by Rachel Llewellyn
On May 1, location professionals flocked to a sun-soaked mixer at the historic Beverly Estate in Beverly Hills, CA, to finally connect with each other—in person—and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, as some of the most memorable scenes from the iconic movie were filmed here. Over the decades, celebrities, presidents and directors have mingled within the palatial Mediterranean-style mansion once owned by screen siren Marion Davies and publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst—and for one glorious afternoon, we did too.
LMGI partnered with business member Paul Kim, owner of Image Locations, to host LMGI members and guests at its first big official post-COVID bash. “Paul came to me with an idea to have a party at the mansion as a way to thank members for their support over the years,” shares Erika Howard, LMGI administrator. “We toured the estate, along with LMGI founder Beth Tate and architectural historian David Silverman, taking in this amazing property so rich with cinema history and brainstorming what kind of event we could create here.”
“As location professionals, we are so lucky to get into magnificent mansions all the time,” adds Tate. “To get people to come, we knew we had to have another angle. Food and drink would just not be enough. At some point, David mentioned that this was the 50th year since The Godfather’s release in 1972—and I knew we had our hook!”
Among the invited guests were producers, directors, production designers, set decorators and editors. “This was the LMGI’s first event that included our creative colleagues from other guilds, so we needed to make it extra-special. We knew that many in the filmmaking community would appreciate this!” says Howard.
Guests drove onto the 3.5-acre complex where they were greeted in the enclosed motor court with valet service and champagne. Its cool Tuscan tones, striking fountain and prim hedges were instantly recognizable from The Godfather.
Playing on large flat screens in the soaring 50-foot entry hall were scenes from other titles filmed at the Beverly Estate: The Bodyguard, Fletch, Black Is King, Charlie’s Angels and The Jerk. Details such as designed text panels and guided tours by Silverman further enhanced the theme.
Attendees enjoyed music, small bites and cocktails on the sprawling back terrace and balconies, with a view of landscape architect Paul Thiene’s pristine greenery and a statue-lined cascading waterfall leading to the Olympic pool flanked by Venetian columns, also captured on film in The Godfather.
David Silverman led groups through the mansion’s illustrious past. Designed in 1926 by Hoover Dam architect Gordon Kaufmann, it’s where Davies and Hearst hosted unrivaled bacchanals with screen stars like Ava Gardner, Gregory Peck and Joan Crawford. John and Jacqueline Kennedy honeymooned in the home, which also reportedly doubled as JFK’s West Coast presidential campaign headquarters in 1960.
Guests trooped upstairs, with cocktails in hand, to glimpse the pastel bedroom with plush carpet and thick tapestries once occupied by Ms. Davies and where Hearst took his final breath. Silverman explained that although the exterior was prominently featured in Coppola’s sweeping shots, The Godfather’s infamous “horse head” scene was actually filmed elsewhere.
The 19-bedroom H-form building is a marvel of Italian and Spanish architecture, featuring tile and dark hand-carved wood beams that balance 22-foot ceilings, picture windows and open, light-filled colonnades and archways. The property has been expanded over the years and boasts a massive ballroom, wine cellar, projection room and an art deco-style lounge inspired by Hugh Hefner’s former supper club, Touch. There is a stunning two-story library with a wraparound walkway and carved woodwork, a velvet-walled billiards room with original herringbone parquet floors, and a massive stone-carved fireplace shipped from Hearst Castle in San Simeon.
The estate continues to make modern headlines: It sold last year to its current owner for $51 million—setting the record as the priciest home ever to sell at auction. The owner generously provided the services of his chef and the delicious delicacies that were served at the mixer.
Celebrating 20 years in business as a comprehensive location library, Image Locations was among the first to build a cohesive high-end library online. They are known for stylish and unique locations, and as a new listing for Image Locations, the Beverly Estate will continue to shine as an emblem of Hollywood glamour on the big screen.
LMGI members were sent off in style with a special gift bag containing their choice of the 50th anniversary Godfather trilogy on Blu-ray or a slew of tech gear.
“We hit it out of the park!” exclaims Howard. “I hope this will be the first of many shared experiences with our business partners and colleagues across the industry. It was a great way to showcase the initiative and creativity of location professionals that goes well beyond the job.”
Find a global library of camera-ready locations at ImageLocations.com
David Silverman: Los Angeles House Histories
Architectural historian David Silverman is the founder of bespoke imprint Los Angeles House Histories, which creates custom-researched coffee table books revealing the history of LA properties. Silverman integrates vintage media and aerial photos to chronicle the homes of Hollywood icons like Shirley Temple, Frank Sinatra and Marlene Dietrich. His work has been proﬁled in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Hollywood Reporter and Architectural Digest. In addition to his books, David researches period locations for ﬁlm and TV productions, ﬁnding vintage photos to inform creative decisions.
More about his work can be found at lahousehistories.com