Bette Midler Hears Hawaii Calling Her Home

Times Staff Writer

Bette Midler is rekindling her roots in Hawaii with the purchase of a 38-acre property in the Kilauea area of Kauai.

The property, which looks out over the Pacific, is also bordered by a stream and a river. The land varies from a wooded hillside to flat pastures. It also has a swimming pool with a natural waterfall.

There is also a partially completed, three-story home on the site, which locals call the “round house” because all the windows and the roof are round. A large deck takes up most of the top floor. The 5,000-square-foot house was designed by Chris Abel of Laguna Beach. It is an estimated $500,000 away from being finished, with more than $750,000 already spent on it. It was a drug-seizure case, taken over by the Justice Department because proceeds used by the previous owner on the property were believed to have been gained from the sale and purchase of illegal substances.


Construction started about 2 1/2 years ago, and rumors are that Sylvester Stallone, who owns lots nearby, looked into buying the property. The zany actress/singer, who was born and raised in Honolulu, bought it under her married name (Bette Midler von Haselberg--she is married to performance artist/commodities trader Martin von Haselberg) for $1.5 million in cash.

The U. S. Marshal was represented by John Ferry and Pat Harrington of Bali Hai Realty in Hanalei, and Midler was represented by Mimsy Bouret of Northshore Properties in Princeville. All declined to comment.

This might be a “cold property” instead of a hot one, but it’s the only case I know of morgue re-use. (There was a Pasadena building that was turned into a restaurant a few years ago, but that was a mortuary, not a morgue.)

It is also one of the first projects on the West Coast being developed directly by General Motors, which hired K. L. Wessel Construction Co. of Escondido to turn the Los Angeles morgue at Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue into a three-story auto dealership at a total investment of $7 million to $8 million. Architects Walker/Rancourt did the redesign.

The quote of the week comes from a Wessel press release:

“The thought of converting the corpse embalming and storage area into an auto parts room seemed kind of morbid at first but in trying to meet GM’s space requirement, the basement became a critical part of our value analysis.”

The Kingdom of Morocco has chosen Beverly Hills for its only Moroccan tourist office in California.


The government leased 1,333 square feet in the Rodeo Collection on Rodeo Drive for five years. L. J. Hooker International represented the government, and the Jon Douglas Co. represented the Rodeo Collection.

Greta Garbo’s former Bedford Drive residence is for lease at only $10,000 a month!

The place is owned by movie director Jean Negulesco (“Three Coins in the Fountain,” “Johnny Belinda”), who will celebrate his 88th birthday Monday. (He bought the Beverly Hills house from the famous actress in 1961.)

Negulesco phoned Beverly Hills realtor Mike Silverman from the south of Spain to put the house on the rental market, since Silverman previously leased the place to Rex Harrison, Ringo Starr and Mickey Dolenz (of the Monkees). Kay Pick and Alexandra North are the leasing agents.

If you like Art Deco, you’ll love the newest publication of the Los Angeles Conservancy. Titled “Art Deco Los Angeles,” it was introduced Tuesday at the Conservancy’s reception rededicating one of the area’s best examples of Art Deco: the new St. James’s Club, known until last week as the Sunset Tower apartments.

Written by historian Daniel Hoye, the 15-page guide not only talks about the Sunset Strip building but also features, through photos and text, such other landmarks as the Eastern Columbia building, where the Conservancy was until recently, to the Title Insurance & Trust building (now the Design Center of Los Angeles), where the Conservancy is. The booklet is available from the Conservancy, at 433 S. Spring St., for $7.50.

Newlyweds Deidre Hall, star of NBC’s “Our House” series, and Michael J. Dubelko, an executive with Stephen J. Cannell Productions, will soon get a new house in Little Holmby, an area just east of UCLA.


Martin Selko Co., Beverly Hills, has just broken ground on a $1-million home for the couple’s $1-million lot. Selko also has designed and built homes for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Don Rickles, Tony Perkins and other celebrities.