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History of Marwyck Ranch
Let’s step back in time to the 1920’s and 1930”s; silent movies, flappers, the 1929 collapse of Wall Street, thoroughbred horse racing explodes - Seabiscuit and War Admiral entertain millions, the “talkies” and Hollywood celebrities begin to build their “retreat” homes which were built as their “second” homes in the San Fernando Valley. The Stars were drawn to this agricultural paradise to escape the intense pressures of their movie work. These Northridge ranches become increasingly popular. Producers, directors, actors and actresses acquired large tracts of land becoming the owners of “celebrity ranches”. Typical ranches, five to 35 acres or larger, not only contained agricultural crops and livestock but these properties incorporated large homes mirroring the architectural styles of the Hollywood lifestyle with swimming pools, tennis courts, horses, and landscaped grounds. In the late 1930’s, with the Great Depression in full effect, horse racing was booming. Hollywood was splurging on new houses, ranches, cars, race horses, diamonds and furs. More...
Barbara Stanwyck was born Ruby Catherine Stevens in Brooklyn, New York on July 16, 1907. When she was four years old her mother died after being knocked off a trolley by a drunken passenger. Her father abandoned the family, so she and her siblings were placed in foster care. Years later while living with her older sister Millie, who was a showgirl, Barbara learned to dance. She bounced in and out of school until age 14 then quit school to pursue what she felt was her destiny. Her dream was to become a star. While performing in a chorus line the great Broadway producer David Belasco noticed her, changed her name to Barbara Stanwyck and cast her in his play "The Noose." The play was a smash hit and Barbara became a star at age 20. The 1927 Broadway stage play, “Burlesque”, sky rocked her career as a cabaret dancer and actress.
On August 26, 1928, she married comedian Frank Fay and soon departed New York for Hollywood. Immediately Barbara's movie career exploded with leading roles in "The Locked Door" and "Mexicali Rose." More...
Herbert Manfred Marx was born in New York City on February 25, 1901 and he was the baby of the Marx family. He was nicknamed Zippo by his famous brothers because he liked to do acrobatics like the chimp named Zippo did in its act. He objected and altered it to “Zeppo.” When Gummo joined the Army in 1919 he joined his brothers in vaudeville and appeared as a straight man and romantic lead in Duck Soup, Horse Feathers, Monkey Business, Animal Crackers and The Cocoanuts. He also appeared in A Kiss in the Dark with Adolphe Menjou. He was known as the handsome brother and considered the funniest of the brothers although he always played the straight man.
Offstage Marx had exceptional mechanical skills and he owned a company that produced airplane parts for the war effort during World War II called Marman Products Co. in Inglewood, CA. It was later known as the Aeroquip Co. They produced a motorcycle called the Marman Twin and the Marman clamps used to hold the atomic bombs during the raids over Japan in 1945. More...
Harry S. Hart
The Harry S. Hart Story
The following information and excerpts taken from The Blood-Horse 1936 – 1941 and the LA Times 1964 clearly depict the horse training skills and Marwyck Ranch design brilliance of Harry S. Hart.
Harry S. Hart was born in Brooklyn New York. In his early teens he traveled to Canada with his brother Ernie trying to become jockeys. Ernie became a top rider but Harry considered himself one of the worlds’ worst. He turned to training horses in his late teens enjoying marked success during World War I and during the early 1920’s. Hart then trained horses in Kentucky in the mid1920’s and 30’s. Like many of his time, Harry was a regular at the old Tijuana Mexico track racing his own stable and training for prominent owners throughout the United States. Could this possibly have been how he met some California thoroughbred breeders and “Hollywood Stars”? More...
The Residence exemplifies the variety of Period Revival styles used in Williams’ and Finkelhor’s residential designs.
CHATTEL ARCHITECTURE, PLANNING & PRESERVATION, INC.
The 1937 LA City building permit can be viewed in Historic Documents.
Research on the backgrounds of both architects is continuing. Updates will follow as documents are located.
Paul Revere Williams
He attended USC, graduating in 1919, earning academic accolades and recognition. In 1922 Williams, opened his own archiitectural firm. He became the first African-American member of the American Institute of Architects in 1923. During the 1920's and 1930's he had great success designing homes for wealthy clients in Bel Air, Brentwood and Beverly Hills.
He was sought after by entertainment industry leaders and became know as “Architect to the Hollywood Stars.” He designed homes for Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz, Cary Grant, Groucho Marx, Humphrey Bogart, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Tyrone Power and many other celebrities. More...
Jack Oakie was born Lewis Delaney Offield in Sedalie, Missouri. He grew up in Muskegee, Oklahoma, thus acquiring the nickname “Oakie”.
Oakie initially worked as a runner on Wall Street then began appearing in amateur theatre and comedy. He made his professional debut on Broadway in 1923 in George M. Cohan’s production of “Little Nelly Kelly”.
From 1923 – 1927, he worked in various musicals and comedies before moving to Hollywood at the end of the silent film era. He appeared in five silent films between 1927 and 1928. As the age of the “talkies” began, he signed with Paramount Pictures and in 1929 made his first talking film, “The Dummy”.
The Paramount contract ended in 1934 and Oakie decided to freelance. He appeared in 87 films during the 1930’s and 1940’s. Oakie is most noted for his portrayal of Benzino Napaloni, the boisterous dictator of Bacteria, in Charlie Chaplan’s production of “The Great Dictator” (1940). He received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. More...
J. H. Ryan Story / Northridge Farms
J. H. Ryan Family Story
Excerpts and quotes have been taken from articles provided by Lexington, Kentucky’s Keeneland Library, the Blood Horse and California Thoroughbred Breeders Association’s digests and reference materials: The Thoroughbred (July ’41-July ’45), The Thoroughbred of California (August ’45 - December ’96) and California Thoroughbred (January ’97 – present).
1937 – 1943 Marwyck Ranch operates in Northridge California, 120 acres,
“cost of land and improvements, aside from Marx and Stanwyck homes, is
Photo: Entrance to Northridge Farms
Marwyck Ranch and Northridge Farms were popular filming locations for many movie studios. As our research continues, we will be adding to this movie list:
The Marriage Business, 1938
If you know of other filmings at Marwyck Ranch or Northridge Farms, please contact us so we can continue adding to this list.
Contact the Friends of Oakridge at firstname.lastname@example.org
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