There are certain events in history that render themselves unforgettable in the minds of those who witnessed them: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s trip to the Moon, the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream speech.” O.J. Simpson’s infamous low-speed Bronco chase is, for me, one of those events.
I was not alive for the first three, but I remember the fourth vividly. It was June 17, 1994, and I was a San Francisco high schooler at the time (yes, O.J. and I hail from the same hometown). Summer had just begun. One of my best friends was having a birthday party in Golden Gate Park, and as it was wrapping up, we heard on the radio that the famous football player—who was facing a double murder charge for the slayings of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman—was leading the police on a car chase through Los Angeles. Our entire group immediately packed up and headed to the home of a nearby friend to watch the madness unfold. We stayed glued to the television for the remainder of the night—and in the months that followed during the “trial of the century.” (Coincidentally, said friend’s mom happened to be a high school classmate of O.J.’s, so we also spent the evening pouring through her Galileo High yearbooks.)
The locations that figured prominently in the case oddly found fame as instant tourist attractions and hold a massive macabre allure to this day. Being a locations-minded person, I visited many of the places upon moving to L.A. in 2000. Most of the sites have, not surprisingly, undergone major changes or no longer stand. O.J.’s Tudor-style mansion, for example was razed in 1998. Brown’s condo was not only extensively remodeled after being sold in 1996, but it also underwent an address change to deter lookie-loos. Mezzaluna restaurant, where Goldman worked and where Brown ate on the evening of the murders, went belly-up in 1997, and its former location now houses a Peet’s Coffee & Tea. One spot, though, remains intact and still looks much the same as it did in 1994.
Like most enthralled with the case, I tuned in to watch the premiere of the new FX miniseries The People v. O.J. Simpson last Tuesday night and recognized the former home of Simpson’s good friend and lawyer Robert Kardashian. The house portrays itself.
According to a June 18, 1994 Los Angeles Times article, Kardashian leased the gargantuan contemporary dwelling, located at 16254 Mandalay Drive in Encino, about a month prior to the murders. When the media presence at O.J.’s estate became intense, Kardashian offered up his home as a sort of hideout. It was from there that Simpson departed in the white Bronco on June 17 before leading police on the infamous chase.
As the story goes, Simpson lawyer Robert Shapiro received a call that Simpson was being charged with the double murder of Goldman and Brown. He was originally set to turn himself in to the LAPD at their headquarters in downtown Los Angeles, but Shapiro later changed the plan and asked instead that O.J. be taken into custody at Kardashian’s home. When the police showed up to bring him in, Simpson was long gone. At some point during the morning, he disappeared from the residence with his good friend and college roommate, Al Cowlings, and headed south. The LAPD issued an all-points bulletin for the two at 2 p.m. and, a few hours later, Simpson made a phone call to 911 that was immediately traced to the 5 Freeway in Orange County. Police located the white Bronco minutes later, and the news choppers came shortly thereafter. What followed became television history—and it all started at a home located on a quiet street in Encino.
Kardashian’s former residence, which was originally built in 1957 but was drastically remodeled shortly before he moved in, boasts five bedrooms, five baths, 7,104 square feet, and a 0.40-acre plot of land. The real-life interior of the house was also featured in The People v. O.J. Simpson. The dwelling, which last sold in 1997 for $830,000, has been put on and off the market several times over the last few years. In 2014, it was listed once again, this time for $1.85 million. Despite the steep price tag, the property was described as needing “some rehabbing and TLC.” No word on if “Kimmie’s bedroom” is one of the rooms that requires an overhaul.
Lindsay Blake is an actress, writer, celebrity admirer and Los Angeles enthusiast who contributes to Culture Files each Thursday. Her true love is filming locations, and she founded the Web site IAMNOTASTALKER in 2007 to document her vast findings on the subject. For more “stalking” fun, you can follow Lindsay on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.