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'It girl' director Clarence Badger built an 'It' house in Hollywood

October 8, 2008 |  8:00 am

Clarence G. Badger residence Clarence G. Badger, a director whose prolific career spanned the silent film era and the early talkies, is not one of Hollywood's household names. But he did build one of Hollywood's distinctive and architecturally influential houses -- and city officials now have designated it as one of L.A.'s 934 historic-cultural monuments.

Badger's films probably are known more to connoisseurs than to garden-variety old-movie buffs. However, he made an enduring contribution to the lexicon of celebrity by directing the 1927 romantic comedy, "It," whose sexy star, Clara Bow, thenceforth was known as "the 'It' girl."  The phrase remains in vogue: Trolling the L.A. Times' article database, we found that this year alone, Angelina Jolie, Katy Perry, Joni Mitchell, Kyra Sedgwick, Miley Cyrus and Parker Posey, among others, have been described as current or former "it girls."

So what makes Badger's 1916 home an "it" structure? A report by the city's office of historic resources describes it as "one of the earliest built in the area today known as the Hollywood Hills," and that whoever the unknown architect was, the house stands as an early and classic example of the Spanish Colonial Revival style, which would "reach its early zenith during the 1920s and 1930s...used in many grand homes by the best of the era's architects."

Clara Bow Badger, who also worked extensively with Gloria Swanson and Will Rogers, moved out of the house in 1935, stopped making movies in 1941 and emigrated to Australia, where he died in 1964.

Owners of buildings designated as historic-cultural monuments can get a property tax break if they agree to high standards of upkeep monitored by the city. Also, city officials can require that any proposed changes to historic buildings meet federally established historic renovation standards.

-- Mike Boehm

Photos: Clarence G. Badger residence in 2008, by Charles J. Fisher; Clara Bow, photographer unknown, from the Estate of Clara Bow.

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