Sometimes gaudy, sometimes classical, sometimes playful, sometimes ominous, the famous mansions of Los Angeles come in every shape--but mostly the same larger than average size. Producers, actors, publishers, and musical artists may live it up in their private LA luxury homes, but not without some intrusion from the paparazzi and zealous fans, from above on helicopter, or below between bushes and behind gates. Thankfully you can take a sneak peek at the following famous LA mansions without trespassing or obtaining a search warrant.
Pickfair in Beverly Hills
Long before Brad and Angelina, in the '20s, one of Hollywood's golden couples, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks shared a 56-acre estate on Summit Drive in Beverly Hills. Pickfair was lavishly decorated with 18th-century French and English furnishings. In 1988, actress Pia Zadora and her husband Meshulam Riklis bought Pickfair only to demolish it. The mansion was up for sale for $60 million in 2008.
Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles
If the Playboy Mansion's walls could talk, they would recount a bestselling memoir of raucous parties thrown by its owner, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, and plenty of naughty debaucheries (most notably in its famous 'grotto.'). The Gothic-Tudor style mansion on Charing Cross in the Holmby Hills neighborhood became famous in the '70s for its exclusive and wild parties. These days, it seems the private manor's exclusivity has waned as the mansion's doors are open to just about anyone willing to cough up the money to enter during special events nights featuring Playboy house DJs as well as visiting talent.
Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills
If this 55-room Tudor style mansion looks familiar it's probably because it's made its share of on-screen cameos in movies like Steve Martin's All of Me, The Big Lebowski and all three Spider-Man films. In 1928, at the time it was built, it was considered the most expensive home built in California. The Doheny family (after which the Beverly Hills street is named), moved in in 1929. Ned Doheny was murdered in the mansion only six months later. Today, beyond being a popular TV and movie location, Greystone is a public park and is used for special events (such as fundraising parties). It is located at 906 Loma Vista Drive.
Rock Star Mansion in Los Angeles
Just as there is a hierarchy of celebrities (from Leonardo DiCaprio to Corey Feldman), there is one for LA mansions as well. Some are famous for their big, bold, glamorous Hollywood histories and others...for having been reality TV settings. Case in point, the so-called Rock Star Mansion--the home at which INXS jammed on the CBS reality show Rock Star. It's tricked out, for sure with its grotto pool, waterfalls, water slide, floating tennis court, elevator, and five-bedroom guest house. And it continues to host its share of Hollywood parties. But 'Leonardo' it's not.
Phil Spector's Mansion in Los Angeles
When Phil Spector was accused of murder, many LA natives seemed more surprised to discover that he lived (not in Hollywood or Beverly Hills) but in Alhambra. In fact, this was his isolated home base, Pyrenees Castle, a 30+ room mansion. Spector told Esquire magazine: "I've bought myself a beautiful and enchanting castle in a hick town where there is no place to go that you shouldn't." Pyrenees Castle is where he was said to have pulled a gun on the New York punk band The Ramones. It's also where he was alleged to have murdered actress Lana Clarkson in 2003.
Hearst Mansion in Beverly Hills
Most Californians have heard of Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Well, LA also had its very own ostentatious Hearst property: The Hearst Estate in Beverly Hills. Named so because it was occupied by William Randolph Hearst (and Marion Davies), the 6.5 acre home included four houses, an apartment and a cottage, 29 bedrooms, a movie theater, and a disco. The palace--located just a few blocks north of the Beverly Hills Hotel--was built in 1927 but purchased by Hearst in 1947. John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy honeymooned there in 1953. The estate also made an appearance in the film The Godfather. It was the most expensive listing in U.S. history as of 2007 when the asking price was $165 million.
David Geffen's Malibu Estate
Malibu is home to some of LA's most famous celebrity mansions. Who can forget the aerial paparazzi view of Madonna and Sean Penn's open-air Malibu home wedding in the '80s? Producer and entrepreneur David Geffen is among the affluent and influential homeowners in the area as well. But, some controversy emanated from his Carbon Beach compound on the PCH. In 1982, Geffen agreed to grant public beach access from his property (to get approval for his home's site plan). In 2002, Geffen went to court to make sure his gates were permanently closed, blocking access to the path. He lost. In the daytime, anyone is permitted to walk past the west wall of his home to reach public areas of the beach.