Mass Murder House for Sale

Times Staff Writer

Unofficially, it’s known as “the Tate Murder House”--that remote home above Benedict Canyon where members of the Manson family killed actress Sharon Tate and four guests in 1969--and now it’s for sale, for the first time in 25 years.

Adam Jakobson, an agent in Mike Glickman’s Brentwood office and 24-year-old grandson of the late comedian Lou Costello, has the listing--at $1,999,000, and that’s no laugh! Jakobson realllly expects to get the price, even with the property’s clouded past.

“I don’t anticipate any problems,” he said, noting that owner Rudolph Altobelli got two offers at $1.5 million each practically as soon as he whispered an interest in selling and even had 35 unsolicited offers for the place right after the grisly crimes.

Altobelli, a semi-retired Hollywood business agent who has handled such celebrities as the late Henry Fonda, has owned the 3 1/2-acre property--with a 3,200-square-foot main house and 2,000-square-foot guest cottage in what is known as the Beverly Hills post office area--since 1963.


He lives there but had rented it to film director Roman Polanski and Tate, Polanski’s pregnant wife, before leaving for Europe, where Altobelli and Polanski were when the five were stabbed, shot and bludgeoned to death.

“It was a terrible way to lose a tenant,” Jakobson said.

There are almost as many construction as entertainment-industry personnel working at Culver Studios, where such classics as “Gone With the Wind” and “Citizen Kane” were filmed.

After the Culver City property was purchased by former NBC Chairman Grant Tinker and Gannett, publisher of USA Today, designer Joe Hooper restored the antebellum-style mansion, which has become a symbol of the studio, in time for the newspaper’s five-year anniversary bash. Now, about a year later, Hooper is still at work on the busy 16.5-acre lot, which has some structures dating back to 1918.

On a recent sunny morning, Hooper and Bob Sirchia, vice president of studio operations, showed me through the studio, pointing out the “Selznick Wing,” a gutted building that is due to be ready for office workers in a few weeks.

“We call this Grant (Tinker) Canyon,” Sirchia said of a big hole nearby, where a $7.5-million, three-level subterranean structure, topped by a landscaped plaza, is expected to accommodate 420 cars by February.

Around the corner, two 14,000-square-foot sound stages for actor Dick Van Dyke’s upcoming TV show and a planned sit-com called “Close to Home” are being built for use early next year. Hooper designed 24 stars’ dressing rooms and other support facilities in what he describes as “the traditional style, to fit in with the mansion.”

The $7-million sound-stage building will have a facade, also designed by Hooper, that will resemble the famous house “Tara” in “Gone With the Wind.” “Tara,” which was on the studio’s 25-acre back lot, was dismantled in the late ‘50s, before the back lot itself was sold.


GTG has added on to its 14-acre main lot, though, with the recent acquisition of 2 1/2 acres across the street, on Ince Boulevard, where a 60,000-square-foot office building with two levels of underground parking is planned. “We hope to get under way on that in ‘89,” Sirchia said.

In the meantime, GTG is repainting all of its building exteriors and preserving a bungalow used as a dressing room by Gloria Swanson and a duplex used by Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh.

And Gannett just completed a TV studio for USA Today’s Monday-Friday 7 p.m. news show, which aired last Monday for the first time on KCBS, Channel 2.

Artur Rubinstein’s former home will be alive with the sound of music once again Saturday, 6-11 p.m., when the Building Owners & Managers Assn. of Greater Los Angeles holds a dinner-dance and charity auction there for the Gilbert W. Lindsay Children’s Center at the California Medical Center.

The 2 1/2-acre Beverly Hills home--with pool, tennis court, rose gardens and a llama named “Lollipop”--was sold by the famous pianist about 15 years ago. He died at age 95, or 92 (depending on the source), in 1982 at his home in Geneva, Switzerland.

Tickets, at $150 each, can be obtained through the association’s office (213/624-2181). Gail George, with Cushman & Wakefield, is chairman.