The Goetzes Move in

Otto and Ruth Goetz
Otto and Ruth Goetz

Declining conditions at the Garden began to take a toll. The social scene around Benchley and Butterworth dissipated after their deaths. Dorothy Parker had moved across the street to the Chateau Marmont.

Robert Benchley’s son Nat, who was also a writer, had often visited his father at the Garden in the early years. He returned to the hotel in the later years and found that nothing was the same.

“I didn’t stay there,” he told Sheilah Graham. “I was at the Chateau Marmont, but I went over the Garden and took a lonesome, sad walk around it. There were drunks at the bar and no sign of the old joy.”

Broadway playwrights August and Ruth Goetz rented a villa at the Garden in 1948 when Warner Brothers brought them out from New York to write the screen adaptation of their hit play, “The Heiress.” Ruth Goetz explained the choice to Graham, saying she had heard so many stories about the Garden that she was eager to stay there, but the actual experience was disappointing.

“It was all so tatty,” Goetz said. “The walls were dirty, the furniture was spotty, and there was a dead mouse in the pool floating upside down in a fetal position. I stayed a week and left. It was too much like the film ‘Sunset Boulevard.’” (Which came out in 1950.) The Goetzes’ stay in Hollywood turned out for the best. The film version of “The Heiress starred Olivia de Havilland and Montgomery Clift. It was a box-office success, and they won an Oscar for the screenplay.