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Louis B. Mayer’s Former House – The Birthplace of the Academy Awards

Feb 26th, 2013 | By | Category: Marilyn Monroe Locations

Louis B Mayer Home (8 of 20)

Last week, the Grim Cheaper emailed me a fabulous Vanity Fair article about the genesis of the most iconic night in Hollywood – the Academy Awards. According to the blurb, in January 1927, legendary producer Louis B. Mayer was enjoying some idle conversation with friends Conrad Nagel and Fred Niblo at his beachfront home when the idea to form an elite club of fellow movie-industry moguls struck him. The article states, “Their flight of fancy—and what some might call anti-union maneuvering—swiftly took wing. The following week three dozen studio stalwarts attended a brainstorming dinner at L.A.’s Ambassador Hotel. By May, Mayer, Douglas Fairbanks, and eight others were addressing several hundred in black-tie and ball gowns at Hollywood’s Biltmore Hotel. Fairbanks presented the big picture, Mayer hit them up for $100 a head, and, lo and behold, they had forged an academy (Nagel’s term) of cinema’s elite. Little did L. B. Mayer suspect that two years later his simple notion would spawn a splendid offshoot: the first Academy Awards dinner dance, held on May 16, 1929, in the Blossom Room of the Roosevelt Hotel.” Well, as you can imagine, once I read those words, I was immediately itching to track down the house where it all began. As it turns out, the property is one I know quite well and had read about in countless books over the years – the infamous Peter Lawford beach house in Santa Monica where my girl Marilyn Monroe is rumored to have trysted with both John F. Kennedy and his brother, Bobby, back in the 1960s. So I dragged the GC right on out to stalk the place this past weekend while in L.A.

Because there are numerous conflicting reports about the residence’s history online, I contacted my buddy E.J., from the Movieland Directory website, to give me the lowdown. According to him, the 6,416-square-foot abode was commissioned in 1926 by Mayer, who had purchased an empty ocean-side tract of land known as Rancho San Vicente the year prior. He employed MGM art director Cedric Gibbons to design the Mediterranean-style dwelling and utilized studio electricians, artisans and carpenters to construct it. The home was completed in an astonishing six weeks time, by April 18, 1926, with builders literally working around the clock to finish. Floodlights were brought in so that the laborers could continue to ply away through the night and, according to E.J., Mayer’s children would often head down to the beach to watch the spectacle.

Louis B Mayer Home (7 of 20)

Louis B Mayer Home (6 of 20)

The property, which cost $26,000 to construct, featured a gatekeeper’s apartment, 13 onyx bathrooms, wood-beamed ceilings, wrought-iron balconies, foot-thick exterior walls to keep the interior cool during the summer, a pool, and a projection room with a movie screen that rose from the floor. Legend has it that the first screening of Gone with the Wind took place in that projection room.

Louis B Mayer Home (14 of 20)

Louis B Mayer Home (15 of 20)

Oh, and did I mention the views?

Louis B Mayer Home (16 of 20)

Louis B Mayer Home (17 of 20)

Louis B. Mayer moved out of the home upon separating from his wife, Margaret, in 1944. She later took over ownership of the property, the front of which is pictured below, through the divorce settlement. In 1956, the residence was purchased by British-born actor Peter Lawford and his wife, Patricia Kennedy, for $95,000. JFK would often visit his sister and brother-in-law at the beach house, which became a sort of den of ill repute with Lawford throwing parties and lining up call-girls, starlets and models for the then Senator and later President to rendezvous with. One of those starlets was, of course, Marilyn Monroe. Jack stayed on the premises, which at the time was located on a private, gated road, so often during his presidency that the place became known as the Western White House. And it was there that Marilyn was set to have dinner on the final night of her life, August 4th, 1962, but she wound up declining the invite at the last minute. Much speculation has surrounded the happenings at the house on that particular evening, the most truthful of which, in my opinion, is chronicled in the fabulous book The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe.

Louis B Mayer Home (19 of 20)

Louis B Mayer Home (20 of 20)

In 1974, while working on the Pussy Cats album, John Lennon, Ringo Star and Paul McCartney all lived at the beach house. In fact, the last known photograph of John and Paul was taken on the premises. According to E.J., Warren Beatty also owned the property at one point in time and it was once rented by Led Zeppelin, as well. The historic home was last sold in October 1978 for $862,000.

Louis B Mayer Home (10 of 20)

Louis B Mayer Home (11 of 20)

You can find me on Facebook here and on Twitter at @IAMNOTASTALKER. And be sure to check out my other blog, The Well-Heeled Diabetic.

Louis B Mayer Home (1 of 20)

Until next time, Happy Stalking! Smile

Stalk It: Louis B. Mayer’s former home, aka the birthplace of the Academy Awards, is located at 625 Palisades Beach Road (or Pacific Coast Highway) in Santa Monica. The beach side of the house can easily be viewed by parking in the lot located near 480 Pacific Coast Highway and walking just a few hundred feet south.



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  1. mark says:

    When Peter Lawford owned it and at the apex of the Kennedy years, t was called the western white house, but in certain circles it was also called high Anus point……………for well known reasons and a play on the east coast Kennedy compound. Note Marilyn never tristed there with JFK or Bobby. Jfk was a one nite stand at Bing Crosbys estate in PS and Bobby she never slept with at all despite what all the books say. She liked Bobby but privately she called him puny…………and indeed he was in several respects, if you get my drift, despite the 13 kids.

    • JoeyOh says:

      Hmm not so, she fell for Bobby and had a rough abortion in Mexico weeks before her death, which some said happened at the Lawford’s house. She was then moved back to her house and posed in bed. Reports back up that the body was in a disheveled state and had been manipulated. Very disturbing indeed.

  2. I imagine that being on the PCH when this was originally built would have been incredible. Today not so much… Fantastic article and pictures!

  3. Alice says:

    Hello, This was so much fun to read. My parents are the ones who sold this property in 1978. We lived there for three years. It seriously felt haunted!!! I haven’t been back there in quite sometime and I marvel at the fact they took down the ivy covered back chain link fence that used to give us privacy, on the beachside. Because of the notoriety of the house, we would get some weird characters dropping by at times. There was one man who used to show up with a “Free Marilyn” sign at the back fence. This was in the late 70’s so she obviously wasn’t there! My mother headed out for a walk one afternoon, on the beach and he followed her all the way down to the water line. People would show up on the PCH side too. We had an outside phone in a box that rang inside the house. That was a good way to tell if it was someone we were expecting or someone who just wanted in. Some great memories though.

  4. Britannia says:

    Thanks so much for these great photos.What an amazing house with so much history.One thing I have noticed is that it seems impossible to find any interior shots of this residence, anywhere on the net, or in any of the multitude of books written about Marilyn or the Kennedys.

  5. Merise McDowall says:

    Thank you for a great blog! I really enjoy it! 🙂

    I have a comment that you may find interesting, concerning Marilyn’s death, which was neither a suicide nor murder. It was a tragic accident, please read Donald Spoto’s biography on Marilyn for all the details.
    The jist of it is that Marilyn was receiving medication from two doctors at the same time, and they unfortunately didn’t manage to coordinate it, which of course proved fatal for Marilyn.

    Again, thank you for sharing the fruits of all your hard work stalking interesting places! 🙂

    • Britannia says:

      I think MM was murdered.I arrived at this conclusion after immersing myself in any book/video or magazine article I could find on the subject.The guest cottage seems to me, to be the place where she was finally silenced.

      • marjiscott says:

        I also think Marilyn was murdered. I am a former medical professional,and am aware of her previous history of suicide attempts, and pill taking, but this was different. First off, if the nembutal bottle found was empty, where were the pills? They were not found in her stomach. Why were the residue of her stomach contents thrown away on autopsy? That is never done. In fact, she was the first person I have ever seen who died reaching for a telephone. I could go on with more, but it gets a little too graphic for this post, however, after being present for many many patients in the hospital that died, no one ever died in that particular position. I will read Donald Spotos book,. I did meet Milos Spiglianos , the detective who researched her case, he felt for sure it was murder as well.

      • JoeyOh says:

        Some have speculated that Marilyn actually died in the Lawford’s beach house and was then taken to her house and placed in bed. Reports tell that the body had been moved about and was in a disheveled state.

  6. Lavonna says:

    Old Hollywood is my favorite!

  7. Penny says:

    Great post! Old Hollywood has all but disappeared.

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. […] hatched as a result of Mayer’s having contracted MGM carpenters in early 1926 to build him a Santa Monica beach house. It was constructed in six weeks. Mayer lived there until 1944. The home remains today at 625 […]

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