The Hillview Apartments are one of the few intact historic buildings remaining in Old Hollywood. Although the city of Hollywood and the film industry are synonymous today, in the early 1900s the town and this new type of business were at odds. The locals were none too excited about their sunny paradise being invaded by this strange new group of people and their unconventional way of life and earning a living. Many townspeople would not rent to actors, creating a problem for the performers and the producers bringing their film companies to Hollywood.
Enter Jesse Lasky, partner to Cecil B. DeMille and one of the founders of Famous Players-Lasky Studios (known today as Paramount). Lasky decided to solve the problem of housing his actors by building an apartment building for them, and in 1917 a building permit was granted for the Hillview Apartments.
There are so many famous actors rumored to have lived in the Hillview that it can be quite the challenge to prove who actually did. A glance through the 1922-23 Los Angeles City Directories shed a little light on this mystery...and while you may not know many (if any) names on this list, it provides an interesting picture of the types of film workers moving to Hollywood in the early 1920s.
Today one might not recognize Mae Busch or Viola Dana, but they were big stars at that time, and having them as your neighbors would have been quite a thrill! Walking through the halls you might recognize Henry Klaus, a supporting actor in Rudolph Valentino's hit film "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" or Edward LeSaint, who shared the screen with Charlie Chaplin in "Modern Times." And an actor new to town could have a real lucky break if they happened to live in the same building as Clarence E. Ericksen, The Studio Manager of the Douglas Fairbanks Picture Corporation.
Others on the list were writers, producers, or actors and actresses that were working in the early 1920s but never became major stars. The mix of characters in the Hillview was probably very similar to the types of people that fill Hollywood's apartment buildings today. Each person had a unique story, but nearly a century later most of them are not known, except that they were all pioneers in creating the Hollywood we know today.
Here is the full list...let me know in the comments if you have any interesting stories about these early residents of Hollywood and Hillview Apartments!
Viola Dana - Actress
Neely Edwards - Actor
Clarence E Ericksen - Studio Manager, Douglas Fairbanks Picture Corporation
Gloria Fonda - Actress
John Hamilton - Actor (The Maltese Falcon)
Lloyd Hughes - Actor (also lived at Hillview in 1923)
Henry Klas/Klaus - Actor (The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse)
Bernard D Russell, Writer/Producer
Betty Hutchinson - Actress
Mae Busch - Actress
Tom Guise - Actor
Raymond Hatton - Actor (frequently paired with Wallace Beery)
Edward LeSaint - Actor (Modern Times)
E. Lanning Masters - Writer
Christine Mayo - Actress
Philip Whitman - Secretary for the American Society of Cinematographers
Mildred Davenport - Actress