobby an hour ago were finally being allowed upstairs, a sign that it was time to wrap things up and head out. Bougie, me? Maybe just a little.

Starbucks Drive Thru at Highland and Willoughby

Starbucks at Highland and Willoughby, Photo Romi Cortier
Starbucks Drive Thru at Highland and Willoughby, Photo Romi Cortier
Starbucks at Highland and Willoughby, Photo Romi Cortier
Starbucks Drive Thru at Highland and Willoughby, Photo Romi Cortier
Starbucks at Highland and Willoughby, Photo Romi Cortier
Starbucks Drive Thru at Highland and Willoughby, Photo Romi Cortier
Starbucks at Highland and Willoughby, Photo Romi Cortier
Starbucks Drive Thru at Highland and Willoughby, Photo Romi Cortier
Starbucks at Highland and Willoughby, Photo Romi Cortier
Starbucks at Highland and Willoughby, Photo Romi Cortier
Starbucks at Highland and Willoughby, Photo Romi Cortier
Starbucks Drive Thru at Highland and Willoughby, Photo Romi Cortier

The new Starbucks Drive Thru at Highland and Willoughby officially opens today!  However, yesterday March 26, 2015 was their soft opening… and it was a smashing success.

I have to admit that I’ve never been more excited about the opening of a Starbucks, because the opening of this Starbucks means that a dilapidated Historical-Cultural Landmark has been restored.  For me this is a very personal story, because for the last 20 years I’ve been driving by this crumbling aluminum and wood building, sad for the loss of an elegant bygone era. The little white building with its faded green trim was slowly falling apart before my very eyes. Surrounded by a chain link fence, it seemed inevitable that a developer would find away around the landmark status and destroy it. So you can only imagine my excitement as I saw construction crews rebuilding it a few months ago as I whizzed by.  I suppose if I actually read the newspaper once in awhile I might have had a heads up about this. Suffice it to say, I’m beyond thrilled that I’m not the only Art Deco enthusiast in the city of angels who loves to see gyms like these salvaged and restored.

Built in 1935 by RJ Kadow, it was part of a string of  gas stations owned by the Gilmore Oil Company.  You might recognize the Gilmore name not from the TV show, but rather as the original developers of LA’s historic Farmers Market on the corner of Third and Fairfax that began in 1934.  Also, the Gilmore’s independent oil company became the largest on the West Coast, famous for it’s Red Lion logo.

The buildings last incarnation was as a Texaco gas station that closed in the early 90’s, and it was also the gas station featured in the film L.A. Story.  Iamnotastalker.com reports that it was the Melrose Neighborhood Association that stepped in on March 23rd of 1992,  and got the building declared a Historical Cultural Monument to prevent if from being torn down. Who would have guessed that it would take over 20 years for someone to breath new life into this beautiful little building. Having grown up in Seattle, I’m not surprised that a major company like Starbucks stepped in to save the day. That’s how we roll in the Pacific Northwest. To fully appreciate what they’ve accomplished, take a look at the photo below. It’s so exciting when a major corporation re-invests in its community. Thank you Starbucks!

Gilmore Gas Station at Highland and Willoughby, Photo by Mike Hume
Gilmore Gas Station at Highland and Willoughby, Photo by Mike Hume

 

Egyptian Revival at 2700 Glendower… Southwestern #TBT

Egyptian Revival at 2700 Glendower, Southwestern TBT, Photo Romi Cortier
Egyptian Revival at 2700 Glendower, #TBT Southwestern , Photo Romi Cortier
Egyptian Revival at 2700 Glendower, TBT Southwestern, Photo Romi Cortier
Egyptian Revival at 2700 Glendower, #TBT Southwestern, Photo Romi Cortier
Egyptian Revival at 2700 Glendower, TBT Southwestern, Photo Romi Cortier
Egyptian Revival at 2700 Glendower, #TBT Southwestern, Photo Romi Cortier
Egyptian Revival at 2700 Glendower, TBT Southwestern, Photo Romi Cortier
Egyptian Revival at 2700 Glendower, #TBT Southwestern, Photo Romi Cortier
Egyptian Revival at 2700 Glendower, TBT Southwestern, Photo Romi Cortier
Egyptian Revival at 2700 Glendower, #TBT Southwestern, Photo Romi Cortier
Egyptian Revival at 2700 Glendower, TBT Southwestern, Photo Romi Cortier
Egyptian Revival at 2700 Glendower, #TBT Southwestern, Photo Romi Cortier

 

Egyptian Revival at 2700 Glendower, Southwestern #TBT (throw back thursday) to the early 90’s.

During the 1990’s, I lived in the guesthouse of this Egyptian Revival home located in Los Feliz, an upscale Los Angeles neighborhood.  I was lamenting in my previous post about the newest decor of this home, which is currently for sale, that its mid-century modern/hollywood regency  makeover  seemed so out of place. Until I found these photos in my archives, I’d forgotten just how southwestern the previous decor was. I realize that most period interiors become dated at some point, but it greatly pains me to see so much handcrafted work completely wiped out… not to mention the loss of raw materials. I guess that’s the nature of living in Los Angeles, people spend crazy amounts of money to customize their homes to their specific tastes. I just wish this homes latest incarnation at least gave a nod to something Egyptian, like the use of black sexy raw materials. Imagine the floors or kitchen cabinets with an ebony stain, or wallpaper with a bit of gold leaf, the reusing of the trapezoid shape that defines the homes exterior repeated indoors… something that would tie the interior to the exterior in a contemporary yet sophisticated way. The same goes for the light fixtures. I feel like the current renovations, seen in my previous post, could be dropped into any hollywood ‘box home’. However, this isn’t just any hollywood box home, it’s a very specific and rare bird, one that should be celebrated… not ignored.

I have no clue if southwestern interiors will ever come back into style to the degree that they were in the 80’s,  unless of course you’re actually living in the southwest, then they’re  always appropriate. But I’m watching the clothing industry rotate through fashion cycles at break neck speeds, and 80’s inspired hair and clothing have certainly resurfaced. Therefore, I’m going to give you a breakdown on some the interior elements that Michele created with her British Blue Blood designer that really stand out to me. I don’t recall just how many years they spent working on the home, but I do know that it was a true labor of love. Ideas were always being tossed about, and then the experimentation to create the ‘product’ began.

I know my vegan friends will hate me for this, but one of my favorite wall treatments was the use of that cowhide on the wall, with the animal ‘cut-outs’ inset into the wainscot.  To this day, I’ve never seen anything quite like it, even in print. And the amount of work that went into creating it was painstaking. This isn’t like wallpaper that comes pre-made in a roll form the Pacific Design Center.  It’s made on site, piece by piece. The same goes for the finishes on the kitchen cabinets, the bookcase in the hallway to the dining rooms, not to mention those handcrafted ceilings.

I also remember the wow factor the first time I saw the framed art in the hallway, with the shattered glass in the bottom of the shadow boxes.  As delicate as some of it looked, it was quite durable and resilient. There were always 3 very large dogs running through the home: a doberman, an alaskan malamute, and a husky/timber wolf mix (cody, my fave). They were always slipping and sliding on the rugs, but that’s about the worst of it. The wood plank floors were chosen with them in mind.

And then there’s that oval coffee table in front of the copper fireplace upstairs. Again, as I mentioned before, it was originally built to hold a child’s casket, and someone had the brilliant idea to put glass on top of it instead. That’s what makes a home great, it’s stories. It’s what gives a home character, depth, warmth, personality. It’s current incarnation completely lacks that (have I said that enough?).  Maybe my biggest issue is that I resent not being able to afford this home and give it the love and care that it truly deserves. If you’re that person, call Carol Dotson at 310.927.4107 and then lets chat!

 

Egyptian Revival at 2700 Glendower Avenue

Egyptian Revival at 2700 Glendower, Photo Romi Cortier
Egyptian Revival at 2700 Glendower, Photo Romi Cortier
Terrace at 2700 Glendower, Image courtesy Redfin
Terrace at 2700 Glendower, Image courtesy Redfin 2014
2700 Glendower, Dining Terrace off kitchen, Image courtesy Redfin 2014
Dining Terrace off kitchen at 2700 Glendower, Image courtesy Redfin 2014
Living Room, Top Floor at 2700 Glendower, Image courtesy MLS 2010
Living Room, Top Floor at 2700 Glendower, Image courtesy MLS 2010
Dining Room at 2700 Glendower, Image courtesy MLS 2010
Dining Room at 2700 Glendower, Image courtesy MLS 2010
Fireplace at 2700 Glendower, Image courtesy MLS 2010
Fireplace at 2700 Glendower, Image courtesy MLS 2010
Kitchen at 2700 Glendower, Image courtesy MLS 2010
Kitchen at 2700 Glendower, Image courtesy MLS 2010
Guest unit & back patio at 2700 Glendower, Photo courtesy MLS 2010
Guest unit & back patio at 2700 Glendower, Photo courtesy MLS 2010

This Egyptian Revival Residence at 2700 Glendower Avenue in Los Feliz is my former residence.  Granted, I lived in the mother-in-law apartment behind the house, but it made my first few years in LA pretty special.  My view was of the golf course on the north side of the hill, with the ability to hear concerts at the Greek Theater… like Ms. Tina Turner.

Michele, who owned the house, was one of LA’s few female stunt car/precision drivers. Remember those Mercedes Benz commercials with Cybil Shepard in the 90’s? That was Michele’s handy work. I was living in an 8 week sublet when I met Michele at the salon and heard about her ‘room for rent’.  I couldn’t move in fast enough. She also had 3 beautiful dogs that roamed the gated compound, so there was never any need to lock the doors. I’m going to do my best to dig up some photos from my archives of my time there. In the meantime,  I’m using  current and past MLS photos for this post, plus the ones I took from the street recently.

When I was taking photos at the Egyptian Theater this week, the trapezoid shapes triggered my memory of Michele’s home. So I decided it was time for a drive by to see how the house was looking. I was surprised to see that the home was for sale, and even more stunned to read it described as a Contemporary Brick & Glass Masterpiece. That’s not how I remembered it, so I looked it up on the MLS when I got home. Usually I’m all for renovating and updating, however, in this case, I think it was a huge mistake. Some homes are meant to have old world charm, and this is one of those homes. Michele had spent years working with a British Blue Blood Designer making the home into a rustic southwestern styled retreat. I realize that by now, that look was probably dated as well. However, the new images I’ve posted below from the current MLS listing show a remarkable change. The white kitchen looks like it belongs in a cape cod styled home. And the 60’s mod/hollywood regency great room looks ridiculous. It appears the fireplace as been removed, which makes me wonder about structural support. I was living in this home during the NorthRidge earthquake, and we came through it fairly unscathed. In fact, we had a large feast at the dinner table that night with about half a dozen of us, celebrating our good fortune.

My favorite room in this entire residence was the upstairs living room with the panoramic views. Sadly, the recessed soffits that echoed the exterior shape of the curved stucco trim, are completely gone. The room had previously been styled with vintage and rustic furniture that included an oval shaped wrought iron coffee table, previously used for a child’s casket. I know, sounds grim, but it was pretty damn cool. Her downstairs office was also lined with cowhide, there were rough hewn wide planks floors through out the home,  with an overall casual elegance to it.

The home was built in 1924, and was completed about 6 months before Frank Lloyd Wright’s  Ennis Brown Home down the street. I can only imagine what the ridge must have looked like in the 20’s & 30’s with only those Egyptian and Mayan structures. Michele had told me that the home was built by a Saudi Prince for his Mistress, however, research shows that it was built by contractor Arthur Holiday as his personal residence, and is sometimes referred to at the Arthur Holiday Residence… I think I like Michele’s story better.  Also Michele had mentioned that she could have bought the lot across the street for about $15,000 in the early 70’s to ensure her view. She thought why bother, who could possibly build in the middle of that ravine. But this is LA, she should have known better. Once the home across the street was finally built, it took years to sell… lets chalk it up to bad feng shui.

The home was listed on 5/15/2012 by Carol Dotson at 310.927.4107, and was recently reduced by $200,000  to $2,395,000. I guess I’m not the only one who isn’t in love with the cape-cod/mid-century makeover. Hopefully it’ll sell to  someone who has the  vision to restore some of what’s been lost… this is after all, one of LA’s only Egyptian Revival homes.

Upstairs Living Room at 2700 Glendower,  Photo Courtesy MLS 2014
Upstairs Living Room at 2700 Glendower, Photo Courtesy MLS 2014
Great Room at 2700 Glendower, Photo courtesy MLS 2014
Great Room at 2700 Glendower, Photo courtesy MLS 2014
Kitchen at 2700 Glendower, Photo courtesy MLS 2014
Kitchen at 2700 Glendower, Photo courtesy MLS 2014