Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Hollywood Life (Vintage Stars Houses, Late 1960's)

Good morning!

Oooh, Lord, I could have used another three hours of sleep this morning-- Matthew and I had a rare night where both of us were off, and we didn't remember until 9:30 that there was a new episode of Mad Men in our Amazon Instant queue. WHY IS EVERYONE BUT STERLING BETRAYING DON? #nospoilersbutdamn. That put bedtime at 10:30, and I was so high strung from hollering at the computer monitor for most of that TV hour that I tossed and turned until 11:30 or so, and had to get up at 6. People, this girl needs her beauty rest...and six and a half hours is one to three hours too little. BOO. All that to say, I don't have your flea market pictures for you, but will have to shutterbug my finds tomorrow.

In the meantime, how about a conciliatory gift of nine late sixties' celebrity homes? My eyes were bugging out of my head yesterday when I got Hollywood Life by Eliot Elisofon from Interlibrary Loan. Elisofon, a documentary photographer who worked for Life magazine for twenty years as a staff photographer, made formal portraits of stars at home in year of our Lord 1969. I might actually have to buy a copy of this book to put on my coffee table with my Tony Duquette book-- I could look at Hollywood Regency style houses ALL. DANG. DAY. DON'T. TRY ME. 

On with the show!

Edie Goetz's House (10 out of 10!):

Edie Goetz was honest-to-goodness Hollywood royalty-- one of two daughters born to MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer, Edie married producer Bill Goetz in 1930, sent off in one of the most expensive and lavish wedding ceremonies the movie colony had seen to that point.  Edie Goetz was the Hollywood hostess for thirty-five years...when her husband died in 1969, the sixty-four year old widow lost interest in entertaining, and quietly retired from the social scene. However! The dinners she used to give! Friends included a Who's Who of tinseltown celebrities, including Rosalind Russell and Merle Oberon (the latter no slouch in the entertaining department herself). No less than Oscar winning director Billy Wilder said of the couple: ""The highest accolade for someone coming into this town was to be invited to the Goetzes. The Goetzes had the best food, the best people and the best things on the walls."

The guest list from one 1946 party, to celebrate Bill Goetz's acquisition of Universal Studios, which he re-christened Universal-International? From this New York Social Diary article about the rivalry between Edie and her sister Irene (David O. Selznick's first wife):
 Among the 84 guests (including wives and husbands) were Greer Garson, Lana Turner, Joan Crawford, Loretta Young, Robert Young, Douglas Fairbanks, William Powell, Merle Oberon, Dick Powell and June Allyson, Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck, Gary Cooper, Deborah Kerr, Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli, Henry Fonda, Ava Gardner, Cary Grant, David Niven, Danny Kaye, Irving Berlin, Joan Bennett and Walter Wanger, Robert Montgomery, Charles Boyer, Sam Goldwyn and Johnny Green who sat and played for hours while Judy Garland sang to the guests

Can you imagine? Can you even wrap your head around it?

Bill and Edie bought this Holmby Hills house in 1949; it was decorated by La Crawford's friend Billy Haines, and didn't he do a fine job! I'm bananas over how this looks like an important person's house and everything is suited to having guests-- proportions are on a grand scale, and everywhere you look there's seating, seating, seating. The living room below may be my favorite photo out of the whole book-- something about the beige and white tones of the furniture (which I usually H-A-T-E hate) mixed with the black and white stripe of the awning and the robin's egg blue of the one wall, plus that magenta orchid on the table? It strikes just the right chord. Can you just see tall drink of water Gary Cooper, tuxedo'd, slouching over a martini, knees up to his ears, on one of these lowslung couches? Or Jack Lemmon, leaning over Frank Sinatra, the Chairman of the Board bursting into one of his famous √©clats de rire over an inside joke? I can't bear the thought of it, it's too good!

And here's the grand dame herself in her home's library. You can see from the photographs there are a number of fine art pieces in the house, from Degas to Modigliani-- the Goetzes had one of the best collections of impressionist and post impressionist art in Hollywood. This collection was sold at Christie's 1988 when Edie passed away. One Picasso painting alone from his Blue Period netted almost $25 million. GOOD. NIGHT. One painting that wasn't included in the auction is the Van Gogh you see over the fireplace here-- two years after Bill Goetz bought the painting in 1945, its authenticity was questioned by art dealers and apparently the matter was never 100% settled. Drama!

I'm nuts about this house, and could spend most of today and tomorrow talking your ear off about how fabulous it is, but we have to keep moving! There's more houses to see!

James Coburn's (TONY DUQUETTE DESIGNED) house:

Our Man Flint star James Coburn commissioned Tony Duquette to do his house, and man. MAN. Did TD deliver on this one. They eventually recovered the in-your-face red and yellow side chairs with something more reasonable and less 1969, but look at this room from the other angle at a later date:

Is it not exactly like a fairy tale in the best way? Still so stunning!

 Kirk (and Anne Marie) Douglas's House:

Kirk Douglas's house with wife Anne seated in the chair had undergone some changes since his 1957 Person to Person interview with Edward R. Murrow (see the She Was a Bird post on that here). I love all the pre-Columbian statues and statuettes glaring down from their shelves, the marigold yellow rug, and the LEOPARD SKIN, IT IS FOR REAL, PEOPLE, in the center of the room. The Douglasses' game room is pretty quirky/cute, too. How do you like the huge fish on the wall, the jukebox, and the atomic-legged tv?

Edith Head's (Unexpected) House:

Edith Head put in forty years as a costume designer for Paramount, creating such iconic looks as Dorothy Lamour's sarong, Elizabeth Taylor's breathtaking strapless gown from A Place in the Sun, and Grace Kelly's butter-wouldn't-melt Hitchcock costumes, and how about her house! Based on her utilitarian personal appearance (which contrasts sharply with the Dream Machine clothes she would design for screen goddesses), I thought for sure her house would be a stark, sparsely decorated, serious type of a place, and wasn't I in for a surprise! Her folksy Spanish influenced hacienda, dubbed  Casa Ladera, was originally built by Robert Armstrong, around the time he would have been appearing in King Kong with Bruce Cabot and Fay Wray (nice work if you can get it!). Head moved here with husband Wiard "Bill" Inhen in the forties'.

See the bric à brac hanging as art from the ceiling on the left, the marionette towards the middle, and the cane seating around the central farm table? I love how WARM this room looks, how inviting.

 Cecil B De Mille's Desk (in his house):

Cecil B. DeMille's house, in general, is amazing-- I remember reading in a "restored Hollywood houses" book that it not only still stands (after temporarily being derelict and home to actual wolves, they had to de-wolf the place before they could even start rehabbing the property) but is restored to most of its former glory! This scene from his office is interesting because you get to see that even the mightiest of us (and Biblical-epic-picture-making DeMille was pretty mighty) are not inured to the charm of tchotchkes and mementos to litter a desk almost to the point of not being able to use it.

The framed rectangle there is a copy of the Ten Commandments-- fittingly enough, as DeMille was famous for both his silent (1926) and talkie (1952) dramatizations of the Moses story. I wish I knew what was in that legendary looking ledger in the center of the desk, but Google turned up nada.

Jennifer Jones and David O. Selznick's Bedroom (WHICH I LOVE):

I told you earlier Irene Mayer was David O. Selznick's first wife-- here's a bedroom from Selznick's house he shared with his second wife, actress Jennifer Jones. When mega producer Selznick took Jones under his wing as a new star, his first order of business was to break up her current marriage to fellow actor and high school sweetheart Robert Walker. Walker, father to two little boys with Jones, took the divorce about as badly as one could, thereafter deep sixing his promising career (if his pitch perfect performance in Strangers on a Train was any indicator) with the alcoholism that would eventually kill him. I still think that's one of the saddest things I've ever heard about Hollywood romances. I like Jones against my will in Carrie (not the DePalma prom-shocker, but an adaptation of Dreiser's Sister Carrie with Laurence Olivier and an ending that made be bawl well after the VHS started rewinding itself in high school) and Duel in the Sun (if you don't like that movie...I don't even know what to say to you), and while she was pretty in Portrait of Jennie, the movie itself was weeeeeeak.

One thing I can unequivocably admire about Jennifer Jones, though-- this lusciously jewel toned bedroom. Inky black/purple walls would usually hold no allure whatever for me (it makes the room look smaller, and I am so over how Pottery Barn a lot of rooms like that with white on black contrast are), but with the almost-glowing intense red of the bed spread and those piles of shimmering throws? Robes? Something at the end of the bed make me want to redo my bedroom like this stat. Do you see the OIL PAINTING of a fireplace on the wall? Tongue in cheek chic. You're talking my language!

Will Rodgers's (Amazing) Ranch

I don't need to tell you why I like Will Rodger's place here-- LOOK. AT ALL. HIS STUFF. I love the taxidermied calf (?!), wagon wheel candelabra, Aztec blanket on the couch, and everything else in this room. The aesthetic of "show the people what you like!" is riiiiight up my alley. When do we move in?

Gypsy Rose Lee's House (and Louis XVI bathroom)

"Burlycue" queen Gypsy Rose Lee's house is crazy over-the-top Hollywood, and I like all the green everywhere, but what you really need to see is her bathroom. Being the prudish sort, I usually wouldn't fixate like this on someone's powder room, but seriously:

Remember Liza as Sally Bowles's green nailed battle cry of "DI-VIIINE decadence"? This is that statement, only in room form. I remember seeing something like this in David Hicks on Bathrooms, but as I no longer have the book any more and the library doesn't have a copy, I can't verify that for sure...doesn't this just look like Napoleon's own bathroom? Crazy. CRAZY.

Natalie Wood's House (and Bedside Table!!)

Speaking of "Gypsy", here's the woman who played her in the movie version of the biographical musical of the striptease artist, the ALWAYS gorgeous Natalie Wood. Now, before you go, "Why is she draped lackadaisically across her own bed in a red halter gown", I want you know freakin' Charlton Heston appears in this book in the steam room of his house about as naked as God made him, with a scant towel to protect what little of his modesty remains, which I have spared you. Not that he's not attractive, and not that he's not just about as nude in 98% of Planet of the Apes, but have you no shame, Chuck? What is this, France?! (If your curiosity is killing you, you can see a scan here-- but once seen, you cannot unsee!) (Also, I may or may not have vented my outrage by sending this picture, captionless, to both my friend Kelsey and my husband).

I digress. Beautiful Natalie Wood has the most actually-looks-like-someone-lives-here house of the bunch, and I want to wear both that red dress and the yellow jumper-with-black-turtleneck thing going on here. She looks so cool!

Ever wonder what was on Natalie Wood's bedside table? Here you go:

  • Kools
  • Reading glasses
  • Change tray
  • Knickknacks

I LOVE how H'wood regency the chest is, btw.

And how about the books at the foot of her bed? Can you squint and almost make them out?

The only two I could make out were Bogie by Joe Hyams and ZELDA FITZGERALD'S AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SAVE ME THE WALTZ! Natalie Wood, please join my book club from the afterlife, as we obviously have similar taste in biographies. The one Gavin Lambert wrote about you is one of my favorites!

Sadly, almost all the houses in the book didn't make it to the twenty-first century. As recently as 2013, Ira Gershwin's famous house was demolished to make way for new Beverly Hills construction. Dominick Dunne wrote about what a shame it was in his book Mansions in Limbo (the title of which refers to the sad sorry state of ripping down a ten million dollar mansion to build a twenty million dollar mansion, and which directly references the demise of the Goetz house I so admired in the late eighties'). Still! I'm glad we have this book to show us the private lives of some of my favorite Hollywood icons. You can check out the book for even more houses I didn't put up on the blog today, including Mary Pickford's famous Pickfair as well as Rock Hudson, Steve McQueen, Henry Fonda, and George Cukor's residences (the last is one of my favorites, I don't know why I didn't snap a pic of it).

So! What do you think? I can't get enough of this book-- interior design and old Hollywood-- MY TWO MOST FAVORITE SUBJECTS. Which house are you ready to move into? Which designs do you find the most or least pleasing? Do you have a Hollywood celebrity whose house you'd like to move into, stat? WHY DOESN'T ANYONE DECORATE IN THIS OVER THE TOP WAY ANYMORE? Lament! Lament!

I have to go get some lunch, but I'll check back in tomorrow with hopefully pictures of my flea market kills (I know, I know, empty promises). Have a great Tuesday! We'll talk then. :)


  1. For once-my library actually has this book!! I came upon one day when I was browsing the shelves. One thing that caught my imagination is how the furniture is grouped for entertaining-so you have little sitting areas here and there. I loved how it wasn't all furniture against the walls, coffee tables in the middle like we seem to decorate now.

  2. I got pretty wound up about Mad Men, too. Joan and Peggy were total heifers. (Did you see the slit eyes Peggy gave him? A masterpeice of spite.) Then I heard the closing music, which ALWAYS has significance! It was Jimi Hendrix, "If 6 Was 9"... Don't count our boy out yet, Lisa!!

  3. This is fabulous! Especially Natalie Wood's bedroom!


  4. These photos are just fabulous! [Gets on interlibrary loan...] I personally think it's crap that people in expensive neighborhoods buy fantastic old houses, tear them down, and build McMansions. Disgusting! I think they should be prosecuted. Not even kidding.

  5. Oh my goodness those photos are awesome! Natalie! Oh and that Napoleon comode! Crazy cool.
    I also nominated you for a Liebster award :) details: http://adayinthelifeofonegirl.blogspot.com/2014/04/award-girl.html



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