Another Chaplin House? It Ain’t Necessarily So!

Nellie Naysayer says "Land a Goshen! I just don't believe it!!!"

Why it seems like it was just the other day I was commenting on the proliferation of spurious Charlie Chaplin residences popping up about Hollywood and just the next day Curbed L.A. proved my point (thanks Curbed!) by reporting on an adorable little cottage for sale in the Hollywood Dell @ 6427 Dix Street that, according to the listing, was “once home to Charlie Chaplin.” Well…

Part of the problem with this assertion is that by the time this little cottage was built (1918)  Chaplin’s whereabouts were pretty well documented in city/studio records and newspaper accounts and later in the voluminous research done by his many biographers. Cute as it is, 6427 Dix Street never pops up on the Chaplin radar. We must remember that by 1918, Chaplin was so rich and famous he could afford to build his very own studio at Sunset and La Brea. Would a 720 square-foot cottage have been the right fit for one of the most famous people in the world? Hmmmm. Chaplin may have been cheap, but was he that cheap?

Was Charlie really a happy little homemaker on Dix Street?

So if he wasn’t on Dix, then where was he? Well, from 1917 up until the end of September 1918, Chaplin did indeed live rather modestly, but where he lived was at the Los Angeles Athletic Club located downtown @ 431 West 7th Street. The LAAC was a favorite stomping ground for Chaplin and he maintained a room there off and on throughout the mid to late teens. On September 23, 1918, Chaplin did something that caused him to move out of the LAAC – He got married. With his sixteen year-old bride Mildred Harris in tow, Chaplin took a lease on the very beautiful former Fred Stone/George Loane Tucker house @ #5 Laughlin Park (2010 De Mille Drive after 1930) in the über exclusive Laughlin Park district. #5 Laughlin Park, which had been designed by the very talented William J. Dodd in 1915, was directly next door to the estate of Cecil B. De Mille. It was, by the standards of the time, a pretty grand home and a far cry from the little cottage in the Hollywood Dell.

2010 De Mille Drive. Residence of Charles Chaplin 1918-9

Chaplin’s time in Laughlin Park was not a happy one either personally or professionally and by the time of his 1920 divorce he had long since moved back into the LAAC where he would remain until his 1921 purchase of the even grander Moorcrest estate on Temple Hill Drive.

As for the cottage on Dix itself, it was built as part of four identical cottages at the corner of Dix Street and Holly Drive in 1918 with the individual addresses of 6427-29-31-33. It is interesting to note that even if Chaplin didn’t live there another silent film star, Helene Chadwick, did, residing in 6431 in 1918 until her marriage to director William Wellman in 1919. And just a few doors away @ 6414 Dix Street (H. Chaffen. 1912) resided the “Queen of Universal” herself, Priscilla Dean who called the modest duplex home in 1917.

A cute cottage no matter who lived there!

So even if Chaplin never did live there, 6427 Dix Street is nonetheless a very charming house indeed and will make an excellent home for someone special, perhaps the next “Little Tramp.” And the historic Hollywood Dell is a great place to live too. Here’s the listing.

This entry was posted in Central Hollywood, It Ain't Necessarily So!, Nellie Naysayer, Paradise For Sale or Lease and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Another Chaplin House? It Ain’t Necessarily So!

  1. Jacqueline Vaught says:

    Really enjoyed this piece! Love the picture of Nellie Naysayer.

  2. Hi Steve – the Chaplin Association recently contacted me about an apparent October 12, 1919 press clipping, source unknown, that shows a photo of an unidentified building (it is the Bernheimer Estate (Yamashiro)), and a caption saying Chaplin bought the home, one of the finest in California, for $3,000,000. The caption also says historic Chinese paintings adorn the walls. As best I could determine from the LA Times one of the brothers sold it in 1925 for $1,000,000. Any thoughts about this?

    • Steve says:

      Sounds like another one of those cases of the press jumping the gun. Chaplin never bought the estate, of course, but he was probably house hunting in 1919 and that may have set off the rumor. That year he was still married to Mildred Harris and were just renting in Laughlin Park. And as you could see by those old LATs, the Bernheimers still had the place in 1925. Ah, the false stories go back a long way, don’t they? Ha!

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