Falcon Lair for sale: You too can own Rudolph Valentino & Doris Duke Bel Air mansion
Falcon Lair, Rudolph Valentino’s mansion located in the Bel Air hills above Benedict Canyon overlooking Beverly Hills, is up for sale.
As per TheStreet.com, Falcon Lair can be yours if you’re willing and able to shell out $7.95 million.
The Blood and Sand, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and The Sheik star bought the house for $175,000 (adjusting for inflation, approximately $2 million) in 1925. Falcon Lair’s other famous owner, billionairess Doris Duke, bought it in 1952; following several surgeries and a debilitating stroke in the early 1990s, she spent her final months in seclusion at the house. The Duke estate sold the five-acre property in 1998.
Nicholas Yulico’s TheStreet article explains that “the current owner says he has spent millions transforming the house …. Renovations are still under way. From the outside, the house will look roughly the same as when Valentino had it built in the 1920s, highlighted by its Mediterranean stucco and red tile roof. But the interior is undergoing significant updating.”
Would-be castle & palace
Named after Valentino’s never-completed star vehicle The Hooded Falcon, Falcon Lair was to have been, in the words of Valentino website owner Donna Hill, his “retreat from public life, his castle and the palace to share with his lady love, Natacha Rambova.” As it turned out, Rambova never lived in the house, having filed for divorce shortly after its acquisition.
Falcon Lair bulldozed
Update: Falcon Lair was bulldozed in 2006. One more piece of Los Angeles history literally gone to dust. According to Donna Hill, “only the outer gates/fence structure and garage area remain extant and recognizable from Valentino’s time.”
Baby Peggy talks!
In other early 21st-century silent era news, Baby Peggy talks!
“It happened quite by accident when my mother took me to Universal Studios to watch a film being made. A film director saw me as he walked past. He needed a very small person to star with Brownie the Wonder Dog,” recalls Diana Serra Cary, known as Baby Peggy in the 1920s, in an interview with Geoffrey Macnab for The Independent.
Now, claims of million-dollar contracts don’t sound right – even if we’re talking about inflation-adjusted figures.
Although undeniably popular in about 40 comedy shorts of the early 1920s, the San Diego-born Baby Peggy (Oct. 9, 1918) was never a top box office draw like her contemporary Jackie Coogan or, in the 1930s, Shirley Temple. Moreover, with a few exceptions like actors-producers Mary Pickford and Charles Chaplin, even the major stars of that era were extremely lucky if they found themselves earning more than $50,000 or so (or about $600,000 in current dollars) per film.
After all, most mid-level movies in those days were shot in about four weeks, as studios cranked out several star vehicles per star, per year. For instance, Famous Players-Lasky/Paramount superstar Gloria Swanson had five films released in 1922, three in 1923, and no less than six in 1924.
From actress to author
In addition to her comedy shorts, Baby Peggy was seen in a handful of features in the mid-1920s (Helen’s Babies, Captain January) until her movie career came to an abrupt halt at the age of 6 in 1924. Future appearances would be restricted to minor roles and minor fare.
More recently, as Diana Serra Cary, she has authored several books. Titles include Hollywood’s Children: An Inside Account of the Child Star Era, The Hollywood Posse: The Story of a Gallant Band of Horsemen Who Made Movie History, and What Ever Happened to Baby Peggy: The Autobiography of Hollywood’s Pioneer Child Star.
“Falcon Lair: Rudolph Valentino House for Sale + Baby Peggy Talks! Silent Era Child Actress Reminisces” last updated in August 2018.