Q:  What did “The Munchkins”, Bugsy Siegel’s gun mall, Virginia Hill and my grandfather, Charles Eugene Harvey, all have in common?

A:  In the 1930s-40s they all slept under the same roof  – The Vine Street Manor, 1814 N. Vine St., Hollywood

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 Munchkins Welcoming Dorothy to OZ

 

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                                  Virginia Hill                                        Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel

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                                               Bugsy Siegel, Virginia Hill and George Raft    

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                                                                     Price £1750.00

For additional information on this picture please contact the gallery. Chris Beetles Gallery

PEN INK AND WATERCOLOUR WITH BODYCOLOUR
16 3/4 X 13 1/2 INCHES
ILLUSTRATED: GQ, DECEMBER 1996, ‘FASHION PLATES’;
EDWARD SOREL, UNAUTHORISED PORTRAITS,
NEW YORK: ALFRED A KNOPF, 1997, PAGE 101

ONE OF WARNER BROTHER’S BIG STARS OF THE TIME WAS GEORGE RAFT, SEEN HERE WITH CLOSE FRIENDS BEN (‘BUGSY’) SIEGEL AND VIRGINIA HILL. ONCE HE MADE IT BIG IN HOLLYWOOD, RAFT DEVOTED A LARGE PORTION OF HIS CONSIDERABLE INCOME TO CUSTOM-MADE CLOTHES THAT, LIKE HIS FRIENDS, HAS A DECIDEDLY UNDERWORLD AURA ABOUT THEM.

SKH Note-  As,I’ve mentioned before, the direct Hollywood links to George and Dorothy Hodel are seemingly endless.  Actor George Raft, close friend to Virginia Hill and Ben Siegel was “discovered” by film director, Rowland Brown. The movie was QUICK MILLIONS (1931) written and directed by Brown. (Some of the unaccredited writing was done by his friend and fellow writer, Ben Hecht.) Rowland from the 1930s – 1950s was having an ongoing affair with my mother, Dorothy Huston Hodel.

Here is the e-mail I received from Debra K., the granddaughter of the original owner’s of the Vine Manor Hotel, providing historical background on the hotel, which was torn down in the 1970s. Debra originally contacted me some months back and this is her follow-up with additional information on the hotel.

Email from Debra K.

Hello Steve:

The Vine Manor was a residence hotel, which means that most of the 
people who were there lived there.

Up until now, the only famous people I know who were there were the 
munchkins during the filming of Wizard of Oz and Bugsy Siegel’s 
girlfriend Virginia Hill, who my father remembered quite well.

Unfortunately both my father and his twin brother are dead, so the 
last source of more information is gone.
But I spent much of my childhood in the hotel, which really hadn’t 
changed at all since the 1940s.

Your grandfather did not work there as a doorman – the hotel had no 
doorman. It did have a night watchman and an operator, who used one 
of those funny old-fashioned telephone operator panels.

The hotel was at the corner of Yucca and Vine, right across the 
street from the Capitol Records building.  The entrance was on Vine – 
you walked up some stone stairs and entered through an ordinary door.
The lobby was full of 1940s plush furniture and a big round mirror 
(which I now have). The operator’s desk and hotel desk was against 
the left wall. My grandmother lived there, in an apartment just to 
the left. Until she got the night watchman, she would answer the door 
at night (imagine doing that in today’s world!).

The hotel was  only two or three stories at the most.  It was built 
around a narrow courtyard.  To the rear was a parking lot, accessed 
by a steep driveway on the far right side of the building. Also in 
the back was another small building where the hotel’s resident 
handyman and his wife lived.  My mother will remember their names – I 
can see their faces. There was also another small, very old and 
abandoned structure perched on the end of the driveway, to the right, 
above a steep incline to the street below. Never knew what that 
building was but it always intrigued me as a child.

We probably do have photos.  I just emptied out my mother’s house and 
have untold boxes of photos from Poland to Paris to Hollywood so I 
have my work cut out for me.

I once saw a poster of an old photo of Hollywood and I could clearly 
see the family hotel.

My grandmother sold it in the 1970s, for a song, since Hollywood was 
in the dumps then.  The people who bought it razed the hotel.
There is another hotel next to the Vine Manor that is still there.My 
friends tell me it’s a dump for drug addicts.

Hope that’s a little helpful – I remember reading about your book and 
found it fascinating, as I do anything about old Hollywood.

Best, Debra

For original info on the hotel and my previous blog see A DEATH IN THE FAMILY

 

 

1 Comment

  1. Debra Kaufman on June 29, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    Hi Steve: Remember me? Grand daughter of the owner of the Vine Manor? I just found a fabulous photo of the Vine Manor circa 1953 – it was on Flickr – I found it by googling. I also added it to my home page on Facebook
    I believe I saw someone post a photo of what they thought was the courtyard of the Vine Manor but it wasn’t. I don’t know if any such photo exists…I’m still going through tons of family photos.
    Best, Debra

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