During the golden age of Hollywood – which ran from the late 1920s to the advent of television and the disintegration of the studio system in the early 1950s – movie studio czars lived in impressive mansions set amidst handsome gardens to flaunt their wealth and power and to hold highly publicized parties with hundreds of guests.
No studio czar’s residence, before or since, has ever surpassed in size, grandeur, or sheer glamour than the Jack Warner Estate on Angelo Drive in Benedict Canyon.
In a supreme show of confidence – or ego – Warner didn’t emulate English aristocracy or fading silent-movie stars like Douglas Fairbanks Senior and Mary Pickford by giving his estate an impressive-sounding name. His own name – Jack Warner – was impressive enough.
Warner also took a very different approach to building his estate. Most movie stars and studio executives constructed their grand estates all at once. Warner, however, created his Angelo Drive estate step-by-step over a decade. His home grew and changed as his business and personal life grew and changed.
By now, it’s a cliché to say that the various studio heads during the Golden Age of Hollywood were all larger-than-life characters, whose talent – or perceived lack of same – has been endlessly lampooned in widely circulated anecdotes ad stories. When these stories are boiled down the results tend to establish a ranking among the moguls. David O. Selznick, Sam Goldwyn, Harry Cohn, and Darryl F. Zanuck might have been quirky and obsessive, but they received a certain respect as filmmakers. Louis B. Mayer, “Uncle” Carl Laemmle Senior, and Jesse Lasky might not have been the greatest filmmakers, but they were showmen: executives who managed the rough-and-tumble film factories that were Hollywood in its glory days. So on down the list. And then there was Jack Warner.