Sunday, May 06, 2012
1962 - greystone - part 3

This post includes the second visit to Greystone a few months after the first, when my sister Gene and I and Daddy Joe met with a few other people----Dr. George Bach and his wife Peggy, (pictured above with Daddy outside the Gates to Greystone), and Michael and Margie Levee----so we could once again take a look at the whole property....I took pictures at that time, too, and I actually took some 8mm films that day, as well--no, I am unable to post them....Grrrrrr......George Bach was Gene's and my therapist....he was a very innovative wonderful therapist and the foremost proponent of "Group Therapy" back at that time in 1962. Part of his belief about therapy was that it be inclusive of family as much as possible and that socializing was more than okay---in fact, he encouraged it. Below...over on the left, Margie Levee, my sister Gene, and Daddy Joe...... George was way way ahead of his time.....He was also capable of creating the therapeutic environment just about anywhere and would, when needed, often have a therapy session just about anywhere. I remember having a "session" with him in the little small Cactus Garden right there on Santa Monica Blvd. in the heart of Beverly Hills close to where his office was on Bedford Drive.On that second visit to Greystone we all met at The Gates of Greystone. As we waited for the others, a lot of "Twisting" went on.....The dance, "The Twist" was very popular back then, and it was a lot of fun.....George had actually taught Gene and I to do the 'twist'....some of you may remember that dance and the Chubby Checker song that went with it....! My father was a wonderful dancer and, in fact, taught us all to dance as kids----one of the nicer memories that I have....In fact, one of my fondest memories of my parents, before 'the fall' was of them dancing together....I equated their dancing with love. They looked so 'in love' to me when they danced. I'm afraid those are the only pictures I have from that second visit to Greystone---all the rest was the 8mm films I took that day.....Greystone's history since 1962 is quite interesting....The city of Beverly Hills did buy it and then leased it to The American Film Institute for $1. a year, for many many years. I remember going there for some 'special event' fund raisers for AFI and seeing how the property had changed....Below...the whole pool had been filled in by that time.....For the last 25 years or so, Greystone has been a public park; a place that people can visit and tour, plus, it is rented out for all kinds of Events. Weddings are held there, and in fact, I officiated at a ceremony there in 1991 of very dear friends.....We were not allowed in the house itself, only in the garden area that had been chosen for the ceremony, though there are some very big events where people use the house as well as the gardens.....
Many movies have used Greystone as a location.....The one I remember best is a film with Bette Davis called "Dead Ringer" (1964), where she played twin sisters---one very rich and the other rather poor---a lot of the interior shots were shot in the Mansion, itself. Here below is Bette Davis on the front staircase with the dog in the film---an important character in the story-line, and the photo below that, is how that same entryway looked 'back-in-the-day'.....And more recently......below, from a slightly different angle, above....Everything restored to it's original beauty........As to this becoming the place that housed my fathers Art Collection, I don't think he thought it had the kind of space needed for the enormity of his collection. He understood that pretty clearly after seeing the 'big picture', though he thought the house and property were very beautiful, and that the gardens would have lent themselves pretty well to the monumental sculpture, he felt the house itself, was really not right for the collection as a whole---major renovations would have to be done to accommodate all that a Museum actually needs.....And I think he felt that it would not only be wrong for the integrity of the house and property, but in truth, it would never really work the way it needed to, to be a world-class Museum.Then, The United States government, in the person of President Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife Ladybird, approached Daddy less than three years later about having the Museum in Washington. This felt more than right to my father....As he always felt and in fact, said: 'The United States of America is the only country in the world where coming here as a poor little immigrant boy, I could have achieved everything I did.....' And, ultimately, being housed in a building, which he partially funded, and which was built especially for the collection, in Washington, D.C., on the Mall, as part of the Smithsonian Institution, has turned out to be the perfect place for this amazing massive once personal collection.....The original "gift" to the country included 6000 pieces of art. The deal was sealed in 1966. It took many years and many stumbling blocks later, before the Hirshhorn Museum opened in October of 1974.By the time of my fathers death, 15 years later, in 1981, he left the Museum another 6000 pieces.Unfortunately, "Greystone", (as beautiful as it was and is), and Beverly Hills, California would never have been the right place for this collection, and as I said, my father instinctively knew that.



More To Come.......







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29 Comments:
had this to say:

Did you realize when all of this was taking place how significant it was? You must have if you were taking pictures and filming. I'm forever impressed with the family stories and history that you share with us readers.

Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 4:06:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

wow.. right or not it sure is impressive! With posts like this I feel like we have learned a lot about your younger years. I think you have more memories then many of us and it's wonderful of you to share them with me and the others!!! Thank you Naomi.

Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 4:20:00 AM PDT 

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

Julie said:

Amazed at how your father collected all those wonderful art pieces and then shared them with the rest of us.

Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 5:54:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

It is a beautiful estate but I, for one, am glad that your father's art collection stayed in the east. We are going to DC for mr. kenju's 50th Georgetown reunion soon and we hope to steal away some time to go to the museum and see your father's collection.

Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 6:03:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Wow, I am just asounded at the history of all this, how he made something of himself, the life's work collecting all that art, and his tremendous gift to the world putting all this on display for the public.

Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 6:53:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Absolutely wonderful!!

Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 9:43:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

another beautiful and intimate look at history and art and family in the making - to share such a thing is indeed an honor to be cherished by us all - obviously your father's keen sense of the "right place" for these magnificent pieces of art was/is a blessing to the world - i cannot tell you the number of times that i personally, since the mid 70s, together with my late sister, have visited the hirshhorn, extending our visits for hours and hours at a time, and then, the times i have taken my children there - it remains one of the top 3 foremost places for our family's dc visits - again, many thanks for sharing these wonderful stories, naomi -

Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 10:18:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I saw Chubby Checker a few times when he toured with Bobby Vee and he sung The Twist and Let's Twist Again, and they were, and still are such classic songs. At my gigs people still do the twist to them even now!

What a great shot of you in your gown!

I'm so pleased your father found the perfect home for his amazing art collection. :)

Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 12:49:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Beautiful art. I just love black and white photos. Men with the black sunglasses looked so cool back then. One of them stories where i am saying to myself I wish i would have been there...god bless....zman sends

Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 1:54:00 PM PDT 

Blogger :::
had this to say:

Catching up on this fascinating story . Your collection of photographs is simply amazing. I truly admire your organization and your memory, Naomi dear. Brilliant!!

Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 11:54:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Fascinating story about the how the Hirshhorn came to be with the art displayed there. Your father's desire to share his treasurers with all of us and generations to come is to be greatly admired.

I can understand how the L.A. area might have been a welcome location for the art, but the Smithsonian does seem to have worked out for the best.

Thanks for sharing.

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 1:53:00 AM PDT 

Blogger Pat
had this to say:

How I wish I had known you in my travelling days. Sadly I never went to Washington but I certainly would have have had I known you then.
Marvellous to feel your father's collection is preserved for posterity. You must feel so proud of him.

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 3:20:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I have been admiring those gorgeous gates in your first few pictures. I'd love to live in a house with gates like that!
One day I'm going to go to Washington and visit your father's collection.... the building looks very impressive. I think it's right that the art should be displayed in Washington rather than California. More accessible to the people of America (and Canada too, I hope!).
I've enjoyed reading your story of Greystone, Naomi.

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 5:19:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Naomi, you should really collate all these memories into a memoir. It's fascinating stuff and needs to be a book.

Cheers.

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 6:06:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Your father was truly an generous man to give away such a fabulous collection. I imagine the dollar value would astound.
I loved the old house but agree that the museum does give it the right setting. If I am ever in DC, that is a must on my list. I have certainly enjoyed this series.
I have "twisted" a few nights away my self. That had to be good for the waistline. Hum, maybe this afternoon I might give it a whirl.

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 6:36:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I must drive to DC and see the collection!

what an amazing gift to us all

I love the gates
and I love the woman in the red suit, wow! what a statement :)

and most of all I love you
Hope sends hugs

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 7:44:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

The Hirschhorn! Incredible museum, great collection! I had no idea this was your father!

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 9:30:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Funny, I know I was there but don't remember the building looking like that. That's how it is "on the ground" you can't see the big view. I especially remember the outside sculpture.

I loved seeing the pictures of inside the Greystone and hearing some of its history. That gate! And yes, we were twisting on our side of the country too. I love how you threw that in.

Also, it was fun to see a picture of George Bach after hearing you talk about him when we were there in February.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 6:38:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Another great update - I hadn't realised the art collection you referred to was the one at the Hirshhorn.

That's a stunning gallery and collection which I visited a few years ago when I was in Washington.

To be truthful, I was wandering around alone and sort of stumbled upon it and was then led inevitably in!

A quick snapshot of the front, from my trip is here

Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 6:57:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

...and a strange little story...

I noticed your picture from inside the Hirshhorn of the sculptures (its the black and white one) - It reminded me of a larger sculpture I'd seen years ago in Beverley Hills. I think it was called 'The hare drumming to the moon' - or shortened to 'the drummer' - which is a good old pagan thing.

So I quickly looked it up - I have a picture of it in L.A. And guess what! It's been moved - to Washington D.C. - and to the Hirshhorn Museum grounds, no less!

Coincidence, style, serendipity?

Certainly interesting!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 7:15:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Naomi - sorry to bombard you - but the story gets even better... I just looked up the name of the artist for the drummer sculpture that I'd seen in L.A. that then moved to Washington.

Flanagan.

One quick google later and I find that Flanagan was the first sculptor work that your father bought- not the hare, but a snake - There's an interview with him in the Archives of American Art link here

Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 7:24:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I sit here just dumbstruck....what a story...what a life you have lead...how wonderful....hope you are writing your memoirs...your story (stories) need to be told...I hope one day to see the Museum....thanks Naomi!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 12:48:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Oh wow - your father certainly owned a lot of art work! What a fabulous post - what a wonderful life.

Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 2:01:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Wow, what a neat story and a generous, thoughtful gift, a sharing of a treasure.

Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 3:50:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What a fascinatingm story of your father and his wonderful collection of art! Really your father was a generous and remarkable man.
Naomi, you have such a powerful memory and an amazing archive of great photos. I am always very impressed when reading the story of your fascinating life and family life too. I totally agree with R. Sherman, you should really write a book!
Thanks, my dear, for sharing this great post!

Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 4:03:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I go to that museum every time I'm in DC - I'll look at it with new eyes now.

Friday, May 11, 2012 at 3:12:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What a WONDERFUL story. Your father loved art enough to collect it- then let it be shared with the rest of us. Thank you for sharing.

Friday, May 11, 2012 at 8:46:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Wow, it's hard to imagine having that much artwork to donate!! 12,000 pieces! Amazing!! What a wonderful gift to this country as well. I hope someday I can go and visit and see all the pieces that once belonged to your father!
Hope you are well Naomi! Hugs!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012 at 8:38:00 PM PDT 

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

Thx for your post, I really enjoy your blog. Long time lurker, first time commenter, you know the drill. I tried to share this one time before, I don’t think it posted correctly…hopefully it will this time!

Sunday, May 27, 2012 at 3:37:00 PM PDT 

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