History of NORMANDIE TOWERS:
Constructed in 1924 by Charlie Chaplin to house actors, staff and crew.
I purchased the village in 1969 from Effie Davis; According to Mrs. Davis her sister Blanche was given the property in the early 1950’s by Mr. Chaplin when he moved to Switzerland. All the information I have comes from Mrs. Davis. I found her to be very honest and was allowed to purchase the property only if I maintained it and its history. Records listing the who’s who of Hollywood were also turned over to me including who stayed where in the building complex. According to Effie Mr. Chaplin built it using his studio stage crew! Of course in the 1920’s in Los Angeles there was no need for permits, licensed contractors, etc. There were 22 full price offers on the property (all cash). The Davis’s handed each party (buyers) a questionnaire asking things like “what is your intention with the property.” Also a list of silent screen stars was furnished us asking us to tell something about this or that actor/actress. Amongst the list were Fatty Arbuckle, Theda Bara, Clara Bow, Buster Keaton, Edna Purchase (I did not know of her), Douglas Fairbanks, Lillian Gish, Norma Shearer, G M Anderson (Bronco Billy), Pola Negri, Jean Harlow, Adolf Menjou, John Rand, Wallace Beery, Rudolf Valentino (I have an eviction letter addressed to Mr. Valentino evicting him due to loud noises; (he beat his ladies with a whip), Evelyn Brent, Mary White, etc.
Of all the 22 want to be buyers I was the only one that spent two hours talking about most of these fabulous actors. The Davis’s were stunned but coming from a celebrity (music) family I was brought up with Hollywood stars old and new. Nearly everyone else wanted to tear down the buildings (there are five separate structures totaling 25 apartments.) I have just restored the property at a cost to me of $500,000 including the replacement of all water lines hot & cold, sewer lines, updated electric and a complete do over of the exterior as it was in 1923!. I believe Mr. Chaplin had a relationship with Blanche according to Effie but she did not disclose exactly what it was. Lastly my manager recently found a secret stair leading to an attic in the cottage Jean Harlow lived in with her mom and stepfather. He found matches from the 1920’s along with sulfur, also from that period. Sulfur was used to burn off warts then (ouch) and Jean Harlow suffered from that affliction!
I am only the third owner of this landmark property. I purchased the building from Earl & Effie Davis in 1969 who had owned it since the 1930's. Effie Davis inherited the building from her sister Blanche who told her of its history (Chaplin had it constructed to house actors and crew as there were no apartments and few hotels in the 1920's). It makes sence this is probably true and I am currently researching the history through building permits etc. In respect for the Chaplin estate I can't officially state Chaplin was the builder at this time but will do so when I can document it.