If you want to get a sense of what Hollywood was like in the 1920’s, you need look no further than Whitley Heights. There you will find a virtual time capsule of silent era glamour with dozens of red tile-roofed villas perched seductively along serpentine drives that wend their way around this enchanting little hilly enclave.
Before Beverly Hills claimed the title of “Home to the Stars,” it was Whitley Heights that held the crown, being host to a Who’s Who of famous names that included Rudolph Valentino, Francis X. Bushman, Jean Harlow, Rosalind Russell, Irene Dunne, Gene Autry, and Marie Dressler, among many, many others.
One such “cliff dweller” of Whitley Heights was that stalwart old bastion of British respectability, Leo G. Carroll. A longtime favorite of director Alfred Hitchcock, Carroll was a memorable presence in six classic Hitchcock pictures: Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941), Spellbound (1945), The Paradine Case (1947), Strangers on a Train (1951) and North by Northwest (1959). Hitchcock had been a fan of the quiet and dignified Carroll from his days in the London theater and he holds the distinction of appearing in more of Hitchcock’s American films than anyone else other than Hitchcock himself (in his famous cameos). To many fans, however, it is for his longtime work on television that Leo G. Carroll may be best remembered, first as the dour banker “Cosmo Topper” on the popular Topper series for CBS (1953-55) and then as spymaster “Alexander Waverly” on both The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (1964-8) and its spinoff, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. (1966-7).
Carroll had been a fixture on both the London and Broadway stage for more than twenty years before he first stepped before the cameras under contract to MGM in 1934. Upon arrival from the East, Carroll took out a lease on a charming villa home in Whitley Heights at 2008 Whitley Avenue. Designed by Lytle-Pentland and completed in 1926, the stylish Spanish villa had recently become available in the wake of the messy divorce of actress Dorothy Devore who vacated before the Carrolls moved in. The Carrolls resided in Whitley Heights until their lease expired, moving farther up the Cahuenga Pass to another hillside house at 3311 North Knoll Drive. By the 1940’s, however, they were back on Whitley Heights, taking a grand home at 1979 Grace Avenue that had once been the home of silent film star, Lew Cody and located just yards from 2008 Whitley. The Carroll’s must really have enjoyed the neighborhood and the view. And now you can too as it turns out 2008 Whitley has recently been put up for sale for $1,885,000.
As is the case with most of the homes in Whitley Heights, 2008 Whitley has a wonderful view from many of its rooms. The house is sited on the eastern side of the hill and enjoys expansive vistas of central Hollywood and the iconic Capital Records Tower, the Griffith Park Observatory and the spires of downtown beyond. One of the few Whitley Heights homes with a true front lawn, 2008 Whitley Avenue is accessed through an entry gate opening to a pathway that makes its way to the impressive carved wood front door. The interior of this three-story Spanish villa does not disappoint and is filled with many period details such as custom wrought iron work, tile and stained glass.
There are four bedrooms and three and one-half baths stretched out across the home’s three floors and it is still easy to imagine Carroll quietly puffing his pipe while perusing The Times (of London, of course) before the Spanish fireplace in the barrel-vaulted living room. Stepping up from the living room and accessed through an arched entry guarded by a pair of ornate wrought iron gates is the commodious dining room with polished hardwood floors, French windows, and clearly not the original chandelier. Adjacent is a large pantry and a big remodeled kitchen with Viking appliances.
The upstairs bedrooms are accessed by way of a charming tile staircase, which is illuminated by an elaborate stained glass window depicting a heraldic crest. The bedrooms are nicely sized with one opening out onto its very own private balcony. Like the kitchen below, the bathrooms have been recently remodeled. Personally, I would be curious as to what they originally looked like. I’m envisioning colorful tile work, but at least the new work is tasteful enough. Additionally, there is a separate lower level with its own fireplace, bedroom and bath that could be customized to fit your own personal desires be they for a private retreat, media room, man cave, mother-in-law/guest suite or sinister scientific lab ala Leo G. Carroll in Tarantula.
2008 Whitley Avenue offers a unique opportunity to live in a charming and romantic Spanish styled villa with a great pedigree in Hollywood’s most historic residential neighborhood. If you’d like more details, here’s the Redfin listing, and a separate virtual tour (beware loud music).