The Former Site of Mulholland FarmOct 16th, 2013 | By Lindsay | Category: Celebrity Homes
Another locale that fellow stalker E.J., of The Movieland Directory, mentioned in Hollywood Death and Scandal Sites was the spot where Mulholland Farm – the former home of actor Errol Flynn – once stood. And while I knew next to nothing about Flynn at the time I read the book, the blurb caught my eye due to a macabre practical joke that was allegedly played at the property involving John Barrymore (grandfather of Drew), which I thought would interest my friend Ashley, of The Drewseum website. So I dragged the Grim Cheaper right on out to stalk the place way back in mid-February while the two of us were in L.A. for a weekend visit.
The Tasmanian-born Flynn, who became an overnight sensation and Hollywood’s original bad boy after playing a swashbuckler in 1935’s Captain Blood, purchased an 11. 5-acre plot of land hidden away at the top of a ravine off of Mulholland Drive in 1941 and proceeded to build a two-story, country-style home there. He dubbed the $125,000 property, which he helped design, “Mulholland Farm.” The residence was a virtual den of iniquity, boasting a black marble pool, a tennis court, a barn, circular stables, a casino, a master bedroom with a mirrored ceiling, an obscene mural involving fish genitalia that ran behind a set of humongous fish tanks that lined the walls of his den, and a bar that covered a secret passageway leading to a hidden viewing area overlooking the women’s guest bathroom. The estate became a popular party pad (for obvious reasons) and such luminaries as Charlie Chaplin, Jack Warner, Mickey Rooney, Tyrone Power, and Flynn’s longtime friend and drinking buddy John Barrymore all hung out on the premises. There were also plenty of female visitors. Just a few of the starlets Flynn “entertained” at the home include Hedy Lamarr, Ann Sheridan, Linda Christian, Ida Lupino, Faith Domergue, and Dorothy Lamour. It should come as no surprise that the phrase “In like Flynn” came about thanks to the actor and his propensity for getting women into bed.
Flynn loved practical jokes and legend has it that, on May 29th, 1942, several of his drinking buddies pulled a whopper on him at the Farm. As the story goes, on the night that John Barrymore passed away, Flynn’s friends bribed a mortuary worker to let them “borrow” the corpse for a few hours. They drove it to Flynn’s house where they propped Barrymore up in a chair with a cocktail in his hand. When Errol returned to the Farm later that night after several hours spent drinking, he walked in to find the dead actor sitting in his living room. Of the event, Flynn wrote in his autobiography, My Wicked, Wicked Ways, “My God, the light went on and I stared into the face of Barrymore! His eyes were closed, and he looked puffed, white, bloodless. They hadn’t embalmed him yet. I let out a delirious scream.” With friends like that, who needs enemies? Flynn took the experience in stride, though, offering the pranksters a drink and cordially refusing to help them return the body to the funeral home. And while several sources claim that the Barrymore anecdote is pure fiction, it sure makes for one heck of a story!
In 1953, Flynn left Mulholland Farm and moved to Europe in order to avoid paying back taxes to the government and alimony to two ex-wives. At some point thereafter, he lost the property to his first wife, Lili Damita. She sold off some of the acreage, on which new homes were eventually built (one of which, at 7740 Mulholland Drive, is the dwelling featured in the photographs that appear in this post, but more on that later). In 1959, Errol’s former residence and the surrounding 7.5 acres of land were purchased by gospel singer Stuart Hamblen and his wife, Suzy. They lived there for the next twenty years. And while the couple reported no strange goings-on, when pop star Ricky Nelson purchased the site in 1980, his family witnessed all sorts of odd behavior, leading them to believe that the pad was haunted by Errol. I’d venture to guess, though, that it was Barrymore’s ghost who had come back to terrorize the place. Sadly, in 1988, Mulholland Farm was sold to a real estate developer who bulldozed Errol’s former residence and subdivided the remaining land. Helen Hunt purchased one of the parcels (at 3100 Torreyson Place) in 1997 and proceeded to build a mansion on it. She never lived there, though, and in 2002 sold the estate to none other than Justin Timberlake for $8.2 million.
The address of Mulholland Farm during Flynn’s tenure there was 7740 Mulholland Drive, as you can see in this 1942 newspaper article. At the time, his was the only house in the vicinity. (The 11.5 acres that comprised the Farm are roughly denoted by the orange circle below.)
Today, there are seven different residences located on those 11.5 acres. The house which now stands at 7740 Mulholland Drive, on what looks to have been some sort of horse riding arena in Flynn’s day, was built in 1967 on a parcel of land that had been sold off by Lili Damita.
You can watch a video about Mulholland Farm by clicking below. And you can click here to purchase a book written about the property titled Errol Flynn Slept Here.
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Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: Mulholland Farm, Errol Flynn’s one-time home, was formerly located at 7740 Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood Hills.