Palm Springs Sizzles With Big-Name Home Listings

Times Staff Writer

Palm Springs is hot today, but it’s not because of the weather or any second-home sales record.

Palm Springs is hopping with vintage cars this weekend, during grand-prix races around the city’s new convention center, but besides the races--Mayor Sonny Bono’s “first of five” shindigs planned this year--the city is ablaze with big-name real estate activity.

First, a walled estate in the old movie colony-area of Palm Springs, which was leased for many years by Barbara Hutton (the Woolworth variety stores heiress, who died in 1979), has been sold to Robert and Verda Dawson of Huntington Beach , as a weekend retreat.

The three-bedroom, 4 1/2-bath house--with guest house, tennis courts, pool and spa on 1.97 acres in the center of town--was built in 1936 for $20,000. It sold for close to the $795,000 asking price.


Hutton’s only son and heir, Lance Reventlow, raced a Scarab roadster in Palm Springs in the ‘50s. (The handsome 36-year-old was killed in a plane crash in 1972.) The Scarab, now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Ronald J. Kellogg of Whittier, is on display with other vintage cars at the Mesquite Country Club as part of the weekend festivities.

Susan Cougill of Century 21 Van Lizzen Realty, Palm Springs, was selling agent for the Hutton house. Tom Ogle, with the same firm, has a $430,000 listing on the former Jack Benny estate, also in the old movie-colony part of town.

For years, the late comedian owned the place, which still has a “B” for Benny on its front wrought-iron gate. The house also has six bedrooms, six baths, a pool and comes furnished.

Next, Joan Kroc, owner of the McDonald’s fast-food chain and San Diego Padres baseball team, has quietly put her Palm Springs and La Jolla houses on the market. Kroc is so secretive about her personal goings-on, even her listing agents at Willis Allen Real Estate and the Louise Hampton realty firm won’t talk, but the Palm Springs house is for sale at $3.75 million, furnished, with six bedrooms, seven baths and a pool. Kroc is apparently selling because her 10-lot compound at Fairbanks Ranch, near San Diego, is taking shape.


Then there’s the Liberace house in Palm Springs, which was put on the market about 10 days ago for $850,000, including chandeliers! Unable to get the city to approve it as a museum, the Liberace Foundation co-listed the late pianist’s 1930 landmark with Eadie Adams Realty, Palm Springs, and Willis Allen, Rancho Santa Fe. And here’s some good news: The Foundation announced that it will open the home to the public for a short time before the final sale.

P.S. (and that doesn’t stand for Palm Springs) . . . Liberace’s Las Vegas villa will be auctioned through Eric Nelson Auctioneering to the highest bidder regardless of price on Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. at Bally’s Casino Resort. (No minimum bid required.)

And Liberace’s Beverly Boulevard penthouse is for lease at $6,900 a month through Jeffrey Leach or Brooks Parriott at Beitler Commercial Realty Services, 825 S. Barrington, L.A.

Gypsy Rose Lee’s old Beverly Hills house was finally biting the dust the other day as a neighbor looked on. There was a rumor, first uttered by actor Rock Hudson, that the place was haunted, because several times after the house was purchased, renovations started, and work stopped. “The demolition today apparently marks the end,” the neighbor said.

Nearby, at the late Hudson’s house, director John Landis and his wife have begun remodeling, with completion not expected until January of 1990. They aren’t living there yet, but they have a caretaker.

On the proposed city ordinance outlined in this column last week, a spokeswoman for Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky phoned to say that Yaroslavsky and Councilman Michael Woo, both of whom introduced the plan, “have asked to delete the remodeling portion,” restricting homeowners from adding on more than 500 square feet to their homes in parts of Bel-Air, the Hollywood Hills and the Beverly Hills post-office area. “And they would require additional off - street but not covered parking. Only two parking spaces will need to be covered.” Actually, there are two proposed ordinances and a one-year moratorium, which would affect home building and expansions in the area, and city planners have scheduled a workshop on all Nov. 28 from 4:30-8:30 p.m. at the Steven S. Wise Temple, 15500 Steven S. Wise Drive. (More details: 213/485-5071.) The Planning Commission’s next public hearing is Dec. 1 at 9:30 a.m. in City Hall.