One of the first “famous” swimming pools was built by the wild man and “Borax King,” Thomas Thorkildsen way back in 1916. Thorkildsen was worth what would be the equivalent of 500 million dollars at the time and used his money, quite simply, to party. He was an incredibly intelligent businessman, making his fortune in the field of mining and selling borax (a mineral used in cleaning products, make up, insecticide, etc). Thorkildsen had an incredible custom heart shaped pool built at his mansion in Los Angeles.
The swimming pool was the centerpiece of his infamous “parties” with the rich and famous in the LA scene. His swimming pool had some notorious stories surrounding it, including at least 2 deaths in which he was never connected directly. At one time Thorkildsen was on trial for some of his “misdeeds” and the judge couldn’t bear repeating the antics of Mr. Thorkildsen, allegedly being too raunchy for anyone with class to speak or hear!
Thorkildsen was one of the very first in modern history to use his private pool as a centerpiece for his lavish parties and this influenced anyone who had attended or heard of his events, soon this would catch on like wild fire and custom pools would be a must have by the social elite.
In the 20’s the glamorous movie stars Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford built a lavish custom pool at their mansion in Beverly Hills, California. It was thought to be one of the biggest pools in the entire world at the time. This incredible custom 100 feet long by 50 feet wide pool entertained the Hollywood elite and thus started the pool building frenzy of the rich and famous.
The magnificent pool and mansion became so famous that old postcards can be found with pictures of the “Pickfair” (the name coined from the last names of both Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford for their estate). The pool was so beautiful and appreciated it is still survives today on the estate despite the original mansion being torn down and rebuilt, but not the swimming pool!