“It Girl” Clara Bow was one of the celebrity residents at the Garden of Allah Hotel.
Designed by Charles Lee and built in 1929, El Mirador is one of nearly two dozen luxury apartment buildings constructed in and around West Hollywood in the 1920s and ’30s. With the exception of the Garden of Allah and a few others, most are still standing.
One of the first writers to live at the Garden of Allah, Robert Benchley became a longtime resident and the unofficial master of ceremonies at the hotel’s nightly parties.
Hollywood Reporter founder Billy Wilkerson opened Cafe Trocadero in 1934, within months after the repeal of Prohibition. The world-famous nightclub in Sunset Plaza on the Strip was a hive for Hollywood A-listers.
A former member of New York’s Algonquin Round Table, Dorothy Parker was a writer known for her acerbic wit. While working as a screenwriter in Hollywood — the script for the original “A Star Is Born” was among her credits — she lived at the Garden of Allah for many years and later bought a house in West Hollywood’s Norma Triangle neighborhood.
Singer-songwriter Bruz Fletcher had a remarkable five-year run at Club Bali (just east of present-day Book Soup) on the Strip. Known for his risque lyrics and gay double entendres, he attracted a celebrity crowd that included locals like Humphrey Bogart and Ronald Reagan.
A residential hotel with 25 bungalows on Sunset at Crescent Heights Boulevard, the Garden of Allah was popular with actors, writers and visiting aristocrats. Originally an estate owned by Broadway and silent-film superstar Alla Nazimova, it opened in January 1927 and was demolished in 1959. There’s a shopping center there now.
Novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald lived in West Hollywood in the late 1930s, first at the Garden of Allah Hotel and later in an apartment on Laurel Avenue. He died on Dec. 21, 1940, at the Hayworth Avenue apartment of his girlfriend, the columnist Sheilah Graham.
It’s a little known fact that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s next door neighbor at his Laurel Avenue apartment was up-and-coming actress, Lucille Ball. She was dating future husband Desi Arnaz at the time, and Fitzgerald’s girlfriend, the gossip columnist Sheilah Graham, recalled that she and Scott often heard the couple fighting next door.
Hollywood discovered Lena Horne in January 1942 when she opened at Little Troc on the Sunset Strip. She was signed by MGM within weeks. But Horne’s neighbors on Horn Avenue were less welcoming. They circulated a petition to force Horne and her young daughter to move, an effort that was halted when other neighbors — Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre – stepped in.