Alla Nazimova timeline

Unless otherwise noted, dates and facts
have been gleaned from “Nazimova
by Gavin Lambert, Alfred A. Knopf, 1997
and the Internet Broadway Data base (


04JUN1879 – Nazimova is born in Yalta, Crimea to parents Yakov and Sonya, who names her Mariam Edez Adelaida Leventon. They call her “Adel” for short until Sonya decides that “Alla” is prettier.

JUN1882 – Alla and her family move to Montreaux, where she learns French.

1888 – At the age of 11, Alla rejoins father in Yalta, learns the violin, plays in an orchestra conducted on occasion by Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky.

DEC1889 – Yakov gives his permission for Alla to perform in Christmas concert at Hotel Russiya but not if she performs under her real name. Having recently read a Russian novel called Children of the Streets, Alla likes the sound of the heroine’s name, Nadyezhda Nazimova.

JUN1891 – 12-year old Alla enrolls in a school called Imperial Gymnasium, where she is happy to escape the cruelty of her father.

LATE AUG1896 – Leaves Yalta and moves to Moscow.

LATE SEP1896 – Alla’s father, Yakov Leventon dies.

Late 1890s – Studies at the Moscow Dramatic School

1898 – Graduates from the Philharmonic School in Moscow.

1899 – Marries Sergei Golovin and separates from him almost immediately.

OCT 1900 – Joins a stock company from Kostroma on the Volga and performs Camille, Zaza, Magda, Frou Frou, and Fedora in repertory.

DEC1900 – Pavel Orlenev joins the company.

FEB TO MAY 1901 – Touring with the Orlenev’s new company.

1902 – Orlenev forms a new company with Alla in the cast. They start off in Vilnius, Lithuania.

LATE OCT1904 – The Orlenev company arrives in Berlin and is now called the St. Petersburg Players. Their leading lady appears under the name Madame Nazimova.

FEB1905 – Sails to New York with Orlenev and company. In New York, they seek out the powerful showman, Charles Frohman.

CIRCA LATE 1905 – Returns to Russia ostensibly to recruit new actors, has an affair with artist Maurice Sterne. She returns to New York before year’s end.

05MAY1906 – Orlenev and company set sail for Europe. Nazimova remains in New York.

14MAY1906 – Nazimova signs her contract with Schubert. Part of the contract is to pay for a tutor to teach her English. Her name is Caroline Harris, who is the mother of future silent-era movie star Richard Barthelmess.

12NOV1906 – Having learned English in less than six months, Nazimova makes her Broadway debut as Hedda Tesman in Hedda Gabler at the Princess Theater. She is 27 years old.

14JAN1907 – Opens as Nora Helmer in A Doll’s House at the Bijou.

12APR1907 – Opens in Comtesse Coquette at the Bijou (but bores of it very quickly.)

1907 – Moves from her room at the Hudson to a suite at the more luxurious Hotel Collingwood.

1907 – Meets Theodore Roosevelt in the White House.

02SEP1907 – Re-opens in Comtesse Coquette at the Bijou (but bores of it very quickly.)

23SEP1907 – Opens as Hilde Wangel in the American premiere of Ibsen’s The Master Builder at the Bijou.

18NOV1907 – Re-opens in A Doll’s House at the Bijou.

30DEC1907 – Opens in The Comet at the Bijou.

FEB1908 – Nazimova and Brandon Tynan go on tour with Hedda Gabler, A Doll’s House, and The Master Builder.

LATE SUMMER 1908 – After the tour, Nazimova buys a property near Rye, NY and calls it Who-Torok, which is Russian for “little farm.”

18APR1910 – The Nazimova Theater opens at 119 W. 39th Street, NY, built at a cost of $4 million by Shubert. (It is later renamed the 39th Street Theatre, and is demolished in 1939.) It opens with the play Little Eyolf in which Nazimova plays Mrs. Rita Allmers.

15SEP1910 – Opens in The Fairy Tale by Arthur Schnitzler in Chicago for a pre-New York run but it doesn’t happen. When Alla returns to New York, she rents an apartment at 2 W. 40th Street.

05DEC1911 – Opens in The Marionettes at the Lyceum Theater. Alla first meets Franklin Pangborn when he’s playing a supporting role.

OCT1912 – Meets Charles Bryant on the stage of the Empire Theatre while in rehearsals for Bella Donna.

1912 – Tries through the Russian consulate in New York to obtain a divorce from Golovin so she can marry Charles Bryant.

11NOV1912 – Opens in Bella Donna at the Empire Theatre.

06DEC1912 – Nazimova tells friends that she and Charles Bryant married on the 5th in her apartment in the presence of her sister, Nina Lewton.

SUMMER 1913 – Nazimova and Bryant are in England, where he was born. (Hartford, Cheshire, 08JAN1879)

23SEP1913 – Opens in Bella Donna in Detroit.

FIRST HALF OF 1914 – Nazimova is on tour ending in June, then she and Bryant travel to England. 

23AUG1914 – Nazimova’s brother, Volodya, together with his wife and children set sail for New York on the Lusitania.

06NOV1914 – Opens in That Sort at the Harris Theater

25JAN1915 – Alla Nazimova and Charles Bryant open as Joan and Franz in War Brides in vaudeville at BF Keith’s Palace Theater in New York. A six-month tour on the Keith-Orpheum circuit follows, for which Nazimova is paid $2500 per week

SPRING 1916 – Meets Mercedes De Acosta with whom she has her first lesbian affair.

1916 – Signs with Lewis Selznick for $30,000 for 340 days work with a $1000 per day bonus for over time. She makes her first motion picture, War Brides.

07AUG1916 – Filming on War Brides commences.

11NOV1916 – War Brides premieres in New York

10JAN1917‘Ception Shoals opens at the Princess Theatre on New York

APR1917 – After a long run in New York, the movie version of War Brides goes into general release.

CIRCA SEP1917 – Maxwell Karger is in charge of production for Metro’s East Coast studios. Metro’s president, Richard Rowland, authorizes Karger to offer Nazimova a five-year contract at $13,000 a week, which makes her the highest-paid actress of her time. Her contact also gives her own production company (Nazimova Productions), approval of director, script, and leading man.

SEP1917 – Nazimova goes to New Orleans to film her second movie, and her first for Metro – Revelation, in which she plays Joline. It is also filmed at Metro’s studio on 61st Street near Broadway.

DEC1917 – The company moves to St. Augustine, where they film exteriors for Toys of Fate, on the grounds of the Ponce de Leon Hotel and at Fountain of Youth Park. Interiors filmed at Metro’s soon-to-be-closed Manhattan studios.

FEB1918Revelation premieres in New York

11MAR1918 – Opens in The Wild Duck by Ibsen at the Plymouth Theater in which she plays 14-year-old Hedvig

04APR1918 – Opens in Hedda Gabler at the Plymouth Theater

29APR1918 – Opens in A Doll’s House at the Plymouth Theater

12MAY1918Toys of Fate premieres, starring Nazimova as Zorah and Hagah. Nazimova is billed as “The World’s Greatest Actress in Her Greatest Play.” On this movie, Nazimova first meets June Mathis, who wrote the scenario.

June Mathis started out as an ingénue from the West who starred on Broadway and spent four seasons touring with the female impersonator Julian Eltinge in The Fascinating Widow. After taking a writing course in New York, she entered a script writing competition, which yielded job offers. Her first movie script, The House of Tears, was directed in 1915 and led to a contract with Metro. Within a few years she had advanced to head of Metro’s scenario department, and in 1919 she moved with her mother to Hollywood, where she wrote several scripts for Nazimova.
From Dark Lover by Emily W. Leider

02JUN1918 – Nazimova is back at Who-Torok for 10 days. Before leaving for L.A., Nazimova asks for her sister, Nina to be put on the payroll of Metro. They give her a job in the foreign department of their New York office, where she reads and reports on the latest French and German plays and novels.

MID 1918 – Nazimova asks for June Mathis to work on L’Occident (later retitled Eye For Eye.) By this point, Mathis has been promoted to head of scenario department on Metro’s Hollywood lot. At only 26 years of age, she is also “artistic supervisor” becoming in effect a production executive, a position that no other woman in Hollywood would achieve for many years to come.

MID JUN1918 – Travels to Los Angeles to start making moves for Metro.

22DEC1918Eye For Eye premieres, starring Nazimova as Hassouna.

According to this film was shown at a pre-release trade screening in New York on 18NOV1918. It opened in Milwaukee on 24NOV1918, and in New York on 22DEC1918.

LATE 1918 – By the end of 1918, Nazimova has spent $65,000 on a California Spanish house at 8080 Sunset Blvd, and then spends half as much again remodeling the interior, building a swimming pool, and landscaping the property’s 3.5 acres. She adds an aviary, a rose garden, masses of semitropicals—mimosa, birds of paradise, hibiscus, and poinsettia, and jokingly calls it “The Garden of Alla.” The regular staff are Ada Scobie, the maid, and Peggy Hagar, the secretary. There is also a cook, a housemaid, and a butler who doubles as Charles Bryant’s valet. The garage houses a new Rolls Royce, but because Nazimova never learned to drive, Bryant doubles as a chauffeur as well as a husband.

1918 – Theatre Magazine pronounces Alla Nazimova as their 1918 Actress of the Year for her Ibsen season but fears she is now lost to the movies.

09FEB1919Out of the Fog premieres, starring Nazimova as Faith and Eve.

04MAY1919The Red Lantern premieres, starring Nazimova as Mahlee and Blanche Sackville.

01SEP1919 or 01NOV1919The Brat premieres. (sources conflict)

SEP1919 – The September 1919 issue of Photoplay reports that Nazimova has recently visited New York and brought back “a new brand of perfumed cigarettes together with a protégé who used to be known to the world as Jean Acker, but who prefers to call herself Jeanne Mendoza.”


The Garden of Alla becomes known as the 8080 Club to which Nazimova invites all sorts of people, including

  • Mae Murray and her director husband Leonard Z. Leonard
  • Future director Robert Florey (then a Hollywood correspondent for a French magazine
  • Lilyan Tashman (actress and friend of George Cukor
  • June Mathis, screenwriter
  • Feodor Chaliapin, opera singer
  • Leopold Godowsky, pianist and his daughter, Dagmar
  • Norma Talmadge and her sister Constance
  • The Mdvani Brothers, David and Serge, who claimed to be Georgian princes

OCT1919 – When at the Ship Café, a fashionable restaurant built in the shape of a Spanish galleon on Venice pier, Nazimova is with two Metro stars, Viola Dana and Milton Stills, and Dagmar Godowsky. Dagmar brings a then-unknown Rudolph Valentino to meet Nazimova, who turns away. Later, she demands of Dagmar, “How dare you bring that gigolo to my table?”

05NOV1919 – Nazimova’s protégé, Jean Acker, marries Rudolph Valentino (and immediately regrets it.)

11JAN1920Stronger Than Death premieres. Nazimova looks a bit heavy in this movie so she becomes a vegetarian to lose weight—a move that works. The script girl on this movie is future director Dorothy Arzner with whom Nazimova has an affair. The movie inspires a female admirer to write the words and music to the song “Alla.” Nazimova is at the peak of her movie popularity.

Early 1920 – After a series of women (Mercedes de Acosta, Eva Le Gallienne, Nila Mae, Jean Acker, Dorothy Arzner), Nazimova meets the first man to arouse Nazimova’s libido since her “marriage” – a 19-year-old projectionist at Metro’s East Coast studio, Sam Zimbalist, who introduces himself to her at the New York opening of Stronger Than Death.

10APR1920 – The Heart of a Child starring Nazimova at Sally Snape premieres in New York.

1920 – Nazimova Productions is now entitled to 2% of domestic profits, however on its next 3 movies, the bonus will be purely theoretical.

23OCT1920Madame Peacock premieres in New York.

06DEC1920Billions premieres. The art direction and the costume design is by Natasha Rambova (born Winifred Shaughnessy)

1920 – Just as he had done with DeMille, Kosloff offered to submit to Nazimova innovative costume and set designs for her movie. As a consequence, Natasha Rambova’s artistry found its way into the dream sequence of Nazimova’s film, Billions. Afterwards she was busy working on designs for the actress’s next film, and adaption of Pierre Louÿs’s fantasy Aphrodite when the maestro made a fatal mistake. Instead of delivering Rambova’s sketches himself, he asked Rambova to give Nazimova the artwork. When the actress examined the sketches, she was pleased with them, but wanted Kosloff to make some slight changes. When Rambova proudly pointed out that she was responsible for the designs and she would be happy to make the changes there and then. Attracted to both the designs and the designer, Nazimova offered Rambo a job on the spot as art director for her films. Natacha accepted and thereafter quietly plotted have break from Kosloff.
From Madam Valentino by Michael Morris

Nazimova saw through Rambova’s frosty exterior. The two creative dynamos, both independent “New Women” who took Russian names, shared a flair for European style and stagy self-presentation and an attraction to the bizarre aestheticism of Aubrey Beardsley and exoticism ascribed to the Orient. … Mercedes de Acosta, the celebrated lesbian head-hunter best known for her affairs with Garbo and Marlene Dietrich, claimed to have had a close link with Rambova, based on their common interest in mythology, yoga, and astrology, but that proves nothing about Rambova’s sexuality.

Within Nazimova’s international circle, as in the wider bohemian enclave in Hollywood, sexual freedom was taken for granted and gender borders fluid. As one observer described it, “The law of the colony is that everybody is entitled to do exactly as he or she sees fit in all personal matters. If you don’t like it, you may stay away but you must not knock.” An atmosphere of experimentation prevailed in which the long-term monogamy hardly existed and bisexuality was very much an option. As an article in Motion Picture put it: “In these days of suffragettes and long-haired poets, bifurcated skirts and lisping ladies, it is hard to know who’s who and what’s what. It’s getting to be quite the rage – this exchange of identities.”
From Dark Lover by Emily W. Leider

1920Aphrodite was to mark a significant change in the kind of film missing about had been doing for Metro. When the Hollywood press began to attack her for the stupidity of her most recent productions, it was announced that henceforth Mme. Nazimova would only star in films drawn from notable works of literature. Pierre Louÿs’s Aphrodite was a controversial novel about ancient Alexandria had stayed much debate ever since it had made it to butte in France in 1896.

Before casting had been completed and while photographic tests were still being made of Rambova’s costume and set designs, a crisis brought to a halt the entire production. Censorship laws were being passed in the majority of states hard on the heels of a Supreme Court ruling that defined motion pictures as a business and profit making industry and therefore not covered by first amendment guarantees of freedom of speech. Public charges of obscenity and immorality in the cinema kept movie producers at bay. Metro became increasingly nervous that Nazimova’s provocative adaptation of Aphrodite might well become the film that would ruin the entire studio. Without warning, the production was closed down. A curt statement was issued to the press claiming that Aphrodite was “not suited to the requirements of Madam Nazimova” and in an effort to placate its outraged and difficult star, Metro announced she would instead be appearing in the new version of the classic Camille.
From Madam Valentino by Michael Morris\

Late FEB1921 – Pre-production begins on Camille, two weeks before the New York premiere of Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Valentino was still an unknown; his salary is $350 a week. June Mathis screens it for Nazimova, after which she introduces Nazimova and Valentino.

Camille was to be modernized to set it apart from two unsuccessful film versions made of the classic in 1917. Natasha Rambova decides to incorporate derivations from the most recent work of the Parisian designer Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann and the Berlin architect Hans Poelzig.
From Madam Valentino by Michael Morris

Nazimova not Rambova had devised the real make up. As she grew older, Nazimova depended on heavy applications of rice powder to hide the accentuated pockmarks of a childhood illness.
From Madam Valentino by Michael Morris

Nazimova set about altering Rudy’s appearance, tweezing his thick brows into slender, neat arches that morphed into diagonals when he expressed sorrow. She commanded him to lose weight and applied blue–black shadow to his eyelids and obvious lipstick to his lips — a common practice for male screen actors of the day, but one that resulted in a more artificial, “made-up” facial appearance that he had as Julio in The Four Horsemen. Rambova, in charge of sets, costumes, and the look of the production turned her attention to changing his hair; she thought his signature slicked back, pomaded style did not suit a young man from the French provinces. From the start, Rambova used Valentino as her personal manikin, turning his head and body into a canvas for her art.
From Dark Lover by Emily W. Leider


Shooting on Camille is delayed while they wait for Valentino to complete shooting on Uncharted Seas. In her office on the Metro lot on Cahuenga, Nazimova introduces Rambova to Valentino, who had come in from filming an arctic scene for Uncharted Seas. He was clad in fur, sweat, and fake snow, and Rambova wasn’t very impressed. But then he smiled “that flash of even white teeth had certainly something very winning about,” she later recalled.
From Madam Valentino

Around this time, Nazimova commences an affair with Valentino’s roommate, Paul Ivano. She was 42 to his 20. “Alla preferred women most of the time,” Ivano said later, adding that the affair lasted only six months. In fact, it continued—on again, off again—for several years. Nazimova later told Glesca Marshall that he was “a good lover,” and although their eventual parting (on Nazimova’s side, at least) was angry. Paul was very charming, looked very boyish, and Madame used to tease him about being so much younger than she.”

06MAR1921 – Four days before shooting on Camille starts, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse opens in NY and is an instant box-office hit and personal triumph for Valentino.

10MAR1921 – Shooting on Camille commences.

21SEP1921Camille premieres at the Ritz Carlton Theater in New York. It is a moderate box office success and Metro does not renew Nazimova’s contract and/or Nazimova decline to renew it.

The release of Camille brings Nazimova about some of the best reviews, but it also subjected her to biting criticism. Screenland applauded her “exotic, dazzling but baffling beauty,” and the Democratic Mirror calls her performance “an unforgettable portrait.” Variety praises Nazimova for “the finest acting with which the silver sheet has ever been graced.” But Nazimova’s decision to edit out Valentino’s presence at her death scene—a scene Rambova had admired for Rudy’s ability to reduce the film crew to tears—Variety castigated as “an errant misconception.” Photoplay blasted her for the autocratic control that had become apparent in his films, rhetorically asking her if she truly believed that “The Queen can do no wrong!” The magazine disparaged her Camille as an exercise in artificiality, declaring that “Never ones does the picture touch actual humanity, largely because Madam Alla poses rather than acts.”
From Madam Valentino by Michael Morris

Nazimova saw to it that Camille would remain her picture and that Valentino has Armand would be given minimal opportunity to upstage her.  . . .  His acting skills got short shrift. His big moment in the deathbed scene was simply deleted, although Rambova said he played it so convincingly that even the extras were wiping tears from their eyes. The original uncut deathbed scene ends with him emotionally spent, his head buried in his arms. A scene showing the action of Camille’s effects and Armand betting for the volume he had once given her also ended up on the cutting room floor. The only way Nazimova could monopolize the emotion was by excising Armand, a move Variety lamented as “arrant misconception.”

Despite the generally favorable reception of the film, both Nazimova and Metro were happy to part company and her contract was terminated. The actress was now more than ever determined to produce films on her own, works that would elevate the cinema to a fine art. But such independence came at a price: she had to back her Artistic impressions with hard and cash.

Moving Picture World suggested that Camille “should be sold as a polite freak rather than a translation of the story.” Most of the reviewers considered Camille too rarified and avant-garde to find wide popularity, and Metro, which is soon broke with Nazimova, apparently agreed after the film made a disappointing showing at the box office.

From Dark Lover by Emily W. Leider

1921 – Before the break with Metro, Nazimova and Rambova had planned to collaborate on two more projects, A Doll’s House and Salomé. After every major company refuses to finance them, Nazimova decides to produce both films with her own money. Although “lashed by extravagances” she still has over $300,000 in the bank, which grants her a loan of an additional $100,000 when she secures a distribution guarantee from Allied Producers and Distributors Corporation, a subsidiary of United Artist. She signs with Allied against the advice of Robert Florey, whose friends Max Linder and Charles Ray have made similar deals with the company and had been wiped out.

EARLY 1920s – Nazimova rented space at the Robert Brunton studios on Melrose Avenue amid much publicity. She used the media attention to announce that she would be filming only works of great artistic merit. She further declared her intention to break away from conventional film format: for example, she visualized bringing Oscar Wilde’s Salomé to the screen as a Russian ballet, and she thought that Ibsen’s A Doll’s House should be filmed with nothing but stark theatrical realism. It would be poison at the box office, she had been warned, but she was willing to stake her personal fortune on it.
From Madam Valentino by Michael Morris

Before Nazimova left Metro, she had acquired the rights to The World’s Illusion by Austrian Jacob Wasserman, much admired at the time and forgotten today. Then she sold them back to Metro (who never made a movie from the material) and put the money into A Doll’s House.

JAN & FEB 1922Salomé is shot during January and February from a script nominally by Peter M. Winters, with Bryant the nominal director, Van Enger the cameraman, and Paul Ivano his assistant. Ivano remembered that the lightning effects, especially for the court scenes and the “Shadow of Death” that had to fall across the Baptist in the cistern, was time consuming. “Several times when we were shooting the big scenes, we stayed in the studio until 4 o’clock in the morning and returned at nine.” The nights were cold, many of the actors semi-naked, and a system of “15 immense electric stoves” was improvised to heat the entire stage. Perhaps because so many of the actors wore nothing but loincloths, and either Nazimova or Rambova had the idea that some of the “ladies should be played by man in drag,” another legend grew up: the entire cast of the picture was said to be homosexual, in an homage to Oscar Wilde. According to one of the extras, however, “some of the cast were gay, and some of the extras as well, but there’s nothing surprising or unusual about that.”

Before shooting starts, the arrangement between Nazimova and Bryant has been under strain because of her continuing affair with Ivano. Bryant moves out of 8080 Sunset Blvd and takes rooms at the Hollywood Athletic Club, and when his work as “director” ends, he left for New York.

While Salomé was being short, the set was strictly closed to all visitors. The cameraman photographed each seen at least six times, accumulating 300,000 feet of film. The total cost of the film came to $350,000, for that time and exorbitant amount for a movie made on such a small scale. But the costs mounted due to the fact that all of the fabric and accessories were imported from the Maison Louis in Paris. Salome was a labor of love for Nazimova who participated in it. “My job obliged me to view the completed film more than 400 times, “Paul Ivano told a journalist during Salome’s post production stage, “and I was still not tired of it. “
From Madam Valentino by Michael Morris

During the time that Salomé it was being filmed and edited, the comedian Fatty Arbuckle was facing three controversial trials for the rape and murder of a young actress during a drunken orgy at the Saint Francis hotel in San Francisco. In an effort to soften the public’s perception of Salomé, the femme fatale who is sexual politics caused a saint to die, Nazimova gave interviews in which she spoke sympathetically of her character: “She was the one poor creature in a court with sin was abundant. Yet she remained uncontaminated, like a flower in an unfriendly soil. The first time she loved, she asked all, since she was willing and eager to give all.”
From Madam Valentino by Michael Morris

12FEB1922A Doll’s House premieres, starring Nazimova as Nora Helmer. When the movie opens in New York on February 12, 1922, to mainly enthusiastic reviews, it restores Nazimova’s prestige as an actress, although some critics detect a sense of strain in the early scenes of Nora as a child-wife, where, according to The New York Times, she becomes “a jumping Jack.” But in 1920 women had won the right to vote, and in the euphoric years after WWI the character of Nora lost has shock value. Jazz Age audiences take a woman’s freedom for granted, and want to see how Gloria Swanson and Mae Murray handle it when they get it. A Doll’s House is a box-office failure in spite of an about face by Photoplay, which congratulated Nazimova for “curbing her Camille tendencies…” As Nora, one of the drama’s most absorbing women, [she] really acts. According to an article in the L.A. Times dated February 12, 1922, it opened that same day at the California Theater, 810 S. Main St, downtown Los Angeles

1922 – The influence of Rambova in this venture should not be underestimated, but even here the two women had their differences. Rambova saw great possibilities in Salomé but was not particularly interested in A Doll’s House, since it was a drab modern tail that left little room for her imagination as art director. Nevertheless, Nazimova had build her stage reputation as one of the finest interpreters of Ibsen, an, while Natasha was already at work on Salomé, Nazimova decided to launch A Doll’s House first. She wrote the script herself under the pseudonym of Peter M. Williams and appointed Charles Bryant as the nominal director of the film. Forced to work within the austerities of Ibsen’s bleak tale of an emotionally abused wife who leaves her husband in order to find a life of her own, Rambova combined Norwegian peasant dress with stylized for costumes that had a distinctively Russian flair.

A subsidiary of United Artists agreed to distribute the production and it was released in February 1922. It was hailed as an artistic triumph; Nazimova was praised for the seriousness she brought to the role, and Rambova’s sets were also cited. Nevertheless, A Doll’s House failed at the box office. Undaunted, Nazimova moved ahead with plans to launch what she intended to be her essay in cinematic art, Oscar Wilde’s Salomé.
P82, 83 – Madam Valentino by Michael Morris

13MAY1922 – Rambova and Valentino drive to Palm Springs followed by Nazimova and Paul Ivano in another car, followed by Douglas Gerrard in a 3rd car. The wedding party spend the night at the house of Dr. Fioretta White, a friend of Rambova’s and Valentino were married at the mayor’s house.

1922 – When Allied refuses to set a release date for Salomé, comments about the delay begin to appear in the press, and the New York Herald reports that “members of the film gentry are eloquently silent concerting its present whereabouts, or its ultimate destination … What, we repeat, as happened to it? Is it too flagrantly artistic to be profitable?” At Ivano’s suggestion, Nazimova screens Salomé for the critics, hoping to impress Allied with the reviews: they range from highly favorable to totally dismissive.

JUL1922 – Hoping to placate the sensors, another private showing was given in New York in July before the National Board of Review.
182 viewers answered a questionnaire on the following:
Is Salomé an exceptional picture? 151 replied yes.
Would legal censorship be justified? 154 replied no.
Do you believe it realizes or forecast the greater possibilities of the motion picture as a medium of art? 151 replied yes.
When the press reported that Salomé had received the Board’s approval, the strictures that had long been in place against the performance of Strauss’s opera in Chicago and New York suddenly collapsed. Nazimova’s film was given credit as the catalyst that legitimated the controversial artistry of Wilde’s play but still the distributors were not impressed, and the film remained in a bank vault, and marketed.
From Madam Valentino by Michael Morris

22OCT1922 – To counter the notion that moviegoers would not support their film, Nazimova and Charles had held a special preview showing of Salomé in October 1922 before an audience of 1300 at the Rosemary Theater in Ocean Park, California. With only a piano available on which to play Ulderico Marcelli’s orchestra score, the movie nevertheless enthralled viewers who afterwards enthusiastically wrote their opinions on questionnaires provided in the lobby. While Charles took these raves to New York in an effort to convince United Artists to distribute the film, evaluations of Salomé’s preview in California appeared in newspapers across the country.

“Nazimova is great in Salomé,” declared the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “Returns refute the predictions of some critics who, though enthusiastic themselves, doubted whether the public would understand the picture.” The San Francisco Bulletin reported that, “a picture less extraordinary in character and quality would be overwhelmed with music of so high and eloquent a beauty.” The Seattle Times agreed, saying that Marcelli’s score was “the most notable tonal work yet done for any motion picture.” The Buffalo Courier noted that, “Money is not the object with this production, but just the satisfaction of an artistic craving.” In New Jersey the Newark Ledger said, “Critics are agreed that with Nazimova and her brilliant protégé Rambova, designer of the settings, Mr. Bryant has wrought an amazingly fine piece of art on the screen.”
From Madam Valentino by Michael Morris

22OCT1922 – Nazimova receives a cable from Minnie Maddern Fiske about sharing a season of Ibsen.

31DEC1922Salomé premieres in New York.

FEB1923 – When Allied gives Salomé a very restricted release in February 1923, the only effective feature of its publicity campaign was Rambova’s poster. “I did Salomé as a purgative,” Nazimova later told the journalist Adela Rogers St. John’s. “I wanted something so different, so fanciful, so artistic, that it would take the taste right out of my mouth.”
From Madam Valentino by Michael Morris

1923 – Some publications taunted movie industry executives who had seemingly conspired to suppress Nazimova’s film. The New York Herald pointed out that “members of the film gentry are eloquently silent concerning its present whereabouts, or it’s ultimate destination. In fact, they are apt to duck whenever it is mentioned. What, we repeat, has happened to it? Is it to flagrantly artistic to be profitable?” Movie Weekly published a similar indictment. Whether the attempt to keep Salomé from reaching the public theaters was a plot against independent filmmakers like Nazimova, or whether it was an exercise of a good business sense is a topic of conjecture. United Artists finally did agree to distribute it, but the movie failed financially because it was under-marketed. This was disastrous for Nazimova, and toppled her position as an independent power in the film industry. Rambova would suffer a similar fate years later.
From Madam Valentino by Michael Morris

The most devastating critique of the film came from the pen of Thomas Craven, writer for the New Republic, who called the film “degrading and unintelligent.” Nazimova, he wrote, “has attempted a part for which she has no qualifications. She flits hither and thither with the mincing step of a toe-dancer; she has the figure of a boy, and in her absurd costume, a satin bathing suit of recent pattern, she impresses one as the Old Tetrarch’s cup-bearer. Try as she will, she cannot be seductive – the physical handicap is insurmountable; she tosses her head impudently, grimaces repeatedly, and rolls her eyes with a vitreous stare. The effect is comic. The deadly lure of sex, which holds the Wilde drama like a subtle poison, is dispelled the instant one beholds her puerile form.”
From Madam Valentino by Michael Morris

22JAN1923 – Nazimova opens in Dagmar at the Selwyn Theater in New York

1923 – Nazimova tries again to secure a divorce from Golovin. If she was divorced from him, she could go to Europe, announce that she had “divorced” Bryant there, and return to the USA legally single. Golovin agrees to start proceedings from his end “but wanted Nazimova to write him herself that she will free him from his vow to obstruct a divorce.”

APR1923 – After Dagmar ends in New York doing little for Nazimova’s prestige or pocketbook, she returns with Bryant to Hollywood for another try at making quick money in the movies.

11MAY1923 – Divorce papers arrive from Russia to dissolve the marriage of “citizeness Leventon Alla Alexandrovna” and Sergius Arkadyevitch Golovin consummated between then in the City Church of Bobruysk June 30, 1899.

JUN1923 – Nazimova has spent more than $400,000 of her own money by the time Allied put Salomé on the shelf in June 1922.

25AUG1923 – Opens in Collusion at the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco, earning $3000 a week. Nazimova’s Her costar was Herbert Heyes, a minor fallen idol of the silent screen, and the other acts included performing seals, Egyptian acrobats, and a female impersonator known as “Miss Juliet.”

It seems that the on-again, off-again affair with Paul Ivano was off again. Even if Nazimova had missed his “caresses” in New York, and enjoyed them on her return, by August she was on again with Sam Zimbalist. He took a leave of absence from Metro to become her “stage manager” for the tour. Perhaps because of being in his company, movies and her possible return to them were on Nazimova’s mind. “When the synchronization of voice with the action on the screen has been perfected,” she told a reporter from the San Francisco Bulletin, “no more theater for Nazimova.”

29OCT1923 – Nazimova opens in Collusion – now retitled The Unknown Lady – at the Palace in New York where she takes 12 curtain calls. But Catholic groups protest so violently that EF Albee (from the Keith-Albee circuit) withdraws after three days, cancelled subsequent bookings in Washington and Philadelphia, and paid off Nazimova in full. Sam Zimbalist was not with her at this time, having returned to his job at Metro after The Unknown Lady closed in New York. They remained friends but are never lovers again, and Nazimova returns to Ivano.

Now that she is no longer the great movie star and hostess, she decides to put the Garden of Alla on the market, but there no buyers come forward. “Lashed by extravagances,” she closed the house and spent the money she’d earned in vaudeville on building a smaller one on the western edge of the property, imagining a move would be economical in the long run. But she designs a grand entrance to 1438 Havenhurst, wrought-iron driveway gates embossed with a large “N.”

06MAY1924 – Nazimova ignores Charles Bryant’s advice about mortgaging 8080 Sunset because a new “business representative” she hires on May 6th advises against it. Jean Adams is recommended by an actress named Theodore Warfield, who played a small part in War Brides and is now living in Hollywood.

19OCT1924Madonna of the Streets starring Nazimova as Mary Carlson opens to generally poor reviews.

25JAN1925The Redeeming Sin starring Nazimova as Joan opens in New York. It is a low-budget melodrama for Vitagraph for which she is paid $20,000

19APR1925 – Although at a low point in her personal life, Nazimova reaches a professional high when My Son opens and she receives exceptional notices.

1925 – For two years, Nazimova has worked at an almost frantic pace, three movies and two vaudeville tours bringing in $110,000 minus the $30,000 she blew on 1438 Havenhurst. She now owns two houses in Hollywood, Who-Torok, and a New York apartment in Hotel des Artistes at 1 W 67th St, New York, NY 10023.

27APR1925 – Nazimova leaves for Paris on the Aquitania.

1925 or 1926 – It was around 1925 that Oscar Wilde’s niece, Dolly Wilde started and ended a brief affair with Alla Nazimova. According to Gavin Lambert, a likely time for Dolly and Nazimova to have begun their affair was during the summer of 1925, when Madame Nazimova was in Paris, staying at the Hotel Montalembert, Dolly’s favorite hotel. But the Montalembert did not open its doors until 1926, so perhaps Dolly and Nazimova met in another hotel or in another year. However they found each other, Nazimova would’ve been delighted to meet the niece of the man whose play she had sacrificed so much to put on film.

American writer, Djuna Barnes was in New York City in the spring of 1930 working as a journalist, and she interviewed Nazimova for the April 1938 issue of Theater Guild magazine. Djuna noted perceptively: “There has never been any reasonableness in her fate, a glance backward shows a meteoric condition that no one could cope with.” And when Nazimova, shying away from personal revelations in the interview, said that she had “never known what it is to be in love,” Djuna, who quite likely had heard all about Nazimova affair with Dolly in Paris – perhaps from Dolly herself – wrote slyly: “What a gorgeous lie that was, a brazen effort to say, do you not see this face as you look at it?”

From Truly Wilde – The Unsettling Story of Dolly Wilde, Oscar’s Unusual Niece by Joan Schenkar.

OCT1925 – Noel Coward arrives in New York and asks Nazimova to read The Queen Was in the Parlour but she doesn’t like the part.

16NOV1925 – Charles Bryant marries Marjorie Gilhooley. On the 18th, the New York papers pick up on the story and ask for proof that Nazimova was married to Bryant first.

18JAN1926 – Nazimova hasn’t worked in a year, and with a bank balance under $25,000, she was committed to spending $1000 a month for upkeep on Who-Torok and the Garden of Alla, as well as $500 a month to support her mother in Odessa, and invalid aunt Lysenka, and the impoverished cousin who had helped her obtain a Russian divorce.

MID APR1926 – For quick money, Nazimova agrees to revive That Sort for two performances a day for two months on the Keith-Albee, opening in Cleveland and closing in Washington.

10JUN1926 – Nazimova is back in Los Angeles, where Jean Adams has rented the Garden of Alla to Beatrice Lillie, who was making her first Hollywood picture, Exit Smiling. Jean also introduces Nazimova to her husband, John, allegedly a partner in a company planning to build a “million-dollar hospital” downtown. Business credentials established, she proposes turning the Garden of Alla into a hotel. In return for a 99-year lease on the property, including the furniture in 8080 Sunset, Jean Adams guaranteed Nazimova a basic payment of $14,5000 plus 50% of the profits when the hotel opened. Exhausted from the tour and still full of apprehensions, Nazimova sees her new best friend as “a messenger from heaven, and because of this emotional mature of mine…I grasped her per proposition without consulting anyone else.

The Garden of Allah has by now come to symbolize Nazimova’s “greatest failure” and “the place where I had been so unhappy.” And she is even “so tired of troubles that I was longing to retire from work altogether.” For all these reasons, Nazimova signs an agreement that gives Jean Adams power of attorney over her property, except for the contents of 8080 Sunset: she still feels “a love for my personal things.” She even accepts Jean’s suggestions to build a new home for herself on Orlando Street, on a lot directly from the friendly Adams house. Longing for a home somewhere, “because as a child I had been deprived of a real home,” Nazimova gives Jean Adams another power of attorney and $7500 to buy the lot.

28JUN1926 – All gives Jean Adams $10,000, which is all that she can afford.

30JUN1926 – Meets with Joseph Schenck, who is now married to Nazimova’s friend and admirer, Norma Talmadge. He had called Nazimova to offer her a job as special consultant to United Artists on projects for his wife and other stars, including Valentino and Gloria Swanson. Nazimova asks for time to think it over and talks it over with Jean Adams, who thinks it a wonderful idea. But when she and the Adamses meet with Schenck, nothing comes of it. Nazimova later realizes that the Adamses see Schenck as a threat because a regular paycheck from him would lessen Nazimova’s dependence on them.

LATE JULY / EARLY AUG1926 – Despite being laid up with mumps, Nazimova is forced to vacate 1438 Havenhurst. On July 31, Beatrice Lillie moves out of 8080 Sunset. On August 1, Nazimova moves into the guest room at her friend Rose Dione’s bungalow and the demolition crew starts to bulldoze 1438 Havenhurst.

SEP through DEC1926 – Now in New York, Nazimova is offered a one-act play, Women of the Earth, to be performed in vaudeville on the Orpheum circuit. She draws a weekly salary of $2500 and starts rehearsals on November 1. Cast in a small role was the young actress Isabel Hill, who “quickly became friends” with Nazimova during rehearsals. She believes this will be her final vaudeville tour and contemplates giving up acting altogether. She starts staying at budget hotels so that she could put as much money as she can into the Garden of Allah hotel.

MID DEC1926 – By mid December, Nazimova has sent Jean Adams over $15,000

08JAN1927 – The Garden of Allah Hotel opens.

Still on the Women of the Earth tour, on January 1, Nazimova and Isabel Hill take the overnight train from San Francisco and on the 2nd, Jean Adams meets their train and drives them straight to the Garden of Allah. Nazimova is very pleased with everything. The house is now the hotel’s administration center, its exterior unchanged, its interior remodeled to create a lobby, two “lounging rooms,” a “dining room de luxe,” and bedroom suites on the second floor. Nearby, the pool has been left intact but is now surrounded by 24 guest bungalows, which Jean refers to as “Spanish villas.” Much of the original landscaping is also intact, and when Nazimova congratulates her on the total effect, Jean correctly judges it a good moment to ask for a “final” $12,500 to settle some unpaid bills.

Since Woman of the Earth ended its engagement at the Orpheum on January 6, and its next booking is in Denver a week later, Nazimova and Isabel move into bungalow 24 before the hotel’s gala opening. Isabel, who apparently saw no reason to distrust Jean Adams, remembered having “a wonderful time.” Among the Hollywood celebrities are Clara Bow, and Gilbert Rowland, MGM screenwriter Marion Davies and her husband, cowboy Fred Thompson, and Nazimova’s old acquaintances Lilyan Tashman with (in a marriage of convenience for both of them) her husband Edmund Lowe, Lady Diana Manners and Iris Tree.

30JAN1927 – After playing Denver, Minneapolis, and Chicago, Nazimova arrives in New York on January 30. She is welcomed by Mercedes de Acosta and opens Woman of the Earth at the Palace on February 1.

11APR1927 – Before leaving for London, Nazimova goes alone to see Cradle Song, one of the productions in the opening season of Eva Le Gallienne’s Civil Repertory Theatre. That night, 19-year-old Glesca Marshall “planned to be at the theater to catch a glimpse of the great actress.”

11MAY1927 – Nazimova sails for London without Isabel Hill but with a maid and her Rolls Royce.

AUG & SEP1927 – Although Nazimova had cabled Jean Adams to reroute the $2000 to Nice, there is still no sign of it by the first week of August. Almost out of cash after she pays the hotel bill, Nazimova sails for New York on the Ile de France, and arrives on August 19 to find a letter from Jean awaiting her at the Hotel Buckingham. It makes no mention of the $2000. For the first time, Nazimova’s faith reaches its limits. She wires Jean, who does not reply, then two weeks later wires her again. Jean wires back to say she will be in New York shortly. She hasn’t arrived by September 25, the date on which her payment on the Garden of Allah lease officially becomes delinquent.

25SEP1927 – Nazimova becomes a US citizen.

10NOV1927 – Opens in Mother India in Bayonne, New Jersey. She barely gets through the performance. After she’s lived in a state of denial about Jean Adams for almost three months, her nerves give way; she canceled further bookings and returns to New York, where her doctor prescribes sedation and rest.

DEC1927 – Nazimova’s financial situation is so precarious that she asks Paul Ivano to sell her Rolls Royce. Jean Adams had guaranteed Nazimova a share of the annual profits from the Garden of Allah Hotel at over $100,000 but it was not forthcoming. Around this time, the Adamses disappear and Nazimova never sees them again.

31DEC1927 – A telegram from W.I. Gilbert to Nazimova reads: “Your equity in the property is subject to a trust deed of $150,000 in favor of American Mortgage Company … upon which foreclosure proceedings have been started and your property will be sold by February 16 unless particular department could be liquidated.”

A letter follows, explaining that if Nazimova can raise a bank loan of $9,000 to pay the interest and taxes due on the trust deed, she can take over the lease and once again become the legal owner of the Garden of Allah. But there seems no chance of recovering the $51,500 from the Adamses. They have disappeared, as they had previously disappeared from two states in the Midwest where they were wanted in connection with several fraudulent real-estate deals. A man they had taken to the cleaners in Nebraska wrote Gilbert that “the Madame” was the victim of “a shrewd plan, hatched and manipulated by John Adams and his wife.”

20JAN1928 – With Gilbert’s help, Nazimova obtains the bank loan and finally opens Mother India at the Palace. The few critics who review it give favorable reviews, even if “the first actress of vaudeville” seems a dubious compliment for someone formerly recognized as the greatest Ibsen actress of her time.

CIRCA MAR-APR1928 – Nazimova is performing with the Civic Repertory Theater at $250 a week.

16APR1928 – Gilbert wires Nazimova in Kansas City, Missouri the good news that the hotel has been closed: “Operating company broke you can take possession any time.” But the rest of the wire is bad news. Apart from the interest and taxes on the trust deed, which the bank loan had taken care of, the company had incurred other debts totaling $55,000. Unless Nazimova guarantees to settle them in monthly installments of $2500, “creditors will be repossessing furniture and equipment … to reopen the hotel will require funds of %15,000 and hiring a manager at $200 monthly. A few days later, Nazimova hears back from Gilbert that he’s succeeded in getting a postponement and would try to find a buyer.

LATE MAY1928 – The tour of Mother India ends in San Francisco, where Ivano drives up to meet her. Depressed because no buyer can be found for the hotel, she is grateful for his support.

JUN & JUL1928 – Nazimova sells the Garden of Allah to the man from whom she had originally bought 8080 Sunset: William Hay. He becomes the new owner on July 17th and agrees to pay Nazimova $80,000. He agrees to settle all debts, which leaves Nazimova with $7500 – not much for someone who had sunk over $250,000 into the place.

15OCT1928 The Cherry Orchard opens on on Broadway with Eva Le Gallienne for the Civic Repertory Theater. Nazimova’s performance as Ranevskaya is an enormous success. During rehearsals, Glesca Marshall volunteers to run an errand for Nazimova.

LATE 1928 & EARLY 1929 – Nazimova’s relationship with her sister, Nina (who is still living in the gatehouse at Who-Torok) deteriorates to the point when Nazimova writes Nina on 24JAN1929 and tells her that she no longer believes in family.

23FEB1929 – Nazimova opens in her second play at the Civic as Katerina Ivanovna in Katarina, but it is not the success that The Cherry Orchard was.

APR1929 – A few days before the season closes on April 15th, Nazimova is offered a movie contract by Edward Smalls, a producer at Columbia, who thinks that because Nazimova can speak English, French, and German, she could become a trilingual asset. She makes a voice test at a studio in New York.

22APR1929 – The Los Angeles Times announces, “Nazimova will be the first actress in Hollywood to make ‘talkies’ in any other language than English. This is expected to set a precedent which may force Hollywood to go poly-lingual.” But the rest is silence.

CIRCA MAY1929 – Now that neither Nazimova nor Glesca are part of the Civil Repertory Theater, Nazimova appoints Glesca as her official secretary.

24OCT1929 – Out of work since May, Nazimova loses about half her savings in the stock market crash.

JAN1930 – Lawrence Langer of the Theatre Guild offers Nazimova the role of Natalia Petrovna in Tergenev’s A Month in the Country.

17MAR1930 – Opens in A Month in the Country at the Eltinge 42nd Street Theater, staged by future movie director, Reuben Mamoulian.

26OCT1931 – Opens to very positive reviews in the role of Christine Mannon in the original 150-performance run of Eugene O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra, then moves on to three weeks in Philadelphia, and another three in Boston, where it closes in April. By now, Nazimova’s nickname for Glesca is “Doodie” and Glesca’s nickname for Nazimova is “Moosie.”

17OCT1932 – Opens as O-Lan in The Good Earth at the Guild Theater costarring Claude Raines. Critical reviews aren’t very supportive but it tours through the Midwest.

JAN1933 – While on tour with The Good Earth, Alfred Altman of MGM’s New York office wires Nazimova about the possibility of a role in Soviet, a film about the Five Year Plan. Nazimova balks at accepting a role without seeing the script first. But after Rasputin and the Empress flops, MGM cancels Soviet.

23MAR1933 – Opens in Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard at the New Amsterdam Theatre. It is produced and directed by Eva Le Gallienne, who, according to May Sarton, grows occasionally resentful of being in Nazimova’s shadow.

JUL & AUG 1933 – RKO makes a two-picture offer contingent on a talkie screen test. When Nazimova sees it, she notes in her diary: “Terrible photography. Sound excellent. Must never try to look conventionally beautiful. I am depressed.” Silence from RKO until 16AUG when the diary records: “West Coast Studios not satisfied with test. (No wonder!)”

06NOV1933 – Opens as Monica in Doctor Monica at the New York Playhouse, but the critics dismiss it as a dated entry in the women’s-independence sweepstakes and only lasts 16 performances.

18FEB1935 – Opens in The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles by George Bernard Shaw at the Guild Theater.

MID FEB1935 – Not long after The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles opens, Nazimova hears from a cousin that her mother has died.

MAR1935 – Opens as Mrs. Helen Alving in Ghosts at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee to thunderous acclaim

17JUN1935 – Toward the end of the run of Ghosts, Nazimova develops acute tonsillitis and on June 17th undergoes a tonsillectomy at St. Luke’s in New York.

SUMMER 1935 – During the summer of 1935, Nazimova tries to set up a Broadway production of Ghosts. After refusing an offer from The Guild Theater, she teams up with a young producer named Luther Greene.

OCT1935 – By October, Greene has found a producing partner, Sam Levy, who owns a chain of burlesque houses and dreams of prestige. However, all the Broadway theaters are booked until the end of the year, so the production must tour for two months before opening in New York. Ona Munson is cast as Regina. (Munson is best known as Belle Watling in Gone with the Wind.) Ona and Nazimova begin an affair. Glesca Marshall is the stage manager.

12DEC1935 – Opens at the Empire Theater in Ibsen’s Ghosts, in a production that she directed herself. On opening night, Nazimova takes 28 curtain calls, and gets rapturous reviews.

20JAN1936Ghosts opens in Chicago

FEB1936 – While on tour in Kansas City, cancels her first performance in 30 years due to having to have a tooth pulled.

LATE FEB1936 – Arrives in San Francisco for the Ghosts tour.

16MAR1936 – Opens in Ghosts at the Biltmore Theater in Los Angeles amid considerable advance publicity spearheaded by Louella Parsons. After the opening night performance, Nazimova is visited in her dressing room by Irving Thalberg and Norma Shearer, William Powell, Ruth Chatterton, George Arliss, DW Griffin, and Marlene Dietrich.

APR & MAY1936Ghosts plays Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Washington, followed by four weeks at the Golden Theater (now the Royale) in New York.

04JUN1936 – Nazimova and Glesca celebrate Alla’s 57th birthday by seeing Lunt and Fontanne in Idiot’s Delight at the Schubert Theatre and going backstage to congratulate them.

OCT1936Hedda Gabler has a three-week pre-Broadway tour.

16NOV1936 – Nazimova opens in Hedda Gabler at the Longacre Theater in New York. She takes 31 curtain calls.

JAN1937 – Nazimova takes Hedda Gabler and Ghosts on and 8-week tour, performing each play on alternate nights.

30MAY1937 – Nazimova discovers a lump in her right armpit.

02JUN1937 – Nazimova undergoes a 5-hour mastectomy at St Luke’s Hospital in New York in which she loses her right breast.

19AUG1937 – Dr. MacFee pronounces Nazimova’s cancer in remission, but recommends that she doesn’t work for a year for full recovery.

OCT & NOV1937 – Nazimova and Glesca return to Los Angeles and live with Morris and Elsa Stoloff (musical director at Columbia) in Stone Canyon. She lands her first job: George Cukor hires Nazimova to coach Susan Hayward for her screen test as Scarlett O’Hara.

01JAN1938 – Nazimova has lunch at the Garden of Allah Hotel

08FEB1938 – Nazimova meets with Louis B. Mayer in his office.

LATE FEB1938 – Nazimova and Glesca rent a furnished house at 629 Frontera Road [now called Frontera Drive] in Pacific Palisades.

LATE JUN TO LATE SEP1938Nazimova receives a “Production Consultant” credit in Paramount’s Zaza starring Claudette Colbert, directed by George Cukor. Fanny Brice is on set to coach Colbert in the musical numbers, and she and Nazimova strike up a friendship.

SEP1939 – Nazimova and Glesca move into a villa at the Garden of Allah shortly after Zaza finishes shooting.

01FEB1939 – Nazimova leaves Los Angeles for New York stopping in Chicago to spend a couple of nights with Lucky (Edith) and Loyal Davis while Glesca goes ahead to alert the caretakers at Who-Torok and see that the cottage is in order.

18FEB1939 – Nazimova and Glesca see Katharine Hepburn in the pre-New York tour of The Philadelphia Story.

MAR & APR1939 – During rehearsals for The Mother, Nazimova all but takes over directing from Miles Malleson, the English translator of the play and nominal director of the American tour.

EARLY APR1939 – MGM summons Nazimova back to LA to test for Escape.

01MAY1939 – MGM announce that they have cast Nazimova in the part of Emmy Ritter for Escape.

25APR1939 – Nazimova opens in The Mother at the Lyceum Theatre, which also features an 18-year-old Montgomery Clift as the youngest son. Nazimova is praised but the play has only a four-day run. It’s Nazimova’s last appearance on the Broadway stage.

MAY1939 – Nazimova shoots Escape at MGM.

CIRCA JUN1939 – Nazimova plays with Harry Ellerbe in Ghosts for a week at the Winchester Playhouse followed by one week at in Brighton Beach.

08JUL1939 – Nazimova performs on the radio for Arch Oboler’s NBC’s “Everyman’s Theatre” program in The Ivory Tower.

CIRCA 11JUL1939 – A few days after her radio appearance, Nazimova tests for the role of Mrs. Danvers in David Selznick’s production of Rebecca.

26JUL1939 – Nazimova appears again on Arch Oboler’s NBC’s “Everyman’s Theatre” radio show, this time in This Lonely Heart.

01NOV1939 – MGM’s Escape opens, with Nazimova as Emmy Ritter. With some of her earnings from Escape, Nazimova builds a sundeck on the roof of the Garden of Allah apartment below Villa 24.

11NOV1939 – Glesca returns to Los Angeles.

27JAN1941 – Nazimova meets with Robert Mamoulian to discuss playing Tyrone Powers’s mother in the remake of Blood and Sand.

03FEB1941 – The real estate agent for Who-Torok wires to say he has an offer of $21,000. At Glesca’s suggestion, she asks for $22,000 and the buyer agrees.

13FEB1941 – Nazimova films her first scene at 20th Century-Fox for Blood and Sand.

EARLY 1942 – Frank Sinatra (then a singer with the Tommy Dorsey band) moves into the second-floor apartment of the villa next to Nazimova at the Garden of Allah hotel. She can hear him rehearse the same song incessantly, which exasperates her when she is working on her autobiography, but she admires his perfectionism.

CIRCA EARLY 1942 – While on tour in The Rivals, Eva Le Gallienne comes to the Garden of Allah to have tea with Nazimova.

1942 – Orson Welles rents the ground-floor apartment of Villa 24 and rehearses his role as narrator for a radio version of Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Hypocrite, but doesn’t introduce herself. She also refuses introduce herself to Sergey Rachmaninov when he lived at a nearby villa for a while, even thought he’d known and admired Stanislavsky and Chekhov.

17OCT1942 – After Nazimova and Glesca attend a preview of her nephew, Val Lewton’s movie Cat People.

FALL 1942 – Tests for the role of Pilar in For Whom the Bell Tolls. The eventually goes to Katina Paxinou.

APR1943 – Pearl Buck recommends Nazimova for the role of Ling Tan’s wife in MGM’s Dragon Seed but the role goes to Aline Macmahon.

SUMMER 1943 – Shoots her role as Zofya Orvid in In Our Time at Warner Bros.

05OCT1943 – Begins shooting her role as The Marquesa in The Bridge of San Luis Rey.

FEB1944 – Films the last of her scenes as Zofia Koslowska in Since You Went Away for David O. Selznick at his Selznick International Studios.

15MAR1944 – Reads two chapters of her autobiography to Loyal and Edith Davis who were in Los Angeles to visit Spencer Tracy and Walter Houston. She notes in her diary that, “Loyal is really enthusiastic about the writing.”

20APR1944 – Nazimova writes to her brother, Volodya that the first volume of her autobiography is finished and that it takes her up to “the important age of ten.”

MAY1944 – Loyal and Edith’s 23-year-old daughter Nancy Davis (later Nancy Reagan) visits Nazimova at the Garden of Allah. Many years later, she recalls, “It was so small, nicely furnished but . . . How terrible it must be for her after all that fame and glamor.”

04JUN1945 – On her 66th birthday, Nazimova and Glesca drive to Franklin Pangborn’s house in the Valley. By this stage, Glesca has become involved with Emily Woodruff.

30JUN1945 – Nazimova is felled by what appears to be a violent attack of ptomaine. Within an hour, she is in the Good Samaritan Hospital on Wilshire Blvd, where the attack as diagnosed as coronary thrombosis.

02JUL1945 – Nazimova suffers another painful coronary thrombosis attack.

11JUL1945 – By July 11, Nazimova has suffered two more attacks. She never fully recovers from the final one when Val Lewton pays her a visit on 12JUL1945 she doesn’t recognize him. 

13JUL1945 – At 8:25am, the nurse checks Nazimova’s pulse, then turns to Glesca and says, “She is gone.”


See also:

For further information also see:

Nazimova: A Biography by Gavin Lambert

Alla Nazimova on Wikipedia

Alla Nazimova on IMDB

Alla Nazimova Society – Preserving and promoting the memory of Madame Nazimova

Announcing an exciting discovery of costumes and trunks once owned by Alla Nazimova

Salomé (1923) ~ Essay for the National Film Preservation Board


  • Martin Turnbull | Mar 14, 2020
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