My family have lived in the San Fernando Valley since 1940, and we have seen the Los Angeles Times as well as the Valley grow and prosper during the past 47 years. During that time my father, Horace Heidt, was recognized as one of the pioneers of the San Fernando Valley. He gained that reputation by building a country club-style apartment house encompassing an 18-hole golf course. This unique complex was the first of its kind in Los Angeles and is known by many as one of the finest apartment home complexes anywhere. Much of the success attributed to our family business was due directly to the positive and honest write-ups by the Los Angeles Times.
Your article by Andrew S. Doctoroff (Feb. 17) does not do the reputation of the San Fernando Valley, the Los Angeles Times or the Horace Heidt Magnolia Estate Apartments justice. I have always prided myself as a citizen of Los Angeles when traveling around the country that the Los Angeles Times was a fair and accurate journalistic company which would always use best efforts to always see that the truth was unfolded. I also have had respect for The Times' commitment to the dignity of human beings and especially respect for the senior members of our community.
I do not feel it would serve a valuable purpose to repeat the phrases in this article. Let it suffice to say that a fair and accurate accounting of our business and the wonderful tenants who live here was nowhere to be seen in the article in question.
The man who built this complex is considered one of the most successful band leaders of the Big Band era. Several vocalists who live here have had No. 1 hit records. In fact, one of our tenants has been described by historians as the voice of the Big Band era. Some of our past tenants have received Oscars. Some of them have had long-running hit sitcoms on television. Many of them, although unknown by name to the public, have worked behind the scenes in the entertainment industry on some of the most recognizable movies of all times, such as "Singin' in the Rain," "The Wizard of Oz," "The Sound of Music," "Star Trek IV," etc.
People such as these are hardly people who never made it to the top. These are people, in fact, who set the standards for the entertainment industry.
The staff writer who wrote the article came between the hours of 9 and 11 on a Wednesday morning when the vast majority of the tenants were at work. Therefore, the only people available to be interviewed at that time were retired people. Thus, it is inaccurate to state that the apartment complex mainly houses aging members of the entertainment industry. Had he spent more time on the story and come on a weekend, he would have discovered this.
It would have been more beneficial to your readers had you sent a more mature reporter, one who would recognize star value and importance of the tenants who live here. Sixty years from now it is unlikely that our grandchildren will know who Boy George was.
One may inquire why many of the name performers do live in an apartment. Many of them in reply have more than one home and simply enjoy living here because everyone speaks the same language: show biz. Another inaccurate statement is that Art Carney lived here. Art Carney never lived here but was discovered by my father more than 50 years ago. The apartment house is not on Magnolia Drive--it is on Magnolia Boulevard. It is not a low-rent apartment complex, and you definitely cannot get a two-bedroom apartment for $400. This is an absolute mistake. We told the reporter our rents were confidential, but I can tell you that you cannot even get a single here for that figure.
My father did not consider this property as a personal empire but rather a home for talented people while they were struggling to make it in the entertainment industry. If is unfortunate that the reporter described the estate as one in partial disrepair. All apartment homes need a certain amount of maintenance, and it is impossible to keep the golf course green during the winter months.
Finally, I feel that it is unfair to chastise a business operation that respects and caters to senior citizens. Our business has a well-balanced community made up of young, middle-aged and older tenants. Because a few of the older tenants were around during working hours on a weekday, it is misrepresentation to describe our community as "God's Waiting Room." Even if we were a senior citizen retirement home, and we are not, I feel senior citizens command a little respect and the right to live with dignity. As you know, senior citizens enjoy productive, fruitful lives and can anticipate living longer in the 1980s than any decade in the past. Senior citizens deserve more than to be described as "weary" or just waiting to die. I find the references particularly cynical and totally void of respect for people who have worked all of their lives to make this country what it is.
HORACE HEIDT JR.
Heidt is the owner of Horace Heidt Magnolia Estate Apartments.