The Drive

Hotel Hollywood circa 1905Imagine it is early spring in 1926 -- A beautiful day in Los Angeles. You have been invited to meet Rudolph Valentino at his home and enjoy a personal guided tour of Falcon Lair by the master of the house himself.

You stroll through the lobby of the Hotel Hollywood and out to Hollywood Boulevard where you find a beautiful chauffeured Isotta-Fraschini awaiting you. You take the chauffeur's hand as he helps you into the cab and seats you comfortably in the beautiful automobile. The chauffeur then closes the door and shortly you hear the powerful motor hum and roar as the vehicle pulls out and you begin your journey to Falcon Lair. You snuggle in and your hand strokes the rich fabric. Just imagine, you are riding in Rudolph Valentino's car!

As you travel along Hollywood Boulevard, you look out the window and pass Musso and Frank's. Valentino has dined often at Musso and Frank's. After a canter in the park or after a brisk walk downtown with his dogs, Rudy would often stroll down from Whitley Heights and enjoy an afternoon meal and a nice long chat with the waiters in Italian. Looking in the window, you can almost imagine yourself enjoying an Italian feast of another sort looking across a table at you in Musso and Frank's.

You sigh as the car turns down onto Sunset Boulevard and begins heading to the majestic California hills. A bridle path runs down the center of Sunset Boulevard, rolling tufts of green manicured lawns and palm trees line the road.

The car makes a right turn onto Benedict Canyon Road and your heart skips a beat as you realize you are almost to Falcon Lair.  The car winds through the verdant streets, a few other large homes pass by, you do not even pause to wonder who resides in them.  The engine shifts and roars as the climb up the hill grows steeper. The Valentino stables pass on your right.  You find yourself imagining that Rudolph Valentino will ride along side the car on one of his horses at any moment to usher you to the gates of Falcon Lair himself. You are filled with admiration for the driver as you make the final hairpin turn onto Bella Drive, such a narrow road, such a big car! Your eyes strain a little as the great car wheels around and you see before you the white gates "Falcon Lair" at last.  Heart pounding, you brush your nose with powder and check your lipstick, the car pulls into the drive, through the open gates and you see for the first time the house where you will meet the most handsome man in the movies.

The car rolls smoothly to a halt. You hear a firm footstep on the gravel, the latch on the door turns, a hand reaches in to help you out of the car. As you step to the gravel and look up, your eyes meet a pair of brown eyes and a smile of dazzling beauty and your heart melts as a voice speaks with an accent of continental flair, "Welcome to my home; this is Falcon Lair. I am Rudolph Valentino."

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Falcon Lair Fact
Musso and Franks Grill on Hollywood Blvd.  was one of Valentino's stops.  When he lived at Whitley Heights, he'd walk his dogs from Whitley down Hollywood Blvd. and stop in at Musso and Franks for a visit.

Musso and Franks is still in Hollywood, just down the Blvd. from the location that Valentino frequented.  One of the oldest and most venerable spots in Hollywood, reputed for surly waiters and a mean martini.

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