The Hollywood Style

hollywoodsbookRegular 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

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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

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Western star William S. Hart is somewhat of a forgotten figure today but he was once one of the most popular and wealthy men in Hollywood. Hart purchased his California ranch house in 1920 and lived there until his death in 1946. Afterward “La Loma de los Vientos” was turned into a museum and the rooms were preserved exactly as Hart left them, including the bedroom that displays his boots, hat and gun as if he had just returned home from the set of a movie.

The Jennifer Jones & David O. Selznick Residence

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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

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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

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Henry Fonda’s Bel-Air home was built in 1928 just outside of Beverly Hills. In these photos the actor is pictured with his wife, Shirlee, and playing pool with interior designer Peter Shore. Shore had recently helped the Fonda’s with some remodeling that included new carpeting.

The Jean Negulesco Residence

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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

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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

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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

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nwoodh1This 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

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Steve McQueen was married to Neile Adams when he purchased this ranch-style house in Brentwood facing the Pacific Ocean. Despite some floral wallpaper, the earthy color scheme, animal prints and fur are particularly masculine and seem to reflect McQueen’s own style. The actor was also responsible for purchasing much of the art in his home, including the Turkish paintings that hang on the bedroom wall.

The James Coburn Residence

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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.

Recommended reading:
- Artist, Activist & Star-Maker: Photographer Eliot Elisofon
- At Home with Joan Crawford
- In the Kitchen with Vincent Price
- Searching for Old Hollywood–Postcards of Movie Star Homes

11 Responses The Hollywood Style
Posted By Steve Burrus : May 28, 2015 9:38 pm

Kim would you kindly give me, and others, a lot more information on this guy, Eliot Elisofan?

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : May 28, 2015 9:44 pm

Steve – If you look closer you’ll see a link to my previous post about Elisofan where you’ll find an extensive article that delves into his life & work in Hollywood: http://moviemorlocks.com/2014/11/13/artist-activist-star-maker-photographer-eliot-elisofon/

Posted By Qalice : May 28, 2015 9:48 pm

I eat this sort of thing up, so thank you!

Posted By Elizabeth : May 29, 2015 8:14 am

Wonderful!

Posted By Emgee : May 29, 2015 9:52 am

What strikes me is that there’s virtually no piece of contemporary design in site; as if they were all living in the past, while they’re working in an ultramodern medium.

Posted By AL : May 29, 2015 10:43 pm

I don’t know why, but 20th built (on a sound-stage) an exact replica of George Cukor’s home, including swimming pool(!)–for Monroe’s final film, SOMETHING’s GOTTA GIVE). This set was also used for Gene Kelly in WHAT A WAY TO GO…

Posted By swac44 : June 3, 2015 12:32 pm

I believe you can see McQueen’s home in some more informal photos taken for LIFE Magazine, it’s from his time when he was married to the lovely Neile Adams, which makes me think it’s the same abode. They used to all be available in the LIFE archive hosted by Google.

Posted By Steve Burrus : June 3, 2015 5:15 pm

Msaybe I should know about this but I don’t. Is there anything left of the LIFE photo archive as hosted by Google right now?

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : June 3, 2015 5:48 pm

Thanks for all the comments!

Swac – I believe the photo shoot your thinking of was taken at Steve McQueen’s Palm Springs home. He bought his Hollywood home a little later.

Steve – Pics of McQueen’s Palm Springs home can be seen here: http://time.com/3490078/life-with-steve-mcqueen-photos-of-the-king-of-cool-in-1963/

Posted By Steve Burrus : June 3, 2015 6:06 pm

But Kim I asked earlier mif, generally speaking, there still is a Google Life photos collection available online?

Posted By swac44 : June 4, 2015 11:12 am

Steve: from what I can see, the Google Life archive appears to be no more. The entry page is still up at http://images.google.com/hosted/life but searches don’t bring up the vast array of photos that they used to.

Kimberly: ah, OK, that makes sense. Thinking about them now, it seems the surrounding area was quite desert-y.

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