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A piece of history vs. a parcel of land

August 06, 2007

Re "A ranch gives up the ghost," Column One, Aug. 2

People who live in Los Angeles County and who wish to leave their beloved homes to a historical association or as a museum should realize that their wishes will seldom be carried out. No one wants to spend money on the upkeep of these buildings because their investment is never returned. Greed for money, and especially greed for land, will always trump donors' personal wishes and their legal wills.

Donna Turner


Sun Valley

As a USC alum, I am disgusted (but not surprised) that the university would sell to developers a historically significant property that was given to it in good faith to preserve. That the school "cannot find a proper use for the property" is lame and unimaginative. How about using the ranch as a site for its popular cinema school summer intensives, which draw students from around the world? What would-be filmmaker wishing to be steeped in Hollywood history could resist staying at a home built for Barbara Stanwyck? As an Angeleno, I am equally disgusted that the city would so easily drop the property's landmark status to curry favor with developers. Oakridge, designed by Paul R. Williams, one of L.A.'s foremost architects and the first African American member of the American Institute of Architects, deserves to be preserved.

Zsa Zsa Gershick

North Hollywood

Contrary to what some may believe, there are intelligent, creative and culture-starved people living in the San Fernando Valley. It is beyond belief that a wealthy university such as USC would need to sell a potential cultural landmark and a little-observed part of Valley history for its film program. The Valley continues to be raped by developers looking for one thing -- money. Is there anyone who cares about saving what little we have left and actually has some pride in the Valley? I think that Victoria Oakie would be quite disappointed, as are many others.

Joanne Taylor


The School of Cinematic Arts (formerly known as the School of Cinema-Television) had an enduring relationship with Jack and Victoria Oakie that spanned several decades. On March 16, 2001, Mrs. Oakie ensured a proper use for the family home, bequeathing that "this gift of property . . . shall be allocated to the USC School of Cinema-Television and the property and its proceeds shall be used to honor my late husband, Jack Oakie, through, for example, the establishment of an endowed chair . . . and other appropriate means of perpetuating the memory of Jack Oakie."

USC prides itself on respecting the wishes of all its donors. In following the directive of Mrs. Oakie in cooperation with the Jack and Victoria H. Oakie Charitable Foundation trustees, the School of Cinematic Arts looks forward to honoring Mrs. Oakie's spirit and preserving the legacy of her husband in perpetuity.

Elizabeth M. Daley

Dean and Professor, USC

School of Cinematic Arts

Los Angeles

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