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Full text of "Designing with spirit oral history transcript"

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DESIGNING WITH SPIRIT 



Paul Laszlo 



Interviewed by Marlene L. Laskey 



Completed under the auspices 

of the 

Oral History Program 

University of California 

Los Angeles 



Copyright ® 1986 
The Regents of the University of California 



Arcnitecture & 
I'rhan Planning 
Library 

A//C 



This manuscript is hereby made available for research 
purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, 
including the right to publication, are reserved to the 
University Library of the University of California, 
Los Angeles. No part of the manuscript may be quoted 
for publication without the written permission of the 
University Librarian of the University of California, 
Los Angeles. 



CONTENTS 

Biographical Summary viii 

interview History xiii 

TAPE NUMBER: I, Side One (November 7, 1984) 1 

Early education and exposure to art — Schooling 
in Vienna — Enlists in the army — Conditions in 
Hungary after World War I — Enters the 
Staatliche Akademie der Bilden den Kiinste in 
Stuttgart — Quits school and begins working for 
the architect Fritz August Breuhaus in 
Cologne — Working for Leo Nachtlicht in Berlin- 
Wilmersdorf . 

TAPE NUMBER: I, Side Two (November 7, 1984) 18 

LSszl6's preference for small architectural 
firms — Begins working as a free-lance furniture 
designer in Vienna — Moves his office to 
Stuttgart — Contributes to the VJeissenhof 
exhibit — LSszl6 designs an apartment for an 
exhibit in Dusseldorf--Wins a competition held 
by Meissen Royal China Manufactory in Dresden — 
Other projects in Vienna and Hungary — Designs a 
home for Max Bleyle in Stuttgart — V7orks as both 
a designer and an architect. 

TAPE NUMBER: II, Side One (November 21, 1984) 36 

The "Secessionists" and the Bauhaus — LSszl6's 
feeling that he was influenced more by the city 
of Vienna itself than by any particular move- 
ment — The Max Bleyle House — How L5szl6 got into 
interior design — More on the Bleyle House — 
Cultural life — The Robert Weir apartment. 

TAPE NUMBER: II, Side Two (November 21, 1984) 54 

More on the Robert Weir apartment — LSszlC 
designs gloves for the Jeittele glove company — 
Designs a home for the Jeitteles — The Marx 
House — The Walter Kahn House — The Fleischer 
House — Designing paper products for the 
Fleischer firm — Skiing with his son, Peter Paul 
L5szl6--Peter Paul's achievements in golf-- 
remodeling of the Brentwood Country 



IV 



COPYRIGHT LAW 

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, 
United States Code) governs the making of photocopies 
or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under 
certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and 
archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other 
reproduction. One of these specified conditions is 
that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be used 
for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, 
or research. if a user makes a request for, or later 
uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in 
excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for 
copyright infringement. This institution reserves the 
right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its 
judgement, fulfillment of the order would involve 
violation of copyright law. 

RESTRICTIONS ON THIS INTERVIEW 

None. 

LITERARY RIGHTS AND QUOTATION 



This manuscript is hereby made available for research 
purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, 
including the right to publication, are reserved to 
the University Library of the University of California, 
Los Angeles. No part of the manuscript may be quoted 
for publication without the written permission of the 
University Librarian of the University of California, 
Los Angeles. 



CONTENTS 

Introduction vii 

Interview History xii 

TAPE NUMBER: I, Side One (April 14, 1982) 1 

Genealogy of May's maternal ancestors, the 
Estudillo family — The Estudillo house and the 
functional quality of early California adobe 
ranch architecture — Memories of his aunt Jane 
Magee and Las Flores Ranch--The process of 
proving land ownership after California's 
annexation — May's extended family in 
California — Las Flores Ranch — Functional 
quality of ranch and barn architecture — 
Ramona ' s marriage place. 

TAPE NUMBER: I, Side Two (May 12, 1982) 36 

May's paternal grandfather, Charles E. May — 
May's father, John Clifford May — May's boyhood 
neighborhood in San Diego--Irving Gill houses 
in San Diego — Basement and layout of May's 
childhood home — Never being able to please his 
father — His brother, Henry C. May, wants to 
make money--Prominent citizens of San Diego — 
May's musical interests as a youth. 

TAPE NUMBER: II, Side One (May 12, 1982) 73 

Learns to play the piano — Enters college — The 
stock market crash of 1929 — Begins designing 
and building furniture — Designs and builds his 
first house. 

[Second Part] (June 9, 1982) 86 

The modern California ranch house — Importance 
of a designer to an architect — Few regulations 
and low costs when May first started building — 
Building styles which May considers poor 
architecture--His low opinion of Le Corbusier 
and the International style — May's first use of 
the pullman lavatory — His use of cement floors. 



IV 



TAPE NUMBER: II, Side Two (June 9, 1982) 115 

Importance of rock cushion in cement floors — 
The problem of working with clients who do not 
want to take the designer's advice — Builds a 
house for John A. Smith and Smith offers to put 
up money for May to build houses in Los Angeles — 
May builds a house for his own family — Various 
houses May built in San Diego — His association 
with John A. Smith — Difficulties with the Board 
of Architectural Examiners — Feuds between 
architects and builders — Riviera Ranch 
development — Decision to build good houses 
rather than cheap houses. 

TAPE NUMBER: III, Side One (June 9, 1982) 154 

Becomes acquainted with Paul Frankl's 

f urniture--Building houses for Frederic M. 

Blow — Building for John Galvin. 

[Second Part] (July 21, 1982) 163 

Early California ranch architecture — The 
Monterey box-style house — Maximizing space on 
building lots by building up to the property 
line--Dif f erent ways of disposing of garbage — 
Need to adapt each house to the client — Need 
for architect to examine the site before 
building — The designing of Balboa Park by the 
Olmstead brothers and Bertram Goodhue — Other 
builders of ranch houses. 

TAPE NUMBER: IV, Side One (September 15, 1982) .... 190 

The spreading of the ranch house idea — 
Innovations in May's houses--Costs of ranch 
house construction — Puts out the book Western 



Ranch Houses with Sunset magazine--May ' s 
"Pacesetter House" featured in House Beautiful- 



Other architects begin copying May's houses — 
The need for larger living rooms--Mandalay (CM 
No. 5) originally seemed too big, now does not 
seem big enough — House and Garden features 
Mandalay--May ' s development of one-room houses 
with movable partitions. 



TAPE NUMBER: IV, Side Two (September 15, 1982) .... 230 

Advantages of the open plan which is not 
divided up into a number of rooms — The Skylight 
House — May's designs plagiarized — Building 
prefabricated houses in the fifties. 

[Second Part] (September 30, 1982) . . . 240 

Copyright laws and architecture — Development of 
the nail-on sash — Lawsuits May has initiated 
against builders who copied his plans — Lawsuit 
against Fletcher Jones. 

TAPE NUMBER: V, Side One (September 30, 1982) 269 

May's assistance for architects with legal 
problems — General Motors' and DeVilbliss's 
unauthorized use of May houses in advertisements. 

[Second Part] (January 13, 1983) .... 278 

May's opinion that famous people make good 
clients — Designing an apartment building for 
Shirley MacLaine and her husband — May's 
involvement with low-cost housing across the 
country — Low-cost housing and the problems with 
building regulations — After designing low-cost 
housing. May returns to designing more 
expensive single-family homes — Designs the 
Mondavi Winery — Mandalay. 

TAPE NUMBER: V, Side Two (January 13, 1983) 308 

Houses with movable partitions — Problems in 
making skylights too big — Need for space in 
houses — Need to observe a few basic design 
rules — Walk-in refrigerators — Indoor swimming 
pools — Means of heating homes — May's music 
room — May's book collecting — Antique 
furniture — Flying — Tendency for artists' work 
to improve as artists get older — The house for 
Joe W. Brown that was never built. 



Index 



352 



VI 



BIOGRAPHICAL SUMMARY 

PERSONAL HISTORY: 

Born : February 6, 1900, in Debrecen, Hungary. 

Education ; Elementary and secondary schools in Hungary 
and Austria; Staatliche Akademie der Bilden den Kunste in 
Stuttgart, Germany; apprenticeship with Fritz August 
Breuhaus, architect and designer, Cologne, Germany. 

Spouse ; Maxine Fife. 

PROFESSIONAL AND ACADEMIC AFFILIATIONS: 

Private practice in Vienna, Austria, 1924-1927; 
Stuttgart, Germany, 1927-1936; Los Angeles, California, 
1936 to the present. 

Member of American Society of Industrial Designers since 
1956. 

MAJOR PROJECTS: 

1925 Kopfensteiner House, Szombathely, Hungary 

1926 City Hall (remodeling), Szombathely, Hungary 

1927 Schmidt House (interior), Stuttgart, Germany 

1927/36 Laszl6 office building (interior), 
Stuttgart, Germany 

1928 Apartment interior and furniture for the "Deutsche 
Kunst Ausstellung , " Diisseldorf, Germany 

Jeittele (later Jeffries) House, Stuttgart, Germany 

1929 Bleyle House (remodeling), Stuttgart, Germany 
Fleischer House (interior), Goppingen, Germany 

1930 American Consul apartment (interior), Stuttgart, 
Germany 

Weir apartment (interior), Stuttgart, Germany 
1932 Brauchbar House, Zurich, Switzerland 



Vlll 



Kahn House, Heilbronn, Germany 
Marx House, Stuttgart, Germany 

1933 Jeittele (later Jeffries) House (remodeling), 
Surbiton, England 

1934 Weir House, Zurich, Switzerland 

1937 Bullock's Wilshire department store (interior), Los 
Angeles, California 

L5szl6 House, Beverly Hills, California 

Loewendahl House, Pacific Palisades, California 

Loewendahl shoe store, Los Angeles, California 

Weingarten House, Beverly Hills, California 

1938 Crenshaw movie theater (now Kokusai Theatre), Los 
Angeles, California 

Koster House, Hollywood, California 

1939 Auer House, Bel-Air, California 

Blanke House, "Peasant Acres," Tarzana, California 

1940 Harrison House, Holmby Hills, California 
Philips House, Pacific Palisades, California 
Rosenson House, Bel-Air, California 
Shipley House, Hollywood, California 

1941 Laszl6 showroom and studio (interior), Los Angeles, 
California 

1945 "PL-47" helicopter terminal (unbuilt project) 

Saks Fifth Avenue department store (interior), 
Beverly Hills, California 

Williams House, Beverly Hills, California 

1946 Buchman House, Beverly Hills, California (unbuilt 
project ) 



IX 



Eddy Harth clothing store (now Lanz), Beverly 
Hills, California 

1947 Beverly Hills Hotel, "Rodeo Room," Beverly Hills, 
California 

Illing of California Building, Los Angeles, 
California 

LSszlO House, Brentwood, California (remodeled, 
1953-54) 

1948 Zacho House, Beverly Hills, California 

1950 "Atomville," a city of the future (unbuilt project) 
McGaha House, Wichita Falls, Texas 

1951 Perlberg House, Beverly Hills, California 

1952 Herzog House, Houston, Texas 

VJohl condominiums. New Orleans, Louisiana (unbuilt 
project) 

1953 McCulloch Corporation offices (interior), Los 
Angeles, California 

1954 Genis House, Beverly Hills, California 

Hudspeth Center shopping mall, Prineville, Oregon 
(unbuilt project) 

Newman House, New Orleans, Louisiana 

Shong House, Oakland, California 

1955 Hertz House and bomb shelter. Woodland Hills, 
California 

1956 Main Building at the Laurel Race Course, Laurel, 
Maryland 

Sunbeam Lighting Company offices (remodeling), Los 
Angeles, California 

1958 Brentwood Country Club (remodeling), Brentwood, 
California 

1960 Arizona Country Club, Phoenix, Arizona 



Walston and Company, Inc., office building, Beverly 
Hills, California 

1961 Fashion Square shopping mall, Scottsdale, Arizona 

1963 American City Bank Building, Los Angeles, 
California 

Desert Inn Distinctive Apparel store (interior). 
Las Vegas, Nevada 

1964 E. F. Hutton and Company, Inc., office (interior). 
Universal City, California 

1964/73 Hall's department stores, Kansas City, Missouri 

1965 Ohrbach's, Inc., department store (interior). Long 
Island, New York 

1966 Robinson's department store (interior), Newport 
Beach, California 

V7eir House, Atlanta, Georgia 

1967 Stardust Hotel, dining room. Las Vegas, Nevada 
Swanson's Bridal Salon, Kansas City, Missouri 

1968 Ohrbach's, Inc., department store (interior), 
Beverly Hills, California 

1970 George House (interior), Beverly Hills, California 
(remodeled 1975) 

1972 Madigans Store, River Forest, Illinois 

McCulloch House (interior), Palm Springs, 
California 

1973 Kreedman penthouse, Los Angeles, California 

1978 American City Bank Building, Beverly Hills, 
California 

1983 Koster House, Camarillo, California 

HONORS : 

First prize for porcelain platter, Julius Hoffman Verlag 
"Decorative Vorbilder" competition, Germany, c. 1927. 



XI 



Second prize for Kachelofen, Meissen Royal China 
Manufactory's competition, Dresden, Germany, c. 1927. 

Distinguished achievement award, California Fashion 
Creators, 1954. 

First prize for best architectural solution for the use 
of leather. Leather Group Design Competition, Upholstery 
Leather Group, 1956. 

EXHIBITIONS: 

Apartment interior and furniture in the "Deutsche Kunst 
Ausstellung , " Diisseldorf, Germany, 1928. 

PUBLICATIONS: 

Innendekoration, Oktober 1930, issue devoted entirely to 
LSszl6's work. 

Paul LSszl6. Zurich: Conzett and Huber, 1935 (final 
edition, 1964). 

Numerous articles in magazines in the United States and 
Europe. 



Xll 



INTERVIEW HISTORY 



INTERVIEWER: 

Marlene L. Laskey, interviewer, UCLA Oral History 
Program. B.A. , Political Science, UCLA; has researched, 
organized, and led architectural tours of Los Angeles. 

TIME AND SETTING OF INTERVIEW: 

Place ; Laszl6's apartment in Santa Monica, California. 

Dates ; The interview sessions took place on November 7, 
21, December 19, 1984; January 2, 18, and February 8, 
1985. 

Time of day, length of sessions, and total number of hours 
recorded : The first sessions took place in the morning 
and the last few in the late afternoon. Each session 
lasted about an hour and a half. A total of nine hours of 
conversation was recorded. 

Persons present during interview ; LSszl6 and Laskey. 

CONDUCT OF INTERVIEW: 

The interview begins with LSszl6's childhood in Hungary 
and moves in chronological order through his early work in 
Europe, his emigration to the United States, and his work 
here. In general, Laszl6's buildings are discussed in 
chronological order. The only segment of the interview 
which is not organized chronologically is Tape VI, Side 
Two, where Laszl6 discusses a number of more general 
architectural issues. 

The interview process itself required considerable 
patience from both LSszl6 and Laskey, since in the past 
several years LSszl6 has developed a slight hearing 
problem and also some speech impairments. Moreover, while 
LSszl6's command of English is quite colloquial, he does 
speak with a pronounced Hungarian accent. 

EDITING: 

Carey Southall, editorial assistant, edited the 
interview. He checked a verbatim transcript against the 
original recordings and edited for punctuation, 
paragraphing, spelling, and verified proper nouns. VJords 
and phrases inserted by the editor have been bracketed. 



Xlll 



The final manuscript remains in the same order as the 
taped material. 

The edited transcript was returned to LSszl6 in September 
1985, along with a list of queries and of names requiring 
identification. He made a number of changes and 
additions, which are indicated in the manuscript. He 
returned the approved transcript in October of the same 
year. 

Richard CSndida Smith, principal editor, reviewed the 
transcript. Teresa Barnett, editorial assistant, prepared 
the front matter and index. 

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS: 

The original tape recordings of the interview are in the 
university archives and are available under the 
regulations governing the use of permanent noncurrent 
records of the university. Records relating to the 
interview are located in the office of the UCLA Oral 
History Program. 



XIV 



TAPE NUMBER: I, SIDE ONE 
NOVEMBER 7, 1984 

LASKEY: Mr. Laszl6, we're going to begin the interview at 
the turn of the century in Budapest, where you were born, 
with the discussion of your family background. 
LASZLO: First of all, I wasn't born in Budapest. 
LASKEY: You weren't? Where were you born? 
LASZLO: I was born in a town called Debrecen. And my 
father was the bookkeeper for my grandparents' furniture 
business. And then he married the daughter of the boss. 
And my grandparents got up every morning half past four in 
the morning because they had a factory of furniture. 
LASKEY: Now, your mother's family owned the factory, and 
they manufactured furniture, or they designed it, or both? 
LASZLO: V^o designed it? No, [laughing] I don't know 
anymore; I was too small. So after they got married [they 
moved in with her parents] . My father, he loved to sleep 
late, and [my] grandparents got up at half past four in the 
morning because the factory started at six o'clock in the 
morning: six [A.M.] to six [P.M.], it was. So apparently 
to eliminate all these arguments they moved to a different 
town called Szombathely, which is close to Vienna. 
LASKEY: Now, what was your father's name? 

LASZLO: Ignac, Ignac. And so when I was one year old we 
moved to Szombathely. And my father opened up a furniture 



store and after a few years, he created a furniture 
factory. By the way, all the family — uncles, etcetera — 
were in the furniture business, all over Hungary. 
LASKEY: This is your father's family, [who] were in the 
furniture business? 
LASZLO: Yes. 

LASKEY: But your father had originally been a bookkeeper? 
LASZLO: [laughing] A bookkeeper, yes! A handsome fellow; 
I've [searches through papers] somewhere the photo. Then 
after a few years my grandparents built a big house for 
their daughter, my mother, in Szombathely, which was a 
small town, so our building was the tallest. 
LASKEY: This was your house? 

LASZLO: It was a big apartment house which had, on the 
main floor, stores. 

LASKEY: And was it there that your father had his 
furniture business, then? In the main floor of the 
apartment building that you lived in? 

LASZLO: Yes. And the plant, factory, was outside of the 
town. But if you would ask me about my childhood, it was a 
very happy childhood. We all loved each other, you know. 
I had three sisters and two brothers. 
LASKEY: You were a large family, then? 

LASZLO: Yes, and we had a wonderful life. We were well- 
to-do people, not rich, but well-to-do people, and so to me 



it was wonderful. I was a child. And then, of course, 
this was before the war started. 

LASKEY: VVell, this would be before World War I — 
LASZLO: [laughing] Yeah. 

LASKEY: Right? When you were still, there was still a lot 
of optimism in the world. 

LASZLO: And what happened, this was the reason that I 
moved around so much because, because the whole world, at 
least my world, was upset. You know, the war touched us 
more as you people here would even think about it. Which 
means everything stopped. Nobody bought furniture. Nobody 
was interested in anything else but to win the war. 
LASKEY: Now this is the First World War that you're 
talking about. You actually went through two wars then? 
You were — 

LASZLO: I was in the army in Hungary and I was here in 
[the] army too! [laughs] 

LASKEY: But before that, when you're still in your child- 
hood, before the war comes — In your own house, since your 
family was in the furniture business, were they involved in 
the creative end of it, in the design, in the artistic end 
of it? 

LASZLO: Oh, yes; my mother redecorated [the family quar- 
ters] every year. [laughter] Of course we had all the 
furniture. But she was talented at doing things. And of 



course as the children grow up, so naturally she created a 
girls' room and a boys' room, and so it was very nice. And 
then in '14, they send me to Vienna to study. 
LASKEY: Well, but before that, when you were very young, 
did you go to school? Where did you go to school? 
LASZLO: In Szombathely. 

LASKEY: You went to school in Szombathely? V7hat kind of a 
school was it? 

LASZLO: A Jesuit school [Premontrei] called a Gymnasium. 
Which meant we had two high schools: a Gymnasium which 
prepared the people for becoming lawyer [s] and doctors and 
architect [s] , it was. And then another commercial school 
which taught people for business. So I went to this Jesuit 
school, a wonderful school; all priests. Wonderful school 
really. 

LASKEY: Now you went there when you were about how old? 
LASZLO: Ten years old. 

LASKEY: About ten years old. How about, did you get any 
artistic training there? 

LASZLO: No, no. * [As a matter of fact, my teacher com- 
plained to my mother that I couldn't even draw a straight 
line! (The truth was I wasn't interested at the time.)] 



* Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section 
during his review of the transcript. 



LASKEY: Did you — what I'm really — I guess I'm really 
asking is at what point, how young were you when you 
developed your interest in art? 

LASZLO: I believe my first interest was awakened in 
Vienna. 

LASKEY: Being around furniture designers and in the life 
that you lead — ? 
LASZLO: No — 

LASKEY: Nothing had started there? 

LASZLO: No, no. First of all, at that time in Hungary, 
especially a small town, [only my parents] knew about 
furniture design. You go back just like nobody knew about 
the jets, going to the moon. So in Vienna, you know, [the] 
beauty of the town and — [telephone rings, tape recorder 
turned off] 

LASKEY: I have one other question before we go on to 
Vienna. Because you did come from essentially a middle- 
class background, did that give you access to museums or to 
art? At a young age that you might have been exposed to 
these things? 

LASZLO: Oh, yes. First of all, I didn't have radio or TV, 
which means we did so-called "cultural life," with music, 
and talking to people, and social gatherings which were 
more important as today. Because today, you know, TV's. 
And we had a big furniture store, which had, I don't know. 



sixty different rooms: dining room[s], and bedroom[s], and 
[so forth]. But the walls were empty. So each year, 
twice, [an] art dealer came to make an exhibit. He rented 
the walls to put up all his paintings. Instead [of] 
getting paid, my parents preferred to get two paintings, 
every year it was. So we were full of paintings after a 
few years. [laughter] 

So we saw ourselves-- Of course, this was a part of 
the education; an impetus. Later on, in Vienna, everything 
was so beautiful and so different and so exciting. Do you 
know Vienna? 

LASKEY: No, I don't, I'm sorry. I mean I've never been 
there, I know about it from reading. Had you been to 
Vienna before you actually left home to go to school 
there? Had you traveled at all when you were young? 
LASZLO: My father took me always along on his business 
trips to Austria and Budapest. And we had at home a German 
governess, so we learned German. And of course my parents 
spoke German, too, you know, because we had--so close to 
Vienna. And Austria-Hungary was one nation, until 
[19] 18. And so I remember [laughing] from the-- We went to 
Vienna--and I was eight years old also--and Father took me 
to [the] circus from America: Barnum, or what — ? 
LASKEY: Oh, Barnum, Barnum and Bailey. Ringling Brothers, 
Barnum and Bailey. 



LASZLO: Barnum and Bailey. [laughs] And I remember today 
they were three different shows [that] went on: Buffalo 
Bill, many things. So actually I went already as a child 
to Austria, Vienna. And in Vienna, I felt [at] home. And 
I was there a year studying in school. And after a year, 
in the meantime, the war broke out — 

LASKEY: OK, now you went to study, your family sent you to 
study in Vienna for a year; this was in 1914. And then you 
were saying earlier about how beautiful Vienna was. Was it 
touched-- Was the war to change that very much, the way it 
looked? 

LASZLO: You know, as a young person, nothing touches 
you. I mean — 

LASKEY: What was your year in Vienna like? 
LASZLO: As a normal young man who goes out to school, I 
make friends, I go out, and-- You know, a normal childhood, 
almost. And so ray father was drafted in the army. And 
maybe this was the reason that my parents wanted to go to 
Budapest; I believe so, but I don't know. So, I went to 
Budapest and [was] in school, and after a few months my 
uncle [Hugo LSszl6] came — who didn't have children — and he 
says, "Why don't you come to a place called Temesuar [now, 
Timosoara]?" (Which was at that time in Hungary, but today 
is Romania.) So, he said, "I have a large place and no 
children; I want you to stay with us." So fifteen years 



old, you don't have a voice to say to go, or not to go, 

especially at that time in Hungary. So I went to school in 

Temesuar. After a few months, he was drafted. 

LASKEY: Now, was it just you who went with your uncle to 

Romania, or did some of your sisters and brothers go? 

LASZLO: No, only me. 

LASKEY: Just you. 

LASZLO: So he was drafted. He was sent, I don't know 

where. So I was alone for the year. 

LASKEY: In Romania? 

LASZLO: At the time it was still Hungary. After the war, 

they carved out Hungary and Romania, Czechoslovakia, et 

cetera. But at that time it was Hungary, but close to 

Romania. So then, so if I recall, one day it came out that 

if you enlist in [the] army, you get graduated without any 

test. 

My goodness. 

So I enlisted. [laughs] 

Did you really? 

The whole class [laughing] enlisted! 

VJell, how old were you? You must have only been 



LASKEY 

LASZLO 

LASKEY 

LASZLO 

LASKEY 

fifteen 

LASZLO: 



No, it was sixteen-and-a-half or so. 



LASKEY: We didn't establish your exact birthdate. 



February 6, 1900. 

Right at the beginning of the century. 

I will be 85 in [a] few months. 

Amazing, that's wonderful. So this would be 1916 



LASZLO; 

LASKEY; 

LASZLO; 

LASKEY: 

then? 

LASZLO: Yeah, I believe '16, or '17; I don't know 

anymore. And so I was put in artillery [K.-u.-K. Field 

Artillery 101]. And it was, of course, at that time, 

everything primitive, not like here, you know. Barracks 

and bathrooms, this was [laughing] everything outdoor! But 

as a young man, you don't even think about it. You just 

take it. And so finally, I was sent to the Italian front 

[Vittorio Veneto] . And there was a rule that before you 

leave Hungary, at the border, medical tests were taken. 

LASKEY: Even when you were in the army? 

LASZLO: Yes, which means a captain, army captain — a 

doctor — had to check over each of us. So the captain 

apparently was father of a [school] friend of mine. And he 

said — I remember vaguely — he said, "I can't send you to the 

front; you are too young." So he send me back to Budapest 

[to be] in a army institute for nervous breakdowns. 

LASKEY: V'Jas this his way of getting you out of, so that 

you wouldn't have to go to the front? 

LASZLO: Yeah. 

LASKEY: How did you feel about that? 



LASZLO: I don't know-- So that I was in prison, because 
crazy people were — So after — 

LASKEY: That must have been devastating, wasn't it, for a 
young man to suddenly be in a situation like that? 
LASZLO: They didn't care. [laughs] So after a few days 
of listening to these crazy people — who were partly phony, 
of course. But I escaped. I went to [the] army again and 
said, "I prefer to go to the front!" [laughter] So that I 
was maybe a month at the front when the war ended [November 
4, 1918]. 

LASKEY: Now, which front were you at? Did you go to 
Italy? 

LASZLO: Italian front. 
LASKEY: The Italian front. 

LASZLO: Of course, fortunately I was in the artillery, 
which is always twenty kilometer[s] back further! 
[laughs] And so that I had a problem getting back home 
again, because the soldiers and the people destroyed 
everything. They all, people destroyed everything. 
LASKEY: Really? 

LASZLO: Trains--smashed the windows; everything. Fi- 
nally — And I had made in Budapest a beautiful — how you 
call it, not a shoe, but a — 
LASKEY: Boot? 
LASZLO: Boot[s]; beautiful, beautiful. They took it away 



10 



from me, [the] Austrians. They hated Hungarians, they 
hated the Germans, so each blamed the other nation [for the 
defeat]. So finally I came home, and then came the Red, 
communistic regime [March-July 1919]. I don't know whether 
you heard about it; Bela Kun was the leader. And they 
wanted to get me in the Red army. And, so I escaped again 
and went to Vienna. Finally I applied to a school in 
Stuttgart. 

LASKEY: Now, in the meantime, was your family still in 
Hungary? 

LASZLO: Yeah, yeah. 

LASKEY: VJere they able to continue their business after 
the communist regime took over, or what repercussions were 
there? 

LASZLO: Actually what happened — I don't want to bore you 
with my thing. Actually what happened, even during the 
war, it was difficult to get the food, or any' merchan- 
dise. But when the communist [s] came — Like in our case, 
each day [or two] a man came [to our showrooms] with a 
piece of paper [stating] that he's entitled to take a 
dining room [set or something else]. So in a few days, 
there wasn't any furniture [left]. You couldn't buy a pair 
of shoe[s], you couldn't get salt; nothing. Which means all 
stores were empty. All stores were empty. I mean empty, 
you know, because all [contents] were taken away by the 



11 



communists. And at the time Austria boycotted Hungary, 

which means nothing came in. No merchandise, no nothing 

came in. And that was the reason that after-- And of 

course the government printed money or [would] write paper, 

you know. Just print it, which-- 

LASKEY: — was worthless. 

LASZLO: — and nobody wanted. And that was the reason that 

after half a year, it just went kaput, the communistic 

regime [that] came in. Really, the first Nazi movement 

started in Hungary. 

LASKEY: Really? 

LASZLO: Yeah. 

LASKEY: This would be about 1918. 

LASZLO: 'Nineteen. In the meantime, I made an application 

to the police in Stuttgart. 

LASKEY: Did you have any problem getting out of Hungary to 

go to Stuttgart? Was there a problem at the border? 

LASZLO: I'll tell you, of course. The border, it wasn't, 

like today maybe: efficient and so on. So I took a 

carriage with a loaf of bread. And then the soldier — how 

can I say this — [I said,] "Hi," [and then] I gave him the 

loaf of bread. It wasn't organized then. 

LASKEY: [laughs] OK. 

LASZLO: It was, everything, primitive. We had, in 

Szombathely, we had altogether two policemen: one for 



12 



daytime and [laughing] one for nighttime. 

LASKEY: So it was still fairly easy to get out of Hungary 
then? 

LASZLO: So it wasn't, you know — It was, at that time 
[1923], easy. And so I got reply from the police in 
Stuttgart that, yes, I can come if I go to school in 
Stuttgart. So I came to Stuttgart. The school didn't 
start yet for a few months. So I took a job as a cabinet- 
maker apprentice [at the Schoettle Company factory] . 
LASKEY: Did you do that because you were interested, or 
was it just sort of a throwback to something that you knew? 
LASZLO: What I believe I wanted — [I] had to do something 
until the semester started. And it was very nice, and 
after a few months, I went to school [Staatliche Akademie 
der Bilden den Kiinste] . It was interesting. But I was 
restless, because everything was, for me, too slow, school 
was. Professor [s] were too slow to teach, at least in my 
opinion. And so, after two years, a friend of mine invited 
me for Easter vacation to a place called Miinchen- 
Gladbach. [goes through papers; indicates name of place] 
And I was there a few days. Before I left, just in the 
morning before I left, I was reading the newspaper from 
Koln [Cologne] , where a famous — well, the most famous 
architect — he wanted to hire a talented designer. So, I 
was fresh; I didn't have anything with me [to show], 
anything . 

13 



LASKEY: You hadn't done any designing at this point? 

LASZLO: No, I meant I didn't have material to show this 

man. 

LASKEY: But had you designed, had you been working on 

design? 

LASZLO: Oh, sure, in school, yes. 

So, it was a Saturday, we were working at that time 
half-Saturdays [inaudible] . So, I went over [to Koln- 
Bayenthal] and a secretary [Miss Hugenbruch] told me that 
Mr. [Fritz August] Breuhaus (that was the name) has a house 
in Bonn, so if I were interested, I should go over, which 
was about forty minutes with express train. So I said, 
"Good." So I went over, just as I was. He was a handsome 
man; a handsome, tall, handsome man. An elegant, elegant 
house, really, just perfect. 
LASKEY: Now this was the secretary? 

LASZLO: She told me to go to Bonn, if I wanted to see Mr. 
Breuhaus. So I took this express street car, [and] from 
Koln went to Bonn. This was Saturday noon. So we were 
talking but, I don't know, I didn't have anything to show, 
you know. But apparently he liked me, so [he said,] "All 
right, if you can be here Monday morning, you are hired." 
[He] says, "You are all right." 

LASKEY: You must have convinced him somehow that you had 
the talentl 



14 



LASZLO: I don't know, I don't know. So I took the train 
back to Stuttgart, packed up everything I had left and left 
the school. Monday morning I started [laughing] working. 
LASKEY: Now, I didn't understand. The school that you 
went to in Stuttgart, or the school that you were going to, 
was it an art school? 
LASZLO: An art school, yes. 

LASKEY: VJell, how had you decided on that? To go to an 
art school? Why or how. 

LASZLO: Well first of all, my parents figured that I 
should get an education in Germany in this field, design 
and architecture, and then come back to Hungary. Of 
course, of course, I was not interested anymore to go back 
to Hungary. I got interested in architecture and designing 
interiors. So I came to Breuhaus, which had a big of- 
fice. I mean, at that time, eighteen people was a big 
office, and he had the best commissions in Europe, a lot. 
So of course — Of course [laughing] I had to learn a lot 
because I didn't know anything, you know. I worked 
fourteen to sixteen hours a day, to make up what I didn't 
know. But after a few months I was all right, and I did 
many jobs. 

LASKEY: Were they mainly interiors, or — 
LASZLO: Both. 
LASKEY: — were you working on houses, too? 



15 



LASZLO: Both. 
LASKEY: Both. 

LASZLO: Architecture and interior[s]: big building[s]. 
But not big like here — high rise — but, big building [s]: 
banks and big homes. I show you later what he did. And I 
was there a year. And then I got an offer from Essen 
[Professor Koerner] — which is close to Koln — to go there, 
[for] employment. And I wanted to go. Then the French 
occupied this part of Germany. 

LASKEY: The French occupied it? I didn't know that. 
LASZLO: [laughing] I know; you people don't know. 
Germany was supposed [to] pay hundred [s] of billions of 
reparation [s] . And because they couldn't pay it — So 
finally the French came in and occupied this part, which 
was the richest part in Germany, where Krupp is and this 
and all the big industry, and the mines, including Essen. 
So I said no. Well, I will not — Because the French had 
mostly black people. 
LASKEY: Black people? In Germany? 

LASZLO: Yes, you know. Because they had colonies in — So 
they sent mostly soldiers which were black to humiliate the 
Germans. So instead [of] Essen, I got a job in Berlin 
[with] an architect called Leo Nachtlicht [of Berlin- 
Wilmersdorf ] . [laughing] Such a silly name! 
LASKEY: Just to go back a little bit, at some point when 



16 



you got out of school, I think while you were still in 
Stuttgart, had you gone to Paris? Didn't I read that you 
went to Paris and didn't like it very much? 

LASZLO: Oh, no, this was later. I was in Berlin, but even 
in Koln the inflation started, but in Berlin finally it 
became real bad. Which means, when I went out for dinner, 
I needed a suitcase for the money. VJhich meant actually, 
it was one dollar was four billion mark[s]. Four billion! 



17 



TAPE NUMBER: I, SIDE TWO 
NOVEMBER 7, 1984 

LASZLO: [taping picks up mid-sentence] — that in these 
times, it wasn't normal? Beginning at '14 to '48, it 
wasn't normal. So it is not possible to compare it with 
here, that a person goes to school, a person goes to this— 
Because everything — So many things happened everywhere, 
every week, that it is difficult to compare it or even to 
see a picture [of] how life was. Because of these many 
political changes in Hungary, in Austria and in Germany. 
And the money — Inflations in Hungary, in Austria and in 
Germany and in France. You know, this was unbelievable at 
times, which one had to be very smart to go even through — 
in life. Which is difficult [to] explain it, you know, 
because it is just like an atmosphere. So many things 
which maybe, to you, seem abnormal, you know. Because you 
lived here in a very organized way: you went to school, 
and then high school, and this and this — [laughs] So [it] 
is difficult. I believe that I lived an interesting 
life. 

LASKEY: Sounds like a very difficult life though, after 
the childhood. 

LASZLO: At the time, you don't — Nothing touches you; it 
touches you when you get older. But when you are young, 
you have so many interests and guts, you know, that it 

18 



didn't touch me at all, I didn't feel, "Oh, God!" I was 
always happy and nothing bothered me, really. But looking 
back, which I seldom do, there was difficult times for the 
people, [but] not for me as such. 

LASKEY: Well, when you were in Berlin, this must have been 
in the early 1920s — 
LASZLO: 'Twenty-three. 

LASKEY: And Germany was still in a very depressed state — 
LASZLO: Oh yes, it was. 

LASKEY: Did you find then that trying to deal with — To be 
a designer, to be an artist, or to be an architect, at that 
time, wasn't it particularly difficult? I would think that 
would have been an area that--where there wasn't much need 
at that time. 

LASZLO: Oh, [there] was plenty to do. 
LASKEY: There was? 

LASZLO: My office, not my office, but his [Nachtlicht ' s ] 
office, was busy. And of course, all these firms — 
architecture firms--they weren't as big as here. [At] most 
is six, eight people. Breuhaus was the busiest; had eigh- 
teen people, but it was maximum, you know. All famous 
architects had small offices. V7hy? I learned it, too, 
that if you have too many people working there, then you 
can't design anymore: all the phone calls, all the social 
obligations, you know. So it happened to me too when I had 



19 



more people; finally I gave it up. I said, "No use to 
get — becoming a business instead of designing." So that 
was the reason that the famous architects in Europe, like 
Corbusier, who was the greatest. He didn't have too many 
people in his office: two or three. So he was able to 
work really and design everything [himself] . Here, all of 
the big names, they don't even know how many jobs they 
have, don't know. 

LASKEY: They're businessmen, more than architects, now. 
LASZLO: You know, it just isn't possible, that under the 
phone calls, the inquiries, and socially-- And to go out 
and get jobs, because you have hundred or two hundred 
people in the office, so you have to feed them. 

So, coming back to it, I was in Berlin, busy, but 
finally when the inflation got so bad, then I said, "It's 
time to go to Paris." And so I left Germany and went to 
Paris. And it was [hard]. Of course I couldn't speak 
French, and it was cold, and rainy, and unfriendly, and so 
different from what I learned in Germany: how to walk, how 
to behave. It was different; so different that, of course, 
I couldn't get a job; I couldn't speak French. 

So then, one day I met a gentleman [Mr. Kun] from 
Vienna who had--he told me--he had several buildings in 
Vienna, and if I would come back to Vienna, he would keep 
me busy. So that I was happy to leave France, you know: 



20 



wintertime, and the rain, the cold. So I went back to 
Vienna and, of course, he never gave me a job. 
LASKEY: He never gave you a job? What happened? 
LASZLO: I don't know, he never [laughing] gave me a job. 
In the meantime, I opened up my office, January 1 or 2, in 
Vienna. 

LASKEY: That's in 1924. 

LASZLO: 'Twenty-four, yes. And started to work. Which 
means all I did [was] I took some of my designs and went 
around. So finally some company gave me a job. [laugh- 
ter] As a free-lancer. 

LASKEY: Did you advertise in the papers? 
LASZLO: No, you can't. No, no, no. 

LASKEY: You can't do that. How do you make yourself 
known? 

LASZLO: I went to several furniture factories. And so 
slowly I started to make money, and I became [known] . It 
was easier; here, it's more difficult today because so many 
people are [in the field]. But at my time, there weren't 
too many famous people: about, I would say, six, eight 
excellent people, excellent Austrian architects — excellent 
people. 

LASKEY: Well, now at this point, were you more interested 
in architecture or in interior design and furniture 
design? Or did you not have a preference? 



21 



LASZLO: I tell you that instinctively it is easier to get 
an assignment for furniture as [than] for a house. Which 
means it involves less money as to give a young man a job 

[to] design a house. This was my motivation when I came 
over here. Instinctively I felt it would be easier to 
concentrate on interiors as [than] to say I want to build a 
house. So it worked out all right. I became well known. 
And I got visitor [s] from Germany--strangers, who heard 
about me in Germany — they gave me jobs. And then I went 

[in] '27 to Germany to visit all my clients who came to 
Vienna and gave me the jobs. * [Several furniture-factory 
owners visited my studio in Vienna. Among them was a Mr. 
Hans Scherle, owner of Riedinger Ballonfabrik in Augsburg, 
Germany. The firm had a division for furniture manu- 
facturing. I designed much furniture for this firm.] And 
in Stuttgart was a firm, a big firm who made only club 
chairs. A big firm, but only club chairs. Maybe you heard 
about the firm here. Knoll? 
LASKEY: Yes. 

LASZLO: Now he died years ago--Knoll--but his father was 
in Stuttgart, in a similar business, but not club chairs, 
but chairs, simple chairs, but [on a] big, big [scale]. 



* Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section 
during his review of the transcript. 



22 



These are [the] people who engaged me as a free-lancer; 
[they] made only club chairs, leather — 
LASKEY: And so you designed — 

LASZLO: So that all the man — the name was Alfred Buhler — 
He told me, "We could use you. If you [are] happening to 
move to Stuttgart, I keep you busy for two years as a free- 
lancer." And he mentioned the amount he is willing to pay 
for me each month. So I said, "No, I cannot, I cannot do 
it because I have my office, which I can't leave, in Vienna 
[with] two, three good people. But if you find here an- 
other firm who would give me two years guaranteed, then I 
would consider [it]." So he called up a big firm called 
Schildknecht, was the name. [pauses] A big firm. Still 
in business. 

LASKEY: Really, are they in Stuttgart or in — ? 
LASZLO: In Stuttgart. So he gave these two people, two 
firms — This Buhler — awfully nice fellow, an old gentle- 
man — he wanted to show me his plant, which was outside of 
Stuttgart, where he makes his leather. Because all his 
furniture were, at that time, only in leather, so he had a 
leather — How do you call it? 
LASKEY: Factory? 

LASZLO: So we took the train. And of course at the time — 
in Stuttgart, in Germany — they had first class, second 
class, third class, and fourth class. Fourth class was the 



23 



cheapest. Mr. Buhler: rich man, [owner of] a big fac- 
tory. Of course, we went in fourth class! A short trip, 
[laughs] Anyhow, I packed together all my office, my 
people, and went to Stuttgart. 

LASKEY: How many people did you have in your office, by 
then? 

LASZLO: At that time, in Vienna, three. 
LASKEY: Three. 

LASZLO: So we went to Stuttgart. In the meantime, I won 
two competition [s] in Germany. * [One was for Julius 
Hoffman Verlag for decorative Vorbilder with Maria Rott. 
We won first prize.] So when I arrived in Stuttgart I took 
a studio, a typical one; [an] atelier, you know. It was 
not even Saturday, [but] all the boxes * [from my office in 
Vienna had arrived and I was trying to unpack and make a 
little order when the man who had arranged one of the 
competitions (for casual furniture design) came to see me 
with a job to do. A few other people came in, also with 
work for me. My first big job was the remodeling and 
furnishing of a home for Herman Schmidt.] 
LASKEY: That's wonderful. 
LASZLO: The first few days [brought work] . 



* Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section 
during his review of the transcript. 



24 



I don't believe you know about [a] big exhibit in 
Stuttgart called [the] Weissenhof. VVhich means, I believe 
the state promoted this project to invite fifteen or 
eighteen [of the] most important architects in the world. 
And each had the freedom to do whatever they want to do. 
America, Corbusier in France, and Hungarian, and German. 
And I just came in time to do some help in several of these 
building [s]. That was in '27. And at the time, worldwide 
interest was in this Weissenhof project. Because from all 
over the world the best architect [s] were involved. A big, 
big, big field. 

LASKEY: I think this might be a good time, then, to 
discuss what was going on in design. Because in Germany, 
certainly, with the Bauhaus and the beginning of the modern 
movement and in Vienna with the Vienna secession, you must 
have been there right at the beginning of the change and 
the creation of the style; it must have been very excit- 
ing. Did you come in contact with people like [Walter] 
Gropius? Were you affected by them? 

LASZLO: Oh, sure, but Bauhaus wasn't as popular a thing in 
Germany. It wasn't, you know — It was of course — Here, it 
became [more so], because "Bauhaus." Even in the, many 
times, in the newspaper they called me a "Bauhaus archi- 
tect," because it is a good slogan, but to me — They 
[Bauhaus] had individual architect [s] who were excellent. 



25 



like Mies [van der Rohe] , like Gropius and — Who came [to 

America] when the Nazis came, they all came over here. 

LASKEY: But were they influential? 

LASZLO: Bauhaus? No, * [not for me]. 

LASKEY: It wasn't-- You didn't feel the influence in your 

designs? 

LASZLO: No, no, no. No. 

LASKEY: Really? Well, in the exhibition, the 1927 

exhibition, what was the trend that — ? 

LASZLO: All modern, all modern. 

LASKEY: It was modern? 

LASZLO: All modern, but so far [as] I remember no Bauhaus 

was involved. 

LASKEY: V'Jhen did the modern-- What was your interest — 

Well, looking at your designs, looking at the books, I can 

see that you were interested in modern design. How did you 

become interested in it as opposed to traditional? 

LASZLO: First of all, to me at the time [there] was only 

modern, only modern. VJe rejected everything which was 

period. We were young and uneducated in many ways. We 

rejected everything period [as] nothing. And of course 

Germany was, and Austria, was [the birthplace of the] 



* Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section 
during his review of the transcript. 



26 



modern movement. It was the cause of [why] we tended to go 

in this direction. The '27 Weissenhof affair, it became a 

great trend setter. And in '28, or '29 it was, was when 

Mies became famous because he designed the German pavilion 

in Barcelona. And he did a beautiful job. At that time as 

he designed what today [is] said [to be] Barcelona chairs. 

LASKEY: Right. 

LASZLO: And the government paid everything. This exhibit 

was very expensive. The building was very small. It 

wasn't a big building, but beautifully done, beautifully 

done. And all the furniture, which he designed. And 

costly; I don't know how much they spent on research [on] 

how to make these metal chairs — cost a fortune: $100,000, 

or more; I don't know. Because we all tried to do a 

similar thing, you know. 

LASKEY: Really? 

LASZLO: Oh, sure. 

LASKEY: Was it because that working with steel was new? 

LASZLO: Yes, yes. 

LASKEY: Did you work in steel? Did you do any of your 

designing in steel? 

LASZLO: Sure, I did many, but I didn't have the money to 

figure out how to put it together. But several of us were 

working on this problem, but it takes a lot of money to 

figure out that it works. 



27 



LASKEY: That's interesting, so the German government 
essentially financed Mies for the development of the 
Barcelona chair? 
LASZLO: Oh, yes. Sure, yeah. 
LASKEY: That's very interesting. 

LASZLO: And then in '28 there was an exhibit similar I did 
in Diisseldorf where all of the famous architects in the 
world [were] invited to create individual areas. I was 
fortunate to [be] having support of the firm Schildknecht , 
who paid for my work. We won — I won — I believe, a prize. 
[It] was a beautiful exhibit in Diisseldorf. Many famous 
architects were involved. 

LASKEY: And what did you do in the exhibit? 
LASZLO: I won a — I don't know who has the photos, you 
know. 

LASKEY: Oh. 

LASZLO: I choose [to create for the exhibit] [inaudible] 
"an apartment for the lady." It was excellent, excel- 
lent. I can't find the photos; at that time I wasn't too 
interested in collecting materials. And beside, there was 
a move going on — You are losing a lot of stuff, you know. 
LASKEY: I know. 

LASZLO: So, I was in Stuttgart and I got busy at once. At 
once! [laughs] 
LASKEY: You mentioned, when you came to Stuttgart, that 



28 



you hac^ just won two competitions. What were they? 

LASZLO: One was — No, three, actually. One was Meissen 

[Royal China Manufactory, Dresden, Germany]. They wanted — 

It was a competition for decorative--Ofen [stove] — ? You 

know, which heats a room? How you call it? Of course, you 

don't — 

LASKEY: A furnace? 

LASZLO: No, no, no. 

LASKEY: A heater, a wall — A heater? 

LASZLO: A heater, but decorative, out of porcelain, 

ceramic . 

LASKEY: Oh, a stove? Like a — 

LASZLO: No, in the living room. Anyhow-- 

LASKEY: Call it a stove. [laughing] I know what you 

mean, and I can't — Not a fireplace — 

LASZLO: No, individual. 

LASKEY: A heating unit. 

LASZLO: Heating unit [Kachelofen] . All Paris had it — and 

Europe — you know, they had these beautiful ceramic — So 

anyhow, I won second prize. And I designed some furniture; 

I won the first prize. And then I won, I did with one of 

my girls [Maria Rott] , I did a decorative — I don't even 

know [what]--I can show it [a porcelain platter for 

"Decorative Vorbilder"] to you later on. 

LASKEY: OK. 



29 



LASZLO: So I became, very fast, busy— I don't know: well 

known, in Germany. And if you would ask me about [Max and 

Maria] Bleyle's house [Stuttgart, 1929-1934], which was~ 

LASKEY: Yes, it's right here. 

LASZLO: Now, of course, you understand I was, of course, 

* [in Vienna] at 1925. 

LASKEY: Now, was that-- Did you do the entire house? 

LASZLO: Yes. 

LASKEY: And what style was it in, what was it like? 

LASZLO: I [laughing] don't even remember. 

LASKEY: No? 

LASZLO: A combination of modern and—you know. [pauses] 
He was hanged. * [The photo of Szombathely reminded me of a 
house I did while still in Vienna in 1925 for a Mr. Kopfen- 
steiner, who was a big contractor in Szombathely. He was 
married to the daughter of a Mr. Lingauer who was important 
in the Hungarian Nazi party later on. When the Russians 
occupied Hungary after World War II, they hanged all the 
Nazi people, including Lingauer. At the time, though, this 
family seemed like awfully nice people.] 
LASKEY: He was hanged? 
LASZLO: Yeah. He and his father-in-law are in the 



Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section 
during his review of the transcript. 



30 



Hungarian Nazi Party. And after the Russian [s] came in, 
they hanged all the [Nazi] people. He was an awfully nice 
person. And then I did in Hungary, at the same time, the 
city hall in Szombathely [1925-1926]. I don't [laughing] 
know-- 

LASKEY: Well, I'm looking at a picture that you've given 
me of the public square, in Hungary, and it's a charming 
little city. 

LASZLO: Yes, it was a small town. 

LASKEY: It really is. Now when you did a city hall — This 
isn't — It's a very traditional — what, nineteenth-cen- 
tury? — square. What did you — Was the city hall done in 
that style? 

LASZLO: It was a remodeling [of the meeting rooms] . 
Similar, but better, this one. You know, here again, all 
streets were already concrete; no sand, you know. All 
streetcars were going. And so it was very civilized there. 
LASKEY: I can see that in that photograph. 
LASZLO: The town was close to two thousand years old 
[founded 48 A.D. ] . 

LASKEY: Two thousand years old? The city is two thousand 
years old? 

LASZLO: Yes, almost. It [was] called by the Romans 
"Sabaria." I believe two thousand; it could be fifteen 
hundred. [laughs] 



31 



LASKEY: Give or take a few — a couple hundred years. 

[laughs] 

LASZLO: Yes, and so this-- I did many jobs in Hungary at 

the time, '25: Konditorei [confectioner's shop], a 

barbershop, and this and this, when I was in Vienna, 

because it was close to me, close to Vienna. 

LASKEY: And there still wasn't a problem of getting back 

and forth from Austria to Hungary? 

LASZLO: You needed a passport at that time, but it 

wasn't — Bleyle, they were, I believe, still the largest 

knitwear factory. Here, Bullock's Wilshire has the 

merchandise, you know. Of course-- 

LASKEY: Oh, really? 

LASZLO: They died, my friends, wonderful people. And how 

I got this big job, a very big job, [was] that a man who 

owned a fixture company called Weber. They did some of my 

homes: the paneling and many things. He came up to me one 

day and said, "I have a lady friend, she wants to find out 

whether [you] would be interested to design a sofa for 

her." He can't tell me the name until I decide whether I 

will agree to design [laughing] a sofa for her. So I say, 

"Oh, sure, I do a sofa for her." So he left and after a 

week he called me up. He says, "I call for you and take 

you to a place where the lady lives." So we went up--it 

was [a] hilltop--beautif ul property with a tennis court and 



32 



everything. And the gracious lady [Mrs. Maria Bleyle] — So 
it was afternoon — Big house, big house with this butler 
and two chambermaids. 
LASKEY: Oh, my. 

LASZLO: But very nice. It was natural. So she gave us 
both — this man was her brother; Mr. [Richard] Weber was her 
brother--she gave us, she served waffles. Excellent waf- 
fles. So we ate both, between us, at least two dozen 
waffles. [laughs] To make it short: out of this sofa, it 
became a many-million dollar job. Not only for them, but 
for her brother, and his brother. And I was busy all the 
time for the [Bleyle] family and his [V'Jeber's] family. 
Wonderful people, wonderful people, wonderful people. 
LASKEY: Now, did you rebuild the house? 
LASZLO: Yes. 
LASKEY: Or remodel it? 
LASZLO: Yes. 

LASKEY: Because I've seen pictures of the entrance hall 
and another room that you did. And it looked very modern, 
but again, modern with traditional touches to it. 
LASZLO: They had just a year before finished up an 
additional house. But when I came along, somehow she 
wanted a different house. They were very rich people, but 
not all the — very simple, but very elegant people. So they 
played tennis and I played tennis, so we became friends. 



33 



until she died. She wrote me every week a letter, and I 
wrote her every week a letter. I visit [ed] her [almost] 
every year on her birthday until she died in '77 [at the 
age of 89]. But wonderful people, wonderful people. So of 
course I did many jobs in Stuttgart, many jobs, but big 
jobs and [little jobs] . 

LASKEY: Did you design buildings? VJhen you talk about big 
jobs, you actually were functioning as an architect as well 
as a designer in Stuttgart? 

LASZLO: Oh, yes, yes. But someone, you know, a person 
comes up to you and says, "I want such a job," you don't 
question them whether it is architecture or interior 
[design] . 

LASKEY: Was it usual for a firm to do both architecture 
and interior design? Because I think today, they are 
usually separated, aren't they? Isn't that more usual? 
LASZLO: It is, as a matter — It is today that more and 
more a big firm is interested to do both. As a matter of 
fact, [Welton] Becket, [Charles] Luckman, and all these, 
are interested in interiors, not in furniture, but in 
interiors. But at that time in Europe — I can show you 
later on, when we have luncheon, some books which will 
show — many architects did the same as I did. Of course, I 
went further because I designed the furniture, too, and the 
lamps, and the fabrics, and everything. I mentioned, you 



34 



know, Fleischer. They had a big factory, a paper factory 
in Goppingen, which is close by Stuttgart. So I did for 
them a few homes, and did a lot of design for paper 
merchandise, like toilet paper. I created * [I think] the 
first printed toilet [paper]. 



* Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section 
during his review of the trancript. 



35 



TAPE NUMBER: II, SIDE ONE 
NOVEMBER 21, 1984 

LASKEY: Mr. Laszl6, in our previous discussions, we 
started to talk about your architecture and your design, 
which we described as modern. And I'm trying — What I'd 
like you to discuss now are the sources of your modernism, 
whether the fact that you lived in Vienna, following the 
Vienna Secession, whether the works of Josef Hoffmann or 
Otto Wagner or Adolf Loos influenced you. I would just 
like you to address yourself to that. 
LASZLO: Of course there is an influence which isn't 
visible influence. I could not tell you that this period, 
or this architect, or this professors in Vienna influenced 
me. There is, of course, a school, it was a school [Wiener 
Werkstatte; the "Secessionists," founded 1897] in Vienna, 
which was under the direction of Josef Hoffmann. And of 
course his pupils were of course influenced by Hoffmann. 
There were names like [Hugo] Gorgl, [Otto] Wlach, [Josef] 
Franck, et cetera, who were his pupils. And automatically 
they became, not a clone, but [under] a certain amount of 
influence by him. I wasn't, you know. I wasn't. 

I came to Vienna in a later period. And somehow, 
maybe the fact that I lived in Germany, studied in Germany, 
and lived in Paris, too; this all mixture influenced me. 
It wasn't Viennese style. I believe it was my own style 



36 



which even prevailed after fifty years. It wasn't what you 
call "Viennese school." 

LASKEY: I asked that because those particular men that I 
mentioned--Hof fmann, Wagner, and Loos — did practice in 
Vienna, and their modernism is somewhat softer than the 
harsh lines of the Bauhaus. And I see in your modernism 
more of an elegance than, again, in the Bauhaus. And 
that's why I ask you the question in trying to wonder what 
the sources of your modernism are. 

LASZLO: Of course, what all these people — You mentioned 
Loos and VJagner and [Josef] Olbrich, [and] there's this 
Bauhaus. Loos and VJagner lived in a peace which was a 
peace in the world, especially a peace in Austria- 
Hungary. And [the] Bauhaus developed after a lost war, 
which means poverty, which wasn't in Vienna; it was in 
Germany. 

LASKEY: That's very interesting. 

LASZLO: Out of the Bauhaus and out of poverty developed a 
style which says that "less is more" and somehow attracted 
the school, attracted the people, who were unhappy with the 
prevailing style. So regardless of religion, you know, 
they all went--like Paul Klee, [Wassily] Kandinsky, 
[Laszl6] Moholy-Nagy, of course [Ludwig] Mies [van der 
Rohe] — all of these people and more — I forget all the 
names--they were attracted by this new idea: Less is 



37 



more. I wasn't connected at all, which means that I was 
always very individual. I didn't look left or right, 
[laughs] I was aware of Bauhaus because against Bauhaus, 
in Germany, developed another circle, you know, which was 
against the Bauhaus, under the name, at least a part, went 
under the name Werkbund. Ue had several symposiums, where 
one group of architect [s] were against Bauhaus. Bauhaus 
didn't merit the same importance there as in America. 
V7hy? Because it became a slogan. American [s] loves 
slogans, you know, and Bauhaus is a good slogan. As a 
matter of fact, many times where somebody is, was, writing 
about me, he said, "Bauhaus; he belonged to Bauhaus." 
[laughing] I didn't belong to Bauhaus! 

LASKEY: VJell, I do think there is a tendency to lump all 
modern architecture from the twenties and thirties under 
the heading of Bauhaus, if it's at all modern. 
LASZLO: Yes, yes. But the fact is that every style 
develops, whether it was baroque — [telephone rings, tape 
recorder turned off] Somehow, of course, at the same time, 
the French developed a style which partly you call today 
"art deco," which started actually in, I believe, in 
Austria under [the] name of Jugendstil. I'll give it [the 
spelling] to you later. You know, I have books here from 
German and Austrian period [s] [and] the French period. 
They produced interesting thing [s]. Of course, always 



38 



[there] were a few who were talented and created beautiful 
thing [s]. This is [inaudible] to me. And [during] the 
many time[s] when I was in Vienna-- If any influence was on 
me, it was Vienna, the beautiful city: the baroque build- 
ing[s], and the many beautiful modern buildings. But I was 
not conscious about it. Looking back — since you asked me, 
I am thinking about it — and, well, [it's] possible. But it 
wasn't something as visible as I say, "Oh gosh. All these 
buildings are beautiful," or, "This piece of furniture is 
beautiful, I ought to make a similar or — " No, no. I 
wasn't [influenced] at all. As a matter of fact, this is 
in my nature. I don't want to be influenced by anybody. 
And even if I respect work, which I do all the time, res- 
pect any style. But I wasn't influenced. Which you can 
see in my work, that even after fifty years, it still looks 
basically the same as if I would do it today. 
LASKEY: Well, speaking of that, and taking what you've 
been saying, I would like you to discuss, in depth, now a 
house that we also mentioned in the first interview, which 
was the Bleyle House. First of all, you might describe the 
setting of the house, the [location] of the house itself, 
or the site. 

LASZLO: Of course, the house was in Germany, not in 
Vienna. 
LASKEY: Stuttgart, right? 



39 



LASZLO: Stuttgart. And should I tell you how I got the 
job or — 

LASKEY: We talked about that last time: you met her 
through Mrs. Bleyle's brother, Mr. Weber. 
LASZLO: Gosh, you remember! [laughter] They had a 
beautiful location: eleven acres, almost all, everything 
flat. The most prominent location in Stuttgart. Stuttgart 
is like a bowl. The [central] city is below them and all 
the hills are all around. And of course hillside and 
hilltop were the most expensive, prominent locations. And 
they [Bleyles] built a house — Later on, they met me and 
they realized how this house was old-fashioned, dead. 
LASKEY: Do you remember what the style of the original 
house was? Was it just a classical style? 

LASZLO: Yes, it was. But it wasn't a clear [style]. But 
it was a mixture, you know. And somehow they felt that it 
isn't the house that they want. So they met me and for- 
tunately, slowly, I got the whole house remodeled and 
furnished. And it was, to me, a great satisfaction that I 
gave the people a lot of pleasure. They loved the house, 
they loved everything. It is, after all, the — An archi- 
tect's best place is [when] the client is happy. And we 
became, beyond the professional aspect, great friends. The 
house — I don't have the photos of the house — 
LASKEY: VJell, the first thing I noticed in the entrance 



40 



hall is the checkerboard carpeting. How did you determine 

that design? 

LASZLO: This was of course handwoven. Beautifully 

handwoven carpet. 

LASKEY: Now, did you — in having your carpets made — did you 

go out and contact the weavers, the rug — VJhat would they 

be — the carpet makers? 

LASZLO: Oh, yes. I designed it, and it is custom-made by 

a firm still there [in] Nymphenburg. 

LASKEY: Ordinarily, in an entrance hall like this, which 

is very formal, I see that the doorway is marble, they have 

the oval ceiling, and they have magnificent wood paneling 

throughout the whole hallway. Why carpeting rather than 
marble flooring? 

LASZLO: First of all, the carpet is of course warm, and 
softer, less noisy. Marble or oak floor, it is beautiful, 
but it makes a noise [makes pounding sound] . I notice in 
my son's new house [that] the builder put on, in the entry, 
marble, because this was salesmanship. But every time — 

[repeats sound and laughs] 

LASKEY: Well, I noticed throughout the house that you have 

wall-to-wall carpeting. That must have been fairly unique 

at the time, wasn't it? 

LASZLO: Don't forget these are custom-made rugs and 

carpet. Everything that I designed [was] custom-made. 



41 



This part of the house, you would call here, like "family 

room." Of course, they didn't have children, so it wasn't 

the matter to be practical about many things, because they 

didn't have children. But they lived mostly here [in the 

family room] . 

LASKEY: In what? What is it? This is right off the main 

entrance hall; is it the room? And the fireplace. Very 

interesting fireplace with the formed brick at the end. 

Did you design that? 

LASZLO: Oh, yes. 

LASKEY: And the stairway, the stair railing. 

LASZLO: That was a beautifully made stair rail. You know, 

why I don't have photos of the architecture also [is] 

because when I prepared this book, I figured that it is 

much easier to get, in America, interiors, as [than] to 

build a house. So which means I concentrated in selecting 

photos which — I selected to concentrate on interiors 

instead of architecture. Which worked out pretty good. 

LASKEY: When you came to America? 

LASZLO: Yes. Now, this book was — 

LASKEY: I'm interested, before we go on from here, the 

particular chair in, I think we're still in the family 

room, it's two things. It's light wood, which I think was 

unusual for the thirties. And it seems to be formed wood, 

and I assume that that was your design. 



42 



LASZLO: It wasn't formed. I designed it. As a matter of 
fact, my ex-wife, who lives here in Bel Air [has one of 
these chairs] . I designed her house, too. 
LASKEY: No, I didn't know that. In Los Angeles, or in 
Germany? Here? 

LASZLO: No, here. And she has the chair. 
LASKEY: Really? 
LASZLO: I hope so! [laughs] 

LASKEY: I hope so. I hope so, too. It's a wonderful 
looking, modern-- 

LASZLO: Of course, it [the Bleyle House] was a big house 
which had a billiard room, a dining room, and a breakfast 
room, and — So it means it wasn't important to be practical 
about many things because they had rooms for all activi- 
ties. 

LASKEY: Well, the games room, which is what we're looking 
at now, is particularly interesting. I found it inter- 
esting because you have a combination of things, and the 
beamed ceilings, and again this wall-to-wall carpeting, 
which I just think must — It wasn't usual to have wall-to- 
wall carpeting at that time, was it? In the thirties? 
LASZLO: I have to think about it. [pauses] Yeah. Oh, 
yes, sometimes. I mean — I don't know anymore. [laughs] 
LASKEY: There's oriental rugs — 
LASZLO: No, these are — Of course, I'm able to tell again 



43 



a story because otherwise it does not make sense. There 
was in Munich — I believe they are still there, but not to 
this extent. It was a big building, like here was Barker 
Brothers [in downtown Los Angeles], a big building. But 
the whole firm was [full of] antique [s]; but real 
antiques--the most beautiful merchandise — called Bern- 
heimer. Beautiful. And everything what you saw, the 
furniture and so, it was a big experience, including — They 
had the most amazing collection of rugs which, of course 
you don't see here the color, which is most exquisite, most 
exquisite — which you don't get it anymore. And so, I felt 
to make the room more gemiitlich, and especially where 
people are working at most to play billiards, you know, 
that these pieces would soften the effect and at the same 
time — [telephone rings] And so this was the reason — They 
were art pieces, like a painting, you know. 
LASKEY: I see. And then you combined them with, these — 
The curtains, the draperies, I assume you designed. 



LASZLO 
LASKEY 
LASZLO 
LASKEY 
LASZLO 



Yes. 



And they're silk, is that right? 

I don't know anymore, really. 

I think at some point it said that they were silk. 

Yeah, yeah, possibly, because it made — had been 
printed in Switzerland; so it was of silk. 
LASKEY: We haven't really talked about your interest — how 



44 



you developed your interest — in design. You obviously — 
this was fairly early in your career when you did this, but 
it's a beautiful floral design. And you had already, I 
think, published a little booklet for the Fleischers of 
your design — which we will talk about. But when did you 
start designing fabric? How did you get into the designing 
of it? 

LASZLO: I believe it comes automatically. You weren't 
prepared to do such an interview until somebody had asked 
you, "Do you want to be an interviewer?" You know, so the 
same with me, when the people were asking me to do certain 
designs which, of course, it was wonderful, you know. But 
it wasn't a plan to do all these thing [s], but it came 
automatically beside. 

LASKEY: Really? But the idea, it would seem to me, would 
be very difficult to design it, and then be able to visual- 
ize how it was going to look on the fabric. And, then, get 
the fabric woven or printed to your specifications — 
LASZLO: It wasn't difficult. [laughs] 
LASKEY: [laughing] It wasn't difficult? 
LASZLO: No, it was a lot of fun; never difficult. 
LASKEY: Did you have the sources in, well, in this case, 
in Stuttgart — Were there craftsman, were there artists who 
could readily translate this for you? Or did you say you 
had to go to Switzerland to have these — 



45 



LASZLO: No, it just happened that there was in Zurich a 
certain firm that — I believe that the firm still exists, 
called [Karl] Eschke. And a wonderful man, who was of 
[the] greatest taste and understanding — He died many years 
ago. But the firm, I believe, still exists. Just the 
finest product, you know, just the finest. And, of course, 
[it was] automatic that I did the jobs in Zurich. And he 
visited me at Stuttgart — Eschke — awfully nice person. So, 
when I had such a job, and he was a specialist, this one 
[Eschke], so he made it. But when you ask how difficult, 
especially at the time, it was much easier as [than] 
today. But today is, [it] became everything so money- 
minded that people are not really interested in their work; 
they are only interested in the money they are able to 
make. Not only in America, but all over the world. But 
fortunately, at my time, it was still a great satisfaction 
to create beautiful things without thinking of the money, 
you know. To make, more or less, the work was the most 
important thing. And all these people who worked with me 
were equally congenial to my feelings. We had — The 
painter did beautiful jobs. Beautiful. I mean, the walls 
were all lacquer. Lacquer, you know? 
LASKEY: Lacquer? 

LASZLO: VJhich means I would — Eighteen, eighteen coats 
of — [pauses, leafs through papers] Where was it? Here: 



46 



this room, where — Yellow walls and ceiling, but lacquer, 
you know. We were furnishing — 
LASKEY: We're looking at a tea room. 
LASZLO: A garden room. You know — 

LASKEY: [simultaneously; unintelligible] — that's made 
with all the — It says this is — 
LASZLO: Yes, yes. 

LASKEY: The curtains are magnificent in those, too. What 
color were they? Do you remember? 

LASZLO: All yellow and green. And on this side I built in 
a big aquarium, but along with all this [laughing] beauti- 
ful fish, exotic fish. I had-- And even the — They both 
had — I designed the bird cage, which was beautifully 
made. Unfortunately, I can't see it here. 

And of course the carpet, again. Now here, I believe 
I used a marble floor and this Aubusson rug. All are made 
in — Near Munich is a place called Nymphenburg, which was 
the seat of the Bavarian king. So there is a Schloss 
[castle] , a palais [palace] for the king — still there, you 
know. And he wanted a china factory — beautiful china, 
beautiful china, beautiful china — and carpets. Just 
everything highly artistic. So he collected this group of 
people to create almost a small industry — 
LASKEY: VJhat? 
LASZLO: A small industry, you know. And so this was — I 



47 



mean — An Aubusson is more of a flat-weave carpet, or rug, 

and the rest of it was Savonnery called, which was more 

high-piled. 

LASKEY: Now, the — In the dressing room, this unit that 

you built, that's most extraordinary. Could you describe 

this? Well, it's very moderne-looking . It has — 

LASZLO: [laughs] 

LASKEY: [It] is a very streamlined, very elegant — 

LASZLO: Yes, it was [a] very elegant piece. But it was 

supposed to close. These are — 

LASKEY: So that it would have looked like a closet when it 
was closed. 

LASZLO: Yeah. Then opened up: here lies the phone, and 
make-up, which opened up. Make-up, [laughs] I don't even — 
LASKEY: There's two cabinets on each side, with drawers, 
rounded drawers. This looks like it's lacquered. Is it 
lacquered, or is it plastic? 

LASZLO: Oh, no; lacquer. At that time, plastic wasn't — 
LASKEY: Well you know, I'm— What is the exact date on 
this house? I want to — I have to [inaudible]. 
LASZLO: Nineteen hundred twenty-eight or twenty-nine. 
LASKEY: [Nineteen] twenty-eight I have, so this is very 
early. 

LASZLO: The plastic wasn't used until '35, '36, you know. 
LASKEY: So again, did this have to be done with the 



48 



eighteen coats of painting? The lacquering — was it also 
eighteen coats? 

LASZLO: Oh, yes. It was the most amazing thing. 
LASKEY: And the curves of the windows and the cabinets are 
so subtle. 

LASZLO: Glass, glass. 

LASKEY: Formed glass, formed wood. One doesn't see much 
workmanship like that today, that self-expression. 
LASZLO: No, they wouldn't be interested. I mean it is 
possible to do it. But people wouldn't be interested to go 
through such a process, because — like, glass could break 
several times until you find out how to make it. But who 
would be interested to do this, you know? 
LASKEY: Now, I think that you should talk about what 
ultimately happened to the house, why we can no longer see 
any of this. 

LASZLO: Well, we went back — with my wife Maxine — in '52. 
But of course we were in [inaudible] with other people, 
[telephone rings] What they did, they — [sketching] 
Suppose here was the whole area, you know. Eleven acres is 
[laughing] a big area. So, they [had] sold the house, 
which was in ruins — 

LASKEY: That's what I wanted you to talk about, the fact 
that the house had been destroyed. 
LASZLO: Yes, had been destroyed. Please, once more, this 



49 



part — [continues sketch] Here, they built a new house. 
So in '52 they lived already in the new house. They sold 
[a part of] the property, but they didn't do anything — the 
new owner didn't do anything yet. So we went over, with 
Maxine, and saw the ruins and saw the pieces. Everything 
burned out or destroyed and — Anyhow, this was the end of 
the house and — the war. 

He died — Mr. Bleyle--! believe, died in '65 or '66 and 
Mrs. Bleyle died in '77. I went over every year on her 
birthday [May 21]. We met up in Baden-Baden. I mean, it's 
a beautiful resort place. And so I went over for a few 
days and flew back again. 
LASKEY: Every year? 
LASZLO: Every year, yes. 
LASKEY: How wonderful. 

LASZLO: Until she died. She was already at eighty-nine. 
And the last time we were together at Baden-Baden, she 
wasn't always clear. And then she went off to sleep-- 
[inaudible; pauses] So this was the end of the Bleyle 
House. 

LASKEY: That must have been very difficult on you to have 
seen all that in ruin, wasn't it? 

LASZLO: I believe that the fact that these people who were 
so happy and pleasant, with all the richdom, they were so 
simple, you know, so — how should I say it — it was very easy 



50 



to live with them. In spite of that they have two chamber- 
maids, just how you see in the movies: very silent, but 
clean; everything just so. Two cooks, who cooked just 
fabulously, you know. And a butler — But still you didn't 
see any sign of being ostentatious; it was so natural, you 
know. So, at the end of — It was wonderful for me, and 
they were wonderful — helping me. 

LASKEY: Well, we've mentioned the word "elegant" a lot — it 
has come up in the conversation — which has always been the 
term that's been applied to your work. Is that something 
that you feel came from your own experience with your 
family, growing up in furniture? 

LASZLO: Yeah, I believe so. I believe so. We lived in a 
very cultured life at home. Until I left, we had music 
every week, so people came over to make chamber music and — 
LASKEY: In your home? 

LASZLO: Yes, in our home. Which means it was very 
cultured, civilized, way of living. Unfortunately, it 
ended with the war and [the] communistic regime. And then 
came the Hungarian Nazis. So it was a very difficult 
time — still is — which means it started [in] 1914, and it is 
still difficult times, you know. Especially today, you 
hear so many things, which years ago you didn't hear: that 
European people are starving. But today, you have the 
radio, TV, and jet plane. Everything. 



51 



But at that time, I had a very happy childhood, and my 
parents were just wonderful. So I believe all this country 
[Hungary] would [be] part of what I did. And, of course, 
when you live in Vienna and in Germany, and see it all, 
these many things, these — It is just like a food mixer: 
you add everything. Of course, I didn't — And then when 
you design something, it's a result of this many, many 
wonderful impressions: social, and otherwise. 
LASKEY: Did your family stay in Hungary, that is, your 
parents? 

LASZLO: They stayed; they were killed by the Nazis. 
LASKEY: Oh, how terrible. I didn't know that. 
LASZLO: Nine of my family was tortured and killed. 
LASKEY: Oh, Mr. LSszlfi, that's — 

LASZLO: So — Anyhow, I wanted to show you, because I don't 
know whether you have seen this, [going through papers] my 
house, in a good photograph. 

LASKEY: Oh, yes. [pause] Well, we're going to get to 
this a little bit later, and so we'll hold on to that. 

Before, there's just a — I'm looking at, I'm still 
looking at this book, because I want to finish up your 
experiences in Europe before we get you over here. And 
quite opposite from what you did in the Bleyle House, 
there's — It's only identified as a flat in Zurich [Mr. and 
Mrs. Robert VJeir apartment], which is considerably modern 



52 



in it's, in all its elements, than was the Bleyle House. 

That is, with much more of the curved, stainless steel, the 

rounded edges — 

LASZLO: Yes, yeah. 

LASKEY: — the definitely modern look. There's still a 

warmth and a softness to it that I don't see in other 

modern design. 

LASZLO: Well, the difference is that this was a big 

apartment [for young people] on the — You know, a big 

apartment. But [an] apartment, not a house which they 

owned and — 



53 



TAPE NUMBER: II, SIDE TWO 
NOVEMBER 21, 1984 

LASKEY: [It] was designed [as] if it might have been 
designed for younger people — the flat in Zurich. It has a 
younger look about it in the modernness of it. 
LASZLO: Oh, yes. These people, who came over to America, 
too, in '37 or so — He died [a few years ago], but she is 
still living in Charlotte, [North Carolina]. Wonderful 
people. Wonderful people. But it was an apartment. And, 
of course, her parents were immensely rich — I mean 
immensely rich — and her mother [Selma V^olff] was like 
[William Randolph] Hearst. She bought up all paintings: 
modern, and all the masters, you know. And it was in big 
cases, never opened. 

LASKEY: Now what was the name of the people? 
LASZLO: This was Weir. And her father owned one of the 
largest textile firm[s], and they had offices in South 
America, here in Boston, and in Africa — all over. [tele- 
phone rings; interview continues] But, here too, you know, 
the people were the loveliest of people, in spite of all 
the money. Maxine [Fife LSszlS] , when she met them, and 
they left on the train, Maxine cried [and said,] "How come 
that we have to live apart?" You know, such wonderful 
people. 
LASKEY: Now, how did you meet them? 



54 



LASZLO: They lived in Stuttgart. The major firm 
headquarters were near Stuttgart, and they lived in 
Stuttgart. 

He was supposed to become a concert piano player until 
he met her and the father of her said, "No, if he wants to 
marry you, he has to work for us." So he changed his pro- 
fession and became an excellent textile man. He learned in 
London and in New York, and then came back to Stuttgart 
[and got] married. 

And then the firm had to leave Germany. The four 
partners divided the world, and my friend got America. 
They still own the firm. And I did some work for him in 
Boston. Then he moved to Atlanta — so I did [laughing] 
again the Atlanta shop — and finally they moved to 
Charlotte. 

LASKEY: North Carolina? 

LASZLO: Because the factory was in Charlotte. 
LASKEY: Now before we leave all this, I must have you tell 
me about this room: the music room. It's the most extra- 
ordinary-looking room. 

LASZLO: Now, these are different people [the Jeitteles]. 
Again, young people who — He was — Again, it's the story, 
[laughs] He owned — he and his father, [the] family owned — 
near Stuttgart, a glove factory. Mostly exported to 
America. So they asked me to design gloves. 



55 



LASKEY: Oh, you designed the gloves? Really? 
LASZLO: A whole thing, you know. 

LASKEY: Did you really? A whole line of gloves? 
LASZLO: And many times I see here some of gloves which is 
the same as I designed [laughing] fifty years ago! 
LASKEY: Is that so? 

LASZLO: As a matter of fact, when the first zeppelin came 
to New York—first trip— he asked to design a glove which 
would commemorate the first trip. 
LASKEY: Was that the Hindenburg? 

LASZLO: No, it was a zeppelin. Which means the same 
[type] aircraft. Whether you meant [the] Hindenburg, which 
went down — 
LASKEY: Yeah, yeah. 

LASZLO: They had several names for the same aircraft. 
They came several times before [the] Hindenburg dropped, 
you know. 

LASKEY: Really? 

LASZLO: Oh, sure. It was before your time. Many trips 
came to New York, and to South America. They brought a lot 
of merchandise and people. And on the first trip to New 
York, I designed for these people a glove with a zeppe- 
lin. [laughs] 

LASKEY: That's wonderful. Do you still have any? They 
must be collectors items. 



56 



LASZLO: No, I mean — At that time, who was thinking that 

in fifty years that I will meet you? [laughter] No — so 

many things that I made, I've forgotten [until] now, 

because you ask me; it's good. 

LASKEY: VVell, it's interesting because — How did they 

happen to come to you to design gloves? Was it from seeing 

your fabric designs or your architecture? 

LASZLO: No, I believe — I believe that at the time, 

especially in Stuttgart, but even here, there weren't too 

many designers. Today, of course, there are millions, you 

know: decorators, designers. But, at that time, there 

weren't many designers, so the name became the faster 

known. So I don't know. People were coming to me to 

design something. And so, young people — and I was young 

too--so I designed for them the house. Later on, in '33, 

they [the Jeitteles] moved to England — to Surbiton, which 

is close to VJimbledon. So I had to decorate the house in 

England. Which means they sold the house and took a lot of 

the furniture. 

LASKEY: Now, which family was this? 

LASZLO: They called it — They changed their name. Now 

they are Jeffries. 

LASKEY: But now this — the music room — the one that I want 

you to talk about: this was not in London, right? This 

was in Stuttgart. 



57 



LASZLO: No, this was in Stuttgart, yes. You know — 
LASKEY: Yeah, they're next to each other here. But how 
did this room come about? 

LASZLO: He was crazy about [Richard] Wagner. Everything 
was Wagner, you know. He went every year even as a young 
man to Bayreuth and — to hear Wagner. He played excellent 
piano and had many friends who came over to play music. 
And so he wanted a music room with good acoustic[s]. So I 
don't know how I came onto this idea to make these gold 
leaf, which is about so big, you know. 
LASKEY: What, about four inch square? 

LASZLO: Yeah, four inch square. The whole — [pauses] 
LASKEY: The walls and ceilings are covered in gold leaf. 
And did this — There is — The corners, the bend — Is that 
for acoustics, or was that just part of the design into the 
house? 

LASZLO: No — Frankly, I don't know anymore, you know. 
LASKEY: There's also cabinetry built into one side of the 
room for a display of records and music that's extraordin- 
arily beautiful. 

LASZLO: Yes, all his pas de deux. He collected pas de 
deux. He had Mozart and Schubert original pas de deux, you 
know. 

LASKEY: Really? So then the gold leaf, then, was parti- 
ally an acoustical consideration? 



58 



LASZLO: Yeah, it worked excellent, you know. 
LASKEY: It must have been an absolutely stunning room to — 
LASZLO: [laughter] Yes. 

LASKEY: — walk into. What is the cabinetry; what kind of 
wood was that? 

LASZLO: We called it — Of course, all veneers have an 
artificial name. V-Jhich means here, [one would] call it 
different. But we called it palisander [rosewood] . 
LASKEY: It looks in the photograph like it's a medium dark 
veneer. 

LASZLO: "Amarant" [brand veneer]. Yes, of course it is a 
black and white [photo] . 

LASKEY: Yes, that's why I'm trying — We have, then, gold- 
leaf walls and ceilings, a medium dark wood, and what color 
was the carpeting? 
LASZLO: I don't know. 
LASKEY: Don't remember? 
LASZLO: I can't remember. 

LASKEY: I'm sorry we don't have this room in color — 
LASZLO: The piano is a Steinway. He loved everything 
American, you know. 

LASKEY: That's interesting. Whereas Americans want 
everything to be European. 

LASZLO: He spend a year or two for his firm, who sold 
gloves, in New York. So he became — when he came home, 



59 



[when] he came back again to Stuttgart — American. [laughs] 

LASKEY: Well, that's the house. 

LASZLO: That's a different house. 

LASKEY: But that looks very American. That looks very 

much like what we think of as streamline moderne, and also 

what I think of as Californian, except it has a tile 

roof. How did you come upon that design? Because that's 

very modern-looking. 

LASZLO: [laughing] I don't know. 

LASKEY: You don't remember? Was this in Stuttgart? 

LASZLO: Yes — I'll show you — but all burned out [in World 

V7ar II], you know. And it was built [1931-1932] for two 

brothers [Ludwig Marx and Morris Marx; indicating]: one, 

and two. So when he had here this curve, he had here — 



LASKEY 



LASZLO 
LASKEY 
LASZLO 



Oh, I see — 



— this curve, you know. 

So the curves match, the form matches. 

So everything was — had to be repeated, you see. 
It was a three-story house, you know. 

LASKEY: The use of the tile is interesting. What kind of 
tile is it? 

LASZLO: I don't remember. 

LASKEY: It's not the kind of tile we have in Southern 
California, is it? Or was that used — You don't remember? 
LASZLO: [laughs] I don't — 



60 



LASKEY: I'm just surprised to see it in Stuttgart, at that 
time. 

LASZLO: [pauses; pages turning] This was American too. 
VJe had to build the cabinet with--which had built-in water 
sponge with [it] so the cigars, tobacco, has just the 
correct humidity. It [is] called humidor, you know, which 
is a, like-- 

LASKEY: Now, this is in the same house with the music 
room? This is the dining room? 
LASZLO: Yeah, yeah. 

LASKEY: I noticed in the built-- Again, the touches of the 
modern come through — that the cabinet holding the glass- 
ware, the long narrow, built-in — It looks like a work of 
art; it looks a painting on the wall. [pages turning] 
LASZLO: This was interesting, because she had a problem 
seeing it. So it went back and forth, this mirror. VJhen 
she needed clothes, well, it-- 

LASKEY: Oh, a make-up mirror in the lady's dressing room. 
LASZLO: Yeah. 

LASKEY: What a good idea--when you're trying to put on 
make-up without your glasses. 

LASZLO: This is a different house [Walter Kahn House] , 
again. It's a different house with different people, 
[pages turning] 
LASKEY: This dining room is with the checkered floor sort 



61 



of going into a perspective, and the plastic draperies 

are--has that, again, the streamlined, sort of streamline 

moderne look. 

LASZLO: The floor, I don't know anymore what it was. 

LASKEY: But what were the draperies? 

LASZLO: They came out [with] a new idea of plastic, which 

was new and I liked it, and they liked it, so we put it on, 

you know. 

LASKEY: So this must have been in the early thirties then 

that you'd done this. About '33, '34? 

LASZLO: It was '32. They left [in] '33. They were — She 

was a friend of — VJhat was the name of the Dominican 

dictator? 

LASKEY: Somoza? No, not Somo — That wasn't — 

LASZLO: Not Utrillo — 

LASKEY: We'll have to check that. [Rafael Trujillo 

Molina] 

LASZLO: Anyhow, she went to school with this dictator's 

daughter in Switzerland. What was the name? [laughing] 

It will come to me. So when Hitler came — they were 

Jewish--they invited them to come to Santo Domingo. So 

they moved to Santo Domingo with--they had a child — no, two 

children. And this dictator — He [Kahn] was, [in] Europe, 

in [the] tobacco business. So in Santo Domingo he went in 

the same business, tobacco, of anything — After a few years 



62 



they came over to New York. And we became again friends, 
with Maxine, and he died — no, she died, and [then] he 
died. And-- But, you know, after so many years, people 
die. VJhen you are young, nobody is dying. [laughs] 
LASKEY: "We are all immortal." 

LASZLO: Awfully nice people. This was another house, that 
[turning pages] was the Fleischer House. He was a bache- 
lor. 

LASKEY: Now, the Fleischers we talked about, a little bit, 
them last time. They were — You did a lot of design work 
for them, right? Not only for their houses, but you de- 
signed fabric, you designed furniture. 
LASZLO: No, paper. 
LASKEY: Paper, paper, yes. 

LASZLO: They had [an] immensely large paper factory near 
Stuttgart called Goppingen. And they were the parents and 
two boys [Herman and Walter]. [The] boys, they were in my 
age, you know. Very educated in England. And they had a 
great export [business] to America and all over the world, 
in paper goods and everything. Today, of course [it] is 
different; today, so many people are doing it. But at that 
time they were the largest. They asked me to design paper 
napkins. So every year I designed a new line. Then they 
say, "What can we do with toilet paper?" [laughter] So I 
say: "Print it." 



63 



LASKEY: This was in the late twenties? Early thirties? 

LASZLO: Yes. And they colored it and they print [ed] it. 

I designed, for both boys, a home in Goppingen, which was 

about a half a mile from Stuttgart. Both died in 

England. They left Germany and they went to England. 

[pauses] I am the only one [laughing] who survived! 

LASKEY: At that time were you married? In Germany? 

LASZLO: No, I married here. 

LASKEY: You married here. But you were skiing, no 

doubt. You are an avid skier. 

LASZLO: Oh, yes, I went every year skiing. In Europe too, 

and here, too. Until I got to [be] sixty years old. I 

gave it up because at that time our son [Peter Paul LSszlC] 

couldn't miss school anymore. He was born [in] '50, and 

[being] sixty, you know — *[It was time for me to quit 

skiing anyway.] Before, * [when we took Peter skiing,] he 

didn't miss anything at school, but [when] he became 

[older] — He went to — Pali [Pacific Palisades] High, is 

it? 

LASKEY: Here? 

LASZLO: Yeah, here. 

LASKEY: University High, perhaps? Or Santa Monica High? 

Where were you living? 



* Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section 
during his review of the transcript. 



64 



LASZLO: Pali High, [it] was on Sunset *[in Pacific 
Palisades]. Anyway, he went to school there — 
LASKEY: Oh, Palisades High. 

LASZLO: So he couldn't get away two weeks for skiing, so I 
gave it up, too. 

LASKEY: Oh, that's a shame, that's too bad. 
LASZLO: Yes, but, you know, I loved him so much that, you 
know, it [he] was part of the fun-- He became, later he 
went to UCLA, and he became Ail-American in golf. 
LASKEY: Really? Were you a golf player? Or was that 
something that he picked up by himself? 

LASZLO: I belong [ed] to Brentwood [Country Club], and so I 
took him over and we played together. And the club got a 
new pro, who was excellent. So, he picked it up, and he 
became a club champion for four years. At UCLA, a champion 
for three, four years, you know. *[I gave up tennis when I 
joined the Brentwood Country Club early in the fifties. 
The same excellent pro who taught my son to play golf so 
well never succeeded in making me anything much better than 
a weekend duffer, but my membership in the club brought 
many rewards anyway. I completely remodeled and refur- 
nished in association with architect Sidney Eisenstaht, the 



* Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section 
during his review of the transcript. 



65 



clubhouse. It was a big, old Spanish-style building which 
used to be called the California Club, and was badly in 
need of modernizing. The job turned out well, but I 
learned many things while working on it; the most signif- 
icant being not to accept any more commissions when you 
have a committee or "board of directors" to please instead 
of one man. And the wives of members were another prob- 
lem. So many thought of themselves as talented decorators 
and would always complain if their color preference was 
blue instead of red for the lamps or accent pillows, for 
example, which I had selected. I was certainly happy when 
that job was finished and looked good. The best part came 
later when I was given many jobs to do — homes, mainly, 
though not exclusively--f or several of the club members, 
and we always became good friends. Many of these fine 
people have passed away over the years, of course, though 
we still see a few now and then. But the friendships I 
made enriched my life even to this day. Some of the jobs 
from this period included work for Newfield, Braunstein, 
Elzer, Isaacs, Abbott, Kafka, Donner, and Stever.] So, 
what he lost in skiing, he gained — [laughing] 
LASKEY: He made up in golf. But all that is to come; it's 
still the early thirties. You're in Stuttgart and very 
successful. Why would you decide to come to the United 
States? 



66 



LASZLO: First of all, I am half Jewish. Secondly, I was 

so busy doing jobs and — The building department wouldn't 

give me a permit to use steel beams. 

LASKEY: They wouldn't? 

LASZLO: No. 

LASKEY: Why? 

LASZLO: Because they needed the steel for armament. 

LASKEY: Oh. This was in the early thirties? 

LASZLO: This was actually '35. 

LASKEY: And, technically, there was no war going on at 

that time, right? 

LASZLO: No, but it was, it was already — Like, you 

couldn't talk about [the] Autobahn, which is a freeway (a 

German says Autobahn). It was a secret, you know: "You 

don't talk about Autobahn because it was designed to 

[handle the] rapid movement of troops." So you didn't — So 

there was already signs that something is coming. Then 

this idea of steel, you know. Many other things I can't 

remember. 

So I made up my mind to leave Germany, and at that 
time there was a competition in Europe, all over Europe, 
for a professorship in Chile. And people who were inter- 
ested had to send in photos, and etcetera. I got the job. 
LASKEY: In Chile? 
LASZLO: Yes, in a school called [the] College of Santa 



67 



Maria [Universidad Tecnica Federico Santa Maria] , or so. 
It is outside of Valparaiso. So I sign the contract with 
the consul of Chile, or whoever it was. And at the same 
time, some friends of mine came back from a trip to Chile 
and South America. So we had dinner together; [they] say, 
"Paul, don't go over there." They said, "They are a 
hundred years behind. Please don't go there." So I had a 
hard time to break my contract. 

LASKEY: They didn't want — They wanted to hold you to 
it? 

LASZLO: Yeah. But finally, they say OK. So then, I went 
to the American consulate in Stuttgart. The consulate was 
operating two weeks in Stuttgart and two weeks in Vienna. 
The same people went from Stuttgart to Vienna, so, you 
know-- I was fortunate it was in Stuttgart. So, to make it 
short, finally I got the visa. It was-- This was diffi- 
cult. 

LASKEY: The visa? Getting the visa was difficult? 
LASZLO: Yeah, yeah. Today, the Mexicans are coming in, a 
million. But at that time they were strict, which means 
that you had to show them that you have [a] means [of 
support] in America. So you are not [going to] become a 
burden on the government. I had money — in America or in a 
land which didn't have money restriction [s] . Which means 
Germany had a money restriction; you could not take out 
money from Germany. 

68 



LASKEY: I was going to ask you about that. 
LASZLO: But in Switzerland it was free. And in London 
[it] was free, and in America [it] was free. Anyhow, I had 
money in Switzerland, and in New York, which I slowly sent 
it over, when I was able to do it. But I didn't dare to 
show them, because they were full of spies — Nazi spies — in, 
you know, the consulate. 
LASKEY: The consulate too? 
LASZLO: Yeah. 

LASKEY: It must have been a very difficult time for 
existing — 

LASZLO: Oh, it was! It was. It was a difficult time. 
But finally-- And of course you had to go [to] a medical 
examination, and many things. But fortunately, a consular, 
who lived out in a house that I designed in Stuttgart, 
arranged with [the] inspector to let me in, because I would 
be — I would contribute to the American cultural life. So 
that [is] the way that I got in. And fortunately — I don't 
know how, I still don't know how — they got for me an 
American quota number. Which means each nation had a quota 
starting in '24. Up to '24, when you had twenty dollars, 
you came in. But in '24, they established an immigration 
law, giving each nation a proportion of their American 
population. Which means British was the quota of, I 
believe, 56,000; Germany was 26,000; Hungary was only 700. 



69 



LASKEY: That's right, you were still a citizen of Hungary, 
weren't you? 

LASZLO: Hungary, yeah. So I don't know how — because it 
[the Hungarian quota] was taken for ten years ahead--I got 
a quota number. So here [laughing] I am! 
LASKEY: Somebody liked you somewhere. 

LASZLO: [laughter] Yeah. So I came over here; it was 
wonderful. From the first day on, it was a love affair. 
LASKEY: What was it like to leave Germany, and Hungary? 
To leave Europe? You must have been mixed in your feelings 
somewhat, weren't you? 

LASZLO: When I [left] the boat from England to America, in 
'36, I said to myself, "I don't care to come back ever." 
LASKEY: Really? Was it because the political situation 
had become so terrible? 

LASZLO: No, but I believe in spite of the fact that I have 
a good time and good business and the money, I wasn't 
emotionally married to, neither to Hungary nor Austria nor 
Germany, you know. I worked there and had a good time, and 
I made friends, you know, but I wasn't emotionally in- 
volved. Here I was emotionally involved. How can you 
explain it, I don't know. 

So, of course, after many years, in '52, we went back 
because my wife, she insisted, you know. She said, "Now, 
the children are still small, now is the time to go." So 



70 



we went for three months in '52. And it was too long. I 

cried every evening, "Oh, god!" Anyhow, we had a wonderful 

time. We went all in luxury, with American passport. You 

know: "I['m] American." 

LASKEY: So 1952 was the first time that you went back 

after leaving in 1936? 

LASZLO: Yes. So, of course, I didn't feel anything for 

Germany, or for, you know— But we enjoyed it, especially 

she enjoyed it. I remember we came into London— we flew in 

from New York— [she said,] "I love that, I love that." 

[laughs] And we flew to Paris, and we took a taxi from the 

airport to the hotel. [Maxine said,] "I can't believe it; 
I'm in Paris! I can't — " So to her it was especially 

important; to me, I knew Paris, I knew London, I knew 

Berlin, I knew Switzerland. 

LASKEY: But after all those years, what did it feel like? 

LASZLO: [pauses] VThere? In Germany? 

LASKEY: Yeah, probably, Germany, more because that's where 

most of your — 

LASZLO: I believe they are still Nazis. 

LASKEY: Really? 

LASZLO: They are still, you know. Because of the reason 

that history is still with them. You know, I remember when 

the whole world was afraid of Germany. The whole world was 

scared to death of Germany. They were big, and business 



71 



was booming, and— So, they remember it, that it was six or 
eight years, or six years, a wonderful time if you were 
Germans and you didn't mind the daily [harangue] of Hitler 
or [Joseph] Goebbels, [Hermann] Goring everyday. 

I like to look at, here, football. My wife resent [s] 
it. But when I came over, I went to San Francisco on a 
trip with a car of mine and came back Saturday morning. I 
turn on the radio. And we heard football. People were 
happy, and shouting thing[s], you know; every station was 
football. It gave me a great feeling that I don't have to 
listen to Goebbels, and to Hitler, and to these people, but 
[to] football, you know. People are at peace and enjoying 
themselves. So this made a great impression on me, which I 
never forget. 
LASKEY: I think that's a wonderful place to stop. 



72 



TAPE NUMBER: III, SIDE ONE 
DECEMBER 19, 1984 

LASKEY: Mr. Laszl6, in our last tape when we had finished 
talking we had just gotten you to the United States. So I 
think this time we will pick up with that part of it. When 
you got off the boat in the United States in 1936, what 
happened to you? 

LASZLO: First of all, I was on the boat and was still 
under the scare of what [was] happening to me: Whether it 
was real or not; I know not. On the boat the last day, 
when we landed in New York, we had to go to the big dining 
room where all the inspectors [were]. 
LASKEY: This was on the boat? 

LASZLO: Yeah, yeah, on the boat, you know. It was about 
six, eight, ten inspectors who checked it over, for your 
paper[s], including mine. So I was a little bit appre- 
hensive, you know, to see so many officials. And the first 
man who was taking my passport was apparently a doctor, you 
know, who checks over whether they're healthy. So he sees 
my Hungarian passport and he says, "That son of mine — " 
Apparently, he was Hungarian. [laughs] 

LASKEY: Oh, really? Well, that must have made you feel 
better. 

LASZLO: So — yes, you said it — at once, I felt a little 
better. And it went very smooth, and I debarked on my "L," 

73 



you know. Each person had to go to his initials: "L." I 

had fifteen brand-new, polished, black luggages. [tape 

recorder malfunctions briefly; continues mid-sentence] 

God! How will I go through to open up all these luggages? 

But before I left I bought in Switzerland a hat, a 

Borsalino hat, which is, I believe, was the best in the 

world. 

LASKEY: The Borsalino hat? 

LASZLO: The Borsalino, yeah. Very light. And green. Of 

course, I did not — I liked green, so — I am waiting there, 

under "L," you know. I'm wondering how will I explain it; 

I couldn't speak a word of English. 

LASKEY: That's right. 

LASZLO: How will I explain it? This is fifteen [laughing] 

luggages! So, apparently, an inspector came again — a 

custom [s official] — and he look [ed] at me and he embraces 

me. I don't know what he said, but he was an Irishman and 

he saw my green hat! [laughter] 

LASKEY: Oh, that's wonderful. 

LASZLO: And so my entry was very pleasant. I didn't have 

to open up anything. I took a taxi and went to Hampshire 

House. Do you know New York? 

LASKEY: Not very well, not very well. 

LASZLO: Hampshire House is facing the Central Park. 

LASKEY: How nice. 



74 



LASZLO: At that time, I remember, [a] beautiful room: 
five dollar [s] . 
LASKEY: Oh, my. 

LASZLO: Which was twenty [ Deutsch] marks . I think, God! 
I'm spending already [laughing] the money! But I stayed in 
New York about ten days. And then I met a friend of mine, 
and we got a car and drove out to here. We went first to 
Grand Rapids [Michigan] , because the furniture — I was 
interested in, you know, and at that time. Grand Rapids was 
[the] center of the furniture industry. Not any more, but 
at the time it was there. And it was-- We went to a famous 
factory, the name was Baker. So we went in the showroom, a 
big showroom, and the man comes out and said, "Mr. 
Laszl6." So apparently — I didn't remember him — apparently 
he visited me in Stuttgart, in my studio. Many Americans 
came over to look around and I would design-- Anyhow — 

And then we went to Chicago [and] Buffalo to look at 
the Ford factory. Slowly we came to Denver, and Las Vegas, 
and Los Angeles. And it was a revelation: beautiful 
sunshine; Beverly Hills was all green and beautiful and 
peaceful. It was wonderful, you know, I'll tell you. I 
fell in love in New York with America, [but] especially, 
here it was — And at the time, of course, it was easy. I 
took an apartment in Beverly Hills, where today Neiman- 
Marcus is. 



75 



LASKEY: Oh, how nice. 

LASZLO: And I paid seventy-five dollars for a two bedroom 
apartment. I bouqht a car because at the corner it was a 
car dealer. Opposite of Neiman-Marcus , it was a car 
dealer. So I bought a car. And went to luncheon to [the] 
Brown Derby. 

LASKEY: The one on Wilshire? Or the one in Beverly Hills 
or the original one? 

LASZLO: Beverly Hills. And I was impressed. At that time 
they had only girls serving. Pretty girls, apparently, who 
could make out in the movies. They had this beige-brown, 
like crinoline, dress, you know? I remember that I paid a 
dollar for the full luncheon. And [in the] afternoon I 
went over--I don't know anymore how--and joined a tennis 
club in — On [3084] Motor Avenue was a club. West Side. 
LASKEY: I think it's still there. 

LASZLO: Still there, but under a different name. But at 
the time, it was the club, because all the famous people, 
movie stars, they all belonged there. You know? Everybody 
who had a name belonged there. I loved to play tennis, and 
I was pretty good. So I joined the club and — I thought 
maybe I told you — after a few days I got a call. At the 
time you [could] get a phone in half an hour, you know? 
LASKEY: I can't imagine it, but I guess there were those 
days. [laughter] 



76 



LASZLO: I don't know how, but it was three days after, I 

got a call. The man [Walter Loewendahl, Jr.] spoke 

German. And he said to me, "My father [Walther Loewendahl, 

Sr.] wants to have you design a shoe salon downtown. If 

you are willing to do the job for three hundred dollars, 

then the job is yours." 

LASKEY: Now three hundred dollars had to have been a lot 

of money. Wasn't it? 

LASZLO: Three hundred dollars translated in a luncheon at 

the Derby, which is like two dollars — 

LASKEY: A dollarl 

LASZLO: Anyhow, I don't know how, but I did the job and 

everything was fine. Regardless that I couldn't speak a 

word of English. I don't know how I did it. Of course, 

his son helped me; he spoke German and English. So this 

was the start. After a few days, I was already working. 

LASKEY: How did he know you were here? 

LASZLO: Maybe I told you the story in New York that I went 

down in Hampshire House to look at the menu, a breakfast 

menu. And of course I didn't know what it is. So a couple 

at [the] next table, they notice that I don't know what to 

order, how to talk. So they came over — they spoke a little 

bit of German — and they helped me to select the breakfast 

and invited me for a day in New York. 

LASKEY: How nice. 



77 



LASZLO: Strange [laughing] people. Strange people. 
Stranger now that strange people — It was wonderful. So 
they took me to Long Island — you know, Forest Hills — 
because they notice that I have [an] interest in tennis, 
and had luncheon and dinner. And they brought me back to 
the hotel, and that kind of thing. And I gave her a kiss, 
you know, but I forgot the names. I forgot the names. 

But these people [in Los Angeles], these Loewendahls, 
apparently were a friend of [laughing] them. And they told 
Mr. Loewendahl about my name and that I am in California; 
Los Angeles. So he remembered the name from Germany [so] 
that, as a result, he called me up and I got the job. And 
then — I don't know anymore--! had many people coming, 
phoning me. One was Slavick's. 
LASKEY: Oh, the jewelry store? 

LASZLO: Yeah. And they were, of course, strangers to me, 
but they were kind enough to say, "Join us Sunday at" — 
whatever date. Now they lived here somewhere--you know, 
Santa Monica; a big house. And he had a workshop where he 
loved to make furniture. 



LASKEY 
LASZLO 
LASKEY 
LASZLO 



Mr. Slavick? This is Mr. Slavick? 

Yeah. 

He was a furniture maker too? 

He died in the meantime. They were older people. 



but wonderful, you know. And then, I don't know, a lady 



78 



approached me — a decorator. And she told me that she got a 
job which is too big for her, and she heard of me, al- 
ready! I don't know how. 

LASKEY: Now, you still hadn't — At this point you still 
hadn't opened your own store, your own office? 
LASZLO: No, no. But, I believe that [I] was already 
working on my home office in — I rented the top floor at 
[the] Fox Wilshire Building [8440 Wilshire Boulevard, 
Beverly Hills]. The movies, you know? 
LASKEY: Near La Cienega? 
LASZLO: Yeah, yeah. 
LASKEY: Oh, really? 

LASZLO: It belonged to Mr. [Albert H.] Chotiner. His son 
is in politic [s]. He supported Nixon, you know. 
LASKEY: Murray [M.] Chotiner is the son, right? Murray? 
LASZLO: He had two sons, but only one whom I knew. So I 
rented the whole floor, and he couldn't believe it. 

And he said, "Yes, but it [will] cost you a hundred 
dollar [s] a month; are you able to pay me six — " He spoke 
a little bit of German. He came from Czechoslavakia, I 
believe; the old man Chotiner. So he told me, "A hundred 
dollar [s] a month and six month [s] payment at once, in 
front of you." 

So I said, "All right." [laughing] Six hundred 
dollar [s]! I told him that I want to remodel the whole 
floor. 

79 



[Chotiner responded] : "Remodel? Refugee — Remodel 
the floor? He's crazy!" [laughter] 

Anyhow, I remodeled. I tell you, this was my best 
office in Los Angeles. 
LASKEY: Really? 

LASZLO: Yeah, beautiful. All the view from that; Los 
Angeles, you know. And I had a big private office: big, 
big, big private office. Anyhow, so then, this lady — her 
name was Jessie something — she told me she got a job which 
is too big for her— for a couple, [the] Weingarten [s] . 
LASKEY: For who? 

LASZLO: Larry [Lawrence A.] Weingarten, who was at that 
time married to Sylvia Thalberg. She was the sister of the 
famous producer Thalberg. 
LASKEY: Irving Thalberg? 

LASZLO: Yeah. So of course to me, to be [inaudible] 
without anything, you know. You don't know Europe — 
Producers in America, you know — *[The name Irving Thalberg 
didn't mean very much to me at the time because I had only 
been in America a short while and most Europeans, including 
myself, didn't know anything about American producers. The 
only famous movie names I recognized were Charlie Chaplin 
and Clark Gable.] 



* Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section 
during his review of the transcript. 



80 



LASKEY: Right. 

LASZLO: Trapped in [the] United States. But that's all 
you know. So, I met the people. It was a remodeling job 
in his [Weingarten's] Beverly Hills home [1936-1937]. I 
did the job, and no problem; [laughing] no problem. 
LASKEY: How did you get around the language problem? 
LASZLO: I don't know, I just don't know. In the meantime, 
this Jessie who-ever-i t-was married a man, an older man [A. 
Rosenfield], and they wanted to have a house in Palm 
Springs. So she asked me to design the house, [laughs] 
which I did. Did that in Palm Springs. [pauses] 

Then I met, through [the] tennis club, many people. 
There, a promoter in the club, was a gentleman, a real 
gentleman, Elmer Griffin, who was the — is the uncle of Merv 
Griffin and awfully nice. So, in this club, I met a German 
couple, [Mr. and Mrs. Walter] Jurman. He was at MGM . He 
composed this famous song: [sings] "San Francisco, open 
your [golden gate]--" 

LASKEY: Really? And he's from Los Angeles? 
LASZLO: But he was a German. 
LASKEY: He's a German. 

LASZLO: So we became friends. And after a few weeks he 
told me he would like to build a house in Brentwood. And 
he bought already [a] lot on Bristol Avenue in Brentwood. 
Awfully nice street, you know. So he told me to go ahead. 



81 



to make the plans, which I did. And we had a contractor. 
The day we wanted to start he called me up, "Paul, stop 
everything, I get a divorce." So this job was down. 

In the meantime--! don't know the correct sequence of 
these jobs anymore because they [are] about all the same 
time — and I went to Bullock's, maybe I told you, downtown 
and talked to the district manager who is in charge of the 
decorating and remodeling of [the] departments. So he told 
me, somehow, that he doesn't have anything for me but 
[that] I should see a Mr. [Raymond C] Dexter at Bullock's 
Wilshire . 

So I went to Mr. Dexter with my book of work. And he 
gave me a job. At first, one department and then, slowly, 
almost the whole Bullock's Wilshire. 

LASKEY: Bullock's Wilshire. How did you happen to go to 
Bullock's? Did you, just because they were a good 
department store, or did someone tell you there was 
something that needed to be done? 

LASZLO: I can't recall; maybe somebody told me, or out of 
the paper I saw-- I don't know anymore. [tape recorder 
turned off] 

LASKEY: How long was your association with Bullock's? 
LASZLO: Many years, many years. But I did — Of course, 
[the] Wilshire store went for years because I did two 
departments [a] year. There [were] several departments. 



82 



you know, so it went on for years. In the meantime, I did 
some work in Bullock's Pasadena, that I did. 
LASKEY: Really? 

LASZLO: And Bullock's Wilshire, and Bullock's Palm 
Springs. So in the meantime I bought a lot on Lindacrest 
Drive in Beverly Hills and started to build my house [Paul 
Laszl6 House, 1602 Lindacrest Drive, 1936-1937]. And so I 
worked and I know not anymore how many work [jobs] I did. 
But soon the house was finished, and it was a good house, 
interesting house — at the time. * [My wife, Maxine, who is 
a lot younger than I am, remembers this house well, perched 
on a hillside overlooking Coldwater Canyon. As a young 
girl driving by on Coldwater Canyon Road with her parents, 
she has told me a number of times, how impressed her family 
was to see it--at night particularly, with all the glass 
and the superabundance of electric lighting. She says my 
house stood out like a landmark and that they used to 
wonder what sort of rich person lived there who could 
afford all the electricity bills.] You know, today it 
won't be anything, because today — 
LASKEY: Can you describe the house? 
LASZLO: — they are building so many interesting homes. 



* Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section 
during his review of the transcript. 



83 



[Laszl6 looks for photographs of his Beverly Hills home] 

LASKEY: While we're looking for that — The work that you 

did, prior to building your own house, for these people 

that we've been talking about, were you working as an 

architect? Did you actually build houses? 

LASZLO: Oh, yes, yes. 

LASKEY: And then you were also working as a designer? 

LASZLO: Yeah, yeah. [indicates photograph] This was part 

of my home. 

LASKEY: So now this looked — You were up in the hills — 

LASZLO: [simultaneously; unintelligible] — the downtown 

[Beverly Hills and westward] , yeah. 

LASKEY: — looking into, looking toward the city? How 

would you describe this house? 

LASZLO: I don't know — modern. [laughs] 

LASKEY: It's a long overhang. This is a wonderful balcony 

with an overhang, and it's all a total glass wall looking 

out into the valleys. It's very modern, but it's not — 

It's very soft. [turns page] This is very interesting: 

it looks like there's two steps up to — What is that, a 

library? 

LASZLO: It was a combination of a living room and a 

library. It was a big, big room, and adjacent to the 

dining room. And then we went down, and it was a full-size 

floor, which later on became my office. 



84 



LASKEY: Really? 

LASZLO: And it was a wonderful time we had. And, of 
course, the house attracted many people, so I got several 
jobs, I got from the house. And this was before the war. 
I did two homes in Bel Air, two or three homes. One big 
house in Tarzana for a producer, Henry [Heinz] Blanke was 
the name. He was a producer at Warner's for many years. 
And so many other jobs. 

LASKEY: Now these houses that you designed, did you create 
the design? Or did they generally come to you with some- 
thing in mind, and you created what they wanted? Or did 
you — Did they come to you because they liked what they had 
seen and they wanted you to design something in your 
particular style? 

LASZLO: Oh, yes. You know, at the beginning, I had 
clients--several European people who came over here — who 
liked my European style, modified according [to] here, the 
climate, which permitted this all-glass. But they liked 
what they have seen, so I got-- It was not easy to do a 
job. At the time, of course, I didn't have clients with a 
blank check, but people who were--f igured out that it 
should have cost four dollars a square foot. So it was, in 
this way, was more difficult as later. But at that time I 
learned a lot. And then — So people came over from Europe 
and a couple--! knew the lady from Europe — and they wanted 



to find a — not a job, but something to do — a business. And 
they went all over, but he couldn't — So I suggested to 
him, "Why don't we have a partnership and create an open 
studio?" 

I noticed that people are scared of a fee. You don't 
mind if you see the rest cost $5,000, but if you mention 
the fee you know that whatever it is, you know, they say, 
"Plus the fee?" So somehow I felt it is a lot easier not 
to mention fee, but to say, "This costs so much." And it 
is a correct fee. So, we went into partnership with the 
man and myself, and my assistant got a partner, Mr. Eden. 
So each had a third, you know. 

LASKEY: OK. So Fritz Eden was your partner, we have to 
talk about him later. And who was the third man? 



LASZLO 



The name was [Hans] de Strakosch. 



LASKEY: [laughs, pauses to note name] 

LASZLO: His family had the sugar monopoly in Austria. So 
we find a half-finished building on [362 North] Rodeo 
Drive, which belonged to Mr. [George Albert] Hormel. The 
meat packer? Hormel. And through the real estate agent, 
he was willing to give me ;515,000 to finish up the 
building. And if I went over [that] I were to pay for 
it. So I took it and opened up in '41. Before the war, or 
before Pearl Harbor. I designed everything: the building, 
the furniture, the fabrics, the land. It was a big job. 



86 



but a wonderful job; every item was designed. And we 
opened up in Ml, I believe; the beginning of the war. And 
it was fine, everything was fine. But then came Pearl 
Harbor. So Mr. Hormel, who was grateful to see [the] 
beautiful job I did in his building, he came up to me — he 
was an older gentleman — and said, "Because of the war, you 
don't have to pay me rent." 
LASKEY: Really? My! 

LASZLO: Yeah. [laughing] But of course, I did. Awfully 
nice, you know. Awfully nice. 
LASKEY: Certainly was. 

LASZLO: So then came Pearl Harbor, and I felt very patri- 
otic about it and enlisted in the army. I was already 
forty-one year[s] old. I wanted to get in the navy, but 
they wouldn't take me with the glasses. (In the meantime, 
they changed everything.) But, so, the army — And 
they send me to Wyoming, Cheyenne. Near Cheyenne; 
Laramie. And I enjoyed it, you know. I enjoyed the basic 
training. 

LASKEY: Really? In Cheyenne, VJyoming? [laughter] 
LASZLO: Yes. But then I came to commando training, which 
was interesting too. But then came out [a] ruling that 
older people are more a burden [than] help. Unfortunately, 
in my barrack [s] was everybody sick: measles, and so on. 
I wasn't sick for a day! [laughs] But "older people were 



87 



a burden," you know. And so they said — the army said — that 
if a person isn't needed in this age, over a certain age, 
they can resign [or be] discharged. But they wanted to 
send me to Alabama to become a grave statistician, which 
means for [the] whole period of the war. So I said, "No, I 
don't want to go." And, fortunately, I did some work for 
the general and I did some work for the officers club, 
which I designed. 

LASKEY: Oh, you were actually able to do some designing? 
That's wonderful. 

LASZLO: [laughing] If you find out whoever it was — 
LASKEY: Even in the army you can't stop! 
LASZLO: So to make it short, I got discharged. I came 
home. And it was a condition that, if I get discharged, I 
have to go into a defense industry. So I went to Douglas 
[Aircraft Company], and the man looked at this and said, 
"You couldn't [laughs] make this one." Finally somebody 
told me that the motion picture industry is qualified for 
"defense industry." So I went to Universal [Studios] and 
they took me — as a draftsman, in the art department. And, 
I tell you, I was the worst member of this department, 
[laughter] It is a different industry, you know; a 
different field-- 
LASKEY: Oh, absolutely. 
LASZLO: So I was there three months. [I wondered] how to 



88 



get out of it, because [it] started at seven o'clock in the 
morning there. At three o'clock I quit, and went back to 
my business. 

LASKEY: Oh my goodness. 

LASZLO: So how to get out of this commitment. Now, it is 
silly, really, to mention it, but they were, they had, each 
year, a tennis tournament at Universal or — [Any]more, I 
don't know anymore [where it was]. I was a pretty good 
tennis player. And several people in the art department 
said, "Now if you play, be sure to lose to the boss — or 
whoever it was — because then, if you win, you are fired." 
So of course this was wonderful for me. [laughing] So, I 
beat the — [laughs] I was-- [hits table] 
LASKEY: He really did fire you because you beat him at 
tennis? 

LASZLO: Yeah. Of course, they didn't need me because in 
the movie industry, they are, ninety percent, just waiting 
until the last moment to make overtime and "golden time." 
So they did not miss me at all, you know. So I went back 
full time to my business. In the meantime my partner was 
drafted. But before they were drafted, I wanted to 
separate Mr. Strakosch from my business, because he just 
wasn't flexible. So I bought him out. He went in the army 
and Eden went in the navy; both for the duration. So I was 
alone. But in my business. 



89 



TAPE NUMBER: III, SIDE TWO 
DECEMBER 19, 1984 

LASKEY: Mr. LSszlS, this seems like a good time to go back 
and pick up a few questions about what we've been talking 
about. At the very beginning, when you came — V'Jell, first 
of all, why did you come to Los Angeles? 

LASZLO: Oh! Even as a young man, of course I heard about 
California. There was even a song about here, Hollywood. 
And I was reading a book [in] Hungary, [a] Hungarian book, 
about an immigrant who comes over here and had a lot of 
problem[s] in New York and finally he landed in Los 
Angeles. And he loved to go fishing, here. And he met a 
girl and had an affair with her, but he got homesick for 
Hungary and he bought a ticket on a boat from here to go 
home. And he was on the boat and the girl was saying, 
"Goodbye." And at this moment he felt that, "Oh, god, 
suppose she gets a baby, my baby." So he jumped off the 
boat and became a newspaper writer. And they gave him a 
job in Honolulu as a fish expert, or somewhere. All this 
because — I loved to go fishing, too, in Hungary. So all 
this [inaudible] I come over. I want[ed] to [laughing, 
snapping fingers] come over. Which I did, and it was 
fortunate really, and — 

LASKEY: Did you know Beverly Hills before you got here? 
LASZLO: No, no. 



90 



.«^ 



LASKEY: Did you have people who could guide you to Beverly 
Hills with your background and your interest and your 
abilities? 
LASZLO: No. 

LASKEY: It seems like such a logical place for you to 
come. But it was just chance? 

LASZLO: I got a — maybe I told you — a professorship in 
Chile, which later on I canceled because all of my friends 
told me, "Don't go there, it is too primitive for you." So 
I canceled this contract there, and — But here, of course 
when you are a tennis player--or a golfer today, but at 
that time, tennis player — you belong in a club. In a few 
days you know so many people. As I told you — later on I 
[will] show you the membership list of the club which Elmer 
Griffin send it two years ago. 

LASKEY: You've been in touch with him all this time? 
LASZLO: No, no. He was a flamboyant and awfully nice 
person, but he went into so many businesses, you know, 
and-- But somehow, I don't know why he mail me this for old 
times' sake, the membership list. And, well, [if] you 
belonged in the club — especially if you play a game, you 
know, tennis — you make friends. 

So, I remember the first week that I was in the club, 
we went out to a preview to Pasadena. And a gentleman--the 
name was Walter Huston — he was in this group [of] about 



91 



five, six people — a very nice person who tried to talk to 
me, you know. He said — I understood [him] — he was in 
Budapest and he liked it, or something like that. Of 
course, I couldn't speak [English]. But he was so nice, 
really. I told his son, John Huston, later, how nice his 
father tried to be to me. So anyhow, what did — 
LASKEY: Well, we're talking about why you — how you ended 
up in Beverly Hills — 

LASZLO: I told you, this was the reason. 
LASKEY: And then, I'm also wondering about, we talked a 
little bit, but I'd like to talk a little bit more about 
the feeling in California, in Los Angeles, in Beverly 
Hills, in the thirties as far as the — for your field — the 
area of creativity. I think at the time, the modern 
movement was just beginning to take hold in the United 
States, but very specifically in Los Angeles. 
LASZLO: Yes. I believe that a few people, including me, 
had a great impact to create this typical California style, 
which became, later on, became famous in Europe, too. 
Because we had the chance here because of the climate to 
create something which was new, [and which] later on became 
an example. Because, in the meantime, they invented air 
conditioning, which made it possible to use the same style 
in [a] snow climate too because [of] air conditioning and 
heating [the] home. Well, at the time, there weren't too 



92 



many architects or decorators here, you know. Today there 

are millions of them, but at the time it wasn't — it wasn't, 

you know, a job. So it — A person had to be special to be 

busy. And apparently these few people, including me, had 

something special. Because I was always busy. I never had 

an empty period. So was, I believe, [Richard] Neutra 

[busy] too. I don't know because I did not follow up his 

business. 

LASKEY: Neutra? 

LASZLO: I mean, I didn't know what he was doing. I knew 

about him, you know. As a matter of fact, when — During 

the building of my house [in] Beverly Hills I took an 

apartment in Westwood, Landfair Avenue, very nice apartment 

which was just being built. And the owner permitted me to 

make changes; [it was] overlooking UCLA, and everything. 

And at the same time Neutra was building an apartment 

house, just almost across the alley. They couldn't rent 

it. 

LASKEY: Well, it must have looked very scary to people. I 

think that the Neutra — In the thirties the Landfair 

apartment buildings must have been extremely modern for the 

area. 

LASZLO: Yes. But, I mean, I didn't know how busy he is; 

what he does — 

LASKEY: You didn't know him personally, then? 



93 



LASZLO: I met him once, or twice; I don't know. He lived 
in Silver Lake and I lived in Beverly Hills and somehow we 
didn't get together. I am not a person who contact [s] 
other people in the field. 

LASKEY: But it's interesting because Neutra was building, 
and Rudolph Schindler was building, modern houses at the 
time out here, too, and your houses — But they're all quite 
different. How do you explain the difference in yours? 
LASZLO: I believe his style was his personal religion. 
VThich means he believed in this just — just like the pope, 
you know. [laughing] He wrote the letter and that he 
believed in. 

I wasn't the person, you see-- I was more flexible and 
I enjoyed — I enjoyed being flexible, to create many 
things, you know. Different kind[s] of things. Because 
each work is important. Each work deserved respect. And 
to be as fixed in ideas, it did not appeal to me . I did 
many things, but basically I followed my own style. But 
different kind[s] of things; I did all kind[s] of things. 
LASKEY: Well, your modernism seems to be tempered somewhat 
with traditionalism, too; it's a softer kind of modernism. 
LASZLO: Yes, you know. It has, I believe, a certain 
charm, which is missing [in] some other modern people. 
LASKEY: But yet, you seem to use — be experimenting with 
materials; you used more modern materials than was 



94 



traditional — than were being used in the more traditional 

housing that was being built here. 

LASZLO: Yes. I always believed in a certain eclectic 

design, which means it shouldn't be everything just strict 

this way. 

LASKEY: I also, looking at a book, at some black-and-white 

[photos] — But from the color pictures I've seen I also 

think that you used a lot of color, which the strict 

modernists weren't using at the time. 

LASZLO: Yes. Yes, this was one of the reason [s] I got 

some jobs, because I was more colorful than the others, you 

know. Especially here, people like color. 

Then, I jump again, to [the] early [sixties]: Mr. 

[Joyce Clyde] Hall, from Hallmark, that he approached me. 

I told you the story, didn't I? They were, for three 
months, trying to find a designer in New York, Chicago, in 
Paris, and London, who would design a new store for them in 
Kansas City, [Missouri] . And they could not find what Mr. 
Hall liked. 

And Mr. Hall had a house in Malibu. Well, he came 
out — Hall — from time to time. And at this period, when 
they were desperately, apparently, looking for a designer 
who can design a store for them. They were here, he was 
here, and his president of the stores [John D. "Jack" 
Kaiser] were here, at the same time. And his assistant 



95 



lady [Jeanette Lee], a very nice person, was here. So Mr. 
Hall told Jack, "You go, you go to Bullock's and find out 
who is the best designer in town; you Jeanette Lee, you go 
to"~I don't know where~"and we'll meet up at luncheon in 
the [Brown] Derby in Beverly Hills." So they had met us at 
luncheon. And Jack Kaiser was telling him, "Mr. Hall, I 
went Bullock's and they said the best designer is Paul 
Laszie." So Jeanette Lee said, "You know, I went to some- 
where else and asked them, 'Who is the best designer?' 
[And they said] 'Paul LSszl6.'" [laughs] And Mr. Hall 
said, "I just got a phone call from my son (who was in the 
business), and he suggested to look up Paul LSszl6. 
[laughter] So they came up to my office [that] after- 
noon. They came up and — And he was listening, and finally 
he said, "I don't believe you are for us; [your work is] 
too colorful, too color — I want all white." So then they 
left. But after two days, he calls me up — Mr. Hall, who is 
a king, you know — 
LASKEY: Yes, Hallmark. 

LASZLO: Exceptionally smart, you know. Intelligent man. 
He calls me up and said, "Mr. LSszl6, I don't believe you 
are for us; too colorful. But, anyhow, why don't you come 
out, and your girlfriend, to my house on Saturday, for 
dinner. Be here [at] four o'clock." So we [my wife and I] 
went out and, to make it short, I took along some of my 



96 



store work, the photos and everything. [Hall said:] "Too 
much color for me, I want a white store." So we had 
dinner, steak; he ate only steaks. And after dinner he 
says, "Why don't you come to Kansas City to see me, 
there." So I said, "All right, I would come on Wed- 
nesday." He said, "No; Monday." So, to make it, in short, 
I got the job. [laughs] 

LASKEY: How did he reconcile the fact that you were too 
colorful with getting the job? 

LASZLO: Now-- Of course, he was too smart not to know that 
if a person, if he said that "I want a white store," I can 
make it white. And it was a wonderful experience even 
[though] he chewed me out for hours! Boy, oh boy. He 
got — Dressing down! [laughs] But it became the most 
beautiful store. And they were happy with it, and his 
artistic advisor, Mr. Henry Dreyfuss — I don't know whether 
the name means anything to you. 
LASKEY: Dreyfuss? 

LASZLO: He killed himself in the meantime. He and his 
wife [committed suicide together] . He wrote me a letter to 
say that how beautiful the store was. It was a beautiful 
store. Not only beautiful, but on the first day on, it 
made a profit. On the first day on, you know, it was a 
success, it was. I don't know whether you know Kansas 
City. They have a beautiful district like, here, Beverly 



97 



Hills. And he got the best location, which was saved in 
this district for an important firm, like Hall's. So it 
was an experience. So, talking about color! [laughs] 
LASKEY: Well, to go back to that, or to continue with it, 
the — As I'm thinking about it, you know, you were de- 
signing furniture and you were designing your own fabrics, 
which you had to have made and all these things that you 
had to have made. So you had to have had around you a 
group of artists or artisans, or you had to have been in 
touch with the people who could do these things. Was it 
difficult in Beverly Hills, again, in the thirties, early 
forties, to find the people who could do this for you? 
LASZLO: No. First of all, I designed everything myself. 
I had good people like an architect who was with me until 
he retired, an architect. And I had a few good people with 
me, but no artists, which mean I designed everything. 
Everything, you know. This was the reason that I didn't 
want to grow, because if you grow, then of course you can't 
design. I had once about eight people here, and after a 
few months I said no, no, no. You know, because — 
LASKEY: Too many? 

LASZLO: You know, when you have eight people, then of 
course it means more jobs, then the phone rings and 
visitors and the phone and social engagements and this 
meeting; you can't design. No architect here who had a big 



98 



office knows even what-- Well, I don't want to say. 
Anyhow, if you have too many people employed, that means a 
big business, where you don't have the time to design 
anything. So I said, "No, that['s] enough for me; I don't 
want to." And it was all right, at least all right for 
me. And that's the reason I was able to design everything 
myself. 

LASKEY: V^fhat about getting your designs transferred into — 
To find the weavers and the mills, or the artisans to make 
the furniture? 

LASZLO: Weavers? I would — Fabric — We had to use several 
weavers at that time. Some of it was — Was before your 
time. Mrs. [Dorothy] Liebes in San Francisco was excel- 
lent. And here, here was a weaver that I don't know the 
name anymore. And they did many jobs. In the printed 
fabrics I got a firm in Zurich and a firm near Stuttgart. 
LASKEY: So you were still having your fabrics done in 
Europe then? 

LASZLO: Some of them. Some of them. Because here people 
are not interested in small yardage. Because here a firm 
wants, I don't know, thousands of yards, you know. But in 
Europe they were, at that time, still able to make a few 
hundred yards of what you needed. The same with the book 
[Paul Laszlo. Zurich: Conzett and Huber, various 
editions, 1935-64] which was printed in Switzerland. I 



99 



tried to make it here, but the people said, "A thousand 
copies? We are not interested." But in Switzerland — of 
course, he [Alfred E. Herzer] was a friend of mine who 
owned a big firm — they did a beautiful job. But it was 
possible to make a smaller order filled. Our furniture, we 
had a firm here, almost all Germans, who worked for me for, 
I would say, forty-nine years. The man, the last man, he 
just retired. He's eighty-two [laughing] years old! And 
of course when it came to fixture work, like paneling, we 
had here an excellent firm, a big firm, called Standard 
Cabinet Work[s], who does all the stores and banks, [and] 
in Las Vegas, the casinos. They did this kind of thing 
too. They are still in business; very big. So it wasn't a 
problem of, up to now — Of course, I don't know anymore 
because I quit. And so it wasn't a problem at all to get 
the right people. 

LASKEY: V'That was the climate like as far as your clients 
were concerned? We think of California, now we always talk 
about its casual lifestyle. And you came over with rather 
sophisticated European ideas. How did the clients accept 
that? And your use of handwoven, hand-designed materials 
and furniture? 

LASZLO: They liked it, but you know I didn't have so many 
clients, which means the people who liked the way I do 
business, or [the way] I design, they came to me. You 



100 



know, equally because — You mention [Paul T.] Frankl, 
people who liked his style, they went to him. 
LASKEY: Now, I think of your style, especially your 
furniture style, as being big, in that it was more com- 
fortable. It feels streamlined, and in the thirties it was 
somewhat moderne and then in the forties, I hesitate to use 
the word overstuffed because I think that connotes a style 
that was not yours, but as being — 
LASZLO: More elegant. 

LASKEY: — quite "comfortable." Not the word I want. You 
know, in that even if it was a straight formed-wood frame, 
that the seating area would be large and comfortable. 
LASZLO: Yes. We all did about the same, only in style was 
[it] different. And I came over in '36 and, like I men- 
tioned, Frankl, he came over in the twenties, so he was 
more influenced by America as [than] I was. 
LASKEY: Did you know Paul Frankl? 

LASZLO: Oh, yes, yes. He died years ago. He quit his 
business on [347 N.] Rodeo Drive and moved somewhere, I 
don't know, Newport or Laguna Beach or — And then he 
died. We weren't on friendly terms, you know, because he 
felt that I invaded his territory. 
LASKEY: Really? 

LASZLO: Which is natural, you know. But we were several 
times on the same street. Of course, you don't know about 



101 



it; it was an excellent firm called Cheesewright [Mason & 
Co.] So they quit and moved to Pasadena. So several 
people started all on the same street. 
LASKEY: This was on Rodeo? You were all on Rodeo? 
LASZLO: Yeah, yeah. But they couldn't make it, and — 
Because it takes a lot of work, enthusiasm, and love. 

But there's a story. When I came back from the war, 
[laughs] from my army, I got busy, and worked every hours, 
from six o'clock in the morning until ten o'clock that 
evening. Then in '45, the end of '45, I got a call from a 
real estate man. Oh, in the meantime, I sold my house 
before I went in the army. 
LASKEY: This is the house on Lindacrest? 
LASZLO: Lindacrest, yes. And so I came back, no house. 
And so just after the peace was made, the real estate agent 
called me up and said, "I want you to meet a client of 
mine. He want[s] to build a house in Brentwood, and has 
suggested you. So do you mind to meet us at two o'clock in 
Brentwood, on the lot, to give us your ideas." So I came 
out and [met] a nice couple from Chicago, or from Omaha, I 
don't really know. I knew — Of course, the whole area at 
that time was empty on Carmelina Avenue. And it was a nice 
flat lot, so I said, "That's wonderful." So the man said, 
"OK, I [will] come in, in the morning, to sign the con- 
tract." I said, "Fine." Anyway, I showed up. 



102 



* [But the man and his wife did not show up. I never 
knew what happened until I ran into the real estate agent 
later. ] 

So I used to eat the luncheon at Romanoff. Romanoff 
on, north of Wilshire. 

LASKEY: It was on Crenshaw, wasn't it? Was it on 
Crenshaw? Crenshaw and Wilshire? 

LASZLO: No, it wasn't, no. Romanoff. It shows, you know, 
that it was before your time. Romanoff was on the same 
street as my studio on Rodeo Drive. And after many years, 
he [Michael Romanoff, ne Harry Gerguson] built a place 
[1940] on south of Wilshire, just behind the Beverly 
Wilshire Hotel. So Romanoff was very popular, especially 
during the war; all restaurants and bars were crowded, you 
know. So I used to eat there, the luncheon at Romanoff. 
It was excellent food. 

And one day this real estate man was there and I ask 
him, "What happened to the people?" He says, "They got a 
divorce the same evening." And he says — 
LASKEY: [laughs] They didn't know that in the morning? 
LASZLO: He says to me, out of a joke, "Do you want to buy 
the lot?" So I had a lady with me, so I wanted to be very 



* Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section 
during his review of the transcript. 



103 



important. [I] say, "Yes, buy the lot." So I bought 
[laughing] the lot, [and] built my house [Paul Laszl6 
House, 516 Carmelina Avenue, Brentwood, 1946-1947, 
remodeled 1953-1954] ! 

LASKEY: Now this is the house that's been featured in a 
number of magazines and stories. 
LASZLO: Yeah, yeah. It is in here. 

LASKEY: But that came later on. You know, you haven't 
talked about-- 

LASZLO: [Nineteen] forty-six. 

LASKEY: — and we probably should, is your relationship 
with Fritz Eden. 
LASZLO: With who? 
LASKEY: V^ith Fritz Eden. 

LASZLO: Fritz Eden. Now, Fritz was working for a firm in 
Stuttgart who did my work, executed my work, you know. He 
was a salesman, and as a sale — He was a young boy at that 
time when I met him. But he learned to [do] this old- 
fashioned bookkeeping and so — And he married a Jewish girl 
[Dorothy] in Stuttgart. So when Hitler came, they left and 
went to New York, both, he and she. We kept in touch, and 
I got so busy, you know. So I wrote to them, "Do you want 
to come out and help me? With the business end of it?" 
[He replied,] "Sure." So he came out. He's [laughs] still 
here . 



104 



LASKEY: How long were you, how long was he — He was your 
business manager basically. He was with you for a long 
time . 

LASZLO: Until we quit. I still talk to him every day. 
LASKEY: That's amazing, that's wonderful. Well, I see I 
had asked you about the Crenshaw movie theater [3020 
Crenshaw Avenue, Los Angeles, 1944] in one of our 
conversations-- 



LASZLO 
LASKEY 
LASZLO 
LASKEY 
LASZLO 
LASKEY 



Oh, please don't — 

— and you got very — [laughing] It wasn't — 

Oh, god! 

— one of your favorite jobs. 

This was the worst. 

V'That was the story on that? What was the story on 



the — 

LASZLO: The story is that they were two Germans who wanted 
to build this movie house. They came to me, unfortunate- 
ly. Because they should have gone to a person who did 
already movie [theaters] but — So I designed a building and 
it came in [at] — instead [of], I don't know, [$]50,000 — 
[$]60,000. Oh, it was, this was — Today, it wouldn't make 
any difference, because $100,000 more, no differnce. But 
at that time they were crying and shouting and every- 
thing. So which means we have to cut and cut and cut and 
cut and cut, until nothing was left; a terrible building. 



105 



LASKEY: Well, it was unique in that it was almost a — The 

parking entrance: you drove off the street under a canopy, 

right? 

LASZLO: Yes, I believe so, yes, I-- 

LASKEY: So that if it was raining, or whatever, you could 

let people off — 

LASZLO: I believe so, I believe so. 

LASKEY: — and then drive into — 

LASZLO: I don't even want to remember! 

LASKEY: — the parking lot. [laughing] Well, it's still 

being used as a theater today, so it couldn't have been 

that bad. It's the Kokusai Theater. It's one of the few 

theaters to show Japanese films in Los Angeles. 

LASZLO: Really? 

LASKEY: And it's still operating. And it's still 

functioning . 

LASZLO: How do you know? 

LASKEY: I went there a couple of weeks ago. 

LASZLO: Oh, god! [laughing] Oh, god! 

LASKEY: [laughing] So it's still intact. 

LASZLO: I'm embarrassed. 

LASKEY: But I'm looking at a picture of it here, and this 

is the entrance. 

LASZLO: Well, the picture looks good. [laughter] 

LASKEY: VJith the neon up on the — Rut the neon is gone. 



106 



And the sign is gone, but the theater is still there, and 
part of it is still there. You still drive into it. 
[laughter] 

Well, how about the Eddy Harth building [9687 V^ilshire 
Boulevard, Beverly Hills, 1946-1947], that must have been 
more pleasant. 

LASZLO: Eddy Harth was a good job. They came to me, they 
were two partners: Mr. Roth, whose family owned, I 
believe, Julius Roth, maker of man's clothes. 
LASKEY: Julian Roth? I'm not — 

LASZLO: I don't know the first name now. [Louis Roth] 
Eddy Miller was a salesman. They were partners. They came 
to me to design the store — the front and everything, which 
I did. Now, today [it] is a Lanz store, Lanz. 

Lanz in Beverly Hills? 

Yeah. 

Does it still have-- You might describe this 



LASKEY 
LASZLO 
LASKEY 
window 
LASZLO 
LASKEY 
LASZLO 



Now, all gone. 

It's the most unique window. 

Yes. * [Evidently someone else thought so, too. 



because a year or so later a remodeling job was done on 



* Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section 
during his review of the transcript. 



107 



store further east on Wilshire Boulevard, somewhere between 

Doheny Drive and La Cienega Boulevard, just east of Beverly 

Hills. This Candy Lane candy store had an exact duplicate 

display window. I never did find out who did the job 

there, who copied me.] 

LASKEY: How would you describe it? 

LASZLO: It worked out very good. It made, after two years 

we took over the next store, so it was twice the space as 

it was here. But it worked out good until the partners 

couldn't get along anymore. And then Eddy Miller left and 

then went by himself. And Roth died. And apparently they 

rented, or Lanz bought it; remodeled it, you know. It is 

almost opposite of Neiman-Marcus. 

LASKEY: On Wilshire. 

LASZLO: On Wilshire. 



108 



TAPE NUMBER: IV, SIDE ONE 
JANUARY 2, 198 5 

LASKEY: Mr. Laszl6, when we left off last time we were 
talking about the Eddy Harth store that you'd done in 
Beverly Hills, and I think probably one of the more inter- 
esting things about it was the fact that you used gold in 
the glass. Is that so? 

LASZLO: I believe the interesting thing was more the 
modern feeling which was introduced at the time. Which 
means if at that time you looked over Wilshire Boulevard, 
you didn't see too many modern stores. You know, it was 
mainly old-fashion [ed] . And I believe it was the first 
appearance on Wilshire Boulevard to pick a modern store- 
front and plan. And fortunately the client [s] were very 
fine people and went along to this new ideas. 
LASKEY: What was new about it, specifically? 
LASZLO: First of all, the front; secondly, the plan in 
which you don't see here: how to display the merchandise. 
LASKEY: Everything was visible, isn't that right? 
LASZLO: Yes, yes. 

LASKEY: When you looked into the storefront, you looked 
down and could see the various displays, materials 
displayed. 

LASZLO: Yeah. And the proof that it worked excellent, in 
a year or so, they had to increase the store to double of 

109 



size. Which means this was the first store, in a year or 
so — He owned the property, you know, so we are talking it 
over. I made a bigger store, which lasted until the owner 
died. And finally it was sold, as I told you, to Lanz 
stores. 

LASKEY: Right. How did you come upon the design for this 
store? How did you evolve the design, do you remember? 
LASZLO: [laughing] That's a difficult question, you 
know. You get the problem; you work on it; you figure out 
what good would be for the store, artistically and eco- 
nomically. And I believe the fact that we used, I used, 
big windows to see through, to look at into it, made it 
inviting to people to come in. And it was [a] very popular 
store, which had excellent merchandise. I mean, I don't 
want the credit for myself. [laughs] Excellent merchan- 
dise . 

LASKEY: So the large windows were not used then at the 
time? This was something that [was] never used. 
LASZLO: No, not — 

LASKEY: And then looking into the window, there's a — it 
looks like it's brass — room divider that adds a lot of 
interest to the shop as you're looking through that divid- 
er. And it also seems to be a device that you will be 
using in your houses later on. Sort of a dividing, an open 
feeling. 



110 



LASZLO: You must take it as a fact that, at the time, in 

'47, you didn't have as much freedom to get big glass or 

you know. Because after the war, it was difficult to get 

anything. So maybe this was the idea: that I divided to 

get a better feeling, and less glass, you know. Because, 

if I remember, it was difficult to get this plane glass. 

LASKEY: Really? This was in 1947? Then— 

LASZLO: This door was — 

LASKEY: — what about the materials that you've used 

here? It looks liked you've used, well, you've used the 

glass with the gold — 

LASZLO: This was marble. 

LASKEY: — the brass and marble. You used very elegant 

materials. 

LASZLO: Yeah, because they wanted an elegant store, you 
know. And it was a fine store. 

LASKEY: You use indirect lighting, too, or covered 

lighting. Was that — 

LASZLO: Partly. 

LASKEY: — new for you? Was that new, [a] relatively new 

kind of store lighting? Or had that been used? 

LASZLO: I don't think so [it was not new]; no, no, you 

know. But it was important to have the merchandise get the 

proper lighting. And a combination of incandescent and 

fluorescent light gave us this fine feeling. 



Ill 



LASKEY: Did you have trouble getting any of the other 

materials? 

LASZLO: No, I don't think so. 

LASKEY: Speaking of the war, did you have, when you were 

designing during the war, did you have trouble getting 

materials? 

LASZLO: Yes. 

LASKEY: What happened to your business during World War 
II? 

LASZLO: Yes. First of all, when I came back from the 
army, the fabrics — [tape recorder turned off] So it was 
difficult to get many things, you know. And I don't want 
to bother with some of [the] details, you know. 
LASKEY: VJell, you were mentioning fabrics were parti- 
cularly difficult to get? 

LASZLO: We had a fabric I remember I bought, I don't know 
how many bolts of white fabrics, and took it over to 
Western Dye [House, Inc. , Los Angeles] or somewhere, I 
don't know where anymore, to dye to a color which I 
wanted. And of course slowly it came back again when they 
realized that the Japanese won't be here, and the peace was 
close, you know. Slowly it came back, but still it lasted 
until 1950 or so until you got the material [more easi- 
ly] . Because I remember that it was difficult to get, for 
my house, doors. So finally I got the doors from U.S. 



112 



Plywood and put [them] during construction in my garage, 
which was still let open because [it] wasn't finished. And 
next morning it was all gone. 
LASKEY: The doors were gone? 

LASZLO: All the doors. So [laughing] anyhow it shows it 
was difficult to get the doors. So finally I got the 
doors, new doors. But only [until] '50 or '51 it was 
difficult to get; like today, well, you get everything, you 
know. 

LASKEY: During the war, were you building houses? Were 
you designing and building houses? 

LASZLO: No. I finished up homes during the first year of 
the war, which [had been] started before December 7, 
[1941]. Like my favorite house, it was Joan Harrison's 
house [Holmby Hills, 1941]. This came out excellent. She 
was a lovely lady. She was assistant to [Alfred] Hitch- 
cock. 

LASKEY: Oh, really? 

LASZLO: Later became a producer. And she bought an 
impossible lot in Beverly Hills, at Comstock [Avenue] and 
Wilshire. 



LASKEY 
LASZLO 
LASKEY 
LASZLO 



Comstock and — ? 

Wilshire, you know. 

Wilshire. 

At the time there was an apartment building where 



113 



she lived. She wanted her own house, so she bought [an] 
impossible lot adjacent to the apartment house. The 
apartment house doesn't exist anymore because they built 
big high-rise condos, but the house is still there. 
LASKEY: Is that north or south of Wilshire? 
LASZLO: It is north of Wilshire. 
LASKEY: On Corns tock. 

LASZLO: Actually, I'll show you it, it is this way: 
[begins to sketch] Here was Wilshire. And here was this 
apartment, I don't know the name [of] it anymore, you 
know. This was Comstock. But it was a little side street, 
but I don't know the name anymore [Birchwood Drive]. And 
the house was here, but the entry was here. [continues 
drawing] This was the house, which means this was a 
hillside. In profile, it was here partly flat here. It 
went down this way, and down this way. So when you drive 
here, you cannot even see the house. 
LASKEY: From Comstock? 
LASZLO: From Comstock, no. 

LASKEY: Now is the back — So it was built on a hillside? 
You had to basically design the house to fit down a 
hillside? Was that [inaudible] — 

LASZLO: I did not take down the hillside [laughs] because 
it was-- [continues sketching] But I designed the house 
with, here, retaining wall here and here. And then the 



114 



house was — there are somewhere the photos — and here, you 

know, which [is] high up, high up from here, but level from 

this street here. I must have somewhere the photos because 

[it's] difficult — Won't be here [in the book]. 

LASKEY: So what was — 

LASZLO: Oh, yes, it would be here. What was — ? 

LASKEY: — the basic style of the house then. It was 

oriented away from Comstock, toward the little street that 

ran parallel to it. 

LASZLO: Yeah. It was — 

LASKEY: And it was on a hilly lot. 

LASZLO: — a modern home designed for an intellect, a 

lady. [pauses, as he turns pages] She was [a] bachelor at 

that time. Haven't seen her for many years. She married 

and — I remember Clark Gable wanted to marry her, then he 

changed his mind, and she was very upset. [stops turning 

pages] Here it is. Here you came — 

LASKEY: I see, so that — OK. 

LASZLO: You came in here. Here were the bedrooms, and 

here I created a garden. Here was a kitchen and a dining 

room, a living room. 

LASKEY: So it's a U-shape: it's built around an outdoor 

patio in the center. I see, again, that you have this sort 

of latticework. 

LASZLO: Yeah, grillwork, yes. 



115 



LASKEY: Is it redwood? This in here, is this redwood? 

When you design, when you came to California and you 

started designing houses, did our climate influence the 

design of your houses? Were they considerably different 

from your European houses? 

LASZLO: I believe it was a combination of my European 

background and of course the influence of California. But 

so many of my clients, including Joan Harrison — She was an 

English lady, she came over with Hitchcock. And so it is 

difficult to make a line [between] what is European, what 

is American. But it is more Americanist. 

LASKEY: Well, in looking at this and at your other houses, 

I see, again, as you say, it's modern, in the sense of not 

being a traditional period. But it's not modern in the 

sense of a Miesian box, or a square box. 

LASZLO: Yes. 

LASKEY: I see there's wood, there's the flagstone, there's 

color and brick — 

LASZLO: A warm feeling. 

LASKEY: — and its very soft and very warm looking. 

LASZLO: Now, which was always my style, you know. 

Basically I didn't persuade my client to accept my own 

style, you know. But I designed everything to be tailored 

to the client. She was very happy here. She had all the 

people, all movie people who came, including Hitchcock. 



116 



And I was many times there because she liked me and she 

appreciated getting a home which had a special feeling 

because it wasn't closed in. In spite of the narrow 

property, it had a vista from every room. 

LASKEY: V^ell, the idea of using the patio in the center, 

or the sort of atrium effect, is so warm. But, again, in 

many of your houses — some of the others we'll talk about — 

it's difficult in some cases to figure what's inside and 

what's outside, which is very nice. I mean right here in 

the living room, looking out to the patio. The two of 

them — 

LASZLO: Yes, I mean, so many people, including writers, 

are using this expression "to bring the outdoor [s] 

inside." [laughs] 

LASKEY: But they sort of run together in many of your 

California houses. 

LASZLO: Yes. 

LASKEY: And I know in your own house, that is, in your 

Brentwood house — the views, the pictures from the patio — it 

really is sometimes difficult to tell. 

LASZLO: Part of the home inside, yes. And here, too, you 

know. Which means you are able to look here and here and 

here and here, wherever you were. And she was very happy 

with it. Many of her friends took the trouble to come up 

to me. Like David Selznick came to me and said, "Saw your 



117 



house which you designed for Joan. I believe it is 
beautiful." I mean not in his sense, because he lived in 
an old-fashioned house. But he felt that for her, it was a 
perfect home: modern, you know. He made — He married a 
Mayer girl. 

LASKEY: Oh, Irene Mayer, wasn't it, that he married? 
LASZLO: She was, she is, a lovely lady. A very intelli- 
gent person. So, anyhow, it was a pleasing result, you 
know. 

LASKEY: Well, in the Henry [Heinz] Blanke House ["Peasant 
Acres," Tarzana] which you did, I think that was before 
this? 

LASZLO: It was '39. 

LASKEY: Yeah, that's more traditional than many of the 
houses that you did. 

LASZLO: Yeah. It was a difficult job because both were 
Germans. Blanke was a German, and his wife at that time, 
Ursula, was a German. And the two didn't see eye to eye, 
which is always difficult. 

LASKEY: Oh, the husband and wife didn't? What do you do 
in a case like that, as a designer? Do you just go ahead 
and design what you think should be there? [laughs] Do 
you mediate? 

LASZLO: No, you have to have patience, patience, patience, 
you know, to get a good job and to please both. It came 



118 



out pretty good, you know, but it has a ranch-type feel- 
ing. And it was excellent. And you know too, he was in 
the movies, Warner Brothers. He produced many wonderful 
pictures: [The] Good Earth, [Life of Emile] Zola. I don't 
know whether you have seen the pictures. 
LASKEY: Oh, I have. 

LASZLO: So he was a wonderful fellow. Later on he became 
a drunkard, you know, but highly educated. It was a big 
job, and the funny thing is that I used an American 
trick. They had a house, an old farm house — old, old, old 
house — which they wanted to save, somehow. So he had all 
the designers in the studio, Warners — he worked for 
Warners — and they tried everything, you know, to fix it; 
they couldn't. [laughing] So finally he came to me. So 
what I did, I cut the house in two. 
LASKEY: You cut it in two? 

LASZLO: Two, yes. And moved it: one here, one here, 
[sketches] 



LASKEY 
LASZLO 
LASKEY 
LASZLO 
LASKEY 
LASZLO 



Literally? You moved the house? 

Yeah, yeah. Isn't it a picture of it? 

No, there's no picture here, unfortunately. 

No? But I — 

I have one at home, but I don't have one here. 

But I have somewhere [laughing] a picture of how 



they were. And so they were-- 



119 



LASKEY: No, there is, there is. I just — Here we go, I 
didn't think there was, but is this it? [indicates photo] 
LASZLO: Yes, yes, '39, yes. This was all new here, this 
was. 

LASKEY: That's the patio. Where was this house? It looks 
like it was out in the valley. 
LASZLO: Tarzana. 

LASKEY: Tarzana. Yeah, it looks like it. 

LASZLO: Actually, they didn't save a penny, but they felt 
that, well, they saved part of the [old] house. But every- 
thing was finally new. But they liked the idea, too. 
LASKEY: [laughs] So you told them you were going to save 
it. 

LASZLO: So he, too, had all the movie people there. Every 
Sunday there was a brunch for his producer [and] director 
friends and I was often there. 

LASKEY: Well, again, it seems to be a U-shape, much like 
the Joan Harrison House, in that the patio — The house is 
built around the patio. But it has a completely different 
look, because of the tile roof-- 
LASZLO: Yes, well, this was the garage here. 
LASKEY: — and the overhanging rafters. And the more, what 
would you say, ranch-type — 
LASZLO: Yes. 

LASKEY: — or rustic-looking. But again the big windows 
and with the cross-bars. 



120 



LASZLO: Of course the pictures were taken before it was 

completely furnished, you know. Which means, like here, 

here you don't see furniture. 

LASKEY: Did you do the furniture too? Did you do the 

interior on this house? 

LASZLO: Partly, yes. But they had some furniture from 

Germany, and so it was a combination of old and new. 

But the next was Sidney Buchman. He was a wonderful 
fellow; he died in the meantime. He was a producer and 
writer at Columbia [Studios] . And he wrote and produced 
many pictures, like the [Al] Jolson pictures. 
LASKEY: Oh, yes. I remember those. 

LASZLO: Unfortunately, after I designed his house, they 
got a divorce. And he had a beautiful lot on Sunset 
Boulevard. Big property. 

LASKEY: Sunset in Beverly Hills, or up in — ? 
LASZLO: Yes, you know. I believe adjacent, almost 
adjacent, to this house which this Iranian — 
LASKEY: Oh, [laughing] yes, the, right in Beverly Hills, 
right near the Beverly Hills Hotel, within a matter of 
blocks. 

LASZLO: It was an excellent design, which I loved. But 
they divorced the day when we started, or wanted to start, 
to build. Then he went to New York. Finally he went to 
the Riviera in France, and he died there. But, wonderful 
fellow, wonderful fellow. 

121 



LASKEY: Well, you know, we haven't discussed your house, 
your Brentwood house, which is sort of, was like one of the 
first that you did and that other people saw. 
LASZLO: Not the first because I built the house, my first 
house in '36 and the Brentwood house in '47. So in the 
meantime I designed many homes. But of course my house — I 
told you [the] story how I bought the property, the lot, 
didn't I? Yes, I did. 
LASKEY: Yes. 

LASZLO: And at that time [while building the Carmelina 
house] I was a bachelor. So nobody — 
LASKEY: Now this is the Lindacrest house? 
LASZLO: No, no, no. In both houses I was a bachelor 
[until late in 1949] . So nobody — 
LASKEY: In both h — ? Oh, oh, OK. 

LASZLO: So it was easy for me to do whatever I want, but 
in the limit of the money I wanted to spend. It was my 
favorite building, really. And it worked out excellent; we 
[Maxine and I] had a lot of fun and pleasure for thirty-one 
years . 

LASKEY: How did you approach a design for your own home 
[in Brentwood]? 

LASZLO: My home? I had it in me for years, you know: how 
I wanted to live. Which mean[s] it didn't come as soon 
[as] I bought the lot. It was already in my mind how to 



122 



live in California. And when I bought the lot — which was a 
fluke, or whatever it was — it was just the way I wanted to 
have a house. People would say, "You are crazy to put the 
house way inside instead [of] at the front." 
LASKEY: Why did you do that? 
LASZLO: Because I wanted to have privacy. 
LASKEY: How did you see California living for yourself? 
LASZLO: V^Jell, you have to use very, use up words and — 
LASKEY: That's OK. 

LASZLO: It has a different feeling in California. Of 
course, if you were born here, you don't notice it, because 
you take it as normal. But basically it is different from 
any other states. And it struck me the first day I ar- 
rived; you got a pleasant shock. It's beautiful here: the 
climate, the trees, the green, you know. So, apparently, 
it was in me already. Fortunately I was able to buy the 
lot. And it was fun to build it because nobody told me how 
to do it, how to spend the money, what to do with the 
lot. [laughing] It was — That's important, you know. 
LASKEY: Oh, it's very important. It's wonderful that you 
could do it. And it's interesting that, I don't have a 
good picture of it here — 
LASZLO: I have it here. 

LASKEY: — but I recall the, again that, as you say, almost 
the cliche term of "inside and outside," that is so 



123 



pronounced in your house, particularly looking from the 

patio into the living room. [sound of pages turning] It's 

very difficult to know — You just have the Y-beams , those 

beams that are holding up the, what looks like the large 

cantilevered cover, that then goes into the living room. 

Is this how — is this your personal vision of living in 

California? 

LASZLO: Yes, yes. 

LASKEY: A lot of glass. Yeah, that's the picture [of the 

Brentwood house, 1954 version]. Again, the glass and 

stone; water. It's [a] beautiful stone wall. Looking at 

the picture, when looking at the picture from the pool, and 

the wall, it is difficult to know if you're inside or 

outside. 

LASZLO: This was part of the reason I wanted the house to 

be way in, so I am able to use glass everywhere. And we 

had the sun. 

LASKEY: Now, you have a very wide overhang, this side 

here. Was that for sun? For protection against the sun? 

LASZLO: Oh, yes. 

LASKEY: I mean, just massive walls of glass here, and they 

do have draperies on; you had draperies on the glass. 

LASZLO: Yes, we had some draperies, but actually it was 

first, when I designed the house, it was only eight feet 

overhang, and [I] built in some screens which came down to 



124 



protect against the sun. But after a year or so, I said, 

no; is too much work. [laughter] So we added sixteen feet 

more, so we had twenty-four feet overhang. 

LASKEY: How large was the house? It looks very large. 

LASZLO: Large: when I sold it, it was about five thousand 

square foot. 

LASKEY: Now, the use of stone on the front, is that just 

because — ? It looks almost like it fits into, just blends 

into the landscaping. 

LASZLO: First of all, it represent[s] the privacy idea. 

LASKEY: Now this, the stone is in the front as you come up 

to the house. All the rest of the house faces toward the 

back, right? The pool and the — 

LASZLO: Now, the new owner put here a plaster wall now. 

LASKEY: Over the stone? 

LASZLO: Yeah. 

LASKEY: Oh, dear. 

LASZLO: [laughing] It looks to me like, to me, an instant 

slum house, and he paid two million dollar [s] at least. 

LASKEY: And he covered over the stone? 

LASZLO: He wanted to change it; he didn't want to have a 

LSszl6 house because he is a designer — he thinks he's a 

designer, too. So he changed everything in a way that it 

shouldn't resemble a LSszl6 house. 

LASKEY: Then why did he buy a LSszl6 house? 



125 



LASZLO: Because he liked that one. [laughter] 

LASKEY: That's wonderful. How do you as a designer feel 

about someone going in and doing that to something that you 

like? Changing the wall — 

LASZLO: Fortunately, I don't have any feeling about it. 

LASKEY: You don't? 

LASZLO: No, you know. Which means that I don't mind to 

change, if he changes [it]. It won't bother me at all. 

That's his problem, [laughing] you know? 

But, interesting is the Beverly Hills Hotel, if you 
want to talk about it. Now, it was owned by a family, 
[Margaret and Stanley] Anderson. And they had a big 
mortgage which was carried by Bank of America in San 
Francisco. And apparently the hotel, before the war, was 
half empty. 

LASKEY: The Beverly Hills Hotel? 

LASZLO: The Beverly Hills Hotel, you know. Of course, in 
the meantime, it changed. But at the time it was half 
empty. [The hotel was sold by the Andersons in 1928; the 
new owners closed it in 1929. It was reopened in 1933. 
— Ed.] And apparently they couldn't paid the interest, so 
the bank sent out its vice-president, Hernando Courtright. 
LASKEY: Really? He was a vice-president of the Bank of 
America? 
LASZLO: In San Francisco, yes. 



126 



LASKEY: Amazing. 

LASZLO: So he set out to try to manage it, or get the 

money out somewhere. He's a very smart and hard-working 

man, Hernando. 

LASKEY: But at that time, he'd had no experience in the 

hotel business? When he came, he was with the Bank of 

America? 

LASZLO: [pauses] No — no. So he came out and he tried 

to — He's a big talker, you know, but interesting man, you 

know. Great salesman, great salesman. 

LASKEY: Must be. 

LASZLO: So, I believe it was '38 or '39 when he approached 

several people, whom he met socially, to come and live in 

the hotel. He approached Freeman [F.] Gosden. He was 

"Amos and Andy." Very nice fellow, awfully nice fellow. 

But very stingy on money. 

LASKEY: [laughing] Was he really? 

LASZLO: He made millions, millions. Anyhow, so Freeman 

told Courtright, yes, he would move in. At that time, he 

too was a bachelor; he divorce [d] his wife. 

LASKEY: Was Courtright at this time acting as manager for 

the Beverly Hills Hotel? 

LASZLO: Yes, he was in charge of the hotel. You know, for 

the bank. So Freeman told him yes, he would take a suite 

if he [Courtright] would pay for the remodeling and deco- 



127 



ration and furniture and he [Gosden] can choose his own 

designer. So Courtright said that's OK. So Freeman was 

choosing me. And so it started out with Courtright. And 

he saw what I did for Gosden; he gave me more jobs and more 

jobs and more jobs and [laughing] more jobs. And we became 

friends, until '48 or so [when] I finished out the Rodeo 

Room in the hotel. 

LASKEY: Now is that [the] Beverly Hills [Hotel], or the 

Beverly Wilshire [Hotel]? 

LASZLO: Beverly Hills [Hotel] . 

LASKEY: That's the one in Beverly Hills, OK. 

LASZLO: Then, he became too smart, you know. He "knew 

everything." How to choose the colors, how to do this, how 

to do this — So [laughing] finally I told to Hernando, you 

do it. 

LASKEY: [laughs] That's too bad. 

LASZLO: And at the time, he engaged Loper. 

LASKEY: Oh, Don Loper? 

LASZLO: That one; he died years ago. But he did — 

Apparently they made a deal that Loper designs for 

Courtright[ 's] wife [Marcelle Eva de la Llaca Cuillery de 

Vos Courtright] , who was an entertainer. 

LASKEY: Oh, I was going to say, I had really thought of 

Loper more as a fashion designer than as an interior 

designer. 



128 



LASZLO: No, he was a fashion designer. And somehow Loper 
did a design and made Courtright [ ' s] wife['s] outfits. And 
Courtright give him a job to do rooms at the hotel. So, 
anyhow, we are still great friends with Courtright. 
LASKEY: [laughter] You're still friends. 



129 



TAPE NUMBER: IV, SIDE TWO 
JANUARY 2, 198 5 

LASZLO: Anyhow, finished. Finally, he [Courtright] and 

his partners bought the hotel and finally he bought out all 

his partners and then sold the hotel and then moved, for 

years after, to become in charge of Beverly Wilshire 

Hotel. 

LASKEY: Did you design, did you do any of the bungalows 

for the Beverly Hills Hotel? 

LASZLO: I did a few, and I remember he told me when Walter 

Winchell came out at that time he insisted [that] he gets 

Bungalow 12, which I designed. 

LASKEY: I've noticed, since we've been looking at your 

pictures while we've been talking, that many of the 

photographs were taken by Julius Schulman. How did you 

know Julius Schulman? 

LASZLO: I don't know anymore. But he did the first job 

for me, '37 or so. And he did many work for me, and he 

does an excellent job, provided that it fits his ideas how 

to design a house, you know. You know. 

LASKEY: Oh no, I didn't — 

LASZLO: Oh, sure. 

LASKEY: — know he had any ideas how to design a house. I 

just thought that he was a photographer. 

LASZLO: [laughing] "I invent it all." He does an 

130 



excellent job when a room doesn't have furniture. 

LASKEY: Oh really? 

LASZLO: But — don't tell him — but when a room has 

furniture, he's helpless. 

LASKEY: That's very interesting. I guess I really think 

of his pictures or his photographs as being exteriors, 

mostly. But that must be why. 

LASZLO: And, speaking about interiors. Well, some 

people are excellent taking interior shots. Some people, 

like Schulman, they don't want furniture, you know. So he 

did many jobs for me. And then I engaged Cleveland and 

Parker. 

LASKEY: Maynard Parker and Robert Cleveland. 

LASZLO: Very nice, all are very nice. 

LASKEY: They are all excellent, too. They're certainly 

all top in their field. 

LASZLO: All very nice, you know. 

LASKEY: But Julius Schulman in particular has gone on to 

become sort of the dean of architectural photographers, and 

I wondered if he was at the time you knew him or if he 

just — 

LASZLO: He just started. 

LASKEY: — was another photographer? 

LASZLO: He just started. You know, after all, it was 

almost fifty years ago. He just started with me, and with 



131 



[Richard] Neutra. And he became — He gives lectures today 

for architects, you know. [laughs] 

LASKEY: I know. 

LASZLO: This was, I believe, the last job for Courtright. 

LASKEY: Now, that's the Rodeo Room. 

LASZLO: Still there, I don't know in what shape. But he 

loved it, you know. 

LASKEY: Well, it's wonderful looking. Again, the wood and 

glass, and very much that California — The glass looking 

out into the gardens, and the wood-paneled walls. Did you 

ever do any work at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, or you were 

just friends at that point? 

LASZLO: No, no. This is a house. I don't know whether 

you recall Axel Zacho? 

LASKEY: I know the house that you did [Gilcrest Drive, 

Beverly Hills, 1950]; I don't know who he was though. 

LASZLO: He had a store on Wilshire Boulevard, for Royal 

Copenhagen, and some Swedish glass. What was the name? 

Was Swedish; glass. He had the exclusive — 

LASKEY: Yeah, there's Orrefors. 

LASZLO: He was a character, you know. V\Je bought from him 

many things, you know. If I ordered half a dozen bowls, he 

sent me a dozen bowls. Fortunately, because we didn't 

accept [inaudible]. And then he killed himself. But 

before he killed himself, I designed a house for him. 



132 



LASKEY: Now, again, I don't have a picture of it here. 

But as I recall, it was one of the more modern exteriors. 

LASZLO: Yeah, yeah. 

LASKEY: It was a wood exterior and it sort of had the 

spiderleg bands that came out — 

LASZLO: We don't have — 

LASKEY: — from it in the front, in the patio, it was a 

very — 

LASZLO: — too many pictures because, I don't know — We 

have one picture of the streetfront. And he liked the 

house, she liked the house, but the two didn't see eye to 

eye, and so finally he killed himself. 

LASKEY: That's very sad. Now most of these people who 

came to you, did they find you after seeing someone else's 

house that they liked? And then they sought you out. 

LASZLO: Yeah, yeah. 

LASKEY: How much freedom did you have in most of these 

houses? In choosing materials and in choosing design, did 

you — Was there much salesmanship involved? 

LASZLO: No. I wasn't a salesman. 

LASKEY: I just meant design wise, as far as — 

LASZLO: No, I know what you meant, but — Which means I 

tried to anticipate, by looking at the people and talking 

to them, how they feel about many things. I didn't have 

too much problem. Once in a while, you know, but very 



133 



seldom. Very seldom. So, it wasn't a problem. The money, 
especially at the beginning where I was dealing with 
smaller people who didn't have the money to spend, there 
was a problem. I mean, we had to work very hard to bring 
it down to a price. Which means, at that time, it was a 
standard of four dollar a square foot. Now if the 
contractor came in with a square foot of four-oh-five — 
which means four dollar and five cent — we had to take out 
[inaudible] four dollar. Now later on, when I got a client 
who had more money, it disappears, [laughs] which means I 
didn't do jobs where the money wasn't available. 
LASKEY: Were you selective in the clients that you took? 
LASZLO: Yes, I did that. Fortunately, [laughs] I was able 
to say, "No, I don't want to do the job." 
LASKEY: So you did have some control over your design? 
LASZLO: Oh yes. 

LASKEY: In the degree of what you chose to do and not to 
do. 

LASZLO: Oh, sure. Of course, to a certain degree, you 
know. I mean, you can't be inflexible, because after 
[all], you're dealing with human beings. No — but I am able 
to tell you, and tell myself, that I pleased the people, 
and we became, all the time, friends; never enemies. All 
people for whom I designed a house — 

134 



I did work for a couple, Henry Koster, who was a movie 
director * [and his wife Peggy Moran, who was a movie 
starlet] . He started at Universal with the Deanna Durbin 
pictures. I did five houses for him * [two houses on 
Outpost Drive in Hollywood, one on Whittier Drive in 
Beverly Hills, two in Pacific Palisades]; the last one was 
in Leisure Village in Camarillo. 

LASKEY: That must have been fairly recently then, wasn't 
it? 

LASZLO: Yes, two years ago. And he wouldn't want anything 
without me. We are still great friends. So basically it 
was a pleasant work. And the fact that people were happy 
and pleased, and had enjoyment that I feel — A lady, I did 
the house, she is telling me, you know, that, "I get up 
every day, every morning I get up and see the house and 
what you did [and] I feel happy." So this is of course 
pleasing for me, too, because this is a part of the purpose 
to do work; not for money. 

LASKEY: But it would be nice, it must have been nice to be 
able to design something that you liked, and then had the 
client who could both appreciate it and afford it, not have 
to cut back. 



* Mr. LSszl6 added the following bracketed section 
during his review of the transcript. 



135 



LASZLO: Well, you know, of course if a person is like me, 
sixty years in this field, I designed so many things that I 
could keep you busy for a year, you know, to tell you so 
many things that — which pleases me — I don't need an outside 
compliment. I enjoy it, but I don't need it. I know when 
I did a good job and, unfortunately, I [laughing] know when 
I did a bad job. 

LASKEY: Well, in sixty years of doing all the many things 
that you did, you must have also had your share of eccen- 
trics that you've had to deal with. 

LASZLO: Eccentrics, oh, yes. [laughing] One of it was 
here, Beverly Hills. It was a couple: Sam and Sadie 
Genis. Did I tell you the story? No. She hired me first 
to do a job in her apartment on Rodeo and Charleville 
[Boulevard]. Which I did the job, and noticed that she's a 
difficult person, which means what you mentioned, eccen- 
tric. 

Later on, I don't know, a year later on, she wanted to 
buy a diamond from a firm which doesn't exist anymore, but 
it was on VJilshire Boulevard and Beverly Drive, called 
Reingold. A big jewelry store. So she went into the store 
and Mr. Reingold told her, "I have here [on consignment] a 
diamond which you can have it; have it for $26,000." 
LASKEY: This was when? 
LASZLO: It was, I don't know, twenty-five years ago. So 



136 



she left. After a week she reappeared at Reingold and 
says, "I bought the stone directly." So Mr. Reinqold got 
enraged and hired two men to go up to her apartment, hit 
her in the head and get the diamond. So the two men 
[laughing] went up to her place, they hit her head, * [tied 
her up with her maid and locked the two of them up in a 
closet. Then they looked all over, but] they couldn't find 
the diamond. So they went back to Reingold and said, "We 
couldn't find the ring," or whatever it was. So Reingold 
told them, "All right, if you didn't, I don't pay you the 
fifty bucks which I promise [d] you." So they went to the 
police. He [Mr. Reingold] lost his whole business * [and 
was sent to prison] . 

LASKEY: Well, I can imagine; that's shocking. 
LASZLO: So anyhow, these people moved to Beverly Hills 
Hotel in the penthouse. And they hired Paul Williams — 
LASKEY: Oh, the architect. 

LASZLO: — to redesign the whole big suite and everything, 
which he did. But she was a difficult person. And she 
wasn't permitted anymore to go into Mocambo or Saks — 
LASKEY: [laughs] 
LASZLO: So she had a fight with Courtright, and finally 



* Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section 
during his review of the transcript. 



137 



Courtright sued her — and him [Mr. Genis] — and they went to 
court. To make it short, Courtright lost because he used a 
tape recorder. So he lost. But in [the] meantime, they 
wanted to move out, so before they moved out, she bought 
some yellow paint and painted all the walls, the ceiling, 
just, just — 
LASKEY: Defaced them. 

LASZLO: Defaced them. *[Mrs. Genis also strung up a 
clothesline along her outdoor balcony (which prominently 
faced on Sunset Boulevard on one of the upper floors of the 
hotel) and hung up her underwear, corset, panties and 
stockings to dry in the breeze. Mr. Courtright had an 
absolute fit about that.] In [the] meantime, her husband 
called me back, and says, "Paul, I want you to look at a 
house which my wife wanted to buy, and tell me whether you 
like it or not." And I told him, "Sam, I don't want to 
deal with you." 
LASKEY: [laughs] 

LASZLO: He said, "Paul, please do me a favor. I don't 
want anything but you just go there, come back and tell me 
that the house is all right." So finally I broke down and 
went out. The house was on Sunset Boulevard just west of 



* Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section 
during his review of the transcript. 



138 



Whittier [Drive] . An ugly house; a slum, old slum house. 
So I came back and said, "Sam, I don't believe that your 
wife will be happy with this house." [He replied,] 
"Please, please, don't say it! I don't want to build a 
house with her because she drives me crazy." So after a 
few days he calls me up, and said, "Paul, do you want to 
remodel the house." I said, "No, I don't want to do a job 
for you people." [He said,] "Please, please, please. You 
can charge me anything you want to, you know this." So 
finally, again, [inaudible] [I] said, "All right, but under 
the conditions that not you or your wife is going to show 
up on the job. And you pay me every Friday my fee." So it 
was an old broken-down house, which didn't — jerry-built. 
We started to build. It was a cost-plus job. Jackson 
Brothers did the job. Jackson Brothers were actually in 
the commercial field. 
LASKEY: They're contractors? 

LASZLO: Yeah, big contractors. He was a bishop in the 
Mormon church, but [a] contractor. Very nice people, 
because they did some work for Mr. Genis, shopping 
centers. So he choose Jackson. They didn't want to do the 
job either! But they were — So anyhow. Every morning, 
every morning Mrs. Genis was there. 
LASKEY: Despite your contract. 
LASZLO: Despite the contract, every morning she was 



139 



there. And she treated the laborer [s] — She told them, 
"You S.O.B., my husband has millions! You are such — " 
LASKEY: Terrible! I'm surprised you could keep the 
workers. 

LASZLO: My partner came several times crying in that 
office. With me, she didn't dare to do anything. She 
treated the people just that way — and foolish. It cost a 
fortune to do the job, you know. And so after two months 
or three months of work, Sam came to me and said, "Paul, 
every Friday [I have a] problem with my wife, because she 
is signing the check. Do you mind, I give you my word as a 
gentleman — [laughing] You have to wait until the job is 
finished, and I give my word that you get the fee." So 
what can I say but "all right." So the work — It was a big 
job, a hillside job, which went down from Sunset to the 
alley and street below. Most amazing. 
LASKEY: Well, it's a beautiful house. 

LASZLO: Retaining walls, thirty-feet-high retaining wall 
to make it livable. And after a few months he died. He 
was in an auto accident with his girlfriend who was a 
sister of this — the girl who was the mistress of this Las 
Vegas man, I don't even know. 
LASKEY: Of who? 
LASZLO: A gambler. Las Vegas. 
LASKEY: Bugsy [Benjamin] Siegel? 



140 



LASZLO: Bugsy Siegel, yeah. 

LASKEY: Yeah, OK. 

LASZLO: He died, but she [the girlfriend] was alive, you 

know. And apparently, I didn't know, he bought a house for 

her. And when he died it came out that he bought a house 

for her. I didn't know about it until the landscape 

architect who did this job came to me and told me, "You 

know, you believe Mrs. Genis was difficult? [Siegel 's 

girlfriend] is ten times [laughing] as difficult." *[In 

any case, Mrs. Genis was pressured to pay what Mr. Genis 

had owed on behalf of Siegel 's girlfriend for the house, 

the landscaping and the pool. Mrs. Genis didn't complain 

too much about the house, but having to pay for the 

swimming pool, too, put her in orbit.] So the job was 

finished excellent; [the] job, it looked good. 

LASKEY: It looks great in the photograph. 

LASZLO: But both died. In an auto accident, she died. 

LASKEY: This is Mrs. Genis, or [the girlfriend]? 

LASZLO: No. No. 

LASKEY: Mrs. Genis. 

LASZLO: Genis. She didn't have a cent finally, you know. 

LASKEY: What happened to the house? 



* Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section 
during his review of the transcript. 



141 



LASZLO: They sold it very cheap [at auction] . Maxine was 
there, at the auction. Finally a man from San Francisco 
bought it, and he added a room to it. And he called me up 
and said, "Do you want to look it over to look at the 
house, what you did, because we did the — we rejuvenated it 
just the way it was originally done." I don't know what I 
did. It looked good, you know, and — So this was — I lost 
the money because, I tell you, this was a difficult job 
[laughter; inaudible]. *[I lost money on the Genis house 
because Mr. Genis was killed before the rest of my fee had 
been paid, and Mrs. Genis refused to honor the debt. I 
didn't want to have anything more to do with her, let alone 
file suit against her. So I charged it up to experience 
and wrote it off as a bad debt.] 

Then, I [would] like to talk about Goldwater's. Did 
I? Goldwater's? 

LASKEY: No, I thought we would get to that a little later, 
because that's a department store. Just to talk about the 
houses, your architecture, your residence architecture 

right now. 

LASZLO: V>rhat about the William Perlberg House [Beverly 

Hills, 1950-51]? Have we — 



* Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section 
during his review of the transcript. 



142 



LASKEY: No, we haven't talked about that, that or the [Mr. 

and Mrs. Charles P.] McGaha House [Wichita Falls, Texas], 

either one. 

LASZLO: He was a producer — 

LASKEY: William Perlberq. 

LASZLO: — at Fox. As a matter of fact, he made a picture 

which was my favorite. Miracle on Thirty-Fourth Street. 

LASKEY: Oh yes. 

LASZLO: And he hired me to do the job. And he said, 

"Paul, you go ahead and do what, everything you want. I 

won't show up on the job." Which he didn't. Only once, he 

showed up only once. [laughter] Only once; when he showed 

up, a salesman from, I don't know. Arrowhead Spring Water, 

tried to sell him something. So he says, "Paul, never 

again." Only once! l^en we were finished with the house, 

and furniture, everything, added — 

LASKEY: And he was never there, he just never came — 

LASZLO: And she [Mrs. William "Billie" Perlberg] was never 

there — 

LASKEY: That's amazing. 

LASZLO: So [the day everything was moved in and set in 

place] I gave a party for Mr. [and] Mrs. Perlberg *[in 



* Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section 
during his review of the transcript. 



143 



their new house] . They gave me list of the people, about a 
hundred people, all movie people: Jack Benny, and George 
Burns, and whoever it was, Hedda Hopper. I gave the party, 
and Chasen's catered it. And I put in everything — his 
clothes, his shoes — before he saw the house. At the party 
he saw the house the first time. They came seven o'clock 
and everything was in: clothing, shoes, china. Everything 
was finished. It was a big party. The music was — dancing, 
everything. And it was all right. So finally he sold the 
house because they moved to Palm Springs. And then Mr. 
[Julian M. and] Mrs. [Leona Hertz] Saks bought the house. 
LASKEY: This is of Saks Fifth Avenue? 

LASZLO: He was grandson of the man who created Saks Fifth 
Avenue. She was the daughter of Mr. Hertz: "You drive 
Hertz." And she [Mrs. Saks] called me and I designed seven 
more maids' roora[s] at her home. She was difficult to talk 
[to] the first few weeks. So I told to Mrs. Saks, "I don't 
want to work for you." So she brought in the wife of 
Mervyn LeRoy, Kitty Spiegel was her name. Kitty Spiegel 
was a daughter of Spiegel mail order house. She was 
married to Mervyn LeRoy. And so she [Mrs. LeRoy] came in 
with my successor, and [Mrs.] Saks, said, "Please, please 
do the job, I will be — " [laughs] And she kept her 
word. So I finished up the job. 
LASKEY: Now, this was the William Perlberg House, you're 



144 



making an addition to it, is that right? This was in the 

valley, was it? Or was it in Beverly Hills? 

LASZLO: This was, I believe, was 620 Mountain Drive in 

Beverly Hills. It is, I believe, [off] Hillcrest [Road] , 

it is a street which has a circle. Mountain Drive in 

Beverly Hills. 

LASKEY: It was a very warm and comfortable-looking house. 

LASZLO: Yeah, very nice. She [Mrs. Saks] had cancer, nose 

cancer. She had twenty-eight operation [s] . So I build an 

overhang over the pool so she should not get sun. And [I] 

build many things. She was immensely rich. And when I was 

finished, she always says, "I have to give a party for you 

because you did such a beautiful job. But I have still a 

problem with the [upkeep of the] house." She had two 

cooks. 

LASKEY: Two cooks? 

LASZLO: She had a chambermaid, two butlers; and she said 

to me [laughing], "I have still a problem with the [help]." 

LASKEY: Well, how large was the house? I didn't recall 

from the pictures that it was that large. 

LASZLO: Four thousand square foot, but seven maids were 

[inaudible]. And every afternoon at two o'clock the butler 
had to put up a sample setting for the dinner, two peo- 
ple. One china, one silver, one glass, and everything, 

[laughing] you know. And finally she gave a big party for 



145 



me. And again Chasen's catered it, and there was music and 

all. All her friends, which were important people, were 

there . 

LASKEY : Oh, this was marvelous. 

LASZLO: After that — or before, I don't know — I qot a call 

from a lady [Mrs. John D. (Frances) Hertz]. She said, "I 

am Mrs. Saks's mother and I have some work in my house to 

do. Do you want to come over and talk to us?" So I told 

to Mrs. Hertz — half a joke, half serious — "I had already 

Mrs. Saks." 

LASKEY: [laughing] You didn't need Mrs. Hertz! 

LASZLO: [laughing] I didn't need you! And she said, "No, 

we are different, please do it." So we made a date for 

Wednesday at two o'clock. It was in Woodland Hills, Shoup 

Avenue; he had one hundred and eighty acres there. So that 

I was two o'clock there. To make it short, they wanted me 

to do a big job, you know. I designed it and they approved 

it; they liked it [Hertz House, V^oodland Hills, 1952-53]. 

LASKEY: Was this a remodeling of the house? 

LASZLO: Yes. But mostly remodeling turns out [laughing] 

that you destroy everything. And they left without giving 

us a qo-ahead ; they left. So we did not know what to do. 

So I told Fritz-- My partner calls him up in New York. He 

was a partner also at Lehman Brothers, this investment 

banking firm, Mr. Hertz was a partner in New York. So 



146 



Fritz called him up and told him, "Mr. Hertz, you left 
before telling us to qo ahead with the job." Mr. Hertz, he 
spoke very slow, he said, "Yes, it is a large amount of 
money you want." So Fritz is telling him, "Yes, Mr. Hertz, 
but you should have, really, the best." So he said, "Yes, 
you are right, please go ahead." So I did the job, and it 
was very nice and we became quasi-f riends , which means he 
trusted me, and he asked me, "I want everything." And then 
he wanted me to build a bomb shelter [Hertz bomb shelter, 
Uoodland Hills, 1954-55]. 
LASKEY: A bomb shelter? 
LASZLO: Yeah. You saw the picture. So I designed a bomb 

shelter. 

LASKEY: We're talking about the early fifties then, right? 
LASZLO: It was, I believe, '52 or '53. And it was a 
complicated job, very complicated job, very complicated 
job. It is just like the same to build a submarine the 
first time, because nobody knew how to build a bomb 
shelter. But I mean the way — I meant, the way it was 
designed: very big, fourteen people, elevator; because he 
couldn't go down the staircase, he was too old, she was too 
old, so an elevator would be needed. Building the bomb 
shelter — And everything was as you can imagine. As a 
matter of fact, when it was finished, Mr. [Lewis L.] 
Strauss, who was at that time the chairman of the Atomic 



147 



Energy Commission, he came out because they were friends. 
And he told Mr. Hertz that [it was] the first shelter 
[laughing] which makes sense, you know. So he engaged 
Edward Teller. Now Teller is an atomic scientist, you 
know, who was called "the father of the hydrogen bomb." 
[laughs] 

LASKEY: Something that he didn't like too much. 
LASZLO: So he [was] engaged to check over before he 
[Hertz] pays me my fee, that everything is all right, see 
this is really, really, a bomb shelter. It was [inaudible] 
interest [ing] but every person who worked on this job lost 
money: I lost money, the contractor lost money, whoever 
was involved, because it was unknown, you know. Every 
little item, we had to go to the city hall to get a special 
permit. It was [a] complicated job, with a generator and 
ventilation; many thing [s], many thing [s]. And today I 
don't know how I was able to do that. 

LASKEY: Well, that's what I was going to ask you about — 
LASZLO: I don't know [how]. 

LASKEY: — to talk about. It sounds so totally different 
from anything else that you did, and I'm just really curi- 
ous about material selection, and depth, and lighting, 
and — 

LASZLO: This was the reason he came to me, because he felt 
that I am going to find out about everything. So I had to 



148 



find out. Every little item was a new thing. We ordered 
sixteen feet Armco [steel pipe] ceiling, they're quarter 
inch of thick and eight foot in — 



149 



TAPE NUMBER: V, SIDE ONE 
JANUARY 18, 198 5 

LASKEY: Mr. LSszl6, the last time we were talking, we 
started talking about the bomb shelter that you designed. 
And since that was such a unique thing, I thought we should 
start over again and start talking about that from the 
beginning . 

LASZLO: Yes. Somebody, or a magazine, approached me to 
design a future home or city or village or development, 
which I did ["Atomville , " 1950]. I believe, I don't know 
exactly, but I believe, it appeared in Popular Mechanic [s]. 
LASKEY: Popular Mechanics? 

LASZLO: I believe so, I don't know; it was so many years 
ago. And since I did the remodeling [and] furnishing [of 
the house on Shoup Avenue] for Mr. [John Daniel] Hertz, 
somehow it came up, the idea — [microphone adjusted] 
Somehow it came up, the idea that he wanted to build a bomb 
shelter. So I asked him, "Mr. Hertz, in your age" — he was 
seventy — "how come that you want to build a bomb shelter to 
save your life?" So he told me — he had a deep voice — he 
told me, "Mr. LSszl6, when you are in my age, every day is 
very important." [laughter] So he gave me the job to 
design it, which I did. And it was a complicated thing 
because it wasn't any precedent, you know, [to] show you 
something, to explain it better, a little bit. [looks 

150 



through papers] I don't have here the — 
LASKEY: Oh my goodness. 
LASZLO: Basically it was very — 
LASKEY: These were the mock-ups — ? 

LASZLO: This was [the] original idea, you know, out of 
which I developed the bomb shelter. But it was a compli- 
cated project, which today it would cost at least a million 
dollar [s], at least. But at the time, I didn't know, and 
the contractor didn't know, and the subcontractor didn't 
know [what it] was all about. So we all lost money on this 

job . 

LASKEY: V'Jhere did you start to research the information? 
LASZLO: Mr. Hertz had a connection to the air force, and 
there was a foundation in Albuquerque [New Mexico] called 
[the] Lovelace Foundation, where apparently they were 
playing around [with] how to protect or how to save people 
in case it comes, an atomic attack. They had two men who 
worked on it, partly: Major [Robert] Crawford, who died in 
the meantime, and Mr. [James] Clark, who I believe invented 
the silicon idea. 
LASKEY: Oh, really? 

LASZLO: Yeah, because one evening both were in our house 
for dinner and he showed me a little thing. He said, 
"Paul, it cost me seven cents; I invented it. And sell it, 
for sale, seven hundred dollar[s]." And so someone came 



151 



back, you know, I believe, he had to do with this 
invention. So, anyhow — 

LASKEY: This is the early fifties that we're talking 
about, right? About 1953? 

LASZLO: 'Fifty-three, I would say. And, so Mr. Hertz, 
with his connection to the air force, and to Mr. [Lewis L.] 
Strauss, who was chairman of the Atomic Energy Commis- 
sion. These two men were assigned to me to help me, and 
explained how it works. And Mr. Crawford was at that time 
already in Pasadena, in the air force office; I don't know 
how. So we met and apparently he had experience in atomic 
testing. And so he explained it to me, was [talking] all 
about it, you know: how the danger is mostly not only the 
bomb, but the pressure. Which means, of course, if the 
bomb hits your house, [it's] gone. But if the bomb hits 
Los Angeles [and] you are in Woodland Hills, where he was, 
then of course the pressure is — Tremendous amount of 

pressure. 

LASKEY: That's from the winds, the fallout from the winds? 
LASZLO: Yeah, air pressure. So he helps me with this 
idea. And then you buy it and later find out what's all 
about it in approaching people and engineers. And finally, 
I put it together. We used tremendous arm[or], called 
[galvanized] steel pipe. The diameter, I don't know, 
twenty feet long, or more, twenty-four feet long, you 



152 



know. And digging the ditches fourteen feet below the roof 
level. It was a very complicated job. And looking back, 
as I told you before, I don't know how I was able to do the 
job, you know. But I did, and it worked with all the 
problems. All the problems with so many things, you 
know: elevator, staircase, and generator, and battery; 
many things were new. I don't believe, except in Washing- 
ton for the president, any individual would do such a job, 
you know, because it cost too much. 

LASKEY: Well, did you do the engineering on it? Did you 
figure out the widths of the metals and the — ? 
LASZLO: Oh no, I had an engineer, oh, yeah, who calculated 
the stress of this — All ventilation and how to clean the 
air, and communication with the outside world; many things, 
you know. 

LASKEY: Well, that's an interesting question. What would 
they do for ventilation, because obviously you couldn't use 
the air, because the air would be polluted from — 
LASZLO: No, it is the same [as] air conditioning, you 
know. It is filtered, and filtered, refiltered. 
LASKEY: Just refilter the air, that's all. You don't need 
a fresh supply. 

LASZLO: Yeah, refilter. Yes, you know. We had two geiger 
counter [s] built in; many thing [s]. Frankly, I cannot even 
remember it anymore, but we had the details — I don't even 
know. 

153 



LASKEY: Well, there was — I was reading something about 

the stairway, the entrances. Either you had to disguise 

the entrances, or there was a [inaudible] entrance — 

LASZLO: No, it was — He owned, when I started, he owned 

118 acres on Shoup Avenue, which is in Woodland Hills. And 

so it was about, I would say, twenty yards away from the 

house where it started, the concrete structure, you know. 

About so high the concrete came up, I believe say so — 

LASKEY: About four feet? 

LASZLO: The pressure, wind go over it, big circle. 

[laughs] And of course he or she [Mrs. Hertz, n§e Frances 

Kesner] couldn't walk down the spiral staircase. 

LASKEY: There was a spiral staircase that led from the 

ground down into to the building, yeah. 

LASZLO: In steel, you know. Went down. 

LASKEY: Why was it spiral? Was there a reason? Was there 

an engineering reason for that, or was it a space reason? 

LASZLO: Now, of course, we wanted to reduce the shelter to 

a minimum size, you know, which means a spiral staircase; 

underneath it, only three feet [of floor space] . But a 

staircase would be, you know, [larger]. And then we have 

here the staircase, and here was an elevator. 

LASKEY: Now, the elevator came from the ground level? 

LASZLO: Yeah. 

LASKEY: So there was an elevator and the staircase, both. 



154 



for getting down into the shelter. 

LASZLO: Yeah, yeah. 

LASKEY: That's amazing. 

LASZLO: And it was designed for fourteen people, which 

means his help and his — And food storage, many things; and 

beds and bathrooms. 

LASKEY: Well, how big was it? How big was the interior of 

the shelter? 

LASZLO: It was, the height inside, was like here, you 

know, with a different — 

LASKEY: Eight feet. 

LASZLO: — different, but it was a cylinder, which means in 
the center it was as high as a cylinder. Here were the 

beds, you know, built in. Like a big — [inaudible; laugh- 
ing] Like a submarine, really. 

LASKEY: Were there fourteen beds down there? I mean, 
fourteen cots, or — I mean, was it — You said it held 
fourteen, so could it actually sleep fourteen people? 
LASZLO: Yeah. Yes, yes. 

LASKEY: And what did they do about food storage? Did they 
have dried food put in? What would they have done about 
food and water, for example, had there been an atomic 
attack? 

LASZLO: Well, the idea was to supply for three weeks all 
food, which was in the atomic shelter, you know. Food, 
like in a pantry. 

155 



LASKEY: Like canned foods, and things like that. Bottled 

water — 

LASZLO: Everything. And water, and — 

LASKEY: Well, didn't you arouse a lot of attention when 

you were building this? 

LASZLO: Oh, he didn't — 

LASKEY: No? 

LASZLO: Oh, he would not even permit me to take photos. 

Oh, it was how secret. I explain it to you that at the end 

of the project he asked me to make a secret exit, and 

engage laborer [s] from out of town so nobody should know 

about it. Now, since you mentioned, the escape hatch was, 

again, a cylinder. And we provided something to pull the 

people out, because he could not, she couldn't crawl out. 

It was pretty steep; not [inaudible] but pretty steep 

cylinder, you know. 

LASKEY: Yeah. 

LASZLO: V'Jhich means a person had to crawl. So we made an 

arrangement where we were able to initiate a motor which 

pulls out a seat, pulls up a seat, you know. Because he 

could not have a — He wasn't an active sportsman, you 

know. So, I can't recall all the elements which went into 

it because it was many years ago, you know. So this was 

Mr. Hertz's bomb shelter. 

LASKEY: It's amazing. Did the government have to OK any 



156 



of this, or was it just a private — ? 

LASZLO: The city building department. This was always a 
problem, because every item was no precedent. 
LASKEY: Did you have difficulty with the building 
department, then, getting permits that you needed? 
LASZLO: Yes. It took time, because they didn't know 
either: how to heat, how to filter, how to generate. We 
had connected with city lights and power. And then we had 
a generator, and the generator had to be [a] hundred 
yard[s] away from the shelter. I don't know why; I'll tell 
you more about that. So [the] city insisted a hundred 
yard[s] away from the shelter. And then, if both the city 
power and the generator fails, then we have a battery 
automatically to switch over. 

LASKEY: Oh, I see. So you had three systems, that were 
three generating systems that he could have used. 
LASZLO: Yeah. I believe it is still there. At that time, 
I cannot — He gave the whole property to a school. What 
school, I don't know. 

LASKEY: It would be interesting to find out if it's ever 
used. [It was bought from the Hertz family in 1957 and was 
converted into the Pinecrest Ranch School, 5975 Shoup 
Avenue. --Ed.] [tape recorder turned off] You haven't 
been back to find out if it's still there or if it's used, 
or what the school might use it for? 



157 



LASZLO: No, no. We had some differences with old man 

Hertz. 

LASKEY: Oh? [interruption; tape recorder turned off] 

LASZLO: His secretary, Mr. Victor Herman was the name, 

awfully nice person, he got jealous that Mr. Hertz asked me 

for [advice about] all his problems; I don't know why, you 

know. 

So, we did — We moved, I believe, his stables. Then 
he put up, he gave up his horses and he sold [a] hundred 
acres to a builder and retained eighteen acres, including 
the house and bomb shelter. We moved a big stable, oh, I 
don't know, half a mile away, in his property. And with 
paved, like a street, from the house to the stables; 
asphalt. 

And this Victor Herman got jealous of me, even 
[though] I didn't have anything to do with it. So he said 
to Mr. Hertz that while we were building the bomb shelter, 
I did remodeling in my [own] house, and that [was] the 
reason it was delayed [in] completion this month — 
LASKEY: Why would he do that? 

LASZLO: — which caused him a disturbance. So when my 
partner presented his bill, he wanted to have, for this 
discomfort, a reduced bill. Unfortunately, my partner is 
the same. "OK, Mr. Hertz," he said, "no, we can't afford 
it." He [Hertz] called up his lawyers in Chicago to come 



158 



out and sue me for his discomfort that [laughing] the bomb 

shelter wasn't — 

LASKEY: That's absurd. 

LASZLO: And he engaged too, here, a local lawyer, Ed 

Lasker — a famous name from Chicago, but he practiced 

here. Lasker, Ed Lasker. And he told us, "You know, it is 

foolish but the old man is really insisting. He told us 

that he goes to the Supreme Court, you know." You know, 

the difference was — 

LASKEY: [laughs] The Supreme Court? 

LASZLO: He wanted a thousand dollar discount on — 

LASKEY: How much did he spend on lawyers' fees trying to 

get this thousand dollars discount? 

LASZLO: That is something else. He came out from Chicago, 

a lawyer. And a lawyer here. So finally we settled. I 

mean, I lost. 

LASKEY: Oh, that's too bad. 

LASZLO: You know, it was — [laughs] And the interesting 

thing is that he moved out from this house and he bought a 

condominium on Wilshire Boulevard, a penthouse. And he 

built his own oval swimming pools in the penthouse. 

LASKEY: Really? 

LASZLO: Yes. 

LASKEY: Down on V^Jilshire? 

LASZLO: Yeah, Wilshire Boulevard. He had all the money. 



159 



you know, I mean. And he engaged somebody, an architect, 
and all the time he is telling the architect, "Mr. Laszlfi 
would do this — " [laughter] Anyhow, I don't have any 
grudge. I never had; I mean, this guy — [laughs] 

He died in the meantime, she died, and his daughter 
died, and so — But I am, only, alive. [laughs] 
LASKEY: And the bomb shelter is probably still there 
itself. [laughing] 

LASZLO: The bomb shelter, I am sure, is still there. Try 
to find out which school got it. 
LASKEY: Where is it? What's the street? 
LASZLO: Shoup Avenue. 

LASKEY: Shoup Avenue in Woodland Hills. 
LASZLO: In Woodland Hills. Now, I believe it was the 
second block, or the third, from Ventura Boulevard. 
LASKEY: Well, you said that the commission for the bomb 
shelter grew out of a program that you had done for Popular 
Mechanics. And you had those boards that you showed me 
that were your Atomville project, which is fascinating. 
It's sort of the city of tomorrow. How did you come — ? 
First of all, can you describe it. What happened here — 
LASZLO: Of course, I believe that many of the architects 
are thinking of a project, "the ideal city," and so which 
means in my mind, I had it already fifty years ago, you 
know. 



160 



LASKEY: Really? 

LASZLO: Yes. You know: how to design a city, you know, 

which would be ideal. Later on, I believe twenty years 

ago, somebody built a city, an ideal city. I believe that 

Nelson Rockefeller financed it. 

LASKEY: Oh, Rockefeller Center, or — 

LASZLO: If you ask [David] Gebhard, he would remember the 

name. Anyhow, many architects were — 

LASKEY: Well, the ideal city, through history — 

LASZLO: Yeah, how to do that — 

LASKEY: Somebody is always attempting to build or design 

the ideal city. 

LASZLO: Then, of course, and came the atomic bomb, which 

created new problems. And then came the amount of cars 

which are clogging the — You know. 

LASKEY: Oh, yeah. 

LASZLO: So, you are thinking how would it be possible, 

because more and more people are flying today private 

planes. I don't know how many millions they have, private 

planes. So that was the idea. Why don't we build the 

houses underground, and then use the roof as a landing — 

VJhich means this would be a — 

LASKEY: Sort of a curved — 

LASZLO: — the roof, you know. And here, again, this 

concrete protection against the pressure of wind. Here 



161 



would be the landing, you know; a continuous — 
LASKEY: And then all of the house — This would be 
underground? 
LASZLO: Yeah. 

LASKEY: And this is the ground level here. And then this 
is concrete? 
LASZLO: Yes, this is — 

LASKEY: Concrete sort of curved surface that rises — 
LASZLO: So many things. Of course, it wasn't engineered, 
but it was an idea. And it was interesting to work on 
it. Even we made a model of it. We worked on it for 
months, the model. [laughs] But it was interesting. 
LASKEY: Where's the model? Do you still have it? 
LASZLO: I don't know, no. 

LASKEY: That's too bad. You did that, then, really, 
because of an interest, your own, basically your own 
personal interest in — ? 

LASZLO: Somebody, either [a] writer or a magazine ap- 
proached me. So this gave me the impetus to start again, 
because it was interesting. But it was — 
LASKEY: Nothing was ever picked up from it. It still 
looks like a good idea. I mean, to eliminate cars would 
be~ 

LASZLO: I don't know. 
LASKEY: — a definite benefit to humanity. 



162 



LASZLO: Because I believe each of us contribute something/ 
you know. Even a little detail would help. If so many 
people are working, I'm sure, on the same idea, because the 
problem is here. Now, if you try to go on Wilshire 
Boulevard [laughing] in Westwood, then you realize — 

So anyhow, he died, she died. And his daughter died 
too. I designed the house in, let me think; [it] was '53. 
LASKEY: Fifty-three. 
LASZLO: I believe it was '53. 

LASKEY: V7ell, I noticed in some of the plans and designs 
that you did for other projects, that the helicopter 
figured prominently in it. In fact, I think you had one 
project that you designed for a helicopter: a means of 
getting people to the airport ["PL-47" helicopter terminal 
project, 1945] . 

LASZLO: Oh, yes. It was — I had an idea to, which is 
being done, I mean, today. Each big building downtown has 
a pad, you know, for helicopters. Each building has; here 
and in New York and in San Francisco. And so I figured 
that finally — I took, in San Francisco, several times, a 
helicopter from town to airport. 
LASKEY: Oh, really? 

LASZLO: Oh, sure. And we were in Italy, in Capri. And I 
didn't wanted to go again through the misery of a boat from 
Naples to Capri and Capri back to Naples. So we took a 



163 



helicopter and in a few minutes we were at that airport in 

Naples. 

LASKEY: But I think also in the fifties there was a 

feeling that the helicopter would be much more of a 

personal machine than it's become, don't you think? I 

mean, that it was just sort of assumed that we would have 

helicopters in much the same way that we have cars. 

LASZLO: Well, they have today big helicopters. We have 

fifty, hundred people [passengers] , you know. The army has 

big machines. So this is the problem. I believe that, 

finally, when it comes to a point when it is impossible to 

drive — 

LASKEY: Well, it's almost reaching that point in some 

places in Los Angeles. 

LASZLO: You know. 

LASKEY: It gets a little bit worse all the time, so I'd be 

really curious to know how we do solve it, and if that 

could possibly be an answer. 

LASZLO: No. The politic — They are fooling around, for 

how many years, to build a subway. And they just won't do 

it, you know. Most amazing that in, like in Germany, 

Munich built a subway system for the Olympic games. And 

Stuttgart, as well as others, built a subway system. Why 

couldn't we [laughing] get here a subway system? It's all 

excuses, you know. 



164 



LASKEY: Well, Los Angeles, for whatever reason, is 
resistant to a transit system, and, you know, something 
will happen because traffic will stop at some point. 
LASZLO: Yes. 

LASKEY: And when the traffic stops, then what do we do? 
LASZLO: Yes. So I believe when it comes to a point where 
you can't move, [laughing] then we are going to have — 
LASKEY: [laughing] Then we are going to have a [inaudi- 
ble], or a subway, or whatever. 
LASZLO: Yeah. 

LASKEY: But while we're on that subject, we've talked 
somewhat about your furniture design, the architecture. 
What about your position as an industrial designer? How 
does that fit into your scheme? 

LASZLO: Of course, I designed several items, even in 
Europe. And here it didn't develop in my life to become an 
important designer for industry. 

LASKEY: Well, how would you define "industrial de- 
signer"? Because, I think that's a fairly new term. 
LASZLO: Yes. Actually, what it is: you design a chair, 
you design a chair. Then you have to figure how to build 
it. So this is the job for an industrial designer. Or you 
design an automobile, which I did — at least half of it I 
designed: [the superchargers, carrosserie and color 
scheme] . 



165 



LASKEY: Really? An automobile? 

LASZLO: Yes, a Mercedes [Benz] . And then you have to 
figure out — Then you have a beautiful picture, you know, 
of what a person visualizes how it should be. Then you to 
solve it, how to build it. So this is the definition of an 
industrial designer, who is able to engineer it, has a 
design which he designed. Of course, a big — Henry Drey- 
fuss, who died in the meantime; he killed himself. He and 
his wife together killed theraself. And Raymond Loewy, who 
is now not working, and [Walter Dorwin] Teague, and all 
these, had big offices because they had big clients. They 
went in different direction [s] too. They designed stores 
and furniture and automobiles and trucks and everything. 
But they had two hundred people — 

LASKEY: Two hundred people? That's large; a large firm. 
LASZLO: — in that office. Which means they had engineers 
and this engineer and this. Which means the person, like 
Loewy, you know — Well, don't quote me — 

LASKEY: No, I'm just writing down Raymond Loewy ' s name for 
the spelling. 

LASZLO: He could not design anymore because he was so busy 
getting jobs. The phone calls — If you have two hundred 
people, or more, you have a payroll, which means you need 
jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. I didn't want to be big, you 
know. I decided I want to [go] in a different direction 
finally. 

166 



You ask me, too, how come that I design stores more, 
[and] gave up designing homes. The simple reason was I 
wanted to do my own work, which means I didn't want to hire 
a designer who designs, and I put my name on it, you 
know. I wanted to design everything. And if you do, then 
of course you don't have the time to go out and solicit 
work, you know, which a big business has to. And so I was 
happy what I did with the small office. 
LASKEY: Now, was your office always on Rodeo Drive? 
LASZLO: No. 

LASKEY: I mean, after you got settled on Rodeo; I know you 
had one before you were on Rodeo. But once you moved into 
that office, was that your main — Did you stay there until 
you retired? Or did you move — ? [people talking in back- 
ground] 

LASZLO: [Referring to voices] I don't dare to get up, to 
close the door. [door closes] 
LASKEY: That's OK. 

LASZLO: I was first in [the] Fox VJilshire Building [8442 
Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills]. I had a beautiful 
office. 

LASKEY: That was the one where you ripped out the 
partition? 

LASZLO: Then we moved to where Regina movie [theater] was 
[8556 Wilshire Boulevard], one or two blocks west from La 



167 



Cienega [Boulevard] . And then we moved to ray house, which 

had a whole floor [of] office space. 

LASKEY: Now, is this your house in Brentwood or your — 

LASZLO: No. 

LASKEY: — house in Beverly Hills? This was the second 

house. 

LASZLO: Beverly Hills. And then I moved to Rodeo Drive. 
I was there at least twenty years until a client of mine, a 
Mr. [S. Jon] Kreedman, came and said, "Paul, I am build- 
ing — " Now, he wanted to build a hotel, and all the plans 
were already finished, and all the contracts are already 
signed. When he abandoned the project, instead of building 
[a hotel, he built an] office building on Camden [Drive] 
and Wilshire, almost opposite of Saks Fifth Avenue, where a 
big bank is and has this circular "appendix" [vault] on 
Wilshire Boulevard. 

LASKEY: OK, I know where Camden and VJilshire is. 
LASZLO: And so he built an office building instead of 
hotel. And I, since I designed his offices, he said, 
"Paul, come over and in the building make your office 
there." So, you know how friends are. [laughter] [I 
said,] "All right." 
LASKEY: "OK." [laughs] 

LASZLO: So then I moved to 9601 Wilshire. That was the 
address, but actually entrance was on Camden Drive, but the 



168 



address was Wilshire. There I was, I don't know, ten 
years, or twelve years. 

LASKEY: What was it like moving out of your Rodeo office 
after all that time? Wasn't it hard to leave your office 

on Rodeo? 

LASZLO: No, wasn't hard. 

LASKEY: It wasn't hard? 

LASZLO: No. It wasn't hard. [laughter] No, wasn't 

hard. You know. I was always — I don't want to say 

adventurous— but it wasn't hard to leave Hungary, it wasn't 

hard to leave Vienna, it wasn't hard to leave Germany, and 

it wasn't hard to leave Rodeo Drive. [laughter] 

LASKEY: Maybe you're just pragmatic. It makes sense to 

LASZLO: So I moved there, and we had a good time there. 

And then finally, in '75 or '74, we moved, against my 

better judgment, to San Vicente [Boulevard]. A new 

building, ugly building, on Bundy and — 

LASKEY: Bundy and San Vicente. 

LASZLO: San — No, it was on more Barrington [10777 San 

Vicente Boulevard] . 

LASKEY: Barrington, yeah, that circle of buildings that 

chops — 

LASZLO: And then we took in a partner who worked for us 

for sixteen years. 



169 



LASKEY: Now, this was — V-Jhen did you move to San 

Vicente? 

LASZLO: I believe '7[5]. 



170 



TAPE NUMBER: V, SIDE TWO 
JANUARY 18, 1985 

LASKEY: So you were on Rodeo, then, from approximately the 
mid forties into the sixties. 

LASZLO: No, no. I believe, from '40, because I started to 
remodel it '39, so we moved in '40 until, I believe, '62, 
or so. 

LASKEY: And then you moved to San Vicente, and — 
LASZLO: No. 

LASKEY: I mean to Wilshire — 
LASZLO: Wilshire. 

LASKEY: — and then to San Vicente. 
LASZLO: Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

LASKEY: OK. I just thought we'd get the chronology 
straight. So you had a partner. 

LASZLO: Yeah, we took in a partner [James H. Duthie] who 
worked for us, before, sixteen years. And my other part- 
ner, Fritz, he told me, "Let's give him a partnership; he 
worked for us for sixteen years." I wasn't in favor of 
it. But I said, "All right." And it didn't work out. 
LASKEY: It didn't work out. 

LASZLO: As soon as he became a partner, he behaved like a 
partner. And it just didn't work out. And at that time we 
were already in [San] Vicente, and Fritz, my old partner, 

171 



lived here in this building called [The] Penthouse, 
[overlooking] the ocean. 
LASKEY: Oh, OK. 

LASZLO: And I wanted to sell ray house. So, it was — 
Finally, we gave the office for the employees. And I moved 
over here. I worked here for a few years. 
LASKEY: You did your work here? And then the office was 
sort of, the business was run at San Vicente? Is that--? 
LASZLO: We gave, Fritz Eden and myself, gave the office 
for our employees, which included our third partner. 
LASKEY: That was very nice. 

LASZLO: And two more men who worked for us; very nice 
people. But these three couldn't get along. So after a 
few months, each went into a different direction. 
LASKEY: And then what did you do? You were still working, 
right? 

LASZLO: Yeah, here [at home] . 
LASKEY: You work out of — 

LASZLO: It was different, you know. It was a drafting 
room. I did a few jobs from here. Big jobs; not big jobs 
like a big building, but remodeling. And I went two years 
ago--I forget now-- [and then decided that] I don't want 
after [all] to do this, you know, work here without help. 
So, I eliminated everything and paneled the walls — 
LASKEY: Oh, you did this? You had the paneling done? 



172 



LASZLO: Yeah. Well, sure. 
LASKEY: It's a beautiful room. 

LASZLO: Sure. And it's difficult to be here and to work 
[for] clients in Beverly Hills or downtown. You know, long 
distance. 
LASKEY: Yes. 

LASZLO: As you know, the traffic and parking [are 
difficult] , so I gave up, or the clients gave me up. 
[laughter] But it worked out all right, you know. After 
all, I was working sixty years. [laughs] 
LASKEY: Sixty years. 

LASZLO: But I enjoyed every minute, every office. Should 
I give you fresh coffee? 

LASKEY: Oh, no, this is just fine. I guess this would be 
a good time to ask you. We sort of talked about it be- 
fore. But talking about your offices, the changes that you 
saw in Los Angeles or in Beverly Hills over those very 
critical years must have been really amazing. Just in the 
immediate surroundings of Beverly Hills where you were, to 
watch the city grow. 

LASZLO: I didn't foresee that Rodeo Drive will have such a 
change. Because if I were to have foreseen, I wouldn't 
have moved. [laughter] 
LASKEY: See? 
LASZLO: Most amazing how in a few years, everything 



173 



changed; every building was changed. Gucci came in, and 
Hermes came in, and all the French furs came in. 
LASKEY: But even when you, before Gucci and before those 
shops came in, Rodeo Drive was always considered to be 
quite an elegant street, wasn't it? From, almost, from the 

beginning. 

LASZLO: When I moved in there were, eighty percent were 

residences, bungalows. 

LASKEY: On Rodeo Drive? 

LASZLO: Did you know that? 

LASKEY: No, I didn't know that. 

LASZLO: Sure, bungalows. Bungalows. [laughs] People — 

LASKEY: That's amazing. 

LASZLO: As a matter of fact, when I was on [Rodeo] , one 

other building, a bungalow, was a Hungarian restaurant: 

Mama Weiss 's Hungarian — [laughter] 

LASKEY: That's wonderful. Mama Weiss on Rodeo Drive! 

LASZLO: Yes, on Rodeo Drive. Where you got, for fifty 

cents, a luncheon, and for sixty cents or so, the dinner 

and Mama Weiss was singing. [laughter] 

LASKEY: Oh, that's wonderful. That's wonderful. 

LASZLO: Yes. 

LASKEY: Did you and she talk a lot, you know, about 

Hungary, or, you know — ? It must have been kind of pleasant 

company, wasn't it? 



174 



LASZLO: No, actually I was not interested. 
LASKEY: Oh. 

LASZLO: But the first few months, or half a year — espe- 
cially when you don't speak the language — automatically you 
seek comfort in talking to people who are talking German or 
Hungarian. But after the six months, I made up my mind: 
no more German, no more Hungarian; learn English. l-Thich I 
did — to a certain degree. And I was not too fond of 
Hungarian, so — 
LASKEY: Or Mama Weiss. 

LASKEY: — or German, you know. And we don't have too many 
German friends. We have a few clients who were in the 
movie industry, but we don't seek European people, you 

know. 

LASKEY: VJell, you've been here for almost fifty years. So 

this has got to be more home to you — 

LASZLO: Oh, sure. 

LASKEY: — than Germany. 

LASZLO: Oh, sure. This is my — 

LASKEY: Or certainly more than Hungary, which was 

LASZLO: Oh, sure; this is my home. And we had worked — 

Half a year ago, there was advertised that a famous 

Hungarian gypsy music, a band, comes over for a week to, I 

believe, Bonaventure Hotel, or — no, Hyatt House, Hyatt 

House. Hyatt House, where the Broadway [department store] 

is downtown. 

175 



LASKEY: Yeah, Hyatt Regency. 

LASZLO: So we went down, and somehow — And he played. He 

plays excellent, but his whole behavior — I felt I don't 

want to be Hungarian. [laughter] 

LASKEY: VJell, he probably had to do that partly because he 

figured people expect, you know, gypsy violinists — 

LASZLO: Anyhow, but anyhow, that's my home. And I hope I 

am hundred percent American. My wife was born in Los 

Angeles, our son [Peter Paul Laszl6] was born in Los 

Angeles. 

LASKEY: Well, you have seen — you and your family — have, 

you know, seen practically a revolution take place in the 

city since you've lived here. 

LASZLO: Yes, yes. 

LASKEY: Beverly Hills must not have been — it couldn't have 

been very populated, when you moved here. 

LASZLO: Oh, no. As I told you, they were [laughing] all 

bungalows. Opposite of my studio was a restaurant called 

Pepino. It was Italian style. Then it was a store, 

Francis Orr Stationery. And a movie actress, who had 

children['s] fashion. Bungalows, bungalows. And Wilshire 

Boulevard was all fields, no buildings. It started after 

the war, which is now forty years [ago] . 

LASKEY: Amazing. Well, you had mentioned, when you were 

talking about Mr. Hertz and the bomb shelter, you mentioned 



176 



the problems in getting permits and whatever. Did you, all 

the time that you were an architect, when you were building 

houses, and eventually when you built the stores and the 

complexes that you did, did you have much trouble with 

building commissions, generally? 

LASZLO: No, no, I didn't. I had once a problem with — in 

'38 — with a union, which means I didn't know — And the 

contractor who I took, he wasn't union. So he started to 

build for me, and suddenly, the union came and said, "Oh, 

no. You can't build." So, the owner had to pay a few 

percent more, and the contractor had to take union labor. 

LASKEY: Really? 

LASZLO: It is the same today, still, you know. 

LASKEY: I didn't think that the unions were that strong. 

LASZLO: V^ell, they would stop — I mean, they would say 

that, well, "We don't let in that union" — a profession like 

a plumber, or a painter, or whoever it is. Oh, sure, 

because since that time all my contracts were saying, "Has 

to be union labor." But at that time I didn't know. 

[laughs] 

LASKEY: You didn't know. Of the houses that you built, 

were there any that were your favorites? Do you have some 

that you like best? 

LASZLO: It's difficult to say which one, because each 

has — Like my [Brentwood] house was, of course, my 



177 



favorite. And [the] Harrison house was a good house, 

really, because it was a challenge, you know. Because if 

you find a lot which is all flat, no trees, then it has a 

cinch. But if you find, [laughing] it goes [like this] 

inside, that's interesting. And on buildings, I believe, 

my best building, was Goldwater [ ' s ] in Scottsdale. 

LASKEY: I was just thinking of your residences, your 

houses, specifically. 

LASZLO: I believe these two, if — I can't, of course, 

recall all the homes, you know, offhand. It's difficult. 

But I believe this: my house and [the] Harrison house were 

my favorite home[s]. 

LASKEY: And then talking about your buildings, how — When 

did you start building buildings? There was the McCulloch 

Oil. Was there significant buildings before that? 

LASZLO: What buildings? 

LASKEY: You did mostly houses when you first came here, I 

think. 

LASZLO: Yeah. 

LASKEY: And then you, I know, the McCulloch Oil Building 

[showrooms, Century Boulevard, Los Angeles, c. 1950] jumps 

out as one of the major offices that you did. And then, 

later, you started doing major shopping centers like Hall's 

and the Goldwater store. And was this a gradual change? 

LASZLO: I didn't do major shopping centers, you know. 



178 



Hall's was [a] retail area [of] which I was in charge. I 

did [the Hudspeth Center shopping mall; unbuilt project] 

for Mr. [John] Hudspeth in Prineville, Oregon [c. 1952]. 

[laughs] 

LASKEY: Oh, yes. 

LASZLO: I told you the story already, so I don't want to 

repeat it. Goldwater was a nice project. 

LASKEY: What did you do for Goldwater? 

LASZLO: I designed the whole complex [Fashion Square, 

1961-62] . 

LASKEY: This was in Scottsdale, Arizona. 

LASZLO: Scottsdale, yes. 

LASKEY: VJhen was this, in 'Seventy — ? 

LASZLO: Goldwater store and [Hunt's] restaurant and 

several mall stores. You know, a whole thing. And it 

worked out all right, you know. But later on they build it 

three stories high, which means the flair is gone. 

LASKEY: Since they added to it. 

LASZLO: You know, you design something for a one-story, 

important building, and then they are going to put [more 

stories on it] . 

LASKEY: VJell, what was it particularly that you liked 

about the Goldwater project? 

LASZLO: In which sense? 

LASKEY: You've said that it was one of your favorite 

projects — 

179 



LASZLO: Yeah, yeah. 

LASKEY: — and I wondered what made it your favorite? 
LASZLO: What made it — I believe I told you the story 
before that one day a man came in, he looked like David 
[Davey] Crockett. And he came in and said, "I have here 
three thousands dollar[s]. If you are willing to take a 
chance to make me a design for a store, a real important 
store, here it is, the money." 
LASKEY: Now, when was this? Approximately? 
LASZLO: I believe '59. 

LASKEY: 'Fifty-nine. How much was three thousand 
dollars? Was that a sizable amount of money, or was that 
not very much money in '59? I can't remember. 
LASZLO: To me, it was below my fee, but it was nice. You 
know, because the challenge was interesting. He had a 
property in Scottsdale. So I designed the plan, not in 
detail, but the layout, and the front, the fronts. So we 
went over to see Goldwater's. They liked it, but they 
didn't like the property which the man had because he had a 
long lease with a pancake house on their property, so Mr. 
Goldwater didn't want. So I forgot it. After two years or 
so, somebody calls up from Phoenix that Mr. Goldwater would 
like to see me. 

LASKEY: Now, is this the senator, or is this his family? 
Was it the senator? Senator [Barry] Goldwater that you 
saw, or was it his family? 

180 



LASZLO: Bob. [Robert Williams Goldwater] 
LASKEY: Bob? Is that a brother? 

LASZLO: Bob Goldwater. Which means [the] senator wasn't 
involved with the store; Bob was. So I came over — he's a 
very nice person — and he had three person [s] in charge of 
the stores; one is still there. They liked the design and 
everything. But no project because he didn't want a pan- 
cake house. So after two years somebody called me up and 
said, "Do you want to come over to see Mr. Goldwater?" So 
I went over, and they found a better location, and a bigger 
property. And, to make it short, they gave me the job. It 
was a big project. But they let me do many things, which 
means they had trust in me that, I don't know— When the 
job was finished, they honored me like a king, you know. 
They were so happy; and it was a beautiful store. But the 
property belonged to a man who lived almost close to my 
house. [laughs] * [Harry Lennart lived with his wife, 
Yvonne, a few blocks from us in Brentwood on Rockingham 
Drive. Actually, my wife met him first and became acquain- 
ted with him because she was always collecting funds from 
the neighbors for Red Cross and Community Chest and got to 
know people in our vicinity. Maxine gave Harry Lennart our 



* Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section 
during his review of the transcript. 



181 



phone number, so he called me. And during the Goldwater 
job we got to be good friends for many years. He was an 
admirer of modern art and had an interesting collection of 
paintings and sculpture. He died a number of years ago.] 
LASKEY: Really? 

LASZLO: Mr. [Harry] Lennart, [inaudible] Helena [Drive]. 
A very nice person, too. So, he owned the property, and he 
financed the — He gave the money to the Goldwater [s] , I 
don't know: five million, six million, eight million 
dollar[s]. And he says, "Is that what I want to spend?" 
He could spend more. Then of course, you — "[It's] up to 
you." And we finished up the job. [There] was a big 
opening, excellent business. Then they wanted to build a 
restaurant adjacent to the store. So I designed it, too. 
LASKEY: You designed the restaurant. What style was it? 
Could you describe it? What it looked like? 
LASZLO: Modern, but very simple, very simple. But 
elegant. It looked excellent, really. I was pleased, and 
all the people were pleased, including the senator and his 
wife. Very nice sort of people, you know; really a fine 
gentleman. And then because, I believe, because of my 
work, they were able to sell the stores to Robinson's. 
Which, in turn, is owned by a firm called Associated Dry 
Goods . 
LASKEY: I didn't know that. 



182 



LASZLO: And Goldwater has now about six, eight branches 

all over. 

LASKEY: But it doesn't belong to the family anymore. 

LASZLO: No, they sold it. Unfortunately, because the 

shares went down. [laughs] 

LASKEY: Oh, really? Well, all of us who've been to 

Arizona know — And was it the new firm that made the 

decision, then, to add on to, to add the new floors onto 

the structure that you did? 

LASZLO: Oh yes, because they needed more space. And I 

wasn't as motivat[ed] to help here. But more space, you 

know. Because good business and Scottsdale developed, you 

know, just like Palm Springs. It is a big town. So 

Scottsdale [had] tremendous development, more people. 

Which means it needed a bigger store. But, I wasn't 

LASKEY: Well, and you weren't happy with the design. 

LASZLO: No — 

LASKEY: Or it spoiled your design. 

LASZLO: No, I did not feel like "I am hurt." Because they 

have to do it. 

LASKEY: Well, I have asked you this, but not when we were 
on tape, about the idea of having proprietary feelings 
about the buildings that you design, how you feel about 
them once you turn them over to the people that you design 
them for. Do you still think of them as your buildings? 



183 



LASZLO: No. Of course, you can't make it a contract that 

you can't change it, you know. I mean, just like my house, 

they changed it. 

LASKEY: The person who bought your house? 

LASZLO: That's his, his property. It's different with a 

stage play or a movie, where you retain the control, but in 

a building, no. 

LASKEY: But even emotionally, you don't feel any 

attachment — ? 

LASZLO: No, no. I don't feel like that. Fortunately. 
LASKEY: Well, I think, particularly in Los Angeles, where 
things tend to get changed very quickly, that it could be 
very difficult if you had tried to maintain some control. 
LASZLO: You know, the whole system here is constant 
change. Even a tax rise, you know, the commercial building 
which depreciate [s] each year, so which after ten or 
fifteen years, the building is depreciated. That I know 
about; I don't know about the home [depreciation laws]. 
But basically, I don't want to— At least it doesn't hurt 
me. But I don't go back to look at it. [laughter] I 
can't change it, so — 

LASKEY: Well, what about the Hall's project? I know that 
that was another project that was quite dear to your heart. 
LASZLO: Oh, yes, it was. It was, really. I was 
fortunate. I was fortunate getting these jobs from 



184 



Hallmark. Because here, too, were just outstanding 
people: great brain [s], and [laughing] great amount of 
money too. And it worked out because at the end I did four 
stores for them. Four stores for them. In Kansas City. 
LASKEY: They were all in Kansas City? That's what I was 
going to ask you. Were they in Kansas City or were they in 

various places? 

LASZLO: In various places [in Kansas City] . The first was 
a shopping district, but better — as we have it here. In a 
park [Hall's Department Store, Country Club Plaza, Kansas 
City, Missouri, 1949-65]. And the owner [Jesse Clyde 
Nichols, Jr.] of big properties — I don't know how many 
hundreds of acres — controlled the whole acreage. And he 
[Nichols] wanted in the best location, center of the whole 
thing, a major tenant. Which means people who have the 
money and [would] do a good job. So Mr. Hall got inter- 
ested. And after three months of looking — I told you the 
story before — all over for a designer. Finally, to make it 

short — 

LASKEY: No, that's just the whole story. It's fine. 
LASZLO: — I got the job. It was maybe a fluke or what. 
But they were in New York, Chicago, I believe, London, to 
find a designer, you know, to design this major building. 
And finally, that could not find one, at least not which 
pleased Mr. Hall. They were here because he had a house in 



185 



Malibu. And so he came out here, with his artistic direc- 
tor, who was a lady — a very nice lady — and the president of 
the store, Mr. Kaiser. They were here and sent Jeanette 
Lee over to, believe, the Broadway [department store] . And 
Jack. Kaiser went to Bullock's, and they asked them, "Who is 
the best designer in town who you can recommend for an 
important job?" And both Broadway people and Bullock's 
mentioned my name. And in the meantime Mr. Hall got a call 
from his son in Kansas City and said, "Well, I heard the 
name — about Mr. LSszl6." [laughs] 
LASKEY: They saw a trend. 

LASZLO: All three [laughing] came together for luncheon in 
the [Brown] Derby — at that time, Beverly Hills. And each 
[laughing] said, "Mr. LSszl6." So they called me up. They 
came over: Mr. Hall, Jeanette Lee, Jack Kaiser. And Mr. 
Hall told me, "I don't believe you are the man. Too much 
color; I want everything white." So he says, "I will call 
you again. " 

After a few days he calls me up again — Mr. Hall, who's 
very [laughing] smart — he says, "Mr. Laszl6, I don't 
believe that you are the man. But why don't you come out 
for dinner Saturday and bring along your girlfriend." So 
we came out to Malibu, in his house. And I brought along 
some photos which were of my work. And again, he says 
before dinner, "No, too much color. Too colorful. Not for 



186 



me." So we had dinner with him and his wife, and Maxine 
and myself. 

And after dinner he says, "Why don't you come with me 
to Kansas City." So I told him, "That's fine, but Wednes- 
day." He said, "No; Monday morning, eight o'clock." 
[laughter] So I went over and [he] gave me the job to 
design the building and the store. And I started out with 
the building first. And when he saw my design, [he said,] 
"Just wonderful," just excited. 

* [My wife and I remember well the day we first went up 
to Mr. Hall's Malibu house for dinner. He met us at the 
door barefoot and wearing an Army-style jumpsuit in khaki 
color. I introduced Maxine to him and right off the bat he 
asked her if I had told her what kind of nut he really 
was! Maxine got the giggles, and from that moment on he 
always liked her. Mr. Hall had a terrific sweet tooth and 
loved good candy. He was always indulging himself, and 
others he liked, whenever he came across something tempt- 
ing. Many times he sent me home from Kansas City with 
candy for Maxine.] 

LASKEY: Now, as I recall from seeing the pictures, it 
wasn't all white. You did use some color. 



* Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section 
during his review of the transcript. 



187 



LASZLO: And so he was all excited about the building. But 
unfortunately/ the owner, Mr. Nichols, who owned our prop- 
erty, he said, "No, [it] has to be Spanish." 
LASKEY: He didn't tell him that before? 
LASZLO: Maybe he told him, but Mr. Hall didn't believe 
that if he design [s] the store that Mr. Nichols can say 
no. So, finally, we made a compromise. Now retaining this 
Spanish feeling, but simplified. But [when] it came to the 
store interiors, he gave me a difficult time. 
LASKEY: Mr. Nichols did? 
LASZLO: No, Mr. Hall. 
LASKEY: Mr. Hall. 

LASZLO: He chewed me out. [laughs] I — 

LASKEY: For what reason? What were some of the things he 
didn't like? 

LASZLO: He showed me a book, a big book — I don't know, 
from Spain or from somewhere — and showed me a door. He 
says, "This would be a nice door for the store." So, 
foolish as I am, I told him, "Mr. Hall, you can't start to 
design a store with a door." Oh, boy! [laughter] He gave 
me a chewing out from two o'clock until five o'clock! 
LASKEY: Really? 

LASZLO: Boy, oh boy. [laughs] So after five o'clock, we 
went out because they were six, eight people in the office; 
executives. So I went out in the lobby, and after a few 



188 



minutes, Jack came out and said, "Come in. Mr. Hall wants 

to talk to you." So he apologized and said, you know, 

[laughing] "I got mad." 

LASKEY: He got really mad. 

LASZLO: Well, it was a good lesson, you know. A good 

lesson not to open up your mouth. [laughs] 

LASKEY: But it sounded like he was a little extreme, 

though, in his reaction. 

LASZLO: He was a man, you know, he had a great amount of 

knowledge and a great amount of brain and logic, you 

know. And he built up, after all, from nothing, this 

billion dollar business. So he felt, who is [laughing] Mr. 

Laszl6 to tell me how to design a store? But we got along 

fine. 

LASKEY: Even despite that? 

LASZLO: Yes. When it was finished, he was [saying,] "Very 

nice." And it was excellent — not only design wise, but 

business wise; made excellent business. And then came the 

flood. Took away the whole store. 

LASKEY: Really? 

LASZLO: Yeah. 

LASKEY: When was this? 

LASZLO: You ask me this. [laughing] I can't remember. A 

few years after I finished the job came the flood. 

LASKEY: Really? 



189 



LASZLO: Took away everything. I believe it was '74. 
LASKEY: Well, they just— But in the early seventies, 
approximately . 

LASZLO: Yeah, or before. And they waited a year, I don't 
know why. Because at that time I wasn't anymore in the 
picture. And, yes, and it was '75. And finally they 
rebuilt it, but a different way, you know, so to protect 
against flood. This was [the] first store, then I rede- 
signed the downtown store. Then, they were here [in the 
Country Club Plaza] with this store. It was an empty 
location here [adjacent]. They were afraid, you know, that 
somebody comes in and build a building, which he didn't 
like. So he [Hall] bought it, you know. And he bought a 
little firm called Swanson, small boutique. He bought the 
name, Swanson. VJe designed [the] Swanson store [1966- 
67]. It was not too good, really. 
LASKEY: Oh, it wasn't too good. 
LASZLO: It was not too good. 

LASKEY: It wasn't — You didn't like it as well as you had 
your other store. 

LASZLO: No, you know, they hired a man in charge who 
wasn't really an expert in stores. And, you know, it is 
difficult to do a job unless you have the proper relation 
to the owner, which I didn't have with Swanson's new 
president. (He became a president for Swanson.) So, it 



190 



wasn't a good job. Then came the Crown Center [1972-73], 
which was a big development for a billion dollar [s] or 
more. And [it had] hotels, apartment houses, and office 
buildings; big projects, big project. 



191 



TAPE NUMBER: VI, SIDE ONE 
FEBRUARY 8, 198 5 

LASKEY: Mr. Laszlfi, this week you had your eighty-fifth 
birthday — 
LASZLO: Yeah. 

LASKEY: — and I thought, perhaps, we could just start out 
by your talking about the party and the festivities. 
LASZLO: My son, Peter Paul — we are very devoted to each 
other — and his wife insisted to make a party at his new 
home, which is out in Brentwood. They arranged about 
thirty-six people, sit-down dinner. And with music and 
entertainment. But the way the thing was, Peter prepared 
the night before, five-by-five masonite, and he made 
hundreds of little holes and installed lighting which he 
said [was] for lasting [to an] eighty-fifth [year]. And it 
[the sign] was [laughing] out in the street! [laughs] 
LASKEY: How wonderful. How wonderful. 

LASZLO: And inside — I was sure moved, really — they took, 
out of the photo album, photos of me from little child- 
hood — all ray life, you know — and raade enlargement [s ] and 
put [them] in all the halls. [laughs] I can show you 
later the photo; I just got it. And it was wonderful. V-Je 
had a concert, and — 
LASKEY: There was live music? 
LASZLO: Yes, partly. They bought a piano, too. 

192 



[laughs] And it was a combination of classical music and 
light music and songs. We have friends who are profes- 
sional singers, and professional piano players, and violin 
players. We had a wonderful time. So, it was a very 
emotional affair. Of course, all the people are old 
friends of mine. Twenty, thirty, forty years, you know. 
So it was like a family affair. 

LASKEY: Were they mostly people who live in Los Angeles, 
or did a number of people come from other areas? 
LASZLO: My brother came from Canada, and some people came 
from Laguna Beach. But mostly from here, you know. 
LASKEY: Now your brother, have you seen him recently? Or 
is-- 

LASZLO: I saw him a few years ago, he and his wife. And 
they came down for a week, and it was very nice. It's 
difficult to tell you, because — a spirit which you can't 
explain. 
LASKEY: Right. 

LASZLO: Was wonderful, you know. A lot of kissing, 
[laughter] 

LASKEY: A lot of tears? 
LASZLO: Yes, and it was very nice. 

LASKEY: A sit-down dinner for thirty-six people took a lot 
of preparation on your daughter-in-law's part. 
LASZLO: Yeah, it was catered, you know. But still, a big 



193 



job to organize. Any party is a job, but this [laughing] 

especially was a big job. They made it — They were happy, 

and I was happy, you know. 

LASKEY: Well, we wish you happy birthday. Your son, as I 

recall, has a lot of your furniture, doesn't he, in his 

house? 

LASZLO: Oh, yes. 

LASKEY: That must have added a little sense of nostalgia 

or, you know, something a little special to the party, too. 

LASZLO: Unfortunately, the living room furniture which was 

in my house are being refinished and recovered. So, it was 

not [there] . There is a big room, twenty-four feet by 

twenty-nine feet, so we were able to put up rented tables 

with a U-shape. And very nice. He made a movie, you know, 

but — 

LASKEY: Oh, they did? They made a video of the party, the 

dinner? 

LASZLO: Yes. A little bit long. I have seen it last 

night. [laughs] So, anyhow, I don't know where — 

LASKEY: Here you are. 

LASZLO: — I was in Crown Center. I don't recall it 

anymore, where we stopped. 

LASKEY: OK, we were talking about Crown Center. And we 

had just really not gotten into it very much, and I think 

we determined to stop so that you could really start right 

at the beginning — 

194 



LASZLO: From scratch. 

LASKEY: — of the — 

LASZLO: Now, it was — I believe I told you how I got the 

job, because so many other architects wanted the job. Mr. 

Hall, Sr. , Mr. Hall, who died in the meantime, J. C. [Joyce 

Clyde] Hall, he wanted the best. And for one month, when 

they were looking in Paris, London and in New York and 

Chicago. And finally, it just happened that they were here 

in town because Mr. Hall has a house in Malibu, which he 

built, I believe, mainly because he was a friend of Mr. 

Churchill . 

LASKEY: Winston Churchill? 

LASZLO: Yeah. And Mr. Churchill told him that he painted 

so many seascapes, but had none on [the] Pacific Ocean. So 

I speculate this was the impetus to build a house in 

Malibu: so Churchill could come out and paint. 

LASKEY: And paint the seascape. Did he ever come out and 

paint the seascape? 

LASZLO: And-- No, he got a heart attack, Churchill. 

LASKEY: Oh. 

LASZLO: So then Mr. Hall installed in the house an 

elevator for Churchill to be able — 

LASKEY: Really? 

LASZLO: Because the bedrooms were upstairs. But he never 

came. They were great friends with Churchill. As a matter 



195 



of fact, Mr. Hall bought several Churchill paintings. 
LASKEY: Oh, really? 
LASZLO: Yeah. 

LASKEY: Did they stay with the family, or get dispersed 
with the estate? 

LASZLO: Oh, he won't sell it, no. It is in the main 
headquarters, all the paintings. They have hundreds of 
paintings, famous painting [s], in a vault. 
LASKEY: Now, are the headquarters in Kansas City? 
LASZLO: Yes, Kansas City, yes. Beautifully made, you 
know, and everything just so. When you enter into the 
employees' cafeteria for eight hundred people, just so — 
And the food, excellent. Everything is just so, really. 
And so they were here, Mr. Hall, Sr. , and his artistic 
assistant. Miss Jeanette Lee, and the president of Hall's 
store. Jack Kaiser. 

LASKEY: Yeah, I think we talked about this last time, and 
then the first building — You had the problems with Mr. 
Hall. He seems to have been a man of very strong opinions. 
LASZLO: Yes, which means — I was already talking about 
that. He gave me a dressing down. But it worked out all 
right, you know. And I finished up the job. And they were 
pleased very much. And his friend, Henry Dreyfuss — I don't 
[know] whether the name means — 
LASKEY: Yeah, I think we talked about him too, in that he 



196 



[was] from New York. He was the — 

LASZLO: So, he wrote me a nice letter and said that I did 
a good job. And it worked out business wise too, because 
it was excellent business in this particular store. And 
after a year or so, I did remodeling for Hall's store 
downtown. It worked out all right, but downtown was 
already dead. So they closed it up finally, because it 
just was nothing, you know. 

LASKEY: But this was a building that you liked 
particularly, your design, the Hall's downtown store. 
LASZLO: No, I didn't, no. 

LASKEY: Oh, you didn't? I misunderstood. 
LASZLO: I believe [Welton] Becket did it originally. 
LASKEY: Well, what was the one that you did for them near 
downtown? 

LASZLO: This was [the] so-called [Country Club] Plaza 
store. Plaza store. 
LASKEY: I see. 

LASZLO: V7hich is about twenty minutes from downtown. A 
very nice location and big homes, so it was [an] excellent 
location. As a matter of fact, I just got a letter a few 
weeks ago from the manager of this store. And he writes me 
that in the meantime all big stores are there: Tiffany, 
Cartier, and Bonwit Teller, and — you know. So it was a 
good location. 



197 



And then after a few years, I believe in '70, they 
called me up to come at once to Kansas City. When you 
worked for Hallmark and Mr. Hall [laughter] it means "take 
the next flight." And they created, it is a big complex 
[Crown Center] , similar like here. Century City, which Mr. 
Hall created. All new. And they had about half a million 
square foot of retail area. Which means they have two 
hotels, and office buildings, and apartment houses, and 
condominiums, and restaurants, you know. A big project. 
But I got the retail area. And they were under the 
impression that Neiman-Marcus would take a large part of 
this half a million square foot. And when I went there, it 
was said that Neiman-Marcus takes hundred, a hundred fifty 
thousand square foot, and Hall is going to take fifty 
thousand square foot. So, I started to work on this fifty 
thousand square foot job. And after two weeks Jack Kaiser 
again calls me up. He was the president at the time — 
LASKEY: What was the name? 
LASZLO: Jack Kaiser. 
LASKEY: Oh, Kaiser. 

LASZLO: And he was the president, at that time, of the 
Hall's store. But I believe I left out something. 

In '66, I designed a store for Hall's but under a 
different name: Swanson. They bought the name of a little 
boutique. And, let me show you how it was. [begins to 



198 



sketch] This was the store, plaza store, and here were 
buildings. But here was a parcel was which was empty. So, 
they didn't want the somebody should build here something 
which they don't like. So they bought the property. And 
they bought the name of an old, a little fashion store 
called Swanson. So I designed this store for them, too. 
And they opened up '67. I remember because we went, with 
my wife, our son, to the Expo [world's fair], to Mon- 
treal. They went ahead, and I went to the opening here 
[Kansas City]. So it was '67. 

In '71, I believe, started this Crown Center. So 
after two weeks, after I was working on this fifty thousand 
square foot store for Hall's, they called me up and said I 
had to fly back and said that Neiman-Marcus canceled his — 
LASKEY: Oh, dear. 

LASZLO: And because they are committed. Hall's [is] 
committed to create this retail area so I should work on 
the whole — [laughs] And it was a wonderful assignment, a 
wonderful assignment. And the store was, I believe, the 
most beautiful store in the whole world. Because they 
wanted to have the best, you know, and they let me do many 
things. The opening was great — a forties party, 
[laughs] It was excellent, really. Unfortunately — 
LASKEY: VJhat was special about it? V7hat were you able to 
do in the design there that you weren't usually able to do 



199 



in the design of a retail space? 

LASZLO: Well, first of all, a store, like say here, 
Robinson [ 's] , has a certain system [of] how they want to 
show the merchandise. And the plans are mostly pretty 
standard plans. And of course, the price, the budget, was 
years ago pretty standard. VJhich means each store knew 
that it will cost them, if this store [is] hundred or two 
hundred thousand square foot, it costs them so much, you 
know. How [it] is today, I don't know. 

But on this store, it wasn't [on] a budget. He wanted 
the best, you know, which means I was able to design each 
department artistically. Which normally you can't have it 
in a store. A little bit, you know, but not too much. 
Each store is normally is the same: racks and many 
things. So you change the perimeter a little bit, paint it 
differently. But basically, each store is the same, 
because they are selling the same type of merchandise. 

But this store was a combination of many things which, 
normally, a store like Robinson ['s] or Saks or — don't have, 
you know. It gives me a chance to create beautiful things. 
LASKEY: Can you remember any specific things that parti- 
cularly pleased you in the store? 

LASZLO: Oh, I have the photos. Oh, sure. I have the 
photos. So, of course, it was a big store, and very 
interesting. Unfortunately, business wasn't good. It 



200 



wasn't the location for such an elegant store. 

LASKEY: Would it have made a difference if Neiman-Marcus 

hadn't canceled, do you think? 

LASZLO: No, no. 

LASKEY: That wouldn't have been enough to have kept it 

going? 

LASZLO: It wasn't the location for an elegant store. 

LASKEY: Was it too close to downtown? 

LASZLO: Yes, it was too close to downtown. And they are — 

[the] Halls — very civic-minded. So — More coffee? 

LASKEY: Oh, no thank you. 

LASZLO: V-Jhich means they dedicated, in front of the retail 

area and the hotels and office building, a big plaza for 

entertainment, for the public, instead [of] making it a 

parking area. So they were ice skating, and the theater, 

concert[s], you know. But in the meantime, they lost this 

parking. Of course, they had plenty of parking, under the 

buildings: about eight thousand cars. But it is something 

people don't like: to go down, you know. 

LASKEY: Really? 

LASZLO: Down to park. 

LASKEY: Really. 

LASZLO: Here we are slowly got adjusted. But years ago it 

was — you park on the street. 

LASKEY: Were they afraid of going down? 



201 



LASZLO: No, it is — I don't like even here to go to these 

big garages. You know, you go around, around. Like [the] 

Shubert Theater. 

LASKEY: Oh, yeah. 

LASZLO: You know, it would be easier to park in front of 

the theater. 

LASKEY: Oh, yes. But it's just that we have so many cars 

that that's just not possible anymore. So I think we're 

getting used to parking ramps and — 

LASZLO: But anyhow, it just wasn't the location. It 

changed in the meantime, I heard, in time. But it just 

isn't a location for a big retail area. 

LASKEY: What happened to the store, do you know? 

LASZLO: Still there; they are losing money. 

LASKEY: But Hall's still owns it? 

LASZLO: Sure. 

LASKEY: They're still running it? 

LASZLO: Sure. 

LASKEY: Well, were you able — Did you use any particular 

materials, for example, that you didn't — 

LASZLO: All kinds of materials. Wonderful materials. 

LASKEY: Like what? 

LASZLO: It was [laughing] something where a designer is 

dreaming about it, you know. They were wonderful people, 

and very artistic. 



202 



LASKEY: Well, you had said originally that he wanted 
everything white. That one of your first confrontations 
with Mr. Hall was that he wanted it white. 
LASZLO: [laughs] Yeah, he changed in the meantime. 
LASKEY: Now, I've seen the photographs of Hall's, and it 
wasn't all white. So, how were you able to convince him? 
In fact, there's a lot of color. As I recall, you used a 
great deal of color. 

LASZLO: Yes, yes. You know, he mentioned at the beginning 
that he had seen a store in La Jolla. I believe it was a 
Bullock's store or a Magnin store. And it was all white. 
He said he liked it; that's what he wanted. So I went down 
with my assistant, [laughing] and we took color photos; it 
wasn't white. [laughter] 

LASKEY: He just remembered it as being white, is that it? 
LASZLO: Yes, you know, exactly. We used a lot of white, 
especially in the first store, plaza store. But this was a 
big store with constant — So you changed, you know. And 
they were enthusiastic about the store. But just business 
wasn't there [in Crown Center], so they are losing it every 
year. But Hallmark can afford to lose. [laughs] 
LASKEY: On one of their stores. I hadn't realized that 
Hallmark did anything other than the cards. This was, I 
think, a department store, a — ? 
LASZLO: They started out with the first store [to] find 



203 



out how people react, how people are buying, you know. So, 

it was first a research store. Later on, became a — Like 

they built in New York on Fifth Avenue. The architect was 

Edward [Durell] Stone. He designed the Hallmark store. 

Highly interesting, on Fifth Avenue and Fifty-sixth 

Street. Interesting, you know. 

LASKEY: Yeah. 

LASZLO: So they — 

LASKEY: I didn't know he had done any stores like that. 

LASZLO: They got into this store affair more and more. 

There are thousands of Hallmark stores, which are mostly 

franchised. You know, when you see — 

LASKEY: Oh, the card stores. I — 

LASZLO: The card stores, yeah. 

LASKEY: I had seen them around. The one that you did was, 

it was more of a department store, right? 

LASZLO: Yeah. Each store had a department for the 

cards. A big department for the cards. 

LASKEY: Oh, of course. 

LASZLO: But anyhow, in the meantime, they diversified even 

more. So anyhow, this ended my connection with Hallmark. 

And we are still friends, but I gave up my office. So I am 

out of the picture, anyhow. But it was wonderful. 

LASKEY: Well, you had a number of nice relationships with 

store — with business people — 



204 



LASZLO: All my clients. 

LASKEY: — like Ohrbach's. I was thinking of Ohrbach's and 

McCulloch's and — 

LASZLO: Robinson [' s ] . 

LASKEY: — that feeling that went over a period of time. 

LASZLO: All the people, you know. Hudson Bay [Company] in 

Canada; we are still corresponding. And mostly they are at 

the top; interesting people. Which makes it possible to 

work together on the same intellectual level. And so it 

worked out all right. 

LASKEY: V'Jell, did — Usually, were you able to pursue your 

ideas? Were they receptive to your ideas, to trying new 

things? Or did they generally know what they wanted and 

you tried to fill that need? 

LASZLO: Of course, we had many meetings and they had to 

approve everything, you know. They approved everything. 

But it was always a big presentation where they looked at 

everything and they have seen everything in sketch form, 

color sketches. But they let me do it. Which means I 

wasn't as much scrutinized later on as at the beginning of 

our relation, because they trusted me. 

LASKEY: Did you use any different approaches, 

stylistically, for when you were doing an office building, 

or if you were doing a house? For instance, I'm thinking 

of McCulloch. I'm looking at a picture of it [McCulloch 



205 



offices] , which is an extremely modern — 
LASZLO: Yeah. 

LASKEY: — spare kind of a room. The house [Robert P. and 
Barbara McCulloch House, Palm Springs, 1972; in collabor- 
ation with William F. Cody Associates] was also modern, but 
it was different. Do you think of them — I mean they're 
obviously for different purposes — but when you were 
designing, do you use a different set of ideas when you're 
designing a house as designing an office, as designing a 
store? 

LASZLO: Oh, sure. There is a great difference between a 
home — what you call a house — and a commercial project. 
Because a home is a personal thing, you know, which means 
you are pleasing him and her, and her friends who are 
coming to play bridge together. In a commercial job, like 
here, he wanted to have a showroom where he can display 
this merchandise. So, it wasn't the personal thing like 
[if] it is [for] McCulloch [himself]. No. 

He wanted to show his merchandise. Which was, at that 
time, he had this chainsaw, McCulloch chainsaw. And he 
started — He brought out an outboard motor. Maybe the name 
was Scott. And he was pleased. It was a big job at the 
[Los Angeles International] Airport. This was — You see 
here the outboard motors. 
LASKEY: They're all displayed on a rack. It looks like 



206 



it's on a semi-circular, sort of a circular, against a 
circular background; circular wall on a rack. 
LASZLO: Yes, all wood slats. 
LASKEY: This is wood, painted wood? 

LASZLO: Yeah, all wood. Highly interesting. But in the 
meantime, gone. 

LASKEY: Yeah, you have stainless steel and wood and glass? 
LASZLO: Yes, it was polished stainless steel. A very 
interesting — I haven't looked at it for years. [laughs] 
And it was a great success. And he sold his business to 
Black and Decker; it's a big firm. 
LASKEY: Oh, yes, yes. Black and Decker — 
LASZLO: For sixty-six million dollar[s]. 
LASKEY: Now, this was very stark. Very straight lines. 
LASZLO: Yeah. 
LASKEY: Very stark. 
LASZLO: Yeah. 

LASKEY: Was that new at the time? I mean, was this an 
innovative design? 

LASZLO: I don't know, [laughing] I don't know. I was 
never approached a job that it is new or whatever it is. I 
look at the problem and try to solve it, whether new or 
half new, I don't know. But each person worked differ- 
ently, [turning pages] This — I had a chainsaw — 
LASKEY: — mounted on the walls. Now, where was this 
building? 

207 



LASZLO: It was at the airport. Century Boulevard. 

LASKEY: Oh. 

LASZLO: There today are big hotels. He owned two blocks 

on Century Boulevard. 

LASKEY: Oh, my. 

LASZLO: See, everything was highly — 

LASKEY: Now, did he have the same approach as Mr. Hall, 

essentially, that he simply wanted the best that you could 

do? Did you have a relatively free rein? 

LASZLO: It was easy to work for him because he had a great 

sense of taste and imagination. A wonderful man, really. 

LASKEY: Now, it looks like this is the entrance hall, and 

you go up the stairs — 

LASZLO: This is the staircase to the — his offices. 

LASKEY: This is — The tile wall was a beautiful wall. 

LASZLO: This was a wall, you know. It was a very small 

mosaic. 

LASKEY: Do you remember how you came upon the idea of 

using mosaic at that time? 

LASZLO: [laughs] 

LASKEY: Because it's interesting. Everything else is, you 

know, so stripped down and so streamlined — 

LASZLO: Yeah. 

LASKEY: — and then the use of the mosaics is, you know, it 

sets if off. And then the bright colors. There's sort of 

a combination of things. 

208 



LASZLO: Actually, you know, designing is really like you 
create a stage play. Which means in a stage play if only 
good people are [in] it, it isn't interesting, you know. 
Which means you have to have a contrast to make it 
interesting. The same if you design such a project. It 
needs a contrast in many ways to make it really exciting. 
Because at that time I was not thinking [laughing] of all 
this, I just made [it] intuitively, you know. [laughs] 
But since you ask me how and why, this was the explanation, 



209 



TAPE NUMBER: VI, SIDE TWO 
FEBRUARY 8, 198 5 

LASZLO: You don't start out to design with your brain, 
with an intellectual thinking. Just like a painter paints 
many times without having a definite problem or image or 
whatever it is, you know. The same procedure is with a 
designer. You see a problem, you create without thinking 
about the — What you asked me: "Why did you approach it 
this way?" I don't know. There's always a mixture of many 
things. 

Like if you do a private home, you know, then you must 
somehow digest the personalities of the people for whom you 
design and try to speak the same language in artistic 
form. Which means normally each designer tries to uplift 
the standard of their client, you know, and go higher and 
higher. And of course most of the time you give an addi- 
tional meaning to a client's life. You influence a client 
without wanting it; you create something which makes the 
person, or persons, a better human being. I noticed it in 
many case[s]. And, not my store[s] or something, but if 
you design a home, it does influence the people and gives 
an added dimension to their life. 

LASKEY: VJhen they came to you, most of the people who came 
to you, to have their homes designed, did they know what 
they wanted when they came? 

210 



LASZLO: Sometimes yes. But many times a design switches 

around. Because the person who comes to you, and he tells 

in words what she or he wants, this isn't the true what he 

or she wants. If she says blue, she doesn't mean blue. 

You know, she means green — or red. 

LASKEY: Then it's your job, then, to figure out what she 

means — 

LASZLO: Yes. 

LASKEY: — and not what she's saying. So that's a lot of 

responsibility. 

LASZLO: Oh, yes, but if you have experience and intuition, 

it helps. But experience told me that you have to analyze 

a person, because what he or she is telling you, this isn't 

what they meant. So, you try to do something which they 

meant, really. And many times it worked. The proof is 

that we are still friends after so many years. They are 

happy and proud of the work I did. 

The commercial job is, of course, something else. 
Because, first of all, it changes after six, eight years. 
They are changing, because the fashion is changing. So a 
store is changing, or a bank — I did several banks [begin- 
ning in 1962]. Of course, [laughing] he went broke, but — 
LASKEY: He did? 

LASZLO: Not because of me, you know. 
LASKEY: Right. 



211 



LASZLO: But bad loans, and too big. Even today I was 
reading Bank of America lost [a] hundred million dollar [s] 
on bad loan[s]. But it was interesting; we are still 
friends with the man. As a matter of fact, he came to my 
party too, you know. 
LASKEY: Oh, really? 

LASZLO: Yeah. You know, it wasn't his fault. If a bank 
gives out too many bad loans and the people don't pay it 
back, any bank goes broke. 

LASKEY: Of course. That's generally why they go broke. 
LASZLO: So, anyhow, we are still friends. And he is still 
proud of the job I did for him. I did five banks for him 
[S. Jon Kreedman] . 
LASKEY: And what was his name? 
LASZLO: The bank name was American City Bank. 
LASKEY: Oh. 

LASZLO: They had a downtown store, one on Wilshire, a 
Beverly Hills store on Camden and Wilshire, a Century City 
store on Santa Monica Boulevard, a store in the Valley, and 
two stores in Orange County. And he's a person who liked 
beautiful things. 

LASKEY: Well, most of your work was at a rather exclusive 
level, wasn't it? I mean, you were — Like I talked to 
someone, Ernst Meer, who worked for you. I asked if there 
was a catalog because I wanted to look at some of your 



212 



designs. And he said that there was no catalog because you 

never did the same thing twice. 

LASZLO: That's true. 

LASKEY: That you never reproduced or sold anything in any 

kind of a quantity that would be in catalog. 

LASZLO: Who told you? 

LASKEY: Ernst Meer. 

LASZLO: [laughter] Ernst Meer tell you that? Is he a 

friend of yours? 

LASKEY: He's a friend of a friend. 

LASZLO: He does now movies, doesn't he? 

LASKEY: No, I think he has a little shop. He's doing 

mostly chandeliers. He's in chandeliers. 

LASZLO: Oh, chandeliers. No, he has beautiful 

merchandise. 

LASKEY: Yes. 

LASZLO: Viennese mostly. 

LASKEY: Well, my friend was selling his chandelier, which 

is how I happened to meet him and — 

LASZLO: Yeah. No, he has beautiful merchandise. No, he 

left many years ago. 

LASKEY: But his remembrance of your work and of you was 

that everything was absolutely top quality, and that 

everything was specifically designed for the person who was 

buying the piece, and therefore there really were no 

records. 

213 



LASZLO: Oh, yes. 

LASKEY: That's a challenge. 

LASZLO: That was my life. Looking back and analyzing what 

I did good and when I was wrong-- But I believe if I would 

live again in the same profession, that I would do the 

same, because the money wasn't important. I enjoyed doing 

it: designing it. It would be simple to buy a chair or a 

desk and put it in and camouflage it with some plants, you 

know, [laughter] and [be] able to make more money as [than] 

to design something. [But] I want a chair this [way] and 

this, you know. But I enjoyed it immensely, and I don't 

have any regrets. 

LASKEY: You never looked at a lamp or a chair or a vase or 

one of your artifacts and said, "Now, this is wonderful. 

I'm going to turn out thousands of these," and sort of go 

into that, go into mass producing one of the items? Like 

Charles Eames, for instance, with his chairs. 

LASZLO: I designed, for several furniture factories, a 

line; what you call a line. 

LASKEY: Oh, you did? 

LASZLO: Yes, I did. But it wasn't my production. I [was] 

just designer; they paid me royalty, that's all. 

LASKEY: Right. Then they had the furniture made. 

[inaudible] --designer line. 

LASZLO: Yeah, a big firm was Heywood-Wakef ield , near 



214 



Boston. Old, old. The oldest furniture-making firm. 

Heywood-Wakef ield. And I did a line for Ficks-Reed. 

Ficks-Reed. They are doing rattan furniture. 

LASKEY: Were there any materials that you particularly 

liked to work in? Particularly in furniture design? Did 

you prefer rattan to steel, or wood to the others? 

LASZLO: Now, to me, rattan was always outdoor — outdoor 

furniture. But of course, many people are using it 

indoor[s] too. But, to me, basically, it is a[n] outdoor 

item: a terrace, a garden, you know. 

LASKEY: You mentioned once, or you told me, that Le 

Corbusier was an architect that you had admired, or whose 

work you admire. 

LASZLO: Yeah. 

LASKEY: And I find that interesting because your work is 

much more elegant and much softer — 

LASZLO: It's different. 

LASKEY: — and more livable than Le Corbusier. 

LASZLO: But there's a number — You know how it — I mean, I 

still believe that he was the greatest. 

LASKEY: VJhy do you believe that? 

LASZLO: He created a— He was really— He created the "new 

spirit" [I'esprit nouveau] . Which means to me, something 

which you design has to have a spirit. Many people — most 

of [the] designer [s] and people — are aiming at drama, you 



215 



know: to hit the people, you know. To me, it is more a 
spirit that you feel. You feel that it is something which 
talks to you, you know. And the drama isn't important. 
LASKEY: It isn't important? 

LASZLO: Isn't important, no, no. Because a drama hits you 
once. So it is black, red and — But after once, it is 
gone. And spirit is when it stays with you every day; 
every day look at the piece and say, "Isn't it wonder- 
ful." 

So that the difference with what Corbusier did — Even 
I couldn't design the same way as he did, you know. But 
still, still, you feel the spirit of a great man. (He died 
in the meantime.) And then his pupil was in Brazil, 

[Oscar] Niemeyer, who is [an] extraordinary talent. 
Niemeyer designed Brasilia, and he designed a part of the 
United Nation[s] building [1947]. 

LASKEY: Did he design it with Corbusier, or was this after 

Corbusier had died? 

LASZLO: They worked together in New York on this United 
Nation building, Niemeyer and Corbu. And they are just a 
few [of the] people who are thinking the same way as I 
do. When you read this newspaper article why, when some 
buildings are going up here, they are going to architects 
who are in Japan or New York or somewhere else? 
LASKEY: Yeah, this is an article in the [Los Angeles] 



216 



Times that you just handed me about — 
LASZLO: Yeah, there's a reason, you know. 
LASKEY: Do you think the reason is that they have — that 
you feel that these designers have that spirit that you're 
talking about? Or at least, the people who are paying the 
bills feel that they do? 

LASZLO: Now, you have to go back for a hundred years when 
an architect was a single man who designed the house and 
made all the details himself. But when you have ten or 
twenty or fifty or hundred employees — architects, drafts- 
men — then of course, first of all, you cannot design your 
building like [Welton] Becket or [Charles] Luckman or 
Albert [C] Martin or [William] Pereira or whoever it is. 
You can't. If you have hundred people within that office — 
Alone, the phone calls, the social engagements, the talk to 
clients. So he has a designer that — A big office is 
having teams: you know, a designer, engineer, et cetera. 
So, all these people get a pretty high salary. 
LASKEY: Yeah. 

LASZLO: Which means they can't fool around to figure out 
the best, because the time. Each architect office, as they 
get a job, you know, the estimator says you can spend so 
many dollars on design, so many hours on details, so many 
hours [on] engineering and so many hours [on] color 
scheme. It is not possible to tell an artist, you know, 



217 



that in ten hours you have to create something. But they 

have to do it because otherwise they will go broke. 

LASKEY: Well, what do you think this does to the art of 

design? 

LASZLO: How do you mean? 

LASKEY: Well, if our buildings are all being built by 

large organizations, which mostly they are for the reason 

that you're saying, what are the chances of a truly 

monumental building, something totally new and creative, 

coming out of that process? 

LASZLO: Oh, they are doing it. They are doing it, you 

know. From time to time, you find a client who isn't 

impressed by big offices. He feels that maybe he finds an 

architect who is not able to create something special. So 

he finds somebody, and he does the job. So he [the 

architect] gets more job[s], and he has to employ more 

people! [laughs] And you cannot change it. 

And beside [s], labor; we don't have skilled labor 
anymore. So, if you build a high rise, you know, you have 
to think that no skilled laborer [s] are working on it. [It 
is] just like an automobile factory. It is always this 
one, this one — The same in the building. That's the 
reason they look alike. Maybe the balcony [laughs] is 
different. 

But the [inaudible] thing that it should be, it should 



218 



conform with a system of production where the laborer who 
did this building, he can do here without — Because they 
don't have the time to think about it, you know. This is a 
danger of getting big and building big buildings, of 
course. But I heard in New York this Trump building — Have 
you heard it? 

LASKEY: The Trump [Tower] building? 
LASZLO: Yeah. 
LASKEY: No, I haven't. 

LASZLO: Apparently the man made a fortune. And he put up 
a building in New York. Everything is oversized and 
marble. And in [the] lobby [is] a piano player, enter- 
tainers — 

LASKEY: This is an office building? 

LASZLO: Yes, oh yes. Peter told me about it, my son. He 
is often in New York. Now, there is a special man [Donald 
Trump]. And [it is] difficult to make a beautiful build- 
ing — high rise. Very difficult. All people are impressed 
with this Seagram Building in New York. I don't know 
whether you have — 

LASKEY: Oh, the Seagram Building? 
LASZLO: Yeah. 

LASKEY: Oh, yes. The Mies van der Rohe and Phillip 
Johnson building. 
LASZLO: Actually, only the material was interesting. All 



219 



bronze. It is a good building, but nothing — Yes, Mies did 
it, and with Johnson. The Four Seasons restaurant is in 
this building. 

LASKEY: Well, I know it's considered to be one of our 
great buildings — 
LASZLO: Yes, a good building — 

LASKEY: — in the United States. I also understand that it 
doesn't function as well as it could, as far as the people 
who actually have the office space. 

LASZLO: Well, I don't know. Of course you can't listen 
to — All people — 
LASKEY: Right. 

LASZLO: — have some complaint, you know. I did not design 
a high-rise building. 

LASKEY: Well, you chose to keep your office small. 
LASZLO: Oh, yes. I had chances in '52 to design a — which 
I did — high-rise building [seventeen-story condominium] in 
New Orleans. And the man [B. Wohl] didn't, couldn't get a 
loan in this particular year. So he dropped it. VJe went 
together to New York to Irving Trust to get a commitment. 
[They said,] "No more; this year we're finished [loan- 
ing]." The same year I designed a shopping center which 
didn't work out either. So I said, "No more." 
LASKEY: No more big-scale projects. 
LASZLO: You know, big projects needs a lot of time, you 



220 



know. It isn't just, you know — 

LASKEY: Well, I would think it would be extremely 

difficult, if not almost impossible, for a small firm — 

LASZLO: Yeah. 

LASKEY: — to do a large project. 

LASZLO: I could not even — 

LASKEY: Right. 

LASZLO: — get, without hiring — Boy, oh boy. I am glad I 

stayed small, because as soon [as] you have employees, each 

has his own problem — personal problem — and I am not good at 

it, you know. 

LASKEY: Well, you did have around you a handful of 

artisans that you worked with quite regularly, didn't you? 

LASZLO: I had always five architects who worked. 

LASKEY: Well, I was thinking more of artisans in the 

glass — the people who designed those wonderful glass murals 

in several of the houses. 

LASZLO: Oh, well, now this is a part of the decoration, 

you know. Oh, yes. I had many. As a matter — You know, 

at each job I engaged the people who are good people, but 

free-lancer [s] . 

LASKEY: But if you stay small, the way you were, wouldn't 

that put in a better position, essentially, to be able to 

handpick these people, too, on a job? Because — 

LASZLO: Yes — 



221 



LASKEY: — you were working on a job-by-job situation, then 
you could get the people that you wanted, rather than if 
you were building an enormous building or complex of build- 
ings, you probably — it would probably be subcontracted 
then. 

LASZLO: Yes, sure. I had handpicked most of my clients 
too. 

LASKEY: Oh, [laughing] you did? 

LASZLO: Oh, sure. Sure. Of course, I couldn't foresee 
all pitfalls. But with time, I learn [ed] to eliminate 
client [s] which were not compatible to my ideas or my 
personality. It takes a certain chemistry between a 
professional and a client. And if you don't have it, well, 
you can't do a good job. 

LASKEY: Well, that put you in an enviable position. 
LASZLO: I [laughing] believe so. I remember a gentleman, 
a bachelor, who is fifty years [old] . And he has a big 
home in Holmby Hills. So he wanted to remodel his house; 
big house. So, I knew him, you know, for many years. And 
so he said what he wants to do, this way, this way, this 
way. So the same evening I wrote him a letter. I said to 
him, "You are not the client [laughing] I want to deal 
with." He was so proud; even he showed it [laughter] [to] 
other friends! You know, it is important to select your 
clients. 



222 



LASKEY: Well, it's wonderful, I would think, to be able to 

be in a position where you can select your clients, too. 

Which you were. 

LASZLO: Now, I never made too much money. 

LASKEY: No, but you had a steady enough business — 

LASZLO: Yeah, yeah. 

LASKEY: — and you were working — 

LASZLO: — all the time. 

LASKEY: — enough that you could be somewhat selective. 

LASZLO: I don't complain; I just say that it was more 

important to my life, as [than] to make a lot of money and 

make compromises, you know. 

LASKEY: Right. 

LASZLO: And take a lot of punishment, too. [laughter] 

But it worked out all right — 

LASKEY: Well, you obviously haven't regretted it. 

LASZLO: Yeah, I feel happy. And I wouldn't have changed 

anything in my life. 

LASKEY: And once you got out here to Los Angeles, you've 

never wanted to leave, right? 

LASZLO: I loved here. On the first day on, I loved [it] 

here. And [was] happy here. So this was wonderful; still 

is. 

LASKEY: Well, for someone who's lived here for fifty 

years, and talking about high rises, what do you think 



223 



about what's happened to Los Angeles — downtown, our 

skyline? 

LASZLO: You know, what happened here — To begin with, it 
grew up too fast, which means [there] wasn't correct 
planning. Individuals owned most of the real estate. And 
now see, we have here, thank god, freedom. You know, you 
cannot tell the people what to do with their property. But 
it wasn't planned. A small item: in Brentwood, when you 
have a home, you have to put all your garbage on the 
street. Well, Beverly Hills has an alley. So you put the 
garbage in the alley. But in Brentwood, [laughs] it's in 
the street, because it wasn't planned to make it correct, 
to make an alley. So, the same is — 

We have this beautiful Wilshire Boulevard. Instead of 
making some parks from time to time, you know, to make it 
more beautiful, [it is] all the way just buildings, you 
know. The difference to L.A. is Paris. You have some 
changes: big parks and this and this, which makes it 
beautiful. Here, of course, we have Sunset Boulevard, 
which is a beautiful street. Why? Because it is all 
green. Well, it is mostly because the buildings are behind 
an all-green park. Beautiful streets, you know. Sunset. 
But they missed on Wilshire, Olympic, and Pico; all the 
other streets. Why? Because it was owned by private 
individuals. Of course, they were more interested in the 



224 



money as [than] to sacrifice something. 

[inaudible] — beautiful — [inaudible] — was on Sunset 

Boulevard and VJhittier [Drive] . [going through papers] I 

don't know whether you noticed in there — I wrote an 

article, many years ago. And [Ed Rees] was a writer for 

Time and Life and — 

LASKEY: You're hired. [laughter] 

LASZLO: — when he sees the article, he — 

Anyhow, Sunset and Whittier — [begins drawing] Here 

is Sunset; here, a bridle path; Whittier; here starts 

Beverly Hills. A bridle path, you know? 

LASKEY: Where are we? 

LASZLO: Beverly Hills. 

LASKEY: Beverly Hills and Sunset. 

LASZLO: That's VJhittier. 

LASKEY: Oh, OK. Whittier, OK. 

LASZLO: And here was a home owned by a Mr. [Benjamin] 

Maltz. And here was an empty lot. So he gave it to the 

city of Beverly Hills. And it made a beautiful little 

park. You know, wonderful. I wrote — a few years ago — I 

wrote the mayor — at the time [1973-74] was Mrs. [Phyllis] 

Seaton was her name--of Beverly Hills. 

LASKEY: What was her name? 

LASZLO: I believe Seaton. The wife of a writer, movie 

writer [George Seaton] . I wrote to her how beautiful [the] 



225 



idea is to make it a park. So she wrote me back that 

actually it belonged to Mr. Maltz who lives here, and he 

donated his parcel [to] the city. It is now a little park 

with benches to sit down. 

LASKEY: There are several of those scattered throughout 

Beverly Hills. Just every now and then there will be — like 

the size of a lot — and it's a little park. 

LASZLO: It makes it beautiful, you know. But now too late 

to make it downtown or anywhere on Wilshire Boulevard. It 

is all our buildings. 

Washington is a beautiful city. Why? Because it is — 
I mean, their French architect [Pierre L'Enfant] — There's 
a plan there — But, to build — Of course — Do you know 
Paris? 

LASKEY: Yes. 

LASZLO: You know, it is beautiful because of this — 
LASKEY: The wide boulevards and the trees and the greens 
and the setbacks of the buildings — the monuments. We don't 
have many monuments here, either, in Los Angeles. You 
know, arches or public monuments. [laughter] 
LASZLO: We are going to have pretty soon a monument of 
Martin Luther King — at the monument. 
LASKEY: I'm sorry. What was that? 

LASZLO: V'Je will have, pretty soon, a monument of Martin 
Luther King. 



226 



LASKEY: Oh. But we don't — We have statues, you know. 

There are a few statues scattered around, but there's no 

arch of triumph. No, there's no — 

LASZLO: No. We have it in Washington. 

LASKEY: Yes. 

LASZLO: Not here. You know, Los Angeles is a new city, 

actually. When I came over, Wilshire Boulevard was mostly 

just fields. Sunset Boulevard was mostly a dirt road. It 

happened, really, only after the war, since '48. It is a 

short period of time, you know. Fortunately, we have here 

[in] Santa Monica beautiful streets, wide streets and very 

nice. 

LASKEY: And you're very fortunate because you have the 

Pacific Ocean at your front door, and they can't take that 

away from you. They can't build a high rise out there. 

[laughter] 

LASZLO: No, no. As I told you, it is a shame, but it is 

too late to change it, you know. They are doing today, we 

have excellent planning commissions and trying to do the 

best for the future. But too late now on Wilshire 

Boulevard or — 

LASKEY: Right. 

LASZLO: — downtown. Of course, I wasn't downtown for 

years. 

LASKEY: You were downtown? 



227 



LASZLO: For years, I wasn't downtown. 

LASKEY: Oh, you weren't— You didn't go downtown for a 

number of years. 

LASZLO: So I don't [know] what is on now. But, I don't- 



228 



INDEX 



Anderson, Margaret and 

Stanley, 126 
Architect/client 

relationship, 85-86, 

133-34, 135, 205, 

210-11, 222 
Atomic Energy Commission, 

152 

Barcelona chairs (Mies van 

der Rohe) , 27, 28 
Barker Brothers, 44 
Bauhaus, 25-26, 37-38 
Becket, Welton, 34, 197, 

217 
Beverly Hills, California 
-changes in, 173-74, 176 
-parks in, 225-26 
Beverly Hills Hotel, 

126-30, 132 
Blanke, Ursula and Henry 

Heinz, 85, 118-19 
Bleyle, Maria and Max, 

32-34, 40, 50-51 
Breuhaus, Fritz August, 

14-15 
Broadway department stores, 

186 
Brown Derby restaurant, 

Beverly Hills, 76 
Buchman, Sidney, 121 
Buhler, Alfred, 23-24 
Bullock's department 

stores, 32, 82-83, 

96, 186, 203 

Chotiner, Albert H. , 79-80 
Churchill, Winston, 195-96 
City planning, 224-27 
Clark, James, 151 
Cleveland, Robert, 131 
Country Club Plaza, Kansas 

City, Missouri, 185- 

90 
Courtright, Hernando, 

126-30, 137-38 



Crawford, Robert, 
151, 152 

Crown Center, Kansas 

City, Missouri, 191, 
194, 198-99, 203 

Dexter, Raymond C, 81 
Dreyfuss, Henry, 98, 166, 

196-97 
Duthie, James H. , 171 

Eden, Fritz, 86, 104-5, 

146-47, 171-72 
Eisenstaht, Sidney, 65 
Eschke, Karl, 46 

Fashion Square, Scottsdale, 
Arizona, 178, 179-83 
Frankl, Paul T. , 101 

Genis, Sadi and Sam, 136-42 
Goldwater, Robert Williams, 

180-81 
Goldwater 's department 

stores, 142, 178-83 
Gorgl, Hugo, 36 
Gosden, Freeman F., 127-28 
Griffin, Elmer, 81, 91 
Gropius, Walter, 25, 26 



Hall, Joyce Clyde, 
185-89, 195 

Hall's department 
95, 178-79, 
195-99, 201 

Hallmark stores, 2 
See also Ha 
Clyde; Lasz 
buildings d 
or remodele 
Hall's depa 
stores 

Harrison, Joan, 11 
passim 

Helicopters as alt 
transportat 
163-65 



95-97, 
-96, 203 
stores , 

185-89, 
-3, 208 
03-4. 
11, Joyce 
16, Paul-- 
esigned 
d by — 
rtment 

3-17, 

ernative 
ion, 161, 



229 



Herman, Victor, 158 
Hertz, Frances, 146, 154, 

156 
Hertz, John Daniel, 144, 

146-48, 150-60 
Hoffmann, Josef, 36-37 
Hormel, George Albert, 

86-87 
Hudson Bay Company 

department stores, 

205 
Hudspeth, John, 179 
Hudspeth Center, 179 
Hungary, 1-13, 15, 18, 25, 

30-32, 37, 51-52, 

70-71, 90, 169, 174- 

76 
Huston, Walter, 91-92 

Jurman, Walter, 81-82 

Kahn, Mr. and Mrs. Walter, 
61-63 

Kaiser, John D. , 95-96, 
186, 196, 198 

Kandinsky, Wassily, 37 

Klee, Paul, 37 

Kokusai Theater. 

See Laszl6, Paul 

— buildings designed 

or remodeled by 

— Crenshaw movie 

theater 

Kreedman, S. Jon, 168, 211- 
12 

Laszl6, Hugo (uncle), 
7-8 

Laszl6, Mr. & Mrs. Ignac 
(parents ) , 1-3 , 6 , 
52 

Laszl6, Maxine Fife (wife), 
49, 50, 54, 63, 71, 
72, 83, 181-82, 187- 
88 

Laszl6, Paul. See also 
Architect /client 
relationship; City 
planning; Transpor- 
tation, alternatives 



to present system 
-buildings designed or 
remodeled by 

-American City Bank 

buildings, 212 
-apartment for 
"Deutsche Kunst 
Ausstellung" 
exhibit, 
DCisseldorf, 28 
-Atomville, 150, 160- 

62 
-Beverly Hills Hotel 
-bungalows, 130 
-Rodeo Room, 128, 

132 
-suite, 128 
-Blanke House, 118-21 
-Bleyle House, 30, 33, 

39-44, 46-50 
-Brentwood Country 

Club clubhouse, 65-66 
-Bullock's department 

stores, 82-83 
-Burchman House, 121 
-city hall in 
Szombathely, Hungary, 
31 
-Crenshaw movie 
theater, 105-7 
-Fashion Square, 
Scottsdale , 
Arizona, 178, 
179-83 
-Fleischer House, 63 
-Genis House, 

138-42 
-Goldwater ' s 
department store. 
See Fashion Square, 
Scottsdale, Arizona 
-Hall's department 
stores 

-at Country Club 
Plaza, 95-98, 185- 
90, 197, 203 
-at Crown Center, 

191, 198, 199-202 
-downtown, 
Kansas City, 



230 



Missouri, 197 
-Harrison House, 

113-17, 178 
-Harth, Eddy, store, 

107-12 
-Hertz bomb shelter, 

147-60 

-Hertz House, 146-47 
-Hudspeth Center, 

179 
-Jeffries houses. See 

Jeittele houses 
-Jeittele houses, 57 
-Kahn House, 61-62 
-Kokusai Theater. See 

Crenshaw movie 

theater 
-Kopfensteiner House, 

30 
-Koster houses, 

134-35 
-Lanz store. See 

Harth, Eddy, store 
-Laszl6 houses 

-Beverly Hills, 83- 

85, 102, 122 
-Brentwood, 83, 
103-4 
-Loewendahl shoe 

store, 7 7 
-Marx House, 60-61 
-McCulloch House, 206 
-McCulloch Oil 

Building showrooms, 

206-9 
-"Peasant Acres." See 

Blanke House 
-Perlberg House, 143- 

45 
-Pinecrest Ranch 

School. See Hertz 

bomb shelter; Hertz 

House 
-"PL-47" helicopter 

terminal project, 163 
-Rosenfield House, 81 
-Saks House. See 

Perlberg House 
-Schmidt House, 24 



-Swanson store, 190- 

91, 198-99 
-Weingarten House, 

80, 81 
-Weir, Robert, apart- 
ment, 53-54 
-Wohl condo- 
miniums, 220 
-Zacho House, 

132-33 
-other buildings in 
Vienna and Hungary, 
32 
-other design projects 
-automobiles, 165-66 
-ceramic objects, 29 
-fabrics, 45 
-furniture, 214-15 
-gloves, 55-57 
-paper goods, 35, 
63-64 
-feelings about people 
changing his buildings, 
126, 183-84 
-location of offices, 

167-73 
-philosophy of archi- 
tecture, 209, 216 
-preference for small 
firms, 19-20, 98-99, 
166-67, 217-19, 220-22 
-style of architecture 
-merging of inside and 

outside, 117, 124 
-relationship to other 
modern architecture, 
25-26, 36-39, 94-95, 
101 
-use of custom-made 
materials and indivi- 
dualized designs, 46, 
47-48, 99-100, 213-14, 
217-19, 221 
Laszl6, Peter Paul (son), 
64-65, 176, 192, 
193, 194, 219 
Le Corbusier (Charles 

Edouard Jeanneret- 
Gris), 20, 25, 215- 
16 



231 



Lee, Jeanette, 96, 186, 196 
Lennart, Harry, 181-82 
LeRoy, Kitty Spiegel, 144 
Liebes, Dorothy, 99 
Loewendahl, Walter, Jr., 

77-78 
Loewendahl, Walther, Sr., 

77-78 
Loewy, Raymond, 166 
Loos, Adolf, 3 7 
Loper, Don, 128-29 
Los Angeles 

-changes in, 173-74, 176 
-planning of, 224-27 
Lovelace Foundation, 151 
Luckman, Charles, 34, 217 



Magnin' 

Maltz , 
Martin, 
Mayer, 
McCullo 

Meer, E 
Mies va 



Miller, 
Moholy- 
Moran, 



s department stores, 

203 

Benjamin, 225 

Albert C. , 217 
Irene, 118 
ch, Robert P. , 
206-8, passim 
rnst, 212-13 
n der Rohe , Ludwig, 
25-26, 27, 28, 37, 
219-20 

Eddy, 107, 108 
Nagy , LSszl6, 37 
Peggy, 135 



Nachtlicht, Leo, 16 
Neiman-Marcus department 

stores, 75-76, 108, 

198-99, 201 
Neutra, Richard, 93-94 
Nichols, Jesse Clyde, Jr., 

185, 188 
Niemeyer, Oscar, 216 
Nymphenburg , Germany, 4 7 

Ohrbach's department 

stores, 205 
Olbrich, Josef, 37 

Paris, France, 224, 226 
Parker, Maynard, 131 
Paul Laszlo (book by 

Laszl6), 99-100 



Perlberg, Mr. and Mrs. 
William, 143-44 
Pereira, William, 217 

Rees, Ed, 225 

Roth, Louis, 107, 108 

Rott, Maria, 24, 29 

Saks, Leona Hertz, 144-46 
Saks Fifth Avenue, 144, 

168, 200 
Scherle, Hans, 22 
Schindler, Rudolph, 94 
Schulman, Julius, 130-31 
Seagram Building (New 

York), 219-20 
Seaton, Phyllis, 225-26 
Selznick, David, 117-18 
Standard Cabinet Works, 100 
Stone, Edward Durell, 204 
Strakosch, Hans de , 86, 

89-90 
Swanson stores, 190-91, 

198-99 
Szombathely, Hungary, 1-4 

30-32 

Teague, Walter Dorwin, 166 
Teller, Edward, 148 
Transportation, alterna- 
tives to present 
system, 161, 163-65 
Trump, Donald, 219 
Trump Tower (New York), 
219 

Universal Studios, 88, 89, 
135 



Vienna "Secessionists," 

37 



36- 



V^agner, Otto, 36, 37 
Washington, D.C., planning 

of, 226 
Weber, Richard, 32-33 
Weingarten, Sylvia and 

Lawrence A. , 80-81 
Weir, Mr. and Mrs. Robert, 

54-55 



232 



Weissenhof exhibit, 25, 

26-27 
Western Dye House, Inc., 

112 
Wiener Werkstatte, 36 
Williams, Paul, 137 
Wlach, Otto, 36 
World V7ar I, 7-11 
World War II, 87-89, 111-12 
Wolff, Selma, 54 

Zacho, Axel, 132-33 



233 



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