Monday, August 9, 2010
William Holden Slept Here (well sort of)
When cinephiles trek to South Pasadena in search of William Holden's childhood home, they're often befuddled. Census records list 1911 Fletcher Avenue as the residence of 11 year old William Beedle -- Holden's name before Paramount Pictures changed it. (The rent for the Fletcher Avenue home was $62.50 a month. The census report also made note that the house had a radio.) But at some point 1911 Fletcher Avenue was consumed by the parking lot behind Huntington Cleaners, now bordered by this lovely hedge.
In 1921 three year old William Beedle moved with his family from O'Fallon, Illinois to South Pasadena. His mother taught school in neighboring Monrovia. His father was a chemist with Gooch Industries. The family was pleased that sleepy, respectable South Pasadena was aligned with their Midwestern values and seemed light years away from the wild, outrageous antics of nearby Hollywood.
But after Billy Beedle graduated from South Pasadena High School he began inching closer to the fast lane. He performed in radio plays at Pasadena Junior College (merged in 1954 with John Muir College to become Pasadena City College.) He got his big break playing the part of an 80 year old man in a play at The Playbox -- a small theater owned by the director of Pasadena Playhouse. A Paramount talent scout spotted him and offered him a contract. His mother was happy about her son's career but begged him to "date only South Pasadena girls" because she thought they weren't corrupted like those poor souls in the movie business. What's a mother to do!? (We can only guess what Mrs. Beedle eventually thought of this scene from Picnic.)