Horton’s House Grew With Film Career
While baby boomers know him as the narrator of “Fractured Fairy Tales” on the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon series, their parents remember former Encino resident Edward Everett Horton as Fred Astaire’s foppish sidekick in several 1930s film musicals, including “The Gay Divorcee,” “Top Hat” and “Shall We Dance.”
Although his voice carried aristocratic pretensions, Horton was born in Brooklyn in 1887, the son of the foreman of the New York Times composing room. While attending Columbia University in 1908, he got his first acting job.
After several years of learning stagecraft in New York and other northeastern cities, the comic actor moved to Los Angeles around 1915 to work for the Wilkes Stock Company, a local theater ensemble.
In 1925, he bought a four-acre estate at 5521 Amestoy Ave. in Encino, which he named Belleigh Acres. It was reported that Horton added a new room to his house every time he made a motion picture. Horton appeared in about 150 films during his career.
In addition to his own house, where he lived with his mother, the estate contained a house for his brother and his family, and another for his sister and her family. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “The Last Tycoon” while living in one of the estate’s guest houses in 1938.
Described as a “demon” collector, Horton filled his home with furniture, rare flowers, antiques and other objects he gathered on his many road trips doing regional theater across the United States.
A 1940 Time magazine profile reported that Horton had his film contracts drawn up to say he could not be compelled to play a married man, kiss a woman or have any children.
Horton, who never married, died in 1970. Regarding his film career, Horton once said, “I do the scavenger parts no one else wants, and I get well paid for it.”