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Posts tagged “Celebrities

Birth of the Iconic California Swimming Pool ~ 1927

In honour of a California Tradition, the Super Sunny Summer Holiday ~ A Tribute to the Swimming Pool ~ A Most California Invention…

Kenneth Anger’s book written in 1959, Hollywood Babylon, states, “Hollywood was not yet a dirty word in 1916. It was just a junction of dirt roads, a solitary ‘Mission-style’ hotel, some claptrap bungalows scattered in the orange groves, and the startling apparition of a Babylon orgy in full swing in the sunshine, smack on Sunset Boulevard.”

Faye Dunaway Admires her Latest Leading Man ~ The Day after Becoming Best Actress, 1977

Sunny Los Angeles in the Nineteen-Twenties of Course gets Credit for Popularizing the Pool. In Other Adventures found within Tales Told Herein, The Legend of Russian Actress Alla Nazimova is told, and upon her arrival in HollywoodLand in 1927 ~With proceeds in hand (she was soon earning $13,000 a week) the “Woman of a Thousand Moods”, “the greatest artist of the screen”, as Metro dubbed her, took possession of her mansion, The Garden Of Allah for $50,000.

The ‘Black Sea’ Swimming Pool at the Garden of Allah~ named for actress/owner Alla Nazimova’s homeland.

Set in three and a half acres of tropical plants and trees, with an orange grove, lily pond, cedars and palms, and garlanded with many “bizarre birds” – the feathery kind kept in an aviary she installed; the two-legged creatures, like Chaplin’s wife Mildred Harris, or Valentino’s two wives Natacha Rambova and Jean Acker, paraded on the terrace overlooking the orange groves and vineyards to the hills opposite[7]. She lived here with fellow actor, Charles Bryant, her “pseudo-husband”[8], who was reputedly paid ten percent of her salary for acting the part. Although the two flirted in public, they “had separate bedrooms and led separate lives.”[9]

The Second Player and Undisputed Heavyweight champion in the California Swimming Pool Contest of All-Time History was none other than Gazillionaire Publishing Magnate William Randolph Hearst.

The Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of all California Swimming Pools ~ The Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle

In 1919, William Randolph Hearst gained control of the land that would be called San Simeon. And the ranchero would grow to 250,000 acres after Hearst bought up all the surrounding land. He hired one of the first notable female architects of the 20th Century, the other noted ladies of California Architecture being Lutah Riggs, assistant to George Washington Smith, and the Moody Sisters, ladies with notable commissions for homes & mansions in the Santa Barbara and Montecito areas. Miss Julia Morgan was a diminutive figure, not unlike that of famous Hollywood costume designer Edith Head. However reticent in stature and nature, She was the first woman to graduate with a degree in architecture from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts school in Paris. Throughout her long career, she designed multiple buildings for institutions serving women and girls, The architect of over 700 buildings in California,[1]

Mr. Hearst wrote to her in 1919, “Miss Morgan, we are tired of camping out in the open at the ranch in San Simeon and I would like to build a little something…” were Hearst’s words to noted San Francisco architect Julia Morgan whom his mother had utilized to build a home for them in Pleasanton, California. He asked for “something that would be more comfortable” than the platform tents that were in use when visiting the ranch at the time. The project set atop the hill he had camped upon as a boy would balloon into the most expensive private home ever built.

Architect Julia Morgan gettin’ busy with Boss William Randolph Hearst ~ 1920’s

The home, deemed La Cuesta Encantada, follows a Mediterranean Revival theme. Adjacent are three guesthouses, and two pools pictured here- one outdoor, one indoor. The indoor pool, although pale in comparison to the outdoor Neptune Pool, is notable for having real 24 kt. tiles imbedded into the Art Deco style mosaic walls that surround it. Keep in mind, the houses & pools were built before electricity was readily available. Even bringing water to the home- which is built atop a hill 1600 ft above the ocean- was a project in itself. It had to be done with a system of piping and cisterns from natural springs miles away. Workmen labored for 26 years- and still didn’t finish. Parts of the home are clearly half-done. The way they left it is what we see today.

Pool Party Anyone? Another view of the Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle

Hearst had traveled around the world, and inspired by his boyhood tour of Europe, had been collecting treasures in an endless stream, shipping them back to warehouses on both coasts. Architect Julia Morgan would strive to design the pieces into the home.

The Indoor Pool at Hearst Castle ~ replete with 24kt Gold tiles in the Art Deco walls

Hearst~in True California Fashion opted to leave his somewhat dowdy yet stable-minded wife on the East Coast, as his choice of California Companion was none other than the Beautiful, Fun & Frolicking Flapper Film Star Marion Davies. He was so enamored of her and their California Life together, and who wouldn’t be ? Ms. Davies was the Jennifer Aniston of her day and Hearst a portly and not particularly handsome 60-plus. In True California Advantageous Relationship Fashion, in many ways they were Perfect for Each Other, and she remained by his side for over 30 years. In 1929 while the Castle was still under construction, Hearst had Ms. Morgan design and execute a Fabulous Beach House on then-named Roosevelt Highway (now PCH), on the beach south in Santa Monica.

Marion Davies’ Santa Monica Pool ~ Making a Splash in 1929

Morgan created a three-story, 34-bedroom Georgian mansion on the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica. It was accompanied by three guest houses, tennis courts and dog kennels. Called “Ocean House” or “The Beach House,” it was the grandest property in the neighborhood. Rumor has it the cost was $7 million dollars. And, of course, this Beach Babylon came equipped with The Prototypical CaliforniaPool(s), 2 of them as well.

Marion Davies Styling It at her Pool Pad in Santa Monica ~ No Dowdy BF Hearst in Sight

SurfRiding Santa Monica at Marion Davies’ Santa Monica Beach Bungalow, 1930s

With California Celebs like Nazimova, Hearst, Davies and their Movie Pals seen Galavanting all-smiles Poolside, another California Cultural Development, along with the growing popularity of the automobile and California Car-Culture arrived on the scene. The ‘Motor Hotel’, or Motel as it became known, made its Debut. where else ?

The first ‘Motel’ in the United States was built alongside El Camino Real, Highway 101 just north of San Luis Obispo, midway between L.A. and San Francisco in 1925. The original plan of the Milestone Mo-Tel was to include both bungalows and attached apartments with parking outside each unit, though some would have a private garage. Each location of the chain was to include laundry facilities, a grocery store, and a restaurant.

Each unit included an indoor bathroom with a shower, obviously a level of privacy not found at campgrounds. Arthur Heineman’s first “Mo-Tel” sign garnered reports of an apparent misspelling. He added the hyphen to emphasize to compound nature of the word and the building’s architecture and use.
The exterior of the buildings were modeled after the Spanish missions in California; the three-stage bell tower was a reflection of the Mission Santa Barbara. The motel cost $80,000 to build in 1925. It originally charged $1.25 per night per room.[2]

However, even after spending All That Money on a Great Idea with All Those Amenities, something was missing…

It took some Wiseguys from the East Coast, a little California Ingenuity, and a Postwar Pool Popularity to really Get Things Heated Up Poolside…

As the California Car Craze sped up, auto reliability increased, people were really starting to be able to Get Around in Style. Highways improved and a new kind of  “freeway” let people hit the road like never before. Of course California led the way with the advent of the Pasadena Freeway opening in 1939. Access to the Mountains, the Desert and the Sea let people enjoy all parts of California & beyond they never dreamed of…

El Rancho Vegas ~ The First Hotel on the Las Vegas ‘Strip’, early 1940s

The El Rancho Vegas was the very first hotel and casino on the Las Vegas Strip (US 91). It was located at 2500 Las Vegas Boulevard, at the southwest corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara,[1] and opened on April 3, 1941. While most credit Benjamin Siegel (don’t call him Bugsy, if you know what’s Good for Ya) & ‘The Mob’ with The Flamingo Hotel being the first on ‘The Strip’, El Rancho Vegas beat Da Boyz to The Bank by almost 10 years. The Flamingo opened in 1947. El Rancho Vegas, not being in an old Clapboard Cowboy storefront building downtown was arguably the first Vegas Hotel with a Pool.

The Curvilinear Esther Williams ~1946

With the advent of Gambling available just over the Nevada border to Californians, and autos that could get there from L.A. in around 5 hours, what better thing to do after riding in a not-so-cool no air-conditioned, no sunroof Rotisserie of a Car for hours, but Hit The Pool? Man, look at that Rancho Vegas postcard…sure looks a lot better than the Las Vegas of Today. Other distant Resort spots like Palm Springs offered the traveller an Exotic Destination to Get Away From it All..

The Fabulous Mira Loma Hotel ~ Palm Springs. Please take me there right now.

Suddenly Everybody in California Had To Have One…Even William Holden in Sunset Boulevard

” The Poor Dope, he Always Wanted a Pool…”

Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms Estate ~ Palm Springs 1950. Julius Schulman photo

One of the Trippiest, Offbeat Hollywood 60’s films Starring Burt Lancaster and Co-Starring several of Connecticut’s Upper Crust Perfect Pools is “The Swimmer“, from 1968….to quote Will Doig, and his essay on the film ~ The Swimmer, the 1968 surrealist film based on a John Cheever story, makes hay of the phony glamour of swimming-pool culture. Burt Lancaster stars as an aging sexpot whose enviable life with his loving family has vanished. He’s had an affair, he’s bankrupt, and many of his friends have abandoned him…

The film opens poolside, with Lancaster at a neighbors’ house, when he realizes that all of the pools in the neighborhood form a virtual chlorinated river that leads all the way to his house; he dubs it the Lucinda River, “in honor of my wife,” and whispers, peering deep into the middle distance, “I could swim home.” And he does, hopping from one pool to the next, conversing with increasingly hostile neighbors along the way, each interaction revealing another piece of the story of his tragic downfall. When he reaches his old, now-empty house, he pounds on the door and wails, then curls into a ball on the stoop and wails some more. It’s a scene so daringly preposterous, so amazingly overacted, you have to admire its chutzpah.
In The Swinging Sixties, Suddenly everyone was either, Naturally –  A. A Swinging Single, creating a Huge Market for Singles Housing, AKA The ‘Apartment’…

David Hockney • Portrait of Nick Wilder, 1966. Acrylic on canvas 72 x 72 in. (183 x 183 cm) Private collection

And everyone living in those was
B. Looking to Have a Family, creating the need for C. The House with a Pool.
The Pool Company was a new New California Creation, one of the First & Foremost being a company called Anthony Pools. This excerpt from the Anthony Pools History on their website says it all:

Anthony Pools promotional ashtray~ 1950s

Phil Anthony founded the company in Southern California in 1947 and, like Silverman on the East Coast, he took advantage of the postwar building boom to establish a thriving enterprise. Bernard Forester took over the company in 1973 and began to diversify beyond the seasonal swimming pool business, acquiring a wide range of businesses that he placed under the corporate shell of Anthony Industries, which he operated out of the Los Angeles, California, suburb City of Commerce. Forester’s approach was to target recreational and sporting goods companies that had some brand-name recognition and were leaders in small niche markets. In 1974 Anthony acquired Hilton Active Wear, a Chicago company that produced bowling shirts, athletic jackets, and other imprintable items.

Anthony Pools Sales Brochure~ 1960s. Sign me Up.

So, the Rest is History. Take a Plane into or out of California & look out the window…there they are.
And without the Iconic California Swimming Pool, so many other Groovy California Inventions & Pool Vernacular would not have Come to Be like The Pool Slide, Diving BoardWater PoloPool Party, Marco Polo (or just) “Polo!”, The CannonBall, the list goes on & on…
And without those, would we have The Spa, The Hot Tub/Jacuzzi, and All That They Imply? So of course, Once Again Us Californians Prevail ~ The Purveyors of Pool…

Jay Adams Ripping the SoCal Drought-Era DogBowl, Beverly Hills~1977

Got Pool ? Ever Creative Californians Carve Up a Crazed Anti-Establishment Pool-Riding Chapter into DogTown History ~

David Hockney • Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), 1971. Acrylic on canvas 84 x 120 in. (214 x 304.8 cm) Collection David Geffen


Clint, Steve & Peter Styling it in the 7o’s !


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Steve McQueen & XKSS D-type Jaquar, Trancas Beach Malibu, 1974


2nd Generation Hollywood Royalty Peter Fonda- Cannes 1978 –


Peter Fonda - 6.3 Mercedes- Pure EuroTrash Style 1978