Yes, Edith Luckett Robbins Davis, whom Alla Nazimova called “Lucky,” was Alla’s lifelong best friend. They met when Alla was a huge Broadway star and Edith was an ingenue. According to Bob Colacello, in Ronnie and Nancy: Their Path to the White House: 1911 to 1980:
Edith met Nazimova at a party given at the Irving Place townhouse of the literary agent Bessie Marbury, whose clients included H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw and Somerset Maugham, and her lover, the society decorator Elsie de Wolfe, who were the reigning hostesses of Manhattan’s thriving haute bohemia … [After she married Kenneth Robbins in Burlington, Vermont, on June 27, 1916,] Edith contacted Alla Nazimova, who offered her a role in her new production, “‘Ception Shoals,” a melodrama “about incest, suicide and bigotry, set in a lighthouse.” Edith’s first Broadway play, it opened on January 10, 1917, ran to packed houses until March, and then went on tour until summer.
The following year, Nazimova went to Hollywood and quickly became one of the highest-paid actresses in silent pictures.
Writing about the Garden of Allah Hotel for Collier’s in 1948, Amy Porter, a longtime resident of the Sunset Strip hotel, mentioned that the shape of the pool was an ongoing topic of debate among her famous neighbors as they sunned themselves by it on languid gin-soaked afternoons. The design of the pool is still being debated today.
That’s Alla Nazimova, age 65, in the center, her long time companion Glesca Marshall to the left and Nazimova’s goddaughter Nancy Davis, age 23, future first lady of the United States, standing at right. This was probably taken in Los Angeles, maybe even on the grounds of the Garden of Allah, about a year before Nazimova died. (I found this on the web but it is a scan from Nazimova by Gavin Lambert.)
That’s Alla Nazimova, age 65, in the center, her long time companion Glesca Marshall to the left and Nazimova’s goddaughter Nancy Davis, age 23, future first lady of the United States, standing at right. This was probably taken in Los Angeles, maybe even on the grounds of the Garden of Allah, about a year before Nazimova died.
I’m not sure what the story is with the music, but the images are clips from Alla Nazimova’s 1923 version of “Salome,” which was said to have been inspired by the eponymous Oscar Wilde/ Aubrey Beardsley.
Los Angeles came late to the historic preservation movement. The landmarks that have fallen to the wrecking balls is nothing less than tragic. The Sunset Strip has been luckier. Chateau Marmont and the Sunset Tower are standing and in fine fettle. Low-rise apartment building where notables like Marilyn Monroe, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Dorothy Dandridge lived are still in use. The building made world-famous as Ciro’s night club in the 1940s was repurposed decades ago as the Comedy Store. Even the one-time home of Cafe Gala, Judy Garland’s favorite gay bar, on Horn Avenue north of the Strip, is still standing, although it has dark since Spago’s vacated the building and moved to Beverly Hills location.
One significant loss, however, was the Garden of Allah, the most legendary and notorious of all the Strip hotels, which was razed in 1959 to make way for the bank building that is there now.
The Garden of Allah was originally an estate called Hayvenhurst, built in 1913, at 8150 Sunset Blvd. [map], at the northwest corner of Crescent Heights and Sunset — at the western terminus of the Sunset trolley line — it occupied a 2.5-acre park-like campus of villas built around an enormous swimming pool and the main house, which housed the restaurant and bar.
The buildings were torn down, the landscaping ripped out and a concrete parking lot was poured on top of the once-magical grounds — an event that was thought to have inspired the line “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot” in Joni Mitchell’s song, “Big Yellow Taxi.” Mitchell, who moved to Los Angeles well after the shopping center was built, has said she was writing about a trip to Hawaii.
In January 1927, the opening of the hotel was celebrated in typical Hollywood style, as described in the Los Angeles Times many years later: