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The temple of Hollywood parties in the twenties is already a historical monument: this was the house of Dolores del Rio

The fame of the parties of the twenties in Hollywood was earned by events such as those that were celebrated daily at number 1,903 Outpost Street, in Hollywood. Almost a century later, there is still what was the home of Dolores del Rio, one of the first Latin American women to succeed in the film industry. On July 21, 1928, for example, Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Andres de Segurola —the Valencian baritone turned movie star—, Samuel Goldwyn and DW Griffith, among many others, were in that residence. The guests attended what the entertainment press then called “one of the most elaborate parties of the summer” to say goodbye to her hostess, who days later would leave the country to travel through Europe.

Last week the Government of Mexico unveiled the plaque that recognizes this 1926 mansion as one of the cultural monuments of Los Angeles, California. The city included it in its heritage late last year, but no ceremony had been held until the current couple who own the house opened the doors of the residence last Thursday. Designed and built at the foot of the northwest Hollywood hills by architects Ross Castendyck and Milton Black, the home was featured in celebrity publications for its five bedrooms and five bathrooms. More importantly, it was the home where Del Rio began the legend of him.

Almost a century later, more than its layout, it is recognized for its well-preserved classic Spanish colonial style, with white stucco walls, clay tiles, a patio with Andalusian-style arches and red tiles. And for the hand-painted tiles by Mexican artisans, in perfect condition, decorating the stairs, door frames and bedrooms. The interpreter asked several Mexican masons to assemble a mosaic of the Virgin of Guadalupe with ceramics from Talavera next to one of the entrances to the residence. “Del Rio commissioned the construction of the property and was actively involved in its design, residing there during the five years in which she gained notoriety as an actress,” argues the consultancy Historic Resources Group in its application to make the house a monument.

A room inside the house of Dolores del Rio in Hollywood, photographed on August 19, 2022.Daniel Cortez Perez

“The room is a wonderful and restful place, luxuriously furnished in a Mexican style…she has also brought with her altar clothes, priests’ cassocks and other relics from Mexico. It has the biggest chimney I have ever seen,” wrote Grace Kingsley, the first film critic of Los Angeles Times, in January 1928. The writer had visited the star’s two-story house at a Christmas party. The evening was enlivened by a Hawaiian orchestra. The most exciting moment of the night, however, was when the Christmas tree was set on fire. A handful of first actors prevented the catastrophe: Harry Wilson, who made a career in the cinema with his unfriendly face in mob movies; Warner Baxter, the Cisco Kid of the westerns; Y actor Buddy Rogers removed the burning tree and prevented the fire from reaching the ruby ​​red upholstered furniture.

The Outpost was Del Rio’s first property in the United States. Originally from the State of Durango and daughter of a banker, Dolores Martinez Asunsolo Lopez Negrete was discovered in 1925 by the influential American producer and director Edwin Carewe, who had seen her dance a tango at a private party in Mexico City. Years before, Del Rio had danced for Alfonso XIII and Victoria Eugenia during a visit to Spain, a trip that was part of the artist’s honeymoon after marrying businessman Jaime del Rio at the age of 16, 18 years her senior. . The marriage broke up just as Dolores’ film career took off. Carewe, who was her great love, is said to have been her motive.

In 1926, he participated in The price of glory by Raoul Walsh. A year later she landed his first leading role. She made 15 silent movies in just four years. Her trajectory was limited by the stereotypes of the industry, since she was mainly chosen to embody indigenous or exotic characters. When the cinema became sound it was even more difficult for her because of her strong Spanish accent. In 1933 she became one of the first actresses to wear a two-piece swimsuit in Flying Down to Rio (translated in Spain as Flying to Rio), where Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers danced together for the first time.

Dolores del Rio, at her home in Hollywoo, in the mid-1930s.
Dolores del Rio, at her home in Hollywoo, in the mid-1930s.Hulton Archive (Getty Images)

One of his biggest early successes in the United States was Ramona (1928), directed by Carewe himself, in which he received excellent reviews. It was the first film in which he traveled to a location to shoot, in Cedar City, Utah. Shortly after filming wrapped, she moved into the Outpost house with her husband. When the silent movie premiered, she threw a party with tamales, tortillas, hot sauces, and Mexican music. She in front of her guests sang the film’s theme song, which became a radio hit in April 1928, according to entertainment writer Myra Nye.

The house sits on a lot that was developed by Charles Toberman, the builder tasked with giving Los Angeles such western landmarks as the Hollywood Bowl, Chinese Theatre, El Capitan and the Roosevelt Hotel, where they were first delivered. The Oscar Awards. The home was later purchased by a former Minnesota congressman for $70,000. Later, by actor Ken Kercheval, who was part of the television soap opera Dallas, and then by Australian fashion designer Richard Tyler, who put it up for sale in 1998. In 2020, it sold for $2.8 million.

Del Rio, who died in 1983 in California, divorced her first husband shortly after launching her film career. Her second marriage was to Cedric Gibbons, an art designer from the MGM studio to whom she was married for 11 years. During this stage, Ella Del Rio left the house in the Outpost and moved to Malibu, first, and then to the Pacific Palisades area.

Dolores Del Rio, Mexican actress.
Dolores Del Rio, Mexican actress.Getty Images

After her divorce from Gibbons, her relationship with Orson Welles, 10 years younger than her, who became her fiance while she was filming, was made public. Citizen Kane. They both shot a movie together, horror day, a commercial and critical failure, which was a trigger for the separation of a volcanic couple for the gossip press. Her third and last marriage was in 1959 with television producer Lewis Riley, with whom she was until the time of her death.

In 1943, the actress returned to Mexico, where she helped establish Mexican cinema. It was there that she made the film that she was most proud of, Maria CandelariaDirected by Emile The Indian Fernandez. The film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1946. It later appeared in such classics as The otherby Roberto Gavaldon. His sympathy for the Republican exiles of the Spanish Civil War made it difficult for him to return to the United States in the 1950s. At the time of Senator McCarthy’s witch hunt, he was denied a visa to work. This caused him to lose out on a starring role opposite Spencer Tracy in the film broken spear, which fell into the hands of Katy Jurado, nominated for an Oscar for this work. She later returned to the place where she became famous. The house on Outpost Street is built as a witness to the first Mexican woman to succeed in Hollywood.

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Source: EL PAIS

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