These homes are stars in their own right

If these walls could talk.

Celebrities have fueled Hot Property headlines, but many homes have achieved their own fame.

Some star homes count a parade of famous names among past and present owners, while others are Los Angeles historic landmarks. Some have gained fame as the result of their architects; others by a convergence of factors.

For a house to become a star in its own right it needs a certain timelessness or agelessness, said Jeff Hyland of Hilton & Hyland, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate, and author of “The Legendary Estates of Beverly Hills.”

“When you have a house that is a classic Wallace Neff design or an authentic Paul Williams, that is the real thing,” Hyland said. “Those designs transcend anything.”

Los Angeles has homes by many enduring architects, such as modernists John Lautner, Richard Neutra and Rudolph Schindler, Hyland said. “Plus, you find every architectural style in the world here.”

When Bret Parsons described the interiors of Nicolas Cage’s onetime Tudor home in Bel Air as “frat-house bordello” in a 2010 Hot Property column, the Los Angeles-based author and real estate agent had no idea that the term — and the home — would become a pop culture phenomenon.

“It was very spontaneous,” said Parsons, managing director of Aaroe Architectural. “The tour was very theatrical, very dramatic. ‘Frat-house bordello’ was the first thing came to mind.”

Parsons knew it was a big story when he heard the home and his apt description being discussed on the morning radio. “It was a fun couple of days after that,” he recalled.

Here are more of the biggest home stars of the last 30 years.


Fourteen appearances in Hot Property have made Grayhall one of the hottest of them all, and for good reason. Built as a hunting lodge for Harry Lombard, the godfather of actress Carole Lombard, the home is among the oldest in Beverly Hills. Previous owners include sporting goods magnate Silsby Spalding, actor George Hamilton, financier Bernie Cornfeld and Herbalife founder Mark Hughes. Actor Douglas Fairbanks Sr. leased the property for a spell in the 1920s, building a secret tunnel going from Grayhall to Pickfair during construction of the latter.

The 'American Horror Story' house

The Alfred F. Rosenheim estate played a leading role on the FX series "American Horror Story," serving as the haunted setting for the show's first season. However, its legend in film and television, which dates back nearly a century, hasn't always been so sinister. Of its film and TV credits, the historic home's filmography includes "Spider-Man" (2002), "Seabiscuit" (2003), "Miami Vice" and "The X-Files."

Madonna's onetime Hollywood Hills spot

Never one to shy away from the unorthodox, the Material Girl caused a stir after she had her home in Hollywood hills painted in red and yellow stripes, a bizarre color scheme that many likened to a circus tent. The 1920s Mediterranean — once used as a gambling den by Bugsy Siegel in the 1930s —- later sold in 1996 for about $5 million.

The Sowden Residence

The Mayan pyramid-inspired home, which some liken to the jaws of a great white shark, has long attracted curious passersby. However, it is the home's architect and mysterious past that have driven its legend. Designed by Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright, the home is believed by some to hold the key to the infamous "Black Dahlia" murder case from 1947.

Dick Clark's cave above Malibu

The original, cave-like retreat owned by the late Dick Clark pairs a taste of Bedrock with sprawling views of the Malibu coastline. Built as a romantic getaway for the late "American Bandstand" host and his third wife, Kari, the home fully commits to the "Flintstones" theme with free-form stone walls punctuated by large expanses of glass.


One of the great landmark estates on the Westside, Greenacres was built for silent screen star Harold Lloyd in 1927; Lloyd lived there until his death in 1971. The home has continued to attract interest over the years, changing hands among moguls including movie magnate Ted Field. Current owner and billionaire Ron Burkle uses the property, which once featured a canoe-water course and a nine-hole golf course, to host political fundraisers for Democrats.

Nicolas Cage's onetime lair

"Frat house bordello" is how real estate agent Bret Parsons described Cage's design acumen after touring the actor's Tudor mansion, noting the actor's penchant for framed comic books and model trains. Cage, who asked as much as $35 million for the baronial estate once owned by Dean Martin, lost the home to foreclosure the following year.

Ed McMahon's former home

The Beverly Hills Post Office property gained notoriety in 2008 after McMahon defaulted on $4.8 million in mortgages, nearly losing his longtime residence to foreclosure. Donald Trump later entered the picture, pledging to help the iconic TV personality and game show host by buying the home and leasing it back to McMahon. However, the property later was sold to a different investor with a similar idea. McMahon died the following year at the age of 86.

The Witch's House

Also known as the Spadena House, the whimsical property in Beverly Hills conjures impressions of the Brothers Grimm thanks to its storybook-style design, complete with irregular wooden shutters, a gable roof and a moat. The landmark home, which bears resemblance to a witch's hat, has become a Halloween staple for some Angelenos, sometimes receiving upward of 4,000 trick-or-treaters.

Justin Bieber's former Calabasas manse

From the infamous egging to a confrontation with former NFL star Keyshawn Johnson after Bieber allegedly drove through the neighborhood at freeway speeds to a 2014 raid carried out by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, no home drew more eyes than Bieber's Calabasas residence did this year. The residential saga, which played out for nearly a year, ended in June with Bieber handing off the Spanish-style home formerly owned by Nicole Murphy to another celebrity capable of keeping the media circus going strong: Khloe Kardashian.

Twitter: @NJLeitereg

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