Posted by Kimberly Lindbergs on May 28, 2015
Regular readers might remember a blog post I wrote last year about Hollywood portrait photographer Eliot Elisofon. I’m a huge admirer of his work so I decided to track down used copies of some of the books he wrote and one of my most interesting recent purchases was a lavish coffee table photo collection titled The Hollywood Style originally published in 1969 and co-authored by film historian Arthur Knight. The book provides an intimate look at the luxurious homes of various classic film actors and directors while combining three of my personal passions, history, photography and pre-80s interior design, into an impressive triumvirate that revels in Hollywood extravagance.
If you’ve ever pondered the design of Cecil B. DeMille’s home office or wondered what Jennifer Jones’ bedroom might look like you should find the following photos as curious and captivating as I did.
In the book’s foreword, Arthur Knight details how he and photographer Eliot Elisofan had originally planned on limiting the book’s focus to what they describe as “The Golden Age of Hollywood” which was the “opulent twenties” in 1969. However, the two men quickly realized that the Hollywood homes of the thirties, forties, fifties and sixties were just as opulent and unique so they expanded their reach. Elisofan photographed nearly 40 celebrity homes for The Hollywood Style and what follows is just a small selection of some of my favorite dwellings.
The Cecil B. DeMille Residence
Cecile B. DeMille purchased his home in 1916 and soon after acquired Charlie Chaplin’s house next door. The two buildings were combined into one giant lavish estate that was occupied by DeMille’s daughter, Cecila Harper, when these photographs were taken. Cecile B. DeMille’s office, which doubled as a screening room, had remained untouched since his death in 1959 and in the photo above you can see many of his awards as well as his first camera (displayed in front of the screen) originally used to shoot SQUAW MAN (1918).
The William S. Hart Residence
The Jennifer Jones & David O. Selznick Residence
This Spanish-style mansion was originally built in 1925 by silent star John Gilbert who wooed the lovely Greta Garbo here. When Gilbert moved out he sold the house to Miriam Hopkins who only lived there a short time before selling it to Selznick in 1949. Jennifer Jones helped design her “gypsy bedroom” decorated with Asian art and an original Renoir painting hangs above the fireplace mantel in her elegant dressing room.
The Edith Head Residence
Oscar winning costume designer Edith Head bought her Mexican hacienda style home from Bette Davis in 1949. Head’s devotion to Mexican art can be seen everywhere and her rigid visage seems strangely at odds with the informal, warm and relaxed setting but don’t let her composure full you. Edith Head loved to entertain and hosted many star studded parties here where she would often cook for her guests.
The Henry Fonda Residence
The Jean Negulesco Residence
Director Jean Negulesco (JOHNNY BELINDA; 1948, TITANIC; 1953, HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE; 1953, THREE COINS IN A FOUNTAIN; 1954, Etc.) bought his Beverly Hills’ house from Greta Garbo. The somewhat humble looking exterior masks a massive art collection that includes many of Negulesco’s own drawings, which adorn the winding staircase. His bedroom doubles as his home office.
The George Cuckor Residence
Oscar winning director George Cuckor purchased his Italian-style villa in 1930 and when these photos were taken he had lived in his ever expanding abode for nearly 40 years. Cukor loved antiques and his home was filled with pricey items made by Chippendale and Hepplewhite as well as original art by Renoir and Grant Wood. One of the most striking areas in the director’s home is the winding hallway that leads to his home office decorated with glamorous photos of Hollywood leading ladies.
The Charlton Heston Residence
Charlton Heston’s modern home in the Hollywood Hills was designed by Welton Beckett and built for the actor in 1959 following the success of BEN HUR. Heston’s home is full of modern and classic art as well as film props, including a massive hanging brass lantern (pictured above) that was originally used on the set of THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1924) starring Douglas Fairbanks.
The Natalie Wood Residence
This quaint cottage-like house was previously owned by musical lyricist, Yip Harburg (THE WIZARD OF OZ; 1939, BABES ON BROADWAY; 1941, FINIAN’S RAINBOW; 1968, Etc.) and after Natalie Wood moved in she completely redecorated to suit her own style. According to the book, Wood took “considerable pride” in the fact that she had designed all the rooms in her Hollywood home herself, including her home office filled with portraits of the actress.
The Steve McQueen Residence
The James Coburn Residence
Noted costume and set designer Tony Duquette (KISMET; 1955, CAN-CAN; 1960, Etc.) was responsible for the dramatic look of James Coburn’s Mediterranean inspired home (pictured above with wife Beverly Kelly). The house is filled with Coburn’s exotic antiques and with its bold color scheme and sparkeling chandeliers the house could easily be mistaken for a film stage.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this insider peak into some of Hollywood’s most luxurious homes courtesy of Arthur Knight and Eliot Elisofan.
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