Hedonist Hollywood’s Lost Garden of Allah

Scandalous behavior in early Hollywood found a place to happen behind walls and away from the press, fans, and families. Silent film star Alla Nazimova converted the home she bought in 1919 into a hotel that became a retreat and party place for Hollywood's elite. The Garden of Allah was a legendary complex in West Hollywood with rooms and cottages for rent nightly, weekly, or permanently. It also had a huge pool to draw tenants together for cocktail parties and skinny-dipping.

Some stayed in between films, some stayed in between marriages– like Humphrey Bogart, who was once attacked with a kitchen knife in his Garden villa by his estranged wife, who had found him living there with Lauren Bacall. Fellow residents gathered around the house to watch the scene as Bacall escaped out the back door.

There was never a dull moment at the Garden. “It Girl” Clara Bow was notorious for pushing hotel butlers off the diving boards and management looked the other way while the original Tarzan actor was said to have satisfied his numerous “Janes” in the hotel pool. One famous Broadway actress answered her bungalow door naked while her pet monkey collected telegrams from startled delivery boys. An inebriated American comedian and writer, Robert Benchley, would often have himself moved in a wheelbarrow between the villas’ endless parties.

A Who's Who of Hollywood actors, musicians, and literary figures found refuge and creative inspiration at the Garden of Allah, but they also found sex, drugs, and alcohol in abundance. This lasted until 1959, when the hotel hosted a huge party just before it was demolished. Read about the heyday of the Garden of Allah at Messy Nessy Chic.

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