In the living room, the fireplace is being restored to its original Baroque glory. The old fireplace was torn out in the 1950s to make way for a flat model flush to the wall. The original stone fireplace was in harmony with good architectural design; the height of its hood extended to the cornice, matching the height of the other room openings. As a central point of interest, it also anchored the room. The round hood carried the smoke efficiently out of the room and up into the chimney. The fireplace was carved by Kuhn & Rogelmair, for the California Architectural and Decoration Co. It's possible the original carvings were modeled on Natalie Talmadge to personalize it a bit. There is a small enclosed solarium or verandah with its original checkerboard black and white tiles, which Buster, like Norma Desmond, had put in because Valentino had said "there was nothing like tile for a tango." These tiles are imported Venetian marble. Valentino was a near neighbor -- Falcon's Lair was just up on Bella Drive -- and an arbiter of taste, romance and fashion, as well as a professional dancer and leading man. He used to play baseball with Buster sometimes before he was "discovered" by Dorothy Gish and starred in "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" in 1919. This room would have been the focal point of family gatherings and entertainment. In the original furnished phots of this room, there is a large amount of free floor space in the center of the room to accomodate dancing (or stunts!)


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