Old Hollywood, Pt. 2

Beverly Hills, California

A neglected house gets an unhappy look - this one had it in spades.
— Joe Gillis, "Sunset Boulevard"

There's a house sitting on the corner of Sunset and North Crescent Drive.  You might have seen it from a distance, peering out the window of your limousine as you pull away from the illustrious Beverly Hills Hotel.  From a distance, the house looks resplendent with old Hollywood charm, if not a little bet reserved.  The people who live there must lead private lives, you might think, but you would be wrong.

Nobody lives there anymore, and the house has sat vacant for years.  It's an odd thing, considering the location - houses in that neighborhood go for upwards of ten million dollars.  If you knew the story behind it, however, you might understand why the house won't sell, and why it has sat empty for so long.

The house is Liza Minnelli's childhood home.  She had an idyllic upbringing, with a father who loved her and a closet full of expensive clothing.  She got along well with her stepmother, and when her father died, he didn't see any reason for their relationship to turn sour.  Vincent willed the house to Liza, with one condition - she had to pay for the food and lodging of her stepmother, who still lived in the house.

Although things remained civil between them at first, their relationship quickly deteriorated, and by the time Liza's stepmother passed away, there was deep bitterness and resentment between them.

Later, we stopped at the Beverly Hills Hotel for their famous milkshakes before visiting another abandoned BelAir mansion.  The owner of this mansion was Johnny Weissmuller, the star of the Tarzan television show.  His house is just as spooky, with a long winding pool throughout the property, and shuttered windows to protect the house from the relentless Los Angeles sunshine.