Actor Relishes Craftsman Role

TIMES STAFF WRITER

PATRICK SWAYZE, who stars as an American doctor working in Calcutta in the film "City of Joy," is a lover of exotic woods who always wanted to be a master woodworker.

To support himself and his wife, Lisa Niemi, during their lean years in New York, they formed a building company that they brought to California in the mid-1980s.

"Lisa and I started the cabinetmaking and construction business in New York City years ago to stay alive as dancers," he said by telephone. "Then we continued the business in California as a way for our brothers to make a living." She has five brothers, he has two. The company was jokingly called Nepotism Inc.

For a number of years, this sideline of the star of "Point Break" (1991), "Ghost" (1990) and "Dirty Dancing" (1987) mainly involved small, Old-World quality jobs for friends and family.

"We built a recording studio out of African padauk," he said. They did some work at the homes of actress Jaclyn Smith and producer Alan Landsburg. And they built the Swayzes' two-bedroom, 3,000-square-foot house on their five-acre ranch in the San Gabriel Mountains, where they raise Egyptian Arabian horses.

But now their company has completed its first major production: a rehab and expansion of a house in the Longridge Estates area of Studio City. "When we (decided to) buy and renovate homes, we were going to start small," he said, "but we went for 'the gold'--a big-time, high-dollar house."

They practically rebuilt a Pennsylvania Dutch, view home just south of Ventura Boulevard and west of Coldwater Canyon and tripled its size to 7,000 square feet, with five bedrooms plus maid's quarters and 8 1/2 baths.

"It has an old-fashioned feel with plank, hardwood floors and handmade doors, but it also has a radiant heating system, so you never have to step on a cold floor; a sauna, steam shower and solar-heated pool. We tried to build for efficiency," he said.

The end result was so pleasing to him that he wanted to keep it as their in-town place, he said, "but it's only half an hour to get anywhere in L.A. from our ranch." So he listed the view home at $3.25 million with Alfie and Myrna Shanfeld with Douglas Properties in Encino.

Next, he said, "I would love to build a ranch for somebody."

As for his acting career, he's hoping to star with his wife and their friend, Nicholas Gunn, in a film of their semi-autobiographical play, "Without a Word," about three dancers. "It looks like this will be my next movie," he said, "unless something else like 'City of Joy' comes along."

The longtime Beverly Hills home of the late NATALIE SCHAFER, who played the millionaire's wife on the TV series "Gilligan's Island," has been sold for about $1.3 million. The property had been listed for about 10 months, starting at $1.65 million.

Built in 1923, the Spanish-style home had two bedrooms and maid's quarters in about 2,000 square feet.

Schafer, who died at 90 about a year ago, had no children and was married once, to the late actor Louis Calhern.

"She left everything to institutions--the Motion Picture and Television Fund, Actors Fund, Mayo Clinic and American Cancer Society," said listing agent Bill Bakewell of Jack Hupp & Associates. Bakewell was also a film actor and friend of Schafer's.

BARRY GORDON, the voice of Donatello on the TV animated series "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," appeared last week in his role as president of the Screen Actors Guild at a lease-signing ceremony in Hollywood to mark SAG's move next June from Hollywood to the Miracle Mile area of Wilshire Boulevard.

SAG, which has occupied a former church on Hollywood Boulevard since 1986, has been headquartered in Hollywood since the organization was established in 1933. It will occupy about 80,000 square feet, in a 15-year lease worth $25 million, in Museum Square at 5757 Wilshire Blvd.

In the past few years, a number of Hollywood entities have relocated to Miracle Mile. Among them are Spelling Entertainment, The Entertainment Channel, Mark Goodson Productions, New Visions Entertainment, Arbitron Rating Co., Billboard Magazine, The Hollywood Reporter, Daily Variety, Actors Fund of America, The Casting Company, The American Federation of Musicians Payment Fund, Southern California Broadcasters Assn., Melrose Pictures, Yoram Globus Pictures and New Century/Vista Films.

Les Small, Entertainment RealtyCorp, negotiated SAG's lease with the J. H. Snyder Co.

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