Hollywood Dream House – how to live like a star in the 1930s

hollywood golden age dream houses

Modern Screen was an American fan magazine that for over 50 years featured articles, pictorials and interviews with movie stars, and later also television and music personalities.

Modern Screen magazine debuted on November 3, 1930 and initially sold for 10 cents. Modern Screen quickly became popular and by 1933 it had become Photoplay magazine’s main competition and in the 1933 movie Dinner at Eight Jean Harlow is seen reading a copy of Modern Screen.¹

What is really fascinating with this publication is that we get an unique insight into the life of many movie stars of Hollywood’s Golden Era, also called Classical Hollywood Cinema – terms used to describe the time period between 1910s and the early 1960s when Hollywood developed into the most powerful industry in film-making worldwide.

In the Februari issue of Modern Screen from year 1931 we get to visit the homes of some great actors of that time period. In this article they have collected some of the elements that a Hollywood Dream House should consist of. Here is the whole article:


In every Hollywood home there is one room, one corner, or one feature which is outstanding. We have taken some of these outstanding perfections and built a dream house for your delight.

Lift this bronze knocker and let it fall gently. You see, it will cause the two little cherubs to kiss each other— and the resounding osculation will bring to the door the tenant of our dream house— whoever that may be. The knocker belongs to the Fairbanks-Crawford home.

For the perfect garden gate we again indebted to Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. What a fascinating spot for young dream house wife to welcome ome her young dream house husband — with a dream house kiss.

This charming garden— so exactly suitable for our dream house — belongs to the Cleason family. Mr. and Mrs., of course, and Russell. The garden is English in form, but the riotous growth of flowers is strictly modern Californian.

Dreams by the fire! Our dream house nook — one of the nicest nooks in all of Hollywood for a man to get away by himself and read his favorite book. Clive Brook owns this den where he can putter unmolested and be as untidy as he likes.

[pullquote]If you are thinking of “doing over” that room of yours you may be able to take some tips from this “dream house” [/pullquote]

Every house— and certainly every dream house— must have a play room, where bridge, poker, billiards or just plain smoking and snoozing can be indulged in without mussing up my lady’s cushions.

Buster Keaton is the lucky possessor of this room devoted to entertainment.

Ah, a fireplace. How particular we must be about our fireplace. Dolores Del Rio’s fireplace comes pretty near to perfection, we think. Those tall, wrought-iron fire dogs are Spanish and very old. We admit the black cat is not exactly furniture, but it certainly adds to the effect and we want it in our dream house.

The living room of our house must be so perfect that no matter how many days are spent there, the feeling of it will never pall. Marian Nixon provides us with this room. Let your eye dwell on its splendid length and please observe its beamed and raftered ceiling.

And note that old chest, with its inlaid mother-of-pearl— an interesting touch. In spite of the plentiful furniture, the room has that glorious sense of space.

[pullquote]Our dream house must have at least four bedrooms-remember those week-end parties. Which room will you select, madam?[/pullquote]

And now for the bedrooms! And what bedrooms! The north corner of Lilyan Tashman’s, shown at the left, is delightfully original and intriguing. The raised and tiled fireplace and the dainty little poudreuse will catch every woman’s heart— and breath.

Below is a view of the bed, the dresser and the decidedly efficient little desk— no doubt for figuring those dream house bills. And isn’t that fur comfortable the most exquisite thing?

Naturally we simply must have a modernistic bedroom. For that we go to Senorita Lupe Velez. That lady designed this room all by herself. The drapery, bed cover and upholstery is black and silver satin and all, as you would expect in this room, ultra modernistic.

The round wardrobe and the Neon lights in the frame of the mirror are decidedly the last word.

There should, of course, be a particularly special guest room. The sot room you put your girl chum of sch and college days— or that understanding aunt of yours. Ann Harding’s  bedroom is just the thing! The color scheme is apricot and mauve— the  all-over carpet is in the latter shade and the drapes are heavy apricot taffeta. The glass curtains are ivory silk voile.

Sue Carol provides us with a dainty French bedroom, shown below— our dream house must have a Gallic touch somewhere. The low bed has a headboard of antique gold with inserts of tapestry in pastel shades. The satin spread is green, with appliqued flowers, and the chaise longue is green also. The mirror frame above is gold — an antique. The walls are paneled in luscious green satin.

Our dining room must; as you’ll agree, offer that feeling of luxurious hospitality. And for this room we have to thank William Haines. The candlesticks and cruett are heavy silver, as are the serving dishes in the rack at the rear. The woodwork is white and the walls are rich tapestried paper.

And now we come to that most important of all rooms— the kitchen. It must, of course, be equipped with all the very latest labor-saving devices. And it must be spotlessly neat and superbly shining. We turn to Skeets Gallagher, whose kitchen is all-electric. Yes, even the orange squeezer is electric. And what amazing cupboards! 


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