Monday, July 11, 2022

the last book I ever read (Everybody Thought We Were Crazy: Dennis Hopper, Brooke Hayward, and 1960s Los Angeles, excerpt six)

from Everybody Thought We Were Crazy: Dennis Hopper, Brooke Hayward, and 1960s Los Angeles by Mark Rozzo:

Their house was among the first of 484 to burn that day, a level of destruction never before experienced in Los Angeles. Burt Lancaster’s house on Linda Flora Drive was incinerated, but his art collection survived; it happened to be on loan to the County Museum. In Brentwood, Richard Nixon hosed down his roof ahead of the fire; he and his wife, Pat, then set off on foot with nothing but suitcases and Checkers, their cocker spaniel. “I have seen trouble all over the world,” he said, “but nothing like this.” Zsa Zsa Gabor compared the experience to the bombing of Budapest during the war. Fred MacMurray brought home a team from the set of My Three Sons to help save his house and family. The old Fonda place on Tigertail Road burned to the foundation.

It was said that the Bel Air Fire produced the richest class of evacuees since the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Wealthy or not, the evacuees fleeing along Bel Air’s twisting lanes might be carrying an infant, a pet Chihuahua, a stamp collection, a baked ham. Dennis joined the stampede, sprinting from door to door and getting people out of their houses, along with their artworks, as he made his way down Stone Canyon. “There was a double-page picture of me in Paris Match—‘Unidentified man, hero of Bel Air fire,’” he recalled, “with a Juan Gris in one hand and a Picasso in the other.”

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