Thursday, August 12, 2010
Photo credit to Phone Rat
Today I reflect on the years I lived on Magnolia Blvd. in Valley Village. I moved there in the mid 90's. The apartment building was a small, well kept older building with the virtue of a decent rent and quiet neighbors. I had wanted a place near this part of town and was lucky to find it. I was in walking distance of a major drug store, a great pizza place, a market, a bank, a liquor store and Dutton's bookstore, which was ideal. When I moved in the owner of the building told me my apartment had been previously occupied by an actor who played a "Ferengi" on the TV show Star Trek The Next Generation. That was mildly interesting to know.
Also living in the building at the time was an older man named Herbert Wiere. Herbie as he was called was a member of the Vaudeville act, The Wiere Brothers. They once appeared in an Elvis Presley movie and for a brief time had their own variety show on television. Herbie was a nice but quiet man who parked his Karmann Ghia next to us. The building owner told me Burt Lancaster used to come and visit Herbie.
Two doors west of us was a house that used to belong to Merv Griffin. When I moved in it had become a rehab house and to my knowledge still is.
In January of 1997 Bill Cosby's son Ennis Cosby was murdered by a man named Mikail Markhasev. When he was finally captured I learned that he lived in an apartment building across the street from me and a little west from our location. He had worked at a second hand shop down near Laurel Canyon called Manly Seconds.
I lived a short walk from the corner of Magnolia and Whitsett. Those familiar with the area probably have seen the castle like structure on the south side of the street just before Whitsett which house a US Postal Office. A few more doors west, just across Whitsett, across from the Rite-Aid, is a small neighborhood bar called The Fire Fox Room. This bar was used in the 1999 movie, Magnolia, starring Tom Cruise. I'm not really a bar person but I have been there a few times. It is a little too dark and small for me, but it seems to be popular in the neighborhood.
Going east on Magnolia you come to a spot just a short distance before Lankershim, on the south side of the street where Julia Roberts, starring as Erin Brockovich pulled away from the curb and was hit by another car at the intersection of Lankershim Blvd. I forget if it was there then but right on the North West corner of Magnolia and Lankershim is, or was, a restaurant called The Pitfire. I used to eat there from time to time and the food was very good. Sitting outside during the good weather made it a great experience.
Across the street from The Pitfire is the Academy of Television Arts. While technically on Lankershim, it spreads back along Magnolia. You may be aware of the life size statues in front of the building of famous TV personalities.
Heading east from the Academy you come to the corner of Magnolia and Colfax Street. Here is North Hollywood High School. It has its fair share of celebrity alumni including, Scott Baio, Cuba Gooding Jr., Alan Ladd and many more.
Now let’s head back west until we come to 14277 Magnolia Blvd which is now an apartment complex, but it used to be the home of Oliver Hardy of Laurel and Hardy fame. It is right next to the Horace Heidt Estates. The estates were once part of the Hardy property. Next to his home Hard built a small comedy club called The Fun Factory at 14155 Magnolia Blvd. The Fun Factory was torn down in 1962 to make room for Horace Heidt Estates. TV actor Dick Van Patten once lived in the estates. Last I heard he no longer is there, but had another home on Magnolia Blvd.
Author Nathaniel West who wrote one of the great books about Los Angeles called The Day of the Locust, once lived at 12706 Magnolia Blvd. with his wife Eileen. The house was situated on two acres of walnut and pear trees. On December 22, 1940 West and his wife were killed in an auto accident in El Centro California. They were returning home to attend the funeral of their friend F. Scott Fitzgerald, the writer of The Great Gatsby.
Buck Jones, a famous cowboy actor of early Hollywood built a house on the southeast corner of Magnolia and Hazeltine Ave. Jones died in an infamous fire in Boston in 1942 at the Coconut Grove. The house later became a school called, Mar-Ken.
Finally we drive east again, past all the beautiful Magnolia trees which I truly miss. We drive across Whitsett and park in front of my favorite pizza place, Joe Peep's. I used to get their Blue Collar thin crust pizza and their great steak sandwich. They deliver, but not to Iraq.
So now that I feel totally homesick I will go downstairs and make my wife miserable whining, again, about how much I miss home. Thank God for the internet and Google Earth!