Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jimmy Durante's Residential Time Capsule

SELLER: Estate of Jimmy Durante
LOCATION: N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, CA
PRICE: $3,395,000
SIZE: 3,944 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: The longtime home of Jimmy Durante, not on the market for 60+ yrs. Rebuilt in 1963 by architects Marvin & Kelsey, the main residence is 3 beds, 2.5 baths + 2 story guest w/ 1 bdrm apt upstairs & maids + storage lower. Also a pool room w/ bath & entertainment flow. Large master w/ sitting area & fireplace. Entry light fixtures excluded.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Once again we are very short on time...Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter are not able to access the interweb on a regular basis. But rather than leave the children high and dry, salivating and clamoring and left to their own devices, we figured we'd pop up a Beverly Hills time capsule listed at $3,395,000 that was the long time home of actor and comedian Jimmy Durante and his much younger second wife Margie who was a hat check gurl at the Copacabana when the May December love birds first met. Your Mama just loves a Tinseltown love story.

A Hollywood legend known for his quick wit, Brooklyn accent and huge honker, Mister Durante started up his ladder of fame after dropping out of the 8th grade and playing ragtime on the pie-ana which landed him on the Vaudville stage. Later Mister Durante became a radio star who transitioned into talkies.

Property records are unclear as to when Mister and Missus second Durante bought the long and low modern manse on the wide and pretty palm tree lined N. Beverly Drive. However, listing information indicates the property has not been on the market for more than 60 years which would indicate to a know-nothing like Your Mama that Mister Durante owned the house since sometime in the middle of the last century. However, don't nobody quote Your Mama on that because we really don't know when the couple set up house here.

According to listing information the 3,944 square foot house was re-built in 1963 by a couple of architects we confess we've never heard of named Marvin & Kelsey. Those may be their first or last names, we don't know but perhaps one of Your Mama's more architecturally educated children can educate us on these two. Anyhoo, the main house, which includes just 3 bedrooms and 2.5 poopers is fronted by a deep yard with a semi-circular black top driveway which, quite frankly is a bit down market for this neck of Los Angeles.

The house appears to have been professionally decorated back in the early 1960s in all sorts of beige and pale pastel colors, a style that has not withstood the test of time. While this may have been the very apex of day-core back in 1963 (or so) it is now, as Mister Durante himself might say, "a castastrostroke." Our bleary gin soaked little brain cain't even figure out how to pronounce that word, but we are sharp enough to know it's not a compliment.

The main rooms include a formal living room with bleached blond wood floors, a massive stone fireplace of the sort they stopped building in 1972. The bleached blond wood floors continue into the formal dining room where one entire wall is covered with a mirror, a decorative moment we like in theory but makes us uncomfortable when we think of having to sit opposite the reflecting glass while we masticated yams or chawed on a chicken leg. We not sure why such a small chandelier was chosen when the room could easily support a larger number, but we rather love the dining room set which looks like a 1960s interpretation of something the nice gay decorator Billy Haines might have done in the late 1940s.

In addition to the three bedrooms and 2.5 poopers in the main house, a two-story structure adjacent to the swimming pool in the back yard contains a 1 bedroom guest unit on the second floor and storage space and a staff room on the ground floor. While we can't imagine living up in a house with staff–our house gurl Svetlana insists on her own residence which is just fine with Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter because we do not need Miss Big Ears all up in our night time bidness–this detached room set up is workable.

Opposite the guest/staff house is a pool house with, according to listing information, a pooper and a dry sauna, both of which ought to be retained in whatever renovations will be undertaken by the next owner. Not only is it healthy to sweat out the booze in a sauna, a pool pooper means no wet people tramping through the house every time they need to evacuate.

If we had to guess, we'd guess any new owner will raze this residence and replace it with one of those ginormous faux Tuscan/quasi Neo-classical numbers that line the flats of Beverly Hills. But maybe not. Maybe, just maybe some deep pocketed Palm Springs queen will come along and upgrade this house while retaining some of the better original features like that perforated concrete block screens at the front of the house which always remind Your Mama of a most excellent trip we took to Vieques with our pal Fiona Trambeau back when we were both in enviable bathing suit shape. Today it's tunics and wide brimmed sun hats, but that's another story for another day.

Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.

50 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow - no kidding this is a time capsule! I can't even remember the last time I thought about Mr. Durante

The house definitely needs updating, but maybe there are zoning laws in place to mandate a renovation rather than replacement.

Nice sized rooms and lots of windows. This place must have cost a fortune 'back in the day'.

Anonymous said...

I really hate the decor. The house itself looks pretty nice. The back yard isn't much to look at. I agree with the first poster that renovation and not tearing down is the ticket.

Sorry this place doesn't have an approprite name, like "Maison Ha-ch-ch-cha-cha."

White Chocolate Mess said...

This is some of your best writing ever. I adore you. When I grow up I want to be just like you!

The Preppy Pauper said...

Yep, it's a total gut job inside, but I love, love, love the mid-century modern architecture.

I pray the next owner appreciates the architecture and delicately renovates rather than destroys this modernist beauty.

Anonymous said...

Mama
Is this on N Beverly DRIVE? Beverly Blvd is in Los Angeles.

Rebecca said...

This reminds me so much more of a house you'd find anywhere on the SE Florida coast. Except for the additional structure. You don't see guest houses, etc. so much over there. But, seriously, I think I stayed in a home very similar to this in Pompano Beach once.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:32 is correct, it's
N. Beverly Dr.

Anonymous said...

Enjoy:

http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/511-N-Beverly-Dr_Beverly-Hills_CA_90210_1110905961

An Aesthete's Lament said...

Could be a very elegant house. Lovely architecture by the way. And a small correction: Mrs Durante, née Margaret "Margie" Little of Plainfield, New Jersey, was an actress by the time she married Durante in 1960, after a 16-year courtship. She had been a hatcheck girl at the Copacabana when they met.

Anonymous said...

A psychoanalyst once remarked to me that very often people who live in all white houses have very dirty minds. Just sayin'.

Lilithcat said...

I wonder if they mean "Ladd and Kelsey", an architectural firm that did a fair bit of mid-century modern residential architecture in that area.

Royal said...

Anon 10:11: That explains why I love all white houses so much.


I do hope they renovate it instead of knocking it down. I'd take it in a heartbeat if I had the cash, and I'm not a queen or from Palm Springs!

Anonymous said...

So shoot me - I like it all except for the brown carpet.

Billy said...

$3,500k is lot value 1/2 a block off SM?
It does look like Angel Beach Fla.

But the house would be fun to rehab.

Madam Pince said...

Anon 11:51 and I can't be the only children who like this house as it is.

Ed said...

This house is crazy weird but could be very cool if done by the right sort of person who would not try to turn it into somthing it is not.

and An Aesthete's Lament, actually the posting actually does say that Mrs. Durante was a hatcheck girl when they met, not when they married.

Anonymous said...

I like the house, just the way it is.
Mama is right, a sauna is great for sweating away alcohol and a pool pooper is a must :)

Anonymous said...

This is a lovely, comforting, welcoming house. Love it!

Anonymous said...

saw this house last week... and it is absolutely awful. power up the bulldoser.

Anonymous said...

I'm 30 and have no idea who Mr. Durante is. I had to look him up. Apparently he wasn't that successful or didn't save well, because this place is a dump. I wouldn't raise it for a faux Tuscan piece in its place, but I would disagree with Mama about the concrete block screens, which are ugly on any building (just as the block windows are on 80s houses). He needs to drop the price by about 2 million.

Anonymous said...

Is Jimmy Durante an 80 Jewish grandmother from Palm Springs? Because he certainly has the taste of one. Ick!

Anonymous said...

OT: I presume you all have seen the news that Stephen Baldwin has declared bankruptcy and will probably be kicked out of his house. This is so satisfying: a Hollyweird "star" in financial trouble and about to experience what lots of nicer, better normal people have gone through recently. I so wish this could happen to tons more movie "stars". I'd love to see them reduced to eating in soup kitchens instead of squandering their excessive income on palaces.

Anonymous said...

"Madam Pince said...
Anon 11:51 and I can't be the only children who like this house as it is."

I love it too. Though it looks like someone did some updating in the 80s. That I would send to the thrift shop and tear down the border wall paper.

Anonymous said...

2:36 - take another look at the photo of the dining room. The screens are set away from the exterior giving you a kind of 'greenhouse' space. With some agressive landscaping this would be awesome. The screen block gives you both light and privacy at the same time from that huge window. I've been in houses with similar treatments and it works very well.

pch said...

Sort of so-so mid-century architecture, but I think the screens are among its stronger features. My vote would be for renovation. 99% chance that anything replacing it will be worse.

I'd begin by ripping out that wrought iron gate in the porte-cochere.

The beige-y interior looks to me like it could be Palm Desert circa 1989. I agree with the person who suggested it had a makeover in the eighties.

Anonymous said...

This is the home of an elderly star. What on earth did you people expect?

It is lovely, comfortable and warm; befitting of a cherished entertainer.

This area is Beverly Hills, not the Bird Streets of stark white concrete and granite.

Anonymous said...

Durante died 29 years ago (in 1980) so I think we are looking at the 2nd Mrs. Durante's taste in interior decorating. I can't figure out if she has recently passed away. She'd be 89 if still living.

Anonymous said...

Although I quit smoking almost 20 years ago, I can't imagine being in that powder room without a cocktail, pack of cigs, huge pottery ashtray, and a few gossip mags.

Somehow I think I'd be wearing gold heels, tons of hairspray, and lots of eyeliner.

How big is the lot that this house sits on? On the link from an earlier poster to the actual listing, I saw VIEW as an amenity but I sure don't see how from these photos.

Anonymous said...

To Anon, "I'm 30 and have no idea who Mr. Durane is". So what, do you know everybody?? And regarding "he must not haved saved well the place is a dump". How do you know?? The house cost a lot when he bought it. People get comfortable, don't like to move, and like their neighbors. Damn, it ain't cribs for most people where they buy big piles every 5 years and then downsize cuz they can't afford it...it's called real life. In addition, for the elderly the first thing on their list of to-do's isn't to re-decorate at 75.

And to Anon who's happy about Stephen Baldwin, and hoping every other celeb loses their house too--that is really ignorant.

You can't lump everyone together--and I bet you still watch T.V. and movies. You prob didn't get the autograph you wanted on your Universal Studios tour. Why don't you turn in your cable box and boycott movies so they go broke quicker, that will be a plan for you. You are probably money hungry and jealous it isn't you, you just cant stand that they have these homes you dream about on this site every day.

Wow, what insight from these deep thinkers today...get past your own issues first and then you can make real comments about the properties.

It's interesting that Stephen Baldwin is losing the house he only paid like 500 grand for. Kind of sad that he can't swing that. And for that home profiled, it's not a good 60's modern. Large and maybe workable for the area--doesn't look to be in disrepair just dated and uninspired for what it could be. Well, after looking at the pics again, alot of interior gutting, alot of white, and too much pavement in the front...pass, and keep looking--lot's of great homes that need nothing at that price point!!

Mama's black sheep in WEHO,

Not playing nice, and on one.

Anonymous said...

After looking through the realtor.com 25 photos, I think it is cool and has a lot of potential. Much of what is offending the sensitive children is decorating. Furniture and accessories that aren't part of the house anyway.

Babe Parish said...

this is the cutest house alive. that backyard is excellent. fire up the bbq...i'll be right over. creative minds know what can be done to upgrade. thanks mama!

jp_poohbear said...

The decor looks like it just stepped off The Golden Girls set, but I think the house has great potential.

Anonymous said...

The ceilings seem low and the carpet needs to go and add color

Anonymous said...

Whatever idiot says the house is a dump is a fool. I too saw it & thought it was cool - I heard the agent is drowning in offers.

ps - he was a big star for the day - check imdb

jeez - you were probably born in another country anyway.

Anonymous said...

This is a fab house and must have really been something when it was new. Give the ol' gal a facelift and apply a little rouge and she'll be fantastic! It's funny to me to think of him living in a modern house like this...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, for the people trashing the place, Durante grew up on the hard streets of the lower East Side almost a a century ago. For him to escape that filth and squalor with his wits and talent, to earn this place in the sun, clean and bright- well I imagine it was special to him. It's not my taste, the decor is passè, but there's a vibe that makes me think he loved this place, was happy here.

Sid Hartah said...

Anon 1:18...............great comment. Knowing wherre we were does help figuring out where we are.

avg joe :{} said...

I DONT WANT TO REMEMBER WHEN I WAS IN THE ORPHANAGE! MY PARENTS LEFT ME THERE WHEN I WAS 16 !!!!!!!

NOW I WILL SHOW THEM. I HAVE MORE MONEY THAN THEY EVER DID BEFORE THEY DIED.

Miss Vero said...

Put me in the firing line kids, I'd move in tomorrow and pretend I was Norma Desmond.
Some of y'all will probably have to google that one too ;)

Anonymous said...

THIS TO ME IS SO SAD. I SAW THOSE PICTURES ON THE MLS AND JUST HAD TO TELL EVERYONE I KNOW. and now i find out no one knows who Jimmy Durante was?? come on ..."AH CHA CHA CHA CHA ." STILL NO? DAMN, next I supposed no one will know who carol wayne was? all the great ones have passed

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-ldVj34Sfo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh8Iis7BDjI

carol wayne said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_442dZzW7R0&feature=related

consuela...the housekeeper said...

Well, ink-adinka dink, adinka-doo!

I think the house is lovely. I would definitely get some new furniture, and that portrait in the LR has to go. I have a beautiful black velvet Elvis that would look much better there.

Of course we have to granitize the kitchen, but really, nothing too much. My granny used to babysit us and force us to watch his show. he was cute, in a degenerate sort of, nursing home kinda way.

voyaentrar said...

NO NO NO! This place is EXQUISITE!!!!

Anonymous said...

Lovely lines, good bones. I don't care for that blacktop out front, which looks totally out of place, not to mention the giant oil stain on said driveway. Somethin' needs to be done about that. Otherwise, the view of the house from the pool is classic 1960s. Careful reno not demo.

Anonymous said...

I loved this house and some of the day core.

Suzanne said...

Growing up in Beverly Hills, we all used to Trick or Treat at this house. The exterior and interior have not changed at all. One of the very few that looked the same forever.

PreserveSilentFilm said...

Last Sunday, I attended the Durante estate sale. The furniture in the photographs and Durante's personal effects, including clothing, were sold. Appreciating mid-century modern, I really wanted to like this house, but couldn't. The property is not magical, its craftsmanship is average, and alot of work is required. A talented photographer made the place look better than it actually is. Even if restored, the front façade would be the only attractive element of the house. The back of the house and the view across the back yard are unattractive. The house has a good floor plan for entertaining, but the property as a whole is mediocre at best. The provenance is the only significant thing about it. (Durante was a big star who socialized with other great Hollywood personalities such as Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Milton Berle, et al.) Given that Beverly Hills has lost significant architecture over the years, I doubt many people will complain when this house is leveled.

Anonymous said...

To "PreserveSilentFilm"

The house will not be leveled from what I hear - you need an eye & a brain to get it. All the good stuff went to more important places, way before the estate sale, as I was told by the ladies. What was for sale was just left-overs. None of his personal stuff was there (clothes etc.) because he died over 30 yrs ago. god i hate stupid.

Norman said...

To “Anonymous”

I’m glad that Jimmy Durante’s house won’t be demolished, even if I agree with PreserveSilentFilm that it’s unattractive and architecturally insignificant. I don’t want our community to lose another historic structure.

The best things may have gone to “more important places” before the estate sale; however, the furniture and items in the photos posted by Mama were for sale, including personal photographs, awards, plaques and some of his clothing. The awards and plaques were in boxes near the fireplace in the family room. Maybe you missed it, but some of his clothing was in the exterior closet under the guesthouse. A woman associated with the sale confirmed that a pale blue overcoat was Jimmy Durante’s. I didn’t buy the coat, and I declined to buy a silver tray inscribed to him from Hillcrest Country Club because these items were over-priced.

Jimmy Durante died in January of 1980, a date that is not “over 30 years ago.” Check your punctuation and arithmetic before falsely, and ironically, implying that someone else is stupid. There's no need to be rude.