Back in August 2005 there was that page of shots of what remained of a house built in 1928 for Monte Blue, a silent film star, at 1019 North Roxbury Drive in Beverly Hills. The next tenant was George Gershwin, who moved there with his brother Ira and Ira's wife, Lee. The Gershwin brothers came out here from New York after failing to recoup production costs for "Porgy and Bess." Working on a grand piano in the corner of the sunken living room, they wrote all sorts of classics. There's the story that George came bounding down the stairs one day to the piano, saying: "Hey, Ira, it can't be 'A Foggy Day in London.' It's got to be 'A Foggy Day in London Town!'" In 1937, while composing songs for the movie "The Goldwyn Follies," George didn't feel good, and he died a few days later – brain tumor. Ira and Lee moved next door to 1021 North Roxbury. Then Ginny Simms, a band singer, bought the house. She sold it in 1953 to the newlyweds – Jose Ferrer and Rosemary Clooney. Clooney died at the house of lung cancer in 2002. In 2005 someone or other tore it down to build something better.
But note here that Roxbury was the street of songs -
Jerome Kern had lived one block over on Whittier; Harry Warren, the greatest of the songwriters who wrote chiefly for pictures, lived down Sunset on the other side of the Beverly Hills hotel; and Cole Porter's house was on Rockingham in Brentwood. Roxbury, however, beat them all. On the 900 block, Oscar Levant had lived so he could drop in on the Gershwins at all hours, as he had in New York.
… So George and Ira moved into 1019 Roxbury and set to work. What they turned out differed from their work in the '20s, their "Fascinating Rhythm" period of propulsive sound. Their Roxbury work – "They Can't Take That Away From Me," "Love Walked In," "Our Love Is Here to Stay" – has more of the features of Porgy: longer melodic lines, calmer tempos.
As always, they worked at home. With Ira living in one wing of the house and George in the other, it would have been silly to work anywhere else. Of all the major artists of classical Hollywood, it was chiefly the songwriters who worked at home.
Those days are gone, the street still has roses. There were at the curb on North Roxbury Drive. They will do.