New Homes Built on Edith Head Estate

Times Staff Writer

The five-acre, Coldwater Canyon estate of Academy-Award-winning costume designer Edith Head was subdivided before she died in 1981, but two large homes have just been completed on it.

Built by Jacob and Irving Chorub, the houses--a contemporary and a colonial--now stand on the part of Head’s estate that faced a busy road near the city limits of Beverly Hills. Priced at $1.35 million each, the four-bedroom homes are listed with Mike Silverman & Associates of Beverly Hills.

Head’s wonderful old adobe hacienda, which she called Casa Ladera, is still there with its swimming pool, tennis court and motorcourt for guest parking. The house was built in the early 1930s by actor Robert Armstrong, a leading man who was in the original movie “King Kong” with Fay Wray in 1933.

A well-known Los Angeles architect, who asked to remain unnamed, lives in the adobe now. He bought it two years ago this July from the Motion Picture & Television Fund for “close to $1.5 million,” according to William Bakewell, who sold the house through Jack Hupp & Associates. Bakewell, a veteran actor who first gained notice in the original screen version of “All Quiet on the Western Front” in 1930, is on the board of trustees of the Motion Picture & Television Fund.


“Edith deeded the house to the Fund just before her death,” he explained. “She also sold off the front lots, but it was ages before construction started. The new houses don’t harm the remaining property because they serve as a buffer, providing more privacy for the adobe, which is the most authentic Mexican hacienda you could imagine.” Head had no survivors.

For years, when she lived at the house, her at-home companions, besides her husband, included iguanas, deer, two skunks, several red foxes, seven cats and four dogs. Every room opened onto a noisy courtyard.

Head died two years after her husband of 30 years, Oscar-winning art director Wiard B. Ihnen, who was 91. Head lived to be 83.

Asked her secret of longevity, she once said that she never got dressed on Sundays so that she wouldn’t be “tempted to leave her house and thus not get enough rest.” She’d often walk around in her garden on a Sunday afternoon, clad in a yellow nightgown with her long black hair falling down her back like an 8-year-old girl. Head was more familiar wearing her trademark: dark-rimmed glasses, a bun and bangs.


Burt Reynolds’ house in Holmby Hills is for sale for a cool $6 million. Seems that the dashing actor, who has lived in the house for about seven years, has plans to remodel a house in the nearby hills with a city view.

His Holmby Hills home was built in the late 1920s but has such modern amenities as a spa, professional projection room, and a bar that runs the length of a 45-foot-long swimming pool. It also has a north/south sunken tennis court, family and game rooms, three bedrooms in the 6,000-square-foot main house, and a total of three bedrooms in two guest houses.

The house has a history of celebrity owners. Among them: former Beatle George Harrison and comedian Dick Martin. Barbra Streisand, Gregory Peck and Rod Stewart live on the same street, says Jeff Hyland, whose Beverly Hills firm, Alvarez, Hyland & Young, has the listing.

Reynolds also has a ranch in Georgia and a nightclub in Florida.


What may be the utmost in offices-on-wheels is used by Wayne Newhouse of Malibu. It is his chauffeur-driven, 1982 gray Cadillac stretch-limousine, equipped with computers, mobile telephone and video camera, which enables him to look at his various job sites stretching from Santa Barbara to Laguna Beach.

Mainly, his Newhouse Construction Co. builds and remodels large custom homes, but Newhouse has been known to build doctors’ offices and operating rooms, recording studios and clothing showrooms. He also makes custom furniture.

He has a stationary office in Malibu but was probably drawn to the fancy car through his interest in modern technology. As his wife, Gayle, explained it, “He’s up on the latest.”

From what she says, he has installed some of the most surprising electronic systems in homes. For instance: “He did one where a man in France could push a button there and light his fireplace here.”