We get questions about Palm Springs as well as Hollywood so I thought I’d suggest a tour of Palm Springs. One of our blog pals is actually poking around Palm Springs this weekend. During the 1930’s Palm Springs was an oasis for the movie community and continued to be such into the 1950’s. Big stars from Garbo to Sinatra either purchased or rented houses there where they could escape the media spotlight in L.A. Over the years though, Palm Springs itself has grown a bit “tired” versus the gorgeous areas further east like Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage.
I heartily suggest visiting Palm Desert’s El Paseo, a mile-long stretch of great restaurants, shops, etc. that runs just two blocks south of, and parallel to, Rte. 111 (the main drag through the Coachella Valley). Anyway, you can take a wonderful Palm Springs tour beginning in the neighborhood around that backs up to the mountains just south of the Palm Canyon Drive/Rte. 111 split west of the airport.
The streets west of Palm Canyon that back up to the mountains (north of O’Donnell Golf Club) was referred to as “The Movie Colony” for its many Hollywood residents. That neighborhood is chock full of Hollywood names. Jack Warner’s house was at 285 Via Lola and a few blocks north Donna Reed owned a gorgeous home at 1184 Camino Marisol from 1966-1970. Howard Hughes was at 335 Camino Del Norte; next door at 323 was Alan Ladd & Sue Carol’s long-time home where he died in 1968. Mary Martin owned the house on the other side of Hughes.
A few blocks away at 252 Camino Sur, Cher bought a house in 2004 and rehabbed it and sold it last year (listed at $2,500,000 it finally sold for $1,900,000) and at 893 Camino Sur is a house that belonged to George Nader. Nader was an actor that the studios “gave up” instead of Rock Hudson when a 1950’s movie magazine was going to “out” Hudson. They outed Nader instead. Elvis Presley’s 845 Chino Canyon house is in the same neighborhood.
A few blocks from Elvis, Bette Davis rented a guest house at an estate called Villa Santa Lucia at 784 N Patencio Road, which sold for $4,800,000 last year. She rented it for years. John Phillips of the Mamas & the Papas had a big house up the hill at 695 W Stevens Road at the north end of the neighborhood. Liberace died at 226 W Alejo Road in the southern end of the neighborhood near the golf course. His house, called Casa de Cloisters, is also listed at 501 N Belardo and has the weird statues in front that he habitually placed around all his houses, and over his grave at Forest Lawn.
Frank Sinatra’s famous estate was on the other side of Palm Canyon at 1148 E Alejo. Marilyn Monroe slept in a special tower bedroom he kept for her and Sinatra once threw then-wife Ava Gardner’s possessions onto the driveway after she appeared at the house in an attempt to catch him with Lana Turner. Just north of the neighborhood William Powell had a home at 383 N Via Norte for 30 years years; he died there in 1984. His wife was actress Diane Lewis.
Outside the neighborhood and not too far from Via Lola at 1476 North Palm Canyon is a house Hoot Gibson built in 1936 and owned into the early 1940’s. It was later owned by Mario Lanza in the 1940s and Groucho Marx in the 1940s-1950s. Just on the other (east) side of North Palm Canyon and Indian Canyon Drives are a bunch of interesting houses in the neighboods around the big hospital (I think it’s a hospital, as I remember). Darryl Zanuck and Virginia Fox owned a house during the 1950’s-1950’s at 346 Tamarisk Road. Zanuck died there. David O. Selznick and Jennifer Jones’ rented a house at 796 Via Miraleste from 1954 through the 1960’s.
A few blocks away Charlie Farrell and Virginia Valli lived at 630 Techavah Drive, and Eddie Cantor owned a home at 720 E Paseo el Mirador from 1951-1962. Truman Capote was at 853 Paseo el Mirador from the 1960’s-1970’s. Maybe five blocks to the east Carmen Miranda build herself a bungalow – back then quite secluded – at 1285 E Verbena Drive. Not it’s obviously packed around there. North of the Movie Colony streets by Racquet Club and Palm Canyon, Greta Garbo kept a secret hideaway at 287 W Racquet Club and on the other side of Palm Canyon at 1250 E Racquet Club (past Victoria Park) was Jackie Coogan’s last house. A little northwest of that intersection at 2481 N Cardillo, Tom Neal murdered his wife on April 2, 1965.
A ways south of the Movie Colony near Indian Canyon golf club Johnny Mercer had a beautiful big estate at 282 Camino Carmelita that sold last year for like $5,000,000. About a half mile away Barry Manilow (who was a close friend of Mercer; Mercer’s daughter’s name was Mandy) has a huge place at 2196 S Camino Baranca. Harrison Price, who was a friend of Walt Disney’s and chose the sites for Disneyland and Disneyworld and coordinated all of the real estate deals for Disney, lived at 275 W Camino Buena Vista in the same area and big agent Louis Hayward lived near him at 235 W El Portal. Ginny Simms lived east of there near Indian Canyon golf course at 1578 E Murray Canyon. Just east of that area, the main drag of South Palm Canyon turns east toward the airport.
At 1400 E Palm Canyon Leo Durocher had a house at 1400 that he owned in the 1960’s. Gene Autry built the Ocotillo Lodge at 1111 E Palm Canyon in the mid-1950’s, allegedly with the ‘help’ of Sidney Korshak, who bought one of the condos a few years later.
Further south and east of there on the way toward Palm Desert (near where Gene Autry Trail runs into Rte. 111) is a street running up the mountain called Southridge Drive. Steve McQueen lived at 2203 Southridge Drive and at the very top of Southridge Drive nestled among the hills is a huge, weird round thing designed in 1979 by John Lautner for Bob Hope, who lived there until he died. You can see the Hope House from everywhere in the valley, seemingly.