By Laurel Modlen/ Julia Posey
Hidden behind a wooden gate on a quiet residential street in West Hollywood, a compound of English Tudor-style bungalows has become a fairy-tale-like home away from home for those lucky enough to discover its charms. Sprinkled with the pixie dust of Hollywood history, the property at 819 North Sweetzer was once owned by film legend Charlies Spencer Chaplin, infamous for his sexual exploits, and famous for his artistic proliferation. Chaplin built this cluster of cottages after purchasing the land –once a farm owned by actress Ruth Gordon’s family –in1924. Converted into the exclusive Charlie Hotel in 2008, it has played host to a constellation of starlets, both in Chaplin’s day and more recent times, from Marlene Dietrich and Marilyn Monroe to Natalie Portman and Liv Tyler. It remains, after all these years, a place of refuge for the beautiful and creative.
One of the residences, a quaint three-story house, once served as Chaplin’s day and workspace and is now named after the diminutive Hollywood icon. Interestingly, the bathroom contains two showers. One is designed to modern standards. The other is preserved in its original state: custom-built to Chaplin’s size, it’s a perfect fit for anyone under 5’5.
During the period Chaplin worked at the bungalow, he would likely have been making, completing, or conceptualizing some of his most well known and respected movies: The Gold Rush, The Circus, Modern Times, and City Lights. The last, a silent film starring Chaplin’s famous “tramp” persona, feels like a defiant move for the bore production. It’s said Chaplin was concerned that giving voice to the Tramp would alienate loyal audiences. However, the advent of sound meant the movie could be scored, and score it he did. It went on to enjoy giant financial success and is considered by many to be Chaplin’s most masterful work.