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Monday, Dec 5, 2022

Storied PCH Property May Be Resurrected

A storied property along Pacific Coast Highway that has seen its share of monkey business is about to take on a new role.

The former home of a café owned by Thelma Todd, a 1920s-era actress who starred in Marx Brothers movies, has been sold for $6 million, $2 million below its listing price. It came on the market in October.

The property, at 17575 Pacific Coast Highway, was most recently home to Paulist Productions, a producer of religious programming affiliated with the Paulist Order of the Catholic Church. Todd, who died in 1935 under mysterious circumstances, left the property to her business partner, whose widow in turn left it to Paulist Productions on her death.

Christopher Donahue, president of the production company, was out of the country and could not be reached for comment.

The property was purchased by a limited liability corporation registered to Hayman Properties, a Brentwood real estate investment and management company. Michael Treiman, its chief operating officer, did not respond to a request for comment.

The deal closed earlier this year, and Paulist remains headquartered at the site. It was not clear what the future holds for the beachfront property.

Todd, a silent-film era actress, appeared in the original 1931 version of “The Maltese Falcon” as well as the Marx Brothers’ “Monkey Business” and “Horse Feathers.” She had a romantic relationship with director Roland West, who cast her in his 1931 film “Corsair,” and later became her partner in the café, which opened in 1934. In addition to Todd’s café, the second floor of the 15,900-square-foot building housed a nightclub for many years.

In December 1936, Todd was found dead in a car in the garage of West’s ex-wife, Jewel Carmen. Her death was determined to be an accident, “with possible suicidal tendencies.”

In its second life, it was home to the production offices for the Rev. Bud Kieser’s “Insight” television program.

Though the offering sheet on the property highlighted a big downside – there is no on-site parking – it is just feet away from a bridge crossing PCH to the beach.

The property was listed by Jeff Pion, vice chairman at CBRE Inc. and Tracy Rasmussen of Rasmussen Ventures.


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