The Independent Voice of the Afghan Hound Breed
43rd Year Of Publication
Pages FromThe Past
(How The Oakvardon Kennels Started)
(Lilian Goodman 1978, Our Afghans, July 2004 Issue)
Extended by Steve Tillotson Dec 2011, Feb 2017
HISTORY OF OAKVARDON (OAKRIDGE) PROPERTY
(With acknowledgement to Paul Revere Williams website http://www.paulrwilliamsproject.org/gallery/residence-barbara-stanwyck-northridge-ca/
and also to The Friends of Oakridge website http://www.theoakridgeestate.com/vintage.html for source information)
Marwyck (Oakvardon/Oakridge), Stanwyck/Marx/Oakie Properties
Previous writers have stated that the Oakvardon estate was originally the home of actress Barbara Stanwyck who eventually sold the property to the actor and comedian Jack Oakie. He married Venita Vardon and they established the Oakvardon Afghan kennel on the estate.
Actually the story is a bit more complex and interesting, and with a surprise ownership twist -
Venito Vardon and Jack Oakie married in 1936 in Yuma, Arizona The Oakies lived at that time in Haskell Drive, Van Nuys, Californa and that was where the Oakvardon kennels were established. In 1940 they purchased Barbara Stanwycks's house (see below) where they were able to expand the Oakvardon kennels. The kennel was active from 1937-1942 and then appears to have ceased breeding, but their stud dogs were available and used by other breeders through 1944
Zeppo Marx, was Stanwyck's close friend and manager. He bought property alongside Stanwyck's. Sharing a passion for horses and racing they combined their 100 acre tract and established the "Marwyck" horse ranch. (The name Marwyck is a construct dervived from their names - MAR(x) and stan-(WYCK). Marwyck Ranch was a premier thoroughbred breeding farm owned and operated by The Devonshire Company comprised of Barbara Stanwyck, Marion and Zeppo Marx and Harry S. Hart of Swing Along Stud Farm. Harry was a well known Kentucky horse trainer and inventor of the Fleet Foot horseshoe.
In 1936 Marx and Stanwyck hired Robert Finkelhor, a young architect, to design homes on the property. Zeppo's house was to be built 100 yards to the east of Stanwyck's. Marwyck was established in 1937 encompassing land of both estates. In 1940 Stanwyck sells her residence and surrounding 10 acres to Jack Oakie, and he renamed the estate "Oakridge". (Stanwyck sells her share of the Marwyck Ranch business to Zeppo Marx). In 1941 Zeppo Marx sells his residence and 10 acres to Mr Mrs Quince. In 1943 Zeppo Marx sells the 120 acre Marwyck Ranch to John H. Ryan ("JH" as he preferred). They rename it Northridge Farms.
Jack Oakie died in 1978 and his second wife whom he married in 1950 - Victoria Horne, died in 2003. Victoria was keen to preserve the residence and prevent the estate from being consumed by urban sprawl. She bequeathed the estate to the University Of Southern California (USC) Cinematic Arts Library. USC eventually sold it to a developer, but the proposed development was denied, all subsequent development applications for the site have been denied because of the uniqueness/history of Oakvaron/Oakridge estate.
Los Angeles City Council acquired the property and remaining grounds in 2008. The Oakvardon Estate ("Oakridge") comprised a two story, 6000 square-foot Tudor house, a swimming pool and tennis courts in approximately 9.47 acres of Land.
A non-profit (501 c) group "Friends Of Oakridge" was formed in 2011 with their stated mission to "restore, presere and support its historical significance". The City of Los Angeles and Friends of Oakridge have agreed a memorandum of understanding regarding the operation of the property. The Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks (RAP) has jurisdiction over Oakridge.
The property is very special because much of the inside is "original" as built, and it is very unusual for a propery built in the 1930's in that area to remain intact and original. Hence LA City and Friends Of Oakridge collaborating to preserve it and let the public enjoy the history.
-So did we all know Zeppo was a celebrity manager as well as a star himself?
-So when Zeppo imported Westmill Omar and Asra Of Ghazni he was living next door to Barbara Stanwyck and was co-owner of the Stanwyck/Marx thoroughbred horse Ranch, located at the south end of their individual properties.
-Venita had a menagerie of several breeds of dogs, birds and exotic animals. She even wrote and published her own magazine about her managerie and distributed it to her celebrity friends.
-LA was a hotspot for Afghan hound/Thoroughbred horse breeders. Dr Porter Miller bred "Count Turf" who won the Kentucky Derby in 1951 and Dr PM established the first thoroughbred horse racing track in LA.
To round out our nostalgic tribute to the Oakvardon kennels, we include some additional photos taken in the early 1940's
Barberryhill Dolly, Venita Oakie
Kennel Manager, Phyllis A Rainer
Venita and Dolly
Mr and Mrs Oakie with Barberryhill Dolly (We're not absolutly sure, but we think this is Barberrryhill Dolly.
The photo is one of three taken from a Canada Dry advert in 1942.)
Zeppo Marx and his English Imports Westmill Omar, Asra of Ghazni
Early Afghan Hounds Section
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