Nicknamed "Architect to the Stars," African American architect Paul R. Williams had a life story that could have been dreamed up by a Hollywood screenwriter. Orphaned at the age of four, Williams grew up to build mansions for movie stars and millionaires in Southern California. From the early 1920s until his retirement 50 years later, Williams was one of the most successful architects in the country. His list of residential clients included Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Barbara Stanwyck, William Holden, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. His name is associated with architectural icons like the Beverly Hills Hotel, the original MCA Headquarters Building and LAX Airport. But at the height of his career Paul Williams wasn't always welcome in the restaurants and hotels he designed or the neighborhoods where he built homes, because of his race.
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