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George Cukor – A talented motion picture director whose career spanned over 50 years of filmmaking working with the industry’s brightest actors and actresses. Known for his attention to detail and skilled direction, his eyes had been set on the entertainment industry since childhood.

 

He was fast friends with the likes of Katherine Hepburn and responsible for major changes to character images in films such as The Wizard of Oz (though he was never formally credited for directing). He was also another revered guest at our very own Villa Carlotta.

 

Cukor was born in 1899 in Lower East Side, Manhattan to Hungarian-Jewish immigrants. His father was a district attorney, a career choice the young Cukor was supposed to pursue as well. But he had his eye on the theater. As a child, he took dance lessons and even performed in a recital with David O. Selznick who later became a legendary Hollywood producer. Cukor would frequent the New York Hippodrome, a popular Manhattan theater, and would regularly cut class during his senior year for matinees instead. It is no wonder that he left college early to pursue other interests.

 

After finishing high school, Cukor became an assistant stage manager for a touring production of a British musical “The Better Ole.” By 1920, he became the stage manager for the Knickerbocker Players and in 1925 he formed his own company –C.F. and Z Production Company. Cukor was off and running. Hollywood began recruiting New York talent for films and Cukor was eager to take the chance. He was hired by Paramount in 1928 and co-directed three films by 1930, after which he was granted his first solo directorial credit in 1931 with Tarnished Lady. He later left Paramount after not receiving directorial credit for a film and joined his old friend and now producer, David O. Selznick with RKO. He made his first box office success with Little Women in 1933, earning him his first Academy Award nomination.

 

Though he worked with and directed male actors, Cukor was known for his direction of actresses and his capability to elevate their performances and was sometimes referred to as a “women’s director” – to his disliking. Cukor continued to ride the highs and lows of Hollywood filmmaking and his career earned him several Academy nominations. His last film, Rich and Famous was made in 1981, a year before his retirement and two years before his death.

 

For more information on Villa Carlotta’s storied history and its legendary guests, visit www.villacarlottala.com or call 213. 320. 5951. We welcome you to become part of our legendary story.

Louella Parsons – a name both feared and revered in Hollywood. Just a few lines typed out on a typewriter could end someone’s career. Accurate or fabricated, neither mattered. What Parsons wrote stood as fact. Yet how was it that this once “nobody columnist” came to be a gossip column tycoon? It’s a story made for Hollywood (and Villa Carlotta) history.

 

It was said that Parson’s rose to infamy due to her perfect timing, but we’ll get to that later. Her story begins at the Chicago Tribune where she created the first movie column in the country. It was here that fate took its turn. William Randolph Hearst acquired the newspaper and Parsons found herself out of a job. She moved to New York and began a similar column. She received Hearst’s attention by writing an encouraging review of his mistress Marion Davies. Shortly after, Hearst commissioned Parsons to write for the New York American.

 

Wildly speculated, it was the scandal that Parson’s didn’t write about that some said earned her the claim to fame and the unbridled power of the Hearst empire behind her. Parsons’ flattering piece about Ms. Davies earned her friendship and an invitation on Hearst’s yacht for Labor Day in 1924. At some point in the evening another guest on Hearst’s yacht, director Thomas Ince, was shot and mortally wounded.

 

The rumors say Ince was shot by Hearst himself, though the bullet was possibly intended for Charlie Chaplin. Newspapers reported Ince was not on the yacht, but instead passed from heart failure in his home. Parsons also denied attendance. Whatever happened on that USS Oneida that fateful day it most likely catapulted her to gossip column fame, as she later became Hearst’s lead gossip columnist.

 

Louella Parsons and the unwritten scandal have ties to Villa Carlotta.  Not only was Louella Parson’s one of the famous inhabitants of Villa Carlotta, the building itself was once owned by the Elinor Ince, widow of Thomas Ince. It is speculated that the newspaper magnate financed the construction of the building as a “grief payment.” Scandalous, intriguing and (mostly) true – the exact events we’ll never know, but this story is one for the Hollywood history books.

 

Want to learn more about Villa Carlotta’s intriguing history, or perhaps find yourself staying with us? Give us a ring at 213. 460. 5709 or visit www.vilacarlottala.com to learn more.