They might throw in a ThighMaster

Times Staff Writer

At first glance, it looked like a typical holiday photo card sent out by actress-entrepreneur Suzanne Somers, her husband, producer Alan Hamel, and their family. But the rubble pile behind them in the photo was the couple’s former Malibu home, burned to the ground by a brush fire in January 2007.

Many speculated that the Hollywood couple would sell what remained of their Malibu property or build a house there to sell, but come the new year, what is the first thing they put on the market?

Not the Malibu site, but a house in Palm Springs they’ve owned since 1977, the year they were married.

The 65-acre Les Baux de Palm Springs is on the market at $35 million, reports Scott Lyle, the Palm Springs Realtor who has the listing.


Somers and Hamel plan to move to an adjacent parcel 50 acres smaller, according to the cover story in the January issue of Palm Springs Life. Montecito architect Bob Eastman designed a glass-and-stone compound where Somers and Hamel plan to live.

Somers calls herself and Hamel “builders at heart,” although they did not design their Palm Springs home. They did, however, expand the kitchen and add an extensive wine cellar and a dining room spacious enough to seat 32 people.

The mountainside home, dating to the 1920s, is reached by way of a private funicular railway. The estate has 10 bedrooms, nine bathrooms and three half-baths in multiple structures.

There is a French-style stone house, an Albert Frey-designed guesthouse, other “no-two-are-alike” guest cottages, an amphitheater, an 80-year-old renovated lap pool, a carousel and Coachella Valley views.


Somers and Hamel both have office space in the master-bedroom suite.

Somers, of ThighMaster fame, first gained attention as the blond in the Thunderbird in “American Graffiti” (1973). But it was her role as Chrissy Snow on the ABC sitcom “Three’s Company” that brought her renown. The actress, 61, also has written self-help books -- “Get Skinny on Fabulous Food” (1999) and “Ageless: The Naked Truth about Bioidentical Hormones” (2006).

Room for Robbie, Chip and Ernie

Fred MacMurray, a leading man who costarred in the 1944 film “Double Indemnity” and played the father in the 1960s TV series “My Three Sons,” was one of those Hollywood actors who relished investing in real estate.

He purchased a wide range of properties, including orange groves and office buildings, although MacMurray and his family didn’t move much. By one account, the family lived in their Brentwood home for 56 years.

He died at age 83 in 1991. He was married for 37 years to actress June Haver, who died at 79 in 2005.

John Cottrell, a man Architectural Digest has canonized as one of the world’s top 100 interior designers, would like to buy MacMurray’s home, but it’s not yet available, he said, and so he leased it, promptly stripping the wallpaper and installing new carpet.

“I was as happy as a pig in mud,” Cottrell said. “I love to work on good American houses.”


The MacMurray house, built in 1939 for singer Nelson Eddy, has four or five bedrooms in about 7,000 square feet. It is on nearly 2 acres.

It isn’t listed for sale yet, but when it is, expect to see it come on the market in the vicinity of $10 million.

Peachy home, but watch out for Pitts

This Los Feliz home, now listed at $4.7 million, was completely renovated by the current owners, who purchased it from the estate of actor Paul Winfield.

Winfield had bought the property in 1990. His family was so pleased with the redo that they gave the current owners three works of art from the late actor’s collection.

And here’s a bonus: There are some botanical gardens on the grounds that overlook a home belonging to actor Brad Pitt.

The home has four bedrooms and 4 1/2 bathrooms in 3,800 square feet.

Winfield, who died at 62 in 2004, was an Emmy Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated actor known for his portrayal of a Louisiana sharecropper during the Great Depression in the film “Sounder” (1972) and as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1978 miniseries “King.”


Aaron Kirman of Hilton & Hyland, Christie’s Great Estates, Beverly Hills has the listing.

To see previous columns on celebrity realty transactions, go to