Issue: Issue Winter 2008/2009

An Entertainer’s Dream

Years ago I had a real estate license until I realized that I had no interest in selling houses – only looking at them. Today, I satisfy that passion on Sundays at open houses in Hollywood’s many neighborhoods. In the ads, I often see “entertainer’s dream” pointing out a new kitchen or open floor plan and occasionally there’s a “celebrity-owned” description. When I first saw the notice of the “above Sunset Traditional” formerly owned by both Judy Garland and Sammy Davis, Jr., I was struck that two such outstanding entertainers had owned the same home. Surely, this must be a very special place. Winding up the hill above Sunset Plaza, I discovered a neighborhood of homes spanning the decades. Spanish stucco merged with Traditional homes built in the early 40’s with a liberal sprinkling of mid-Century scattered along the hillsides to take advantage of the spectacular city view. Up and up, round and round I went, thinking as I drove that this location definitely provided the privacy and above it all atmosphere that these two larger than life personalities must have craved.

The view of house from the street was no view at all. A non-descript white wall with nothing but the number to show that indeed I had arrived. However, upon entering, the world literally was at my feet. Bright and airy with expansive views from almost every room, much of the house as it originally was when built has been updated. Now three stories, the third added by Sammy Davis, Jr. is the ultimate entertainer’s bedroom with two huge closets for what must have been quite a wardrobe. The main level is what realtors call an “entertainer’s dream  a kitchen open to the living room below and a dining room where anyone could hold court. An additional more formal living room opens onto a wonderful deck perfect for cocktails at sunset. But downstairs the mood changes. This was originally Judy and husband Vincent Minelli’s bedroom, sitting room and where they brought new baby Liza home to her nursery. The bedroom opens onto a lovely shaded courtyard.

Peace and tranquility is the mood. Walking down toward the dramatic guest and pool house added by Davis, the grandeur of the property is at last visible, hidden to all except those invited to share the inner sanctum. The guest house has been carefully restored and is exactly as it was in the 60’s when Sammy’s friends from the “Rat Pack” partied here in the perfect Hollywood party house. In 1945, singer/actress Judy Garland and her husband, director Vincent Minnelli, bought the home and two vacant lots on either side. They hired architect John Woolf to design an addition to the house and also the nursery for Liza who was born in March 1946. Minelli directed Garland in the musical, Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) when their romance began. After their marriage, Garland and Minnelli also worked together on The Clock (1945) and The Pirate (1948). They lived here until they separated in 1950.