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Westside Watch

Get Ready for 'Legends of Hollywood--the Sequel'

March 06, 1994

Humphrey Bogart stood on a wall, but had a great fall. Now all of his pieces and those of some of his famous friends will be put together again.

A 75-foot-long mural featuring the larger-than-life likenesses of Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, Fred Astaire, Bette Davis, Clark Gable and James Dean came tumbling down during the Jan. 17 earthquake.

Now two local arts groups plan to sell remnants of the 1983 Hollywood landmark, called "Legends of Hollywood," in order to fund its repainting by the original artist.

"It's part of the fiber of Hollywood," said Nyla Arslanian, president of the Hollywood Arts Council. "It's known worldwide. It was a big loss."

The mural was painted by Eloy Torrez on a two-story facade attached to a brick building by a metal frame. The quake ripped the frame from the building, dropping the mural to the sidewalk, said Bill Lasarow, president of the Mural Conservancy.

Several pieces of Davis, Dean and Gable were pocketed by fans in the days after the quake because the figures fell face up, exposing the artwork. However, Bogart, Monroe and Astaire fell face down on the sidewalk and were passed over as debris.

"With James Dean and Bette Davis, the figures were left, but the faces were decimated," Lasarow said. "With Gable, the whole thing was picked away."

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CLIFFHANGER: A high-profile victim of the Northridge earthquake was a landmark mansion atop the bluffs at Chautauqua Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway. Its master bedroom, study, and portions of its roof tumbled off the cliff, sliding to within 100 feet of the highway.

The home, often referred to mistakenly as the "Charles Laughton House"(the actor actually lived six residences up the street), has since been demolished. But a jumble of debris from it is still clinging near the top of the bluff, becoming a sword of Damocles.

Getting hold of the wreckage from above hasn't been possible: The city has prohibited the contractors from placing their equipment within 40 feet of the edge of the bluff. Engineers are now seeing if they can tackle the problem from the highway.

But that, too, could prove tricky: They're worried the falling debris might come down on workers, said Brian McRae, spokesperson for the city's Public Works Department. Said McRae: "It's a real bad deal any way you look at it."

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QUAKE CAMPAIGN: The Jan. 17 earthquake also had a big impact on state Sen. Tom Hayden, even though he was 3,000 miles away meeting with President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore when it struck.

The Santa Monica Democrat called the 6.8 temblor the "final factor" in his decision to seek his party's gubernatorial nomination. Hayden also made seismic safety the subject of his campaign's second full-page New York Times advertisement, issuing a call for a range of measures aimed at preventing damage from future quakes.

"Don't blame nature for earthquake damage, blame official neglect," is the white-on-black headline of the ad, which ran in the paper's Western Edition on Feb. 25.

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