Charmian London stayed on at Beauty Ranch in her House of Happy Walls for four decades after Jack’s death, dedicated to keeping his legend alive.
It was not difficult. Charmian’s neighbor and good friend, Alma deBrettville Spreckels, who was a force in San Francisco society, entertained celebrities from throughout the world at her Sobre Vista estate. A visit to Charmian and the London Ranch was often included in those “country weekends.”
When it was Charmian’s turn to entertain, her younger, richer, neighbor was often beside her.
One classic weekend, still recalled by Sonoma Valley elders, came in March 1941 with a premiere of a new film version of London’s “The Sea Wolf” at the Sebastiani Theater in Sonoma.
The cast included Edward G. Robinson, John Garfield and a young Ronald Reagan, who brought along his wife, Jane Wyman. They sailed into San Francisco Bay on an ocean liner and were met by Charmian and Jack’s nephew, Irving Shepard, and his wife, Mildred.
The celebrities were taken by Greyhound bus to the Valley of the Moon, where they enjoyed a full day of parties and picnicking at the London Ranch and Spreckels estate before the showing.
It was an historic moment, even for historic Sonoma, with a parade of celebrities that included Charmian in a red jacket and cloche hat. They cheered and applauded as they passed through a crowd of several hundred citizens to see Jack’s characters come to life on the silver screen.