Those who prefer their living spaces with a side of Tinseltown history should look no further than Villa Carlotta, a stunning Spanish Colonial Revival-style property that towers over a particularly charming corner on the northern edge of Hollywood at 5959 Franklin Ave. Designed initially as a luxe apartment house for show business elite, the picturesque complex was thoroughly reimagined in 2018 as a first-class extended stay hotel. Despite the many updates and modernizations, though, it remains absolutely teeming with old Hollywood glam!
As such, the lodging was a shoo-in for a cameo on “The Offer,” the recent Paramount+ series chronicling the real-life behind-the-scenes drama that took place during the making of the 1972 classic “The Godfather,” largely considered one of the best films of all time.
Built by prolific developer Luther T. Mayo in 1926, Villa Carlotta was fashioned based upon a design by Arthur E. Harvey, the same architect responsible for the neighboring Château Élysée, the French Normandy-style structure perhaps better known by its other moniker, the Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre International.
Steeped in legend from the start, Villa Carlotta was originally owned by Elinor Ince, the widow of studio titan Thomas H. Ince, and is speculated to have been funded by William Randolph Hearst, who, as the much-ballyhooed tale goes, accidentally shot and killed Thomas aboard his yacht, the USS Oneida, in 1924. Hearst, it is said, confused Ince for Charlie Chaplin, who was also partying aboard the ship and was believed to be having an affair with his longtime mistress, Marion Davies. Following the shooting, the publishing magnate bankrolled Villa Carlotta as some sort of hush money payment to the beleaguered wife Thomas left behind.
While most current reports cite Ince as having actually succumbed to heart failure following a bout of gastritis brought on by the rich foods he consumed aboard the yacht, the lewder shooting scenario is far more often repeated and has become the subject of rampant speculation, numerous articles and even a 2001 movie titled “The Cat’s Meow,” directed by Peter Bogdanovich.