Drama within and without

Times Staff Writer

Actor Charles Laughton (“The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” 1939) and his wife, actress Elsa Lanchester (“Bride of Frankenstein,” 1935), led the way in bringing the glamour of Old Hollywood to this Pacific Palisades home, built in 1934.

After the actors bought the Mediterranean-style villa in 1941, Marilyn Monroe and Shelley Winters were said to have taken acting classes in its small theater, now a media room.

The Oscar-winning Laughton and his wife also entertained Charlie Chaplin and other Hollywood greats in the home, which the couple owned until 1949. Laughton died in 1962; Lanchester in 1986.


The home, on the bluffs of the Huntington Palisades, has unobstructed ocean views. The house has tropical landscaping; a circular drive, canopied by a lighted oak tree; a secret staircase to a private guest suite, and a bonus room that could be used as a conversation area or wine-tasting room.

About this house: It has been owned for about eight years by Harold Wrobel, co-founder of the Premiere Radio Networks. He is now a real estate developer and restaurateur. He plans to travel around the world after he sells the house.

Asking price: $10.5 million

Size: There are six bedroom suites, including a master bedroom suite, in 9,000-plus square feet. The lot size is 27,800 square feet.

Features: The three-story home has a basement; 100-year-old wrought-iron balconies imported from France; a wall of French doors; a large veranda, and a built-in window seat with leaded-glass windows. The media room has a theater system, pool table, bar and “safe” room.

Where: Pacific Palisades

Listing agent: Jacqui Bell at Coldwell Banker, Pacific Palisades East, (310) 230-2411, and Wayne Saks, Coldwell Banker, Beverly Hills East, (310) 278-1345.


To submit a candidate for Home of the Week, send color photos on a CD and a brief description of the house, including what makes the property unusual, to Ruth Ryon, Real Estate Section, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Questions can be e-mailed to