Glenn Ford. Treasured Hollywood Icon. He made a name for himself in the 1946 film classic Gilda, but his portrayal of teacher Richard Dadier in Blackboard Jungle gets me every time. My palms still get sweaty watching him deal with those hoodlum school kids.
And then there is Teahouse of the August Moon, immortalized in wax by the Movieland Wax Museum (1962-2005) in Buena Park, Calif. The first and last time I saw the display was just before the museum closed its doors for good.
Many of the figures were later auctioned off. Others were donated. So what happened to Mr. Ford?
I'm happy to report that he's right at home, literally.
The museum owners donated the figure to Mr. Ford's son, Peter, and it's currently on private display on the lower level of the Beverly Hills house that Mr. Ford had designed and built in 1962. He lived in the incredible Mid-Century Modern with his family until his death there in 2006, at the age of 90.
This weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Peter and his lovely wife, Lynda, at the Ford compound with my friend Lynn Powell Dougherty, who created and maintains websites for both Peter and his dad's legacy. I don't know how to even begin to describe their warmth and generous hospitality, let alone their one of a kind home.
Every room in the house had it's oh-my-gawd moments, but seeing Mr. Ford in all his wax glory at the foot of the atrium stairwell near the wine cellar and his private screening room was a sight to behold. Many of the props came with from the museum, as did Lotus Blossom, and Peter added some personal touches such as the film poster from his own collection.
In Mr. Ford's hand you'll notice a stack of vintage postcards of the original display, which were also a part of the donation. These cards were sold in the museum gift shop and notable for misspelling Glen (sic) Ford on the backside. Peter gifted Lynn and me with cards, a souvie I will always cherish.
Peter showed us his to-do list for this weekend and it was roughly
the length of what I try to accomplish in a month. So that they took
the time to visit and give us a tour of the house was doubley
Their son is getting married, Peter is putting the finishing touches on his dad's biography, Glenn Ford: A Life in Film, due out around January 2011 from The University of Wisconsin Press, they continue to catalogue and archive vast amounts of memorabilia from Mr. Ford's life and career that remain even after the 2008 auction, and the "For Sale" sign just went up outside the front gate because it's time to move to empty-nester smaller digs.
Here's hoping whoever is fortunate enough to purchase this property will truly value what they're getting past the 90210 zip code. I pray they don't go Pia Zadora Pickfair and bulldoze it because that would be an utter shame not only for the loss of the architecture but the Hollywood history within those walls is invaluable. Vintage photos of it were featured in the April 2000 edition of Architectural Digest.
One of the many incredible, unique features is Mr. Ford's infamous English pub bar where everyone who was anyone in Hollywood saddled up for some cheer, from John Wayne to Marilyn Monroe. Here I am with Lynn behind the bar, snapped by Peter. I'm holding up authentic, vintage Glenn Ford monogrammed matchbooks.
Aside from spending time with Peter and Lynda, and having the honor of seeing the details of this beautiful house, it was also a very sentimental experience for me. I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy and respect Mr. Ford's work, his immense contribution to the film culture. To be in the home where he spent a good portion of his private life, including you-know with you-know-who, was truly an honor.
It's Peter and Lynda's home now, but they have a deep and abiding love for Mr. Ford and for his things, many of which are seen everywhere from room to room. He is still there, I felt, in spirit. He passed there, in the master bedroom.
I never met Mr. Ford when he was alive, but have paid respects to his final resting place, as grave hunters do. So to have the chance to visit with his family and be in this historical residence, his one-time home, was one of the highlights of my California living experience.
Thank you Peter and Lynda, and thank you Lynn, for a most memorable Saturday afternoon.
Snapped 5/14/2008 ~ Woodlawn Cemetery and Mausoleum (Santa Monica, CA)
YouTube clip courtesy of fatcathu.