Dominick Dunne (1925 - 2009)


Written by Dominick Dunne

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When Gus Bailey was nine years old and growing up in Hartford, Connecticut, a city that he knew from the age of four would not be the city of his life, his aunt Harriet, a maiden lady who had once been a Catholic nun but quit the convent—a subject that fascinated him, although it was a subject that was never discussed in his family—took him out West on a summer trip. The first stop was Los Angeles. For Gus, it was a breathtaking experience. He loved every second that he was there. On the tour bus that took them to look at movie stars’ homes, he sat next to the tour guide so that he wouldn’t miss anything. For years afterward, he remembered that Shirley Temple had lived on Rockingham Drive in Brentwood, the same street that O. J. Simpson lived on years later, and Deanna Durbin had lived on Amalfi Drive, in the same house that the television mogul Steve Bochco now inhabited, and Clark Gable and Carole Lombard had lived in a house in the flats in Beverly Hills, where Gus had lived when he was married to Peach and where they raised their three children.

On that trip, he and his aunt went to the Coconut Grove in the Ambassador Hotel to hear Eddy Duchin and his orchestra and the next day to Schwab’s drugstore on the Sunset Strip. The tour guide pointed out the soda fountain and told Gus that was where Mervyn LeRoy had discovered Lana Turner. "And now she’s one of the biggest stars at MGM," the guide said.

Gus believed everything. He couldn’t get enough information. Outside Schwab’s, Gus pointed to a château like building, towering high over Sunset Boulevard. "What’s that?" he asked.

"That’s the Chateau Marmont," said the guide. "That’s where Greta Garbo lives."

Gus stared, captivated. He had fallen in love with a city.

 

© 1997 Dominick Dunne; New York: Crown Publishing Group

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