Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Teardowns--What a Cryin' Shame!

Jimmy Stewart was great! Who can forget "It's a Wonderful Life," "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," and the dozens more golden-age-of-Hollywood movies the man starred in. He was an authentic American hero too, decorated for service in the Army Air Corps during World War II, and serving in the reserves afterward while retiring as a Brigadier General in 1959. When Jimmy passed on in 1997, it was a sad day for fans of this modest, down-to-earth man who eschewed the glamour, glitz, and scandal so common in the film industry.

I've seen old pictures of Jimmy, his wife Gloria, and their children enjoying life in their beautiful home and lovely gardens, the very place Jimmy died. Oh, if only those walls could talk! You'd think that out of respect for the man's memory, the house would be lovingly cared for. Ha!

I, for one, would enjoy taking a drive-by tour of movie stars' homes someday. "Look, that's where Betty Davis lived, and there's Clark Gable's home, and . . ." Alas, if I ever do get a chance to take that tour, all I'll see where Jimmy's glorious home once stood is just another huge modern McMansion.

I have a lot of trouble understanding why people would buy a piece of history with the intention of tearing it down. OK, the economics is clear, cruel and heartless as it is. Building lots in older, desirable parts of Los Angeles are nonexistent, so people with more money than sense buy an old house in a great location, tear it down, and put up a new house on the same spot. OK, but why Jimmy's house? What a cryin' shame!

Wake up Hollywood! Think PRESERVATION. Have a little respect for the past, will ya? In the long run, there's going to be more than a little regret among Anglenos as more and more history is bulldozed into dust and debris. You see, there's money to be made in history. M-O-N-E-Y. Have I got your attention now, Hollywood?

The profit motive is blamed for many of society's ills. Maybe this time, if it can help save a little of the past, the profit motive just might come up smelling like a rose. Or maybe I should I the roses in Jimmy's garden.

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