Sidney Olcott, le premier oeil

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November 11, 2015





In Hollywood, Sidney Olcott is the king of the move

Sidney Olcott died in Hollywood on December 16, 1949. If he spent the last years of his life in the capital of cinema, where he shot a little. The traveler filmmaker is a man of the East: New York, Fort Lee, Jacksonville, Florida... In Hollywood, there are less than ten films to his credit including The Only Woman ( 1924) Norma Talmadge, The Charmer (1925) with Pola Negri and three films with Richard Barthelmess in 1926. After a miserable experience in England in 1928, Olcott finally turns back to the camera. He moved to Hollywood with Valentine Grant, his wife.
According to Bob Vignola, his friend, Sidney Olcott has never had a home to him. The filmmaker aptly traveler title. When he puts his suitcases it is in hotels or rentals. Not always easy to track . There are traces of his passage in the directories of the city and in Federal censuses.

In 1930, Sidney Olcott is identified at 6 521 Sunset Boulevard. The address of the Hollywood Athletic Club. A private athletic club with swimming pool, sports halls, library and lounges counts as the cream of cinema member : Chaplin, Valentino, Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, DeMille, Errol Flynn, John Wayne, John Ford... The building topped a tower was built by the architect of Chinese and Egyptian Theaters Sid Grauman. It also includes some rooms. Among the famous guests : Bela Lugosi, Dracula himself. Olcott already gives the HAC as a reference address when it arrives in New York from Southampton, August 26, 1928.
In sleep, Hollywood Athletic Club is for rent for events. It turns movies. David Bowie gave a concert there in 1997...

In 1932, the name of Valentina Grant, without that of Olcott, is attached to the 1 826 Laurel Canyon Boulevard in Los Angeles City Directory, the phone book. Same in the edition of 1934. The houses can be seen in the area are new.

In 1939, Sid and Val live at 955 North Kings Road in West Hollywood. If one believes the Los Angeles City Directory of the year. Val appears there only in the edition of 1936. There too the neighborhood was razed there are already several years to make small flats.

In 1940, we find traces of the couple 8 493 Fountain Avenue, West Hollywood, according to the Federal census. A nice building called El Palacio Apartments, Hispanic style dating from 1931. In 1942, the Los Angeles directory lists Valentina Grant used as studio but does not mention Sidney Olcott. Among the known tenants include John Carroll, Marilyn Monroe, James Mason, screenwriter Frederica Sagor Maas, actress Geraldine Fitzgerald, Pier Angeli... El Palacio was the scene of a news item in 1944. A young heir to an oil tycoon was found strangled in her bath. An unsolved murder.
The landmark complex has been purchased in September 2014, for $ 10.55 million and totally renovated.

In 1946, actor and director Jean Hersholt sent a letter to Sid and Val in 1 525 Cassil Place. The small street cuts Sunset Boulevard not far from the Hollywood Athletic Club. The block has now been razed and leaves room for parking.

Finally after the death of Valentine Grant in March 1949 at the West Orange Hospital, Sidney Olcott moved to 6 697 Whitley Terrace on the Heights of Hollywood Heights with his friend Robert Vignola, at the invitation of the latter. A beautiful Hispanic style house in a neighborhood very popular among makers of films. Many books claim that it was offered to him in 1924 by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. It served as a refuge to house his love affair with the actress Marion Davies. Hearst was a pathological jealousy had confidence in Vignola who staged his mistress several times but especially was gay.
Sidney Olcott lived in that house eight months before his death on December 16, 1949. In a letter to all his friends, Vignola recounted the final moments of the one who had to start in 1907.

Sidney Olcott lived he Bedford Drive, Beverly Hills, during the war ? So says Charles Foster in his book Stardust and Shadow, in which he portrays Canadians working in Hollywood. In the prologue, Foster says that during the summer of 1943, airman of the Royal Air Force, he was on leave in the film Mecca. It is found in Olcott who said he would welcome across all Canadian military passage. His stay lasted eighteen days. The director made him open the doors of his compatriots : Mary Pickford, Louis B. Mayer, Alan Dwan, Norma Shearer...
Unfortunately, Charles Foster does not give the house number Bedford Drive. And I have found no other mention of this home in the documents that I could see. So if anyone has any information on the subject.
Sorry for my English

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©2009 Michel Derrien