During the early 1920s, Hillcrest Road, near Sunset Boulevard, was a secluded oasis for one of Old Hollywood’s top actors/writers/filmmakers. First owner, Hobart Bosworth, was the star of one of the first ever silent films made in California. He became enamored with the silent film industry as he battled tuberculosis, which had caused him to lose his deep, rich voice that made him famous on the stages in New York City. Bosworth and his second wife purchased the 4-acre property in 1923, and in just three short years, the couple had erected a magnificent Spanish-style home with the help of the architectural firm Bennet and Haskell.
The home was extraordinary and featured a forty-five-foot-long living room and twenty-five-foot-long master bedroom! Mrs. B. (as she liked to be called) had an eye for extravagance and her home showcased her impeccable taste and style. The grounds were divided into beautiful gardens, a tree-filled forest and one area was sectioned off for a stable to house Mr. Bosworth’s Arabian horse. Although the home was beautiful, the couple soon grew tired of the fast-growing neighborhood and wanted privacy away from the tourists and loud traffic. In 1933, they sold their home on Hillcrest Road and moved to a secluded mountain cabin in La Canada Hills.
The new owner was actor William Powell. Powell was an Academy-Award winning bachelor who, at the time of purchasing his home, had just made two extremely successful films with MGM. He was looking for the ultimate bachelor pad, and since one of his good friends lived next door, the Bosworth estate looked like the perfect place. The home was only 8 years old at the time of purchase, but Powell wanted the home to reflect his personal style. He immediately hired architect James Dolena, and together they completely transformed his home. It took two years to complete Powell’s dream home, which included adding an additional floor, removing the stucco from the exterior and adding columns to give the home a more Georgian look.
The U-shaped home overlooked two Olympic-sized tennis courts, putting green, croquet court and a sixty-foot-long swimming pool. Wanting to really impress his friends, Powell also built an additional building where he constructed a private movie theater that would seat 35 people. The seats were electronic and could be raised and lowered for viewer preference and also included an electronic screen that was lowered from the ceiling during viewing. When he wasn’t showing movies, Powell used the building as a place for friends to gather, dance and drink the night away.
The completion of Powell’s estate and grounds came at a time when he was once again falling in love with a young actress. He was leery of another marriage, and for an unknown reason, sold his newly built home after just one short year to a doctor. He moved into another home in Beverly Hills and eventually remarried. In the time after William Powell built his Hillcrest estate, the home has seen many owners including the original producer of the James Bond films, Albert Broccoli.