Every once in a while, I venture away from fiction and delve into non-fiction books involving some of my other interests, such as art, music, movies, history and architecture. This week’s choice was a great book from Architectural Digest, called Hollywood At Home. It’s the perfect marriage of movies, history and architecture and has great photos.
The book spotlights the homes of various stars from various eras, such as Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Orson Welles, Dennis Quaid, Ronald Reagan, Frank Sinatra, Danny Kaye, Stephen Spielberg, John Travolta and Candice Bergen. It’s a funny thing, however. You’d think that all of these homes would be lavish to reflect their owners’ fame, wealth and personal taste — and some of them are — but some homes were more spartan in design, like one of Marilyn Monroe’s homes.
Some of the homes were far too ornate for my taste, but I envied some of the others. Dennis Quaid’s home in Montana is rural and rambling in style and blessed with a lot of windows, though which you see some wonderful scenery. Lucky guy. I also liked Katherine Hepburn’s Connecticut home and the California home of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, as well as Danny Kaye’s home in California. They were definitely my kind of places. (Now, where’s that winning lottery ticket when I need it, so that I can build a home like this?)
There were some surprises, too, because I learned new information about some of my favorite stars. Frank Sinatra was into trains (he had a refurbished caboose on his property and a train room with model trains), art and the color orange. Danny Kaye was a gifted cook and loved Chinese food — he even added a special Chinese-themed kitchen and dining area to his home so he could prepare Chinese food for dinner guests.
And of course, a lot of these people are book lovers. Peering at the photos, I see that Candice Bergen has works by John Le Carré and Art Buchwald, and Marilyn Monroe read Fyodor Dostoyevsky (I’ve always thought that she was a lot smarter than many people believe). Jimmy Stewart had a library with a large number of books on topics such as American history and the military. He even wrote a book of poems.
The book includes some funny stories. Danny Kaye’s daughter, Dena, went to answer their front door one night, adorned in bathrobe, curlers and Clearasil, and found Cary Grant on the other side. (It’s at times like this that you wish life had a rewind button.)
And wow, the pools! The pools! (Did I say I liked the swimming pools yet?) So if you like architecture or celebrities, this is the book for you.