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The House Where Judy Lewis, Loretta Young and Clark Gable’s Daughter, Was Born

Mar 6th, 2013 | By | Category: This and That

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Today’s locale is easily one of the coolest I have visited in my 13-plus years of living in Southern California, which is ironic being that it is comprised of mostly vacant land.  I am talking about the one-time location of the house where Judy Lewis, the secret love child of screen siren Loretta Young and movie legend Clark Gable, was born.  I learned about the spot in fellow stalker E.J.’s book Hollywood Death and Scandal Sites and, although I knew next to nothing about Loretta Young at the time, was immediately intrigued.  So I added the address to my To-Stalk list and began doing some preliminary cyber-stalking to see what the residence looked like now.  When I went to Google Street View, though, it only showed miles upon miles of what looked like vacant swampland.  I emailed to E.J. to ask if he knew what had happened to the area and he replied with a link to this CurbedLA article about the so-called Ghost Streets of Playa del Rey.  Well, believe you me, although I was sad that Judy Lewis’ birth house was no longer, hearing that Los Angeles had its own ghost town had me salivating and I dragged the Grim Cheaper right on out there just a few days later.

As the story goes, Loretta Young and Clark Gable met on the set of the 1935 film Call of the Wild.  She was 22 and single, he was 35 and married to his second wife, Ria Langham.  The two quickly began an affair that had Hollywood tongues wagging and it was not long before Loretta was pregnant.  In order to hide the pregnancy, which she thought would destroy both her and Clark’s careers, the young star took off to Europe for an extended vacation with her mother, Gladys Royal.  The rumors did not stop, though, and reporters followed Loretta and Gladys’ every move.  Mother and daughter wound up secretly returning to L.A. and Loretta immediately went into hiding at a rental property that she and Gladys owned at 8612 Rindge Avenue in Playa del Rey.  At 8:15 a.m. on November 6, 1935, Judy Lewis was born.  Loretta returned to her mansion in Bel Air shortly thereafter and Judy was left at the Rindge Avenue house in the care of a nurse.  She remained there until July 1936, at which time she was sent to St. Elizabeth’s Infant Hospital in San Francisco.  Loretta “adopted” Judy about five months later.  Rumors, of course, circulated around the adoption and as Judy grew up and came to resemble her famous father more and more, those rumors only caught fire.  As you can see below, there is absolutely NO denying that Judy Lewis was Clark Gable’s daughter.  It was not until Judy confronted Loretta at the age of 31 (at Loretta’s home in Palm Springs, which I am now going to have to stalk!), though, that the star admitted she was Judy’s biological mother and that Gable was her biological father.  Such an incredibly sad story.

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And while Judy states in her book that she was born at “8612 Rindge Street” in Venice, I have been able to surmise (with about 99.9% certainty) that, because there is no Rindge Street in Venice, Judy’s former house was actually located at 8612 Rindge Avenue in Playa del Rey, a neighborhood about two miles south of Venice.  I believe that Judy’s former residence is the one denoted with a pink arrow in the historic aerial view, circa 1952, below.

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Judy’s former house was located in Surfridge, an affluent seaside community that was founded in the 1920s by Minneapolis-born real estate developer Fritz Burns.  The neighborhood, which was situated overlooking the Pacific Ocean, immediately attracted celebrities including Cecil B. DeMille and Carmen Miranda, who had custom homes built there.  In 1928, a tiny airfield that was mostly used to host air shows was constructed on a plot of land neighboring and just east of Surfridge.  That airfield eventually became Los Angeles International Airport, what is now the sixth busiest airport in the world.  You can see LAX in the background of the photographs below.  It is almost shocking how close it is to the former Surfridge neighborhood.

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As LAX began to expand in the 1960s, Los Angeles World Airports started to purchase -  and subsequently tear down – houses in the Surfridge community.

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More than eight hundred residences wound up being razed, but, for whatever reason, roads, sidewalks, retaining walls, and street lights were left intact creating a spooky, almost surreal neighborhood of cracked streets that wind through empty lots.  Today, the area encompasses between 302 and 470 (depending on which newspaper article you are reading) fenced-in, vacant acres.

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And while Los Angeles World Airports considered developing the site by building an 18-hole golf course, a sand dune preserve and a viewing station to watch planes take off and land, those plans wound up being thwarted for a variety of reasons.  All that exists on the property now is a 200-acre butterfly preserve where the once-endangered El Segundo blue butterfly now flourishes.  According to a recent Los Angeles Times article, a portion of the site is set to be restored in the near future, though, whereupon several ghost roads and ancient foundations will be removed and native plants brought in to return the area to its pre-developed state.

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In the meantime, it’s a great place to watch planes take off and land, not to mention an intriguing stalking location.

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You can check out some great photographs of the Surfridge neighborhood before it was razed here and here.

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The abandoned Surfridge community is even a filming location.  The site was featured in the music video for the Azure Ray song “New Resolution”.

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You can watch that video by clicking below.

Thanks to fellow stalker Jeff, I learned that the Surfridge neighborhood was also featured in the climax of the 2011 thriller In Time, although a little CGI trickery was employed to change the background of the scene.  You can read about the exact areas of Surfridge that appeared in the movie on the Seeing Stars website here.

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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.

Big THANK YOU to E.J., from The Movieland Directory website, for telling me about this location!  Smile

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Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: The house where Judy Lewis, Loretta Young and Clark Gable’s daughter, was born was formerly located at 8612 Rindge Avenue in Playa del Rey.

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10 comments

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  1. Katherine says:

    I think your last picture is Sandpiper Str which was open until after 9/11, I think. When I was at LMU in the 80s, it was a total make-out scene.

  2. Tony says:

    In my high school days this neighborhood was vacant but not fenced off. This was a popular place to party on Friday nights, until the El Segundo cops would do their drive by and tell us all to split. They were cool about it, though.

  3. beingbobbyorr says:

    Judy Lewis looks like a seperated-at-birth twin of longtime TV/film actress (and onetime Actor’s Studio classmate of James Dean) Arline Martel (aka Tasha Martel).

  4. JB says:

    Fascinating story! Love the history of these former LA neighborhoods.
    I’m so impressed by your research.
    JB

  5. Jeff says:

    I believe this area is also the same location for a recent post on Gary’s web site Seeing Stars. He did a location article about the movie “In Time”, which showed some scenes as having been filmed there.

  6. missyj says:

    really interesting, and eerie.

  7. Laurie says:

    Great post!

  8. Lavonna says:

    Aww old Hollywood! Loved this book!


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  1. [...] del Rey house where Judy Lewis (secret love child of Loretta Young and Clark Gable) was born (which I blogged about here), I came across a November 2011 The New York Times article about Lewis’ recent death which stated [...]

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