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
The co-author of Movie Star Homes is an accomplished writer who has published hundreds of articles on subjects ranging from haircuts to Internet technology. Judy is a regular contributor to the Chicago Tribune’s personal finance, small business, and career sections. Her work has also appeared in Glamour, The Miami Herald, Readers Digest’s New Choices and scores of trade magazines. Before becoming an independent writer, Judy was a public relations and marketing communications professional. She has been a member of the Los Angeles Conservancy, an architectural preservation society, for 15 years and has served as a volunteer for the organization. She also belongs to Hollywood Heritage and frequently attends preservation and film history presentations and tours. She lives in Southern California.
The co-author of Movie Star Homes is the managing member of a wholesale distributor which he founded in 1991. Mike studied business and was awarded an M.B.A. and a B.A. (finance and marketing concentrations respectively) from California State University Fullerton. He is a member of Hollywood Heritage, and lives in Southern California.
“It was only a matter of time before we outgrew the map to the stars’ homes. Just as the discerning cinephile has moved beyond the MGM classics, say, to B-grade horror flicks, so it goes with celebrity residences: At some point, Pickfair is just too obvious. With the book “Movie Star Homes: The Famous to the Forgotten” (Santa Monica Press), co-authors Judy Artunian and Mike Oldham have taken the “Ramon Novarro slept here” inquiry to the next level. . . . These homes may not be glitzy enough for coffee table books or magazine spreads, but they’re pay dirt for the insatiable Hollywood archeologist.”
—Los Angeles Times
“It’s rare when a travel guide makes itself as meaningful at home as on vacation. This is one of them. More than 350 film stars past and present, from who’s who to who’s that?, are listed here with their photo, film credits and a picture of a home where they once lived or still do. . . . The book is as much a trip down Memory Lane as it is through Hollywood.”
“Movie Star Homes is not the first book on the topic — you can get pamphlets on movie star homes on any street corner in Beverly Hills, not to mention Encino — but it’s easily the most comprehensive book on the subject I’ve ever seen, encompassing everything from the silent days to the modern era. Authors Judy Artunian and Mike Oldham have done a yeoman job.”
—Palm Beach Post
“The resource to lead you to celebrity-real-estate heaven.”
“This is the sort of book that looks like it would be a cinch to write, but appearances are deceptive. It doesn’t take long, as you read the descriptions and pore over the photographs, to appreciate the detailed research and detective work that went into Movie Star Home. . . .Their careful selections, combined with photographs and biographical sketches of each actor result in a fascinating mosaic of Hollywood history and style from the early 1900’s to the present.”
“A new book for those bitten by the “Sunset Boulevard” tourist bug is always welcome and this combination guide and history book is a gem. There are maps as well as indexes (by area, by film, by theme) to help you design your own tour of the homes and stars that interest you. Each home has a short history of the stars who lived there along with other fascinating trivia. The stars featured are from all eras of movie-making, right up to the present day. Authors Judy Artunian and Mike Oldham spent hours doing painstaking research to discover and authenticate some of these addresses. Film fans and scholars will enjoy their work for years to come.”