Gail Adelson; Hostess, Home Designer to the Stars


Gail Adelson, popular Hollywood hostess and interior decorator who advocated rebuilding classic homes, has died. Her age was unknown.

The native Angeleno died Feb. 15 in her West Hollywood home.

Although not employed by the motion picture industry (except for a brief clerical stint at 20th Century Fox), Adelson lived her life in the heart of Hollywood.

She was the adopted daughter of silent film star Billie Dove, who died last year at the age of 97. Adelson was twice married and divorced from men who were much employed in the industry--Canadian actor Paul Bertoya and Lorimar chief executive and La Costa resort co-founder Merv Adelson.

The enterprising woman moved into interior design while working for 20th Century Fox by organizing a regular antique auction from one of the studio’s sound stages. With Bertoya, she later opened a successful Melrose Avenue antique business that operated successfully through the 1960s.

Calling her business Residence as Art, Adelson began her advocacy of remaking rather than razing older homes well before it became popular in the 1980s. She worked with homes in Los Angeles and Aspen.


Among her clients were such celebrities as Leonard Nimoy of “Star Trek” and “Pulp Fiction” producer Lawrence Bender. For Nimoy, Adelson gutted a 1930s Bel-Air house, left part of the original outer walls and turned it into a 5,000-square-foot Mediterranean villa. For Bender, she built and designed a traditional-style home in Holmby Hills.

As a hostess, Adelson was known for her colorful parties that mixed eclectic guests including U.S. senators, real estate agents, entertainment and business executives, actors and artists.

Adelson was also something of an adventurer who traveled all over the world buying primitive art. She biked across New Zealand and, accompanied by five Sherpas and a yak, scaled Mt. Everest.

Located shooting skeet--and missing--off the fantail of the ship Queen Elizabeth II in the North Atlantic in 1985, Adelson told The Times she was firing “because it’s Hemingwayesque and belongs to that golden era. The romance of it is just irresistible, even if we aren’t great shots.”

Adelson is survived by a nephew, Gordon Kenaston of Newport Beach.

A memorial service is scheduled at 11 a.m. today at the First Baptist Church in Beverly Hills. Any memorial contributions can be made to Save the Children, 54 Wilton Road, P.O. Box 950, Westport, Conn. 06881.