...Built in 1920 by MGM Studios for silent film star Norma Talmadge. Remodeled in 2003 by owner/designer Xorin Balbes.
Located in the exclusive Los Feliz district of L.A., this 10,000 sq. ft. estate was once the home of silent film great Norma Talmadge. It is a replica of a 17th-century villa owned by the Duke of Alba in Florence, Italy, and has 16 rooms and 6 baths on three levels. Former residents include Howard Hughes and Jimi Hendrix. Among the remarkable features of this home are a Baccara crystal chandelier, rococo dome fresco ceiling, stained glass windows, terrazzo marble floors, and a walk-in fireplace.
The description above is from the website of Paris-born artist Pascal Giacomini, who works in mixed-media photography, sculpture, and functional art, including "site-specific functional art for prestigious private properties (Lloyd Wright's Sowden House and Norma Talmadge Estate)." I thought his website showed the most beautiful photos of Norma Talmadge Estate - Los Angeles | Photo Gallery, with thumbnail shots that you can click on to enlarge. (Note that the estate is described as located in Los Angeles, where the old postcard says Beverly Hills - there must have been a redistricting along the way...) Giacomini's commissioned work for the estate was the Aurelien, a 9' high fountain pictured in the photo gallery linked above and also seen separately here.
I had the postcard in hand and in the back of my mind recalled my mother saying something about driving by the estate when she was in high school in Santa Monica. Other than that I knew nothing about Norma Talmadge and I'm guessing that most of you don't either! According to imdb.com she was in 161 movies. The Norma Talmadge Website, (a stanford.edu address) is a substantial documentation of the work of the actress. This is the introduction:
Norma Talmadge was one of the greatest stars of the silent era. She began her film work as a teenager in 1910 at the Vitagraph Studios in Flatbush, just a streetcar ride from her home. In 1916 she met and married exhibitor Joseph M. Schenck, and together they formed the Norma Talmadge Film Corporation, one of the most lucrative partnerships in film history. Talmadge became one of the top box office attractions for the rest of the silent era, evolving from a spunky teenager into one of the finest dramatic actresses of the screen. One of the wealthiest women in Hollywood, she retired after her two talkies proved disappointing at the box office. She died on Christmas Eve, 1957.The Norma Talmadge Website (link above) is a researcher's goldmine. It's ripe with interesting articles, gobs of pictures, even a clip of her voice. One of the articles linked there is a reprint of a piece from Moving Picture World, dated July 21, 1917 (full article here). It's a real eye-opening look at the times, which you can tell from the title and opening paragraph. I didn't realize that women evolute ......
Meets her Guests in Riding Breeches With an After Luncheon Change to Modest Womanalls
By Margaret I. McDonald
Sometimes we are prone to forget that what used to be known as the modern female has "evoluted" from the severe type of a few years ago to one as sweetly charming as it is unembarrassed. It dons the attire of man with the innocence of babyhood, casts off its hair-pins and other like restraints and bubbles with the effervescence of perfect health. Such is pretty Norma Talmadge, the popular moving picture star in the solitude of her summer home.Her summer home at Beechurst, L.I., faces on the bay, .....
[Note that the summer house mentioned in the article is not the one pictured in this old postcard. She owned numerous properties.]
You're probably curious to see what she looked like. Again, the links in this post take you to many still shots. And here is one beautiful photo, most definitely. But for a real impression of this actress, once considered the greatest of her generation, a video is the best bet. Here's a clip from one of her early films. She appears in the first scene so you don't have to worry about the 18 minute length...
*There is at least one pause in the clip (at 1.43 min.). Just drag the bar beyond the stalled point and push play again...
The Helpful Sisterhood (1914)
Silent film in which a poor girl joins a sorority whose members have wealthy parents, and finds herself struggling to keep up with their free-spending ways.
No music track. Keywords: Sororities Shoplifting Students Genre: Silent films