the living room, the fireplace is being restored to its original Baroque
glory. The old fireplace was torn out in the 1950s to make way for a
flat model flush to the wall. The original stone fireplace was in harmony
with good architectural design; the height of its hood extended to the
cornice, matching the height of the other room openings. As a central
point of interest, it also anchored the room. The round hood carried
the smoke efficiently out of the room and up into the chimney. The fireplace
was carved by Kuhn & Rogelmair, for the California Architectural
and Decoration Co. It's possible the original carvings were modeled
on Natalie Talmadge to personalize it a bit. There is a small enclosed
solarium or verandah with its original checkerboard black and white
tiles, which Buster, like Norma Desmond, had put in because Valentino
had said "there was nothing like tile for a tango." These
tiles are imported Venetian marble. Valentino was a near neighbor --
Falcon's Lair was just up on Bella Drive -- and an arbiter of taste,
romance and fashion, as well as a professional dancer and leading man.
He used to play baseball with Buster sometimes before he was "discovered"
by Dorothy Gish and starred in "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse"
in 1919. This room would have been the focal point of family gatherings
and entertainment. In the original furnished phots of this room, there
is a large amount of free floor space in the center of the room to accomodate
dancing (or stunts!)
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