In 1944, Judy Garland was filming the movie – Meet Me in St. Louis. She was young, gorgeous and talented. Director Vincente Minnelli quickly fell in love and they were soon married the following year. Parties, glitz and glamor are ubiquitous in Hollywood. These would define their life together. The couple soon found themselves expecting a child and Liza Minnelli was born on March 12, 1946. The joy in the Minnelli house would be short-lived as the marriage would soon fail and the couple would divorce in 1951. As all things go, life sometimes opens up a door of happiness where none seem visible. Vincente Minnelli moved into a sprawling six thousand foot estate which had been built in 1925. It was located in the heart of Hollywood. Prestige. Pride. Liza Minnelli would split her time between her mothers home and the huge mansion in Hollywood. The pool was long and square. The grounds were spacious and there were shade trees all around. A high wall kept the noise of the bustling Hollywood streets away.
In April 1980, Vincente married Lee Anderson. Liza was at the ceremony and couldn’t be happier for her father. She seemed to really get along with his new bride. This wouldn’t seem to last either. In July 1986, Vincente collapsed at the estate and died in the hospital later. This is the dark curve where the story turns… The estate was willed to Liza Minnelli under the agreement that his wife Lee be allowed to live there until her death. It was further stated that Liza could provide a comparable living situation for Lee if she didn’t wish to remain in the rambling home alone. She was over eighty years old… Lee didn’t want to go anywhere. She wanted to spend her days in the house of her husband. She wanted to be around their things.
Ghosts and a glorious past. These were her memories. Her world. “What could Liza know of such things?” She mumbled to herself. Liza wanted to sell. Lee wouldn’t budge. A lengthy legal battle began. Lee spent her last days moving through the spacious house talking to a ghost. Liza spent those same days getting engaged, married, divorced and engaged. The Hollywood dream… some say. Lee died in 2009 and the property was subsequently sold.
It sits a pale shadow of its former glory. Overgrown. Unkept. Paint-blistered and lost. The pool squatted in an overgrown lot. There are a few wheel marks on the walls. Skaters must have been here. Did they know who had lived here? Did they care? Trees had fallen. Rubble littered the grounds. Marble pillars toppled and forgotten. It was hard to see the majesty of its past. I wandered the grounds and wondered. I wondered who had lived there. I hadn’t known at the time of my initial visit. Now I do… and so do you. Vincente and Lee – Rest In Peace. Skate- Ozzie