Hood named as Writer in Residence at Annenberg House

Posted: October 25, 2012

A finalist after a very competitive process, Antelope Valley College English Professor Charles Hood will be the next Writer in Residence at the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica.

As part of his project he will be working on a book with the painter Don Bachardy, a portrait artist whose commissions have included Jack Nicholson, Bette Davis and Angelina Jolie.

In addition to a cash stipend, Hood’s residency includes an office in a beachfront guest house that formerly belonged to the actress Marion Davies, who during Hollywood's golden era joined William Randolph Hearst in entertaining such stars as Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Samuel Goldwyn, Greta Garbo and Clark Gable.

Bachardy, the surviving partner of writer Christopher Isherwood, is a world renowned artist whose paintings are owned by the Huntington, the Norton Simon, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Portrait Gallery in London.

He and Hood are collaborating on a series of fictional biographies based on orphaned paintings --- portraits of people for whom no information remains beyond a name and date, and sometimes not even that much.

In addition to office hours and the book project, Hood will host workshops whose topics will range from how to use camera phones as an aid for writing to an interview with Bachardy about what makes a good portrait “good.”

Damaged by earthquakes and neglect, the Marion Davies estate was once scheduled for demolition. Wallis Annenberg and the Annenberg Foundation helped provide a $27.5 million grant that paved the way for the site's rehabilitation. Opened in 2009, the arts complex now includes performance spaces, an art gallery, a pool, a restaurant, and the original guest house, designed by architect Julia Morgan, who also designed Hearst Castle in San Simeon.

The Davies house still includes original bathroom tiles and interior detail.

"There is a perverse thrill in being in Charlie Chaplin's old bedroom," Hood says. "I feel like I should drink gin from a hip flask, and come and go in a Duisenberg."

Asked if the ocean-front view will be a distraction, he says, “My last house before I got a job at AVC was right on the sand in Newport Beach. I'm well-practiced at typing while wearing sunglasses."

Hood's residency will start in late November and last until the start of spring term in February 2013.