Show Business: End of the House Party

I'll be damned if I'll believe anyone lives in a place called "The Garden of Allah."

—Thomas Wolfe, in a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald, July 26, 1937

Even Tom Wolfe, the country boy from North Carolina, should have known better. Everyone lived at the Garden of Allah Hotel—everyone, that is, who was part of the Hollywood elite in the old days when the town still managed to be wacky in the grand manner. Through the late, intoxicated '20s and '30s, the Garden was more house party than hotel. Robert Benchley was resident clown; John...

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