Christmastime in Hollywood

“December 1931 was drawing to a close and Hollywood was aglow with Christmas spirit, undaunted by sizzling sunshine, palm trees, and the dry encircling hills that would never feel the kiss of snow. But the “Know-how” that would transform the Chaplin studio in the frozen Chilkoot Pass could easily achieve a white Christmas.

In Wilson’s Rolls-Royce convertible, we drove past Christmas trees heavy with fake snow. An entire estate on Fairfax Avenue had been draped in cotton batting; carolers straight out of Dickens were at its gate, perspiring under mufflers and greatcoats. The street signs on Hollywood Boulevard had been changed to Santa Claus Lane. They drooped with heavy glass icicles.  A parade was led by a band blaring out “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” followed by Santa driving a sleigh. But Hollywood granted Santa the extra dimension of a Sweetheart and seated beside him was Clara Bow (or was it Mabel Normand?)”

—Anita Loos, Kiss Hollywood Goodbye. (Her book The Talmadge Girls is also worth reading, if only for the part where silent film star Constance Talmadge accidentally decorates her Christmas tree with condoms and suppositories.)


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11 Comments

  1. Posted December 24, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Merry Xmas and happy holydays! and thanks for sharing these lovely pictures<3

  2. Posted December 24, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    so beautiful! I have a great video game called LA Noire (haha) that takes place in los angeles and hollywood during the 40s, and they’ve recreated the city so accurately that the city streets in these photos remind me of it. what a cool time to be alive! I would much rather visit hollywood then than now.

    • Posted December 27, 2012 at 7:03 am | Permalink

      Ha ha, I remember that game! Was that the one with Casablanca characters in it?

      I miss you and Neil! And I’m jealous of your white christmas. Drive safely in all that snow!

  3. OdetteO
    Posted December 27, 2012 at 5:05 am | Permalink

    “An entire estate on Fairfax Avenue had been draped in cotton batting; carolers straight out of Dickens were at its gate, perspiring under mufflers and greatcoats.”

    Love the post & wonderful vintage photos! Your vintage posts always make me happy. :)

    How old was Constance Talmadge that Christmas? Were… uh… personal items exceptionally pretty in those days?
    I’ll definitely keep Loos books in mind for future reading. (The NYPL has 8 of her books in circulation, but you have to special order The Talmadge Girls from the library warehouse.)

    • Posted December 27, 2012 at 7:02 am | Permalink

      Ha ha, it’s a funny part of the book though kind of hard to believe. I think Constance was in her 20s then—she had this larger than life, wise-cracking mom who had to tell her what the “ornaments” were.

      I think you’d love Loos’ books! Kiss Hollywood Goodbye and A Girl Like I are my favorites–autobiographies, mostly about Anita’s time writing in Hollywood. I think she embellished a lot, but they’re good reads. If you can’t find them in libraries, they sell used really cheaply on amazon.

  4. Posted December 28, 2012 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    What great photos! Love that Constance decorated her tree with condoms and suppositories, although I do have to wonder where she found them and what she thought they actually were! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

    • Posted December 29, 2012 at 4:59 am | Permalink

      I guess that she decorated the tree last minute, when the only store open was a drug store. :)

  5. Posted December 29, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    God, I love the vibe of Hollywood “back in the day”…wish I could escape back into those times. Happy New Years, xo.

    • Posted January 2, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      I agree! I always feel nostalgic for these eras despite how I was not born in them.

  6. Posted December 30, 2012 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    Loved the quote. I’ll have to check her out. Have a wonderful New Year’s Rhiannon!

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