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Photo Synthesis

Von Sternberg Residence, Northridge

August 20, 2006|Colin Westerbeck

1947

"The Other Hollywood: Modernist Architecture and the Los Angeles Film Community" will be at UCLA's Charles E. Young Research Library through Oct. 15.

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It's the photograph that's 1947; the house had been designed by Richard Neutra 12 years earlier and built for film director Josef von Sternberg. We can see from this perspective why the house looked like an aircraft carrier to Army Air Corps pilots who flew over it on mock bombing runs during the war. This was part of the reason Von Sternberg had sold it by the time architect Neutra's official photographer made this picture.

That's Neutra seated on the left, and standing on the far right was the new owner, writer Ayn Rand. (Their relative positions reflect their politics--a private joke Shulman must have enjoyed.)

"I don't know where Miss Rand got her political ideas," Neutra would tell people later, "but she used me as the model for Howard Roark's sex appeal." Roark, an architect, is the central character in Rand's bestseller "The Fountainhead," which the author was adapting to the screen. But it wasn't Neutra on whom she supposedly based her hero; it was Neutra's mentor, Frank Lloyd Wright.

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