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Hollywood Memorial

Alla Nazimova

Russian-born motion picture actress, producer, and writer of the 1910s through the 1940s. Violinist, at age 17, she was given an audition at the Philharmonic School in Moscow. In February 1905, she, along with the rest of the St. Petersburg Players, left for New York. Nazimova’s performances were singled out by critics and during the next few years she became a darling of the New York Theatre. In 1915, after the outbreak of World War I she was offered a role in the play ‘War Brides,’ a plea for pacifism. Based on the film’s success, in 1917, she was offered a contract with Metro for 5 years. By 1917, she was earning as much as $30,000 per film, with a $1,000 per day bonus for every day of filming. She was also given a $13,000 per week contract. At the time, actress Mary Pickford was on a $3,000 per week contract. Her private lifestyle gave rise to widespread rumors of outlandish and allegedly debauched parties at her palatial mansion on Sunset Boulevard known as ‘The Garden of Alla,’ built in 1919 it was a popular spot for the Hollywood elite and later became the Garden of Allah apartment-hotel complex. In her later years, she continued to live in one of the villas there. Between the years of 1917 and 1922, Nazimova wielded considerable influence and power in Hollywood. By all accounts she was extremely generous to young actresses in whom she saw talent, and became involved with at least some of them romantically. A noteworthy example was Anna May Wong, whose first film role was in ‘The Red Lantern’ as an extra at age fourteen. She helped start the careers of both of Rudolph Valentino’s wives, Jean Acker and Natacha Rambova. Nazimova was involved in an affair with Acker, but it is debated as to whether her connection with Rambova ever developed into a sexual affair. She was the Godmother of First Lady Nancy Reagan. Eventually she started producing her own films but it lead to disappointment and she returned to theatre; though, still occasionally playing roles on film, most notably ‘Blood and Sand’ with Tyrone Power. She died in 1945 and is buried at Forest Lawn in Glendale. Her epitaph reads, ‘Voice of World’s Conscience– Immaculate beyond our concept– Christ is thy name. Teach us to shun the ways of greed and prejudice and strife; to earn our bread, to share our bread; to heed, to follow Thee forever. Amen.’ –A.N. “>