How the other half lives

On Day Three of my parents’ visit, I indulged my mom and took her on a Malibu Celebrity Beach House tour. My dad had to work, and it didn’t take too much to twist Kenley’s arm into joining us.

The last time my parents visited (in May), Mom had wanted to do a “star tour” like this. We made fun of her then and said that, as Los Angeles residents, we would never be caught in one of those open-air vans full of gawkers. So during that visit, I instead googled homes of celebrities that we could find on our own. We located Spelling Manor, once owned by late TV mogul Aaron Spelling. It also was once the most expensive home for sale in the U.S. — at $150 million. HGTV recently featured a special on “Selling Spelling Manor,” which airs again Feb. 17. Take a tour of the home here.

The manor eventually was sold to a 22-year-old Formula 1 heiress for $85 million. Read more in this LA Times story. You can also read more about the first time the Hills visited the Hills here.

Later, when Kenley’s parents visited in June, I broke down and purchased an actual map of movie star homes. I took the Youngs on a private tour that included the Greystone Mansion, which is owned by the city of Beverly Hills and has been used in movies including “Ghostbusters,” “The Big Lebowski” and “The Social Network” (fanboy favorites).

The home where “The Osbournes” reality show was filmed is right down the street. Christina Aguilera used to live there with now ex-husband Jordan Bratman (Kenley once spotted the latter on Abbot Kinney Boulevard; he would have preferred to have spotted “X-Tina” herself.) The house is on sale for $13.5 million. Take a peek inside here.

You can read more about the Youngs’ first visit to Los Angeles here.

The problem with touring celebrity homes is that the houses are often far from the road, and all you can see is an elaborate gate or fence and large shrubs. The chances of actually seeing the homeowners are pretty slim. And, of course, what are you going to say if you do see someone? “Hello, I was just stalking your home. Can I take your picture and sell it for thousands of dollars?”


But I figured, if nothing else, the Malibu Celebrity Beach House Tour would allow us to take a ride up the always-stunning Pacific Coast Highway.

The rich and the famous fiercely (and rightfully) guard their privacy, so it’s not easy to find their addresses. But they become public when a property is bought or sold, or when there’s a scandal at the property. So such tours always come with a disclaimer: Property transaction records indicate the celebrity owns the home or formerly owned it, but especially in the case of a beach house, it might not be the star’s primary residence.

We met our tour guide on the Santa Monica pier, where we grabbed some churros from a vendor. The guide clearly enjoyed his job driving up the PCH several times a day, and he seemed knowledgeable about the area. When he found out we were from South Carolina, he was eager to get our take on the S.C. Republican primary. Kenley held back.

We waived at former governator Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Santa Monica condo and drove past the luxury condominiums at 101 Ocean, where Robert Downey Jr. has a place. Condos there have recently gone for $1.2 million to about $4 million. Interested? Check them out here.

Once you get on the Pacific Coast Highway headed north toward Malibu, you pass a line of seemingly nondescript doors and garages. Those are the back doors of the homes. The front doors open onto the beach.

We passed the Osbournes’ Malibu home, which is for sale for $10 million, according to the Los Angeles Times. See photos on

We came to a blue door where we were told The Dude abides. I couldn’t find any information online to “confirm or disconfirm” that Jeff Bridges owns the house.

“Glee” creator Ryan Murphy recently purchased Charlize Theron’s beach house down the street for $6.5 million. You can see the front of the house in this article from The Hollywood Reporter.

Janet Jackson also used to live down the street. Designer Kelly Wearstler and her husband purchased Jackson’s Malibu house in 2004 for $8.5 million. After Wearstler redecorated, the house was featured in Elle Decor magazine. The property was briefly put on the market for $21.9 million in 2010.

Leonardo DiCaprio owns several houses in Malibu. This is one of the relatively modest ones:

Leo reportedly bought it for $1.6 million in 1998. You can see the front of the house here.

David Geffen, the music mogul and co-founder of DreamWorks, owns five parcels along Carbon Beach, which is sometimes called Billionaire’s Beach.

Most beaches in California are public, so you are allowed to walk on the wet portion of the sand in front of the homes. Geffen fought for decades to keep the beach in front of his compound private, but he finally consented several years ago to a public-beach access adjacent to his property. Read The New York Times story about the day the “Geffen gate” opened here.

“Friend” Courtney Cox and David Arquette lived in a house designed by famous architect John Lautner (a student of Frank Lloyd Wright) on Carbon Beach. They sold the house in 2007 for about $30 million to Frank and Jamie McCourt, who have been fighting over assets including the Dodgers in a divorce. Check out the Lautner home here.

Cox recently showed off her newest Malibu home to Elle Decor. The Lautner home? The “post-nup” said Jamie got to keep the property, but post-divorce, the speculation is that it might soon be on the market.

Fellow “Friends” alum Matthew Perry’s Malibu home is on a hill overlooking the ocean. You can buy it for $13.5 million, according to the Los Angeles Times. Take a look at photos on Perry has been active in the Los Angeles real estate market, according to this article in Forbes.

We eased off of the PCH onto Malibu Road, where we saw homes owned by the Hiltons, Eva Longoria, Jeremy Piven and Adam Sandler.

We then stopped to stretch our legs and walk on the public-access beach.

Back on the Pacific Coast Highway, we saw by far the largest home on our tour: Cher’s 13,000-square-foot Italian Renaissance-style villa on 1.7 acres overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The breathtaking property was most recently listed in 2009 for $41 million, according to the Los Angeles Times. You can see photos of the house, before it was redecorated, on the Cherworld fan website.

As we drove south back to Santa Monica, the tour guide pointed out houses in the Malibu Hills overlooking the Pacific. Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun got the large house in a foreclosure for $4.8 million in 2004, according to the Los Angeles Times. Braun made headlines recently after he tested positive in October for banned substances. He faces a possible 50-game suspension, and the ruling on his appeal could come as early as this week.

“Get the Party Started” singer Pink and her husband, motocross racer Carey Hart, live nearby. See more photos of their house here.

The house where Britney Spears lived with ex-husband Kevin Federline is perched on top of a hill in a gated community. The couple reportedly paid $7 million for it and sold it for $10 million after the divorce. It’s on the market for $15 million. You can see photos here. Spears and her fiance, Jason Trawick, recently rented a mansion in suburban Thousand Oaks, which you can see here.

Later that night, we met up with Dad and headed to Hollywood to see the Cirque Du Soleil show “Iris,” which debuted at the Kodak Theatre this summer. We had a pre-theater dinner at Wood & Vine, a small-plates restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard that is said to have the best chicken and waffles in town. So obviously we had to check it out.

The restaurant is in the 1923 Taft building, which was the home to the first offices of Charlie Chaplin and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science. It has an old-school, clubby vibe. The chicken and waffles are served with a maple glaze and sage butter and are indeed several notches above Roscoe’s (though we dig that place, too). And the prices were reasonable by Hollywood standards. This would be a fun place to revisit for brunch or happy hour cocktails.

Then it was on to the Kodak, which (for now, anyway) also hosts the Oscars. There have been reports that the awards show could move after 2013 and that Kodak, which recently filed for bankruptcy, wants to end its naming rights. Read more in The Hollywood Reporter.

“Iris” is the first long-running Cirque show in Los Angeles, and it’s a very abstract journey through the world of cinema. It mostly presents behind-the-scenes action and often celebrates technology in film. The stage sets are detailed and elaborate, and it’s hard not to appreciate the choreography and amazing acrobatics, even if you’re not quite sure what they are supposed to represent. You can easily recognize the silent films of the 1920s, as well as the bombshells and film noir of the 1950s. And in fact the noir crime scene is one of the most entertaining. The production level is fitting for the home of the movies, and it’ll be fun to say we’ve been inside the Kodak Theatre come Oscar time.

There’s a loose love story in “Iris,” but the Cirque show really has more of a (sometimes unfocused) theme than an actual plot. Some might prefer to take in the latest Broadway production down the street at The Pantages. Here’s the Los Angeles Times review.

It was a pretty night, so we walked about a mile down Hollywood Boulevard back to our car. It was an interesting stroll. We passed the Church of Scientology’s “Winter Wonderland” display; scantily clad club-goers; and establishments advertising “girls, girls, girls.” Not places you’d necessarily want to take your parents.

While waiting for the valet to return with our car, Kenley spotted actor Bryan Dattilo, who is best known for playing Lucas Roberts/Horton/Brady in the long-running “Days of Our Lives” soap opera. Don’t ask me why Kenley recognized him.

OK … so I, too, recognized that he was a celebrity of some sort, but Kenley came up with the “Days” connection. My mom was so sad that he had crossed the street before she could catch sight of him.

“Days” fans will be excited to know that Soap Opera Digest confirms that Dattilo returns to the show this month! Don’t know who he is? Or just don’t want to admit it? Visit his IMDb page to see photos and credits.

You can read about days one and two of my parents’ December trip to L.A. here.


5 thoughts on “How the other half lives

  1. Hellloooo there?! Could you maybe tell me what street the Bridges Beach House supposedly is??? Would be very much appreciated. Thanks so much

    • Hey Jim, Thanks for reading! The Bridges beach house on the tour is on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. I’m sorry, I didn’t write down all the addresses, and I don’t remember the cross street. You could try checking with the tour company that I mentioned.

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