When Nat King Cole Moved In

The entertainer found his dream home in picturesque Hancock Park—but the neighborhood had a dark side.

In July 1948, singer Nat “King” Cole and his new wife, Maria, were just beginning their lives together. The legendary crooner of standards including “The Christmas Song,” “Nature Boy,” “Mona Lisa,” and “Unforgettable” had spent the last decade of his young life on the road, and he was eager to settle down and start a family. When they were not traveling, he and Maria, a singer and socialite of impeccable lineage, made-do by staying at LA’s Watkins Hotel. So, Maria hired a real estate agent named Joe Bradfield, and the couple started looking for a grand home fit for a king.