Back from L.A.

July 2, 2007

Hello all,

Sorry it’s been a while since we’ve updated but summer travels and book research and writing taking most of my time.  As T noted I’ve been in L.A. working on finishing up a bio about Paul Bern, murdered husband of Jean Harlow.  It’s a great story of 1930’s Hollywood and studio cover-ups.  The story is pretty well-known to movie buffs, but Paul’s story has never been told other than the awful fiction developed by MGM to hide his murder and save Jean’s career.  I spent four days at the Herrick Library at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences buried in the Special Collections area going through old studio correspondence to fill in some holes in the story, which should be out in the fall.  The trip was dedicated to that project and coincided with the 70th anniversary of Jean’s death, so it makes sense that her karmic involvement led to all the incredible coincidences that came about during the trip.

 My pal Darrell Rooney got me invited to a party hosted by Nancy Nadel and Mark Walsh, who have lived at Jean’s last house at 512 Palm in Beverly Hills for a number of years.  They’re moving and hosted a Jean Harlow party, complete with Jean’s 1932 Packard, on the anniversary of her death, June 7th.  It was incredible to walk around Jean’s house, the bar she had installed still there, and the upstairs master area where she lay dying until Clark Gable and Frank (‘The Wizard of Oz’) Morgan forced their way in and had her taken to the hospital.  They were too late, though, and she died a few days later.  But the house is original inside with all of old Spanish iron-work everywhere and old fixtures.  Amazing house.

The next day Darrell arranged a photo shoot re-creating a famous picture of Jean taking delivery of her Packard in 1933 at her old Club View Drive house, down near L.A. Country Club.  Another gorgeous house and while we were taking pictures the owner came home, a very nice doctor who asked us inside for a tour of that house too!  Jean was at this house when she learned of Paul’s death so it was facinating to stand in the room where she was when she learned the news.  They told her Paul killed himself, but she knew he hadn’t.  She knew he was having a guest at their house in Benedict Canyon that night, which is why she had excused herself.  And she knew how he really died.

The biggest coup was actually getting to visit Paul’s estate in Benedict Canyon.  The owners – Ron & Maggie – were at the Walsh/Nadel party and we got chatting and they were nice enough to invite me up to visit.  I spent a wonderful Saturday afternoon visiting with them and exploring the grounds, which are invisible from the road.  Awesome fun.  Darrell and I were like two kids at Disneyland.  If I can figure out how to get some photos up here, I will.

 The Directory continues to grow.  Up to about 48,000 listings now.  My two newest pals in the sick celebrity/Hollywood address obsession are Mamma at realestalker and my friends at big time listings.  Two new blogs having to do with celebrity-owned estates and such.  Check ’em out.  Interesting stuff.

I’ll try to be better about updating here more often.  Any questions just drop me a note.