When the term “movie star home” comes up in conversation, most people imagine a grand palace like Brad Pitt’s Beverly Hills mansion. But the apartment buildings on the outskirts of Hollywood where the likes of Clark Gable lived in their pre-star days are movie star homes too-albeit of a more humble variety. Movie Star Homes: The Famous to the Forgottengives you a snapshot of the Southern California homes where Hollywood’s favorites live and have lived, dating back to the silent era. Our goal was to cover the full spectrum of homes-from the Beverly Hills mansions that are as glamorous as their celebrity occupants, to the now-frayed bungalows of old Hollywood.
Los Angeles realtors like to quip that every house in the city has been occupied by three different movie stars at one time or another. That is only a slight exaggeration. For whatever reason, actors tend to change households only somewhat more often than they change spouses. Since we couldn’t include every home of every actor who ever set foot on a Hollywood set, we established three ground rules for determining which homes made the cut.
Our first ground rule was that the home had to be in Southern California. Perhaps someday our budgets will allow us to spend a month in Tahiti looking for Marlon Brando’s grass-roofed hut (yes, he does have one).
All of the homes in this book were photographed in 2003 and 2004, which leads to our second ground rule: In order to be included in the book, the house that stands today at an actor’s address had to be the same structure that the actor lived in, even if it had been remodeled or otherwise spruced up over the years.
This rule eliminated homes like Pickfair, the Beverly Hills estate where Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, Hollywood’s reigning queen and king of the 1920s, held court. You can still drive up to the wrought-iron gates that proclaim “Pickfair” at 1143 Summit Drive, but the mansion you see behind those gates isn’t the Pickfair where Mary Pickford lived for nearly five decades. The original house was all but leveled in 1991 and rebuilt from the ground up.
Our third ground rule was that the book had to represent the huge variety of homes that have been inhabited by film stars over the years. That is why this book isn’t devoted solely to the glitzy estates. Nor, for that matter, is it weighted toward the obscure homes that often hold the most compelling stories. If the selection of homes and actors on these pages seems unpredictable or quirky, it’s because the star and/or the home had to resonate with us on some level. Sometimes we were struck by the fragile and forlorn quality of a certain structure (like the downtown Los Angeles building where Rudolph Valentino lived in 1919), and wanted to document its existence before a wrecking ball erases it from the landscape. But just as often our decision about who and what to include after the first three rules were satisfied came down to a sixth sense that defies explanation. That is what makes this ultimately a highly personal book, and one that we hope will contain many happy surprises for you, the reader. We’re grateful to our publisher, Jeffrey Goldman, for allowing us to keep it that way.
Unearthing these addresses and confirming their accuracy sometimes required painstaking gumshoe detective work. On this note, we wish to salute Steve McQueen, whose Solar Drive address took hours of tedious research to find and authenticate. Just as his Great Escape character, Captain Virgil Hilts, almost eluded his captors, McQueen almost escaped Movie Star Homes. (But Steve, we gotcha!)
From the day three years ago when we first realized that there is a treasure trove of movie star homes to be discovered and rediscovered, we’ve gotten a kick out of the residential discoveries that seemed to be waiting for us around every corner.
We hope that you’ll find a few surprises of your own as you take your tour of Movie Star Homes: The Famous to the Forgotten.
A few “housekeeping” notes:
The houses in this book are organized alphabetically by the actors’ last names. Each entry includes a brief profile of the actor, the street address of the featured home (in some cases you’ll find two homes for one actor), a photo of the home as it looks today, and facts or anecdotes about the home or the actor’s home life.
Many of the homes pictured in this book are in the city of Los Angeles. When a residence is located in a specific region of the city, such as Hancock Park or Bel Air, we list it as being in that region, rather than in Los Angeles. The boundaries of the various regions vary, depending on the map you consult. In the cases where a home appears to be on the border between two regions, we used our best judgment in deciding where to place it. The actors are listed by region in the Appendix, where we also suggest special “tours” you can take to find the homes of some of your favorite stars. To get detailed directions to specific homes, we suggest that you consult MapQuest or Thomas Guide: Los Angeles & Orange Counties, a map book that is available at most bookstores.
Regarding when the actors lived in the homes featured in this book: We provide only the years for which we could confirm the actors’ occupancy. Some may have lived at a particular address for a longer period of time.
One last, but important, note: Please respect the privacy of the occupants of the homes listed in this book.
Judy Artunian and Mike Oldham