Actors Joseph Bologna and Renée Taylor lived in a beautiful Tudor Revival house at the edge of Beverly Hills since the 1970s. It’s a charming place with a little fairy garden in the back, a pool, and a secret room behind their royal red library.
Oh, yeah. And it used to be Shirley Temple’s house.
On this cloudy Thursday, I went to the estate sale of Taylor and the late Bologna and marveled at their gorgeous study. Every wall was lined with books, separated by genres and age; treasure hunters were rifting through every single item trying to figure out their significance.
I admit, I’m a total nerd when it comes to estate sales. While other people head straight for the ostentatious furniture, the Tiffany’s jewelry, or the designer clothing, I barrel through books. I love going to Hollywood estates and seeing if the books have any cultural significance or famous signatures in them.
There was a whole collection of original first-edition Oz books. The condition on them wasn’t the greatest, but it was still neat to hold books that classic and beloved. Ozma is a delightful and progressive book – and who doesn’t love Tik-Tok? Of course, if you’re around my age, then the ’80s cult film Return to Oz might be the source of your affection. After careful digging, I found an 1896 first edition copy of Sentimental Tommy, a novel by J. M. Barrie. Over one hundred years old and still in great condition!
Something else I picked up was a vintage menu from Maxim’s in Paris, considered the greatest restaurant in the world during La Bellé Epoque. I’ve been on a Parisian kick lately after rereading A Moveable Feast, rewatching Midnight in Paris, and spending the last month writing a short story set in the City of Lights, so this was wonderful – and I just adore the Georges Goursat (aka Sem) illustration.
Behind one of the bookcases was a secret room full of Bologna and Taylor’s film prints, screenplays, and home media. How cool is that?