Garden of Allah (building)
- For other uses of this name, see Garden of Allah.
Although built in a Spanish-Moorish style of architecture, it derived its name not from Islam but from stage and screen actress Alla Nazimova, its original owner. Originally known as The Garden of Alla, it was a single mansion at 8080 Sunset Boulevard, built in 1919. It became notorious for the wild parties allegedly held there by the openly lesbian Nazimova.
As her acting career declined, Nazimova built a complex of 25 villas around the main building in 1927. The complex had the address of 8152 Sunset Boulevard. Though Nazimova later sold the property, she continued to live in one of the villas on the grounds.
The Garden of Allah became home to many celebrities and literary figures. F. Scott Fitzgerald lived there for several months in 1937-38 at the beginning of his final sojourn in Hollywood. (He wrote himself a postcard while there: "Dear Scott -- How are you? Have been meaning to come in and see you. I have living [sic] at the Garden of Allah. Yours, Scott Fitzgerald.") Humorist/actor Robert Benchley was a frequent resident. Fitzgerald's biographer and lover Sheilah Graham later wrote a book about the place called The Garden of Allah (New York: Crown, 1969).
Though it was among the landmark buildings of the west side of Los Angeles, it was torn down in June 1959 and replaced by a bank with a strip mall behind it. Actor Francis X. Bushman and his wife, who had been at the opening party, attended the closing party as well.
Urban legend has it that the destruction of the Garden of Allah and its replacement with a strip mall and parking lot inspired the famous line in Joni Mitchell's song "Big Yellow Taxi", "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot." Indeed, Mitchell lived in the Laurel Canyon neighborhood of Los Angeles, which is next to the former site. However, as she revealed to journalist Alan McDougall in the early 1970s, her lyric actually sprang out of the view from her hotel window during her first trip to Hawaii in 1970 and her subsequent disenchantment with the jarring juxtaposition of nature and modern civilization.
Source of the name
In 1905, English writer Robert S. Hichens published the novel Garden of Alla. The novel was adapted into a play first produced in New York City in 1909. Mary Mannering acted in the play in 1910, and Nazimova herself performed in the play in New York in 1913.
In popular culture
- in 1956, just a few years before its demise, the Garden of Allah was one of the settings for Pamela Moore's novel Chocolates for Breakfast, the story of an teen-age girl growing up with an actress mother.
- Herman Wouk called the Garden "Rainbow's End" in Youngblood Hawke, his novel about a successful writer who goes to Hollywood.
- Don Henley sang about it in his song "The Garden of Allah".
- F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a postcard to himself while staying at the hotel part of the residence.
- In the 2013 film Gangster Squad, a signboard reading "Garden of Allah" is seen outside the apartment in which Ryan Gosling's character resides, just before the scene in which he wakes up with Emma Stone.
- Kally Mavromatis, Alla Nazimova - Silent Star of February 1999, Silent Star of the Month, Glen Pringle's Silent Movies site, Clayton School of Information Technology, Monash University.
- Hilburn, Robert (December 8, 1996). "Both Sides, Later". Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA: Tribune Company). ISSN 0458-3035. OCLC 3638237. Retrieved May 19, 2012. "With the release of two 'best of' albums, Joni Mitchell looks back at her hits--and misses--and the artistry that's earning renewed recognition."
- History of the Garden of Allah with photos
- The Vanished Garden of Carnal Abandon
- Time Magazine article on closing of Garden of Allah in 1959
- TCM Movie Morlocks article on the Garden of Allah