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HOT PROPERTY

Actor Gene Hackman Sells Santa Barbara Villa

October 20, 1985|RUTH RYON | Times Staff Writer

Actor Gene Hackman and his wife have sold their fantastic Santa Barbara house on 25 acres behind stone walls for $5.5 million.

The 15,000-square-foot Mediterranean-like villa was listed for some time at $10 million and more recently, at $6.9 million.

"We sold it with 25 acres with our co-listing agent, Alexander Velto Real Estate in Montecito," Jeff Hyland of Alvarez, Hyland & Young in Beverly Hills said. "Juan Alvarez represented the Hackmans with Alex, and Alex represented the buyer, from Texas." He described the buyer as being "on the board of five New York Stock Exchange companies."

The house has three floors, a reception hall with marble floor, 35-foot-long living room, dining room (that Hackman used for a screening room), an elevator and grand staircase, and terraces with a view of the gardens, swimming pool and ocean.

Why sell such a vision of splendor? "The Hackmans wanted to move back to Los Angeles," Hyland replied.

The Racquet Club of Palm Springs, started by actors Charles Farrell and Ralph Bellamy and operated for years by Farrell and his wife, Virginia, as an oasis for Hollywood stars, will celebrate the beginning of its second half century on Friday with a black-tie party.

Club members today include a sprinkling of celebrities--Dinah Shore, Joseph Cotten and Magda Gabor--but past rosters look like a "Who's Who of Hollywood:" Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Ginger Rogers, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford, Mary Pickford, William Powell, Lucille Ball, Greer Garson, Carol Lombard, Douglas Fairbanks, Spencer Tracy, Humphrey Bogart, Henry Fonda and Dick Powell.

Clark Gable was one of the club's most active members, and Tracy lived quietly in what is now the club's maintenance building. Norma Jean Baker met William Morris agent Johnny Hyde at the swimming pool there, and Hyde helped her become known as Marilyn Monroe.

Bellamy sold his interest long ago to Farrell, who ran it even when he was mayor of Palm Springs (1948-54) and co-starred with Gale Storm in NBC's "My Little Margie" (1952-55). Then Farrell sold to Texas oil man Clint Murchison, who sold to M. Larry Lawrence three years after the first Davis Cup tournament was held there in 1974.

Now the club is more than a place to play tennis and meet at the pool. A $3.2-million condominium project was built there recently, and 12 of those 20 town houses have been sold (at prices from $149,500). Since Lawrence bought it, more than $10 million has also been spent in restoration and expansion.

The Biltmore and Roosevelt hotels are both getting the Heinsbergen touch--again. Dawn Heinsbergen, vice president of the Los Angeles firm established years ago by her ex-husband Tony's father (Tony is president of the company now), said, "We have been restoring the mural decorations on the ceiling of all public rooms at the Biltmore. These were done originally by (Giovanni Battista) Smeraldi and some by our firm. Also, we have been painting and over-glazing some of the walls in the public rooms. Gold leaf has been used extensively."

A. T. Heinsbergen & Co. is also working on mural decorations on the ceilings. "Never since the hotel was built have all of the public spaces been done over at one time," Dawn Heinsbergen said. "We have worked there for 60 years--off and on--one room at a time, but now all of the public areas will be restored (along with the rooms.)"

Restoration of the landmark 1920s hotel, which has hosted royalty as well as other world leaders and served as a setting for the Academy Awards, is only part of a $200-million construction project that will turn the downtown Los Angeles hostelry into Biltmore Place with hotel facilities as well as a new, 24-story office tower next door.

Meanwhile, the site of the first Academy Awards is also getting a restoration hand from the Heinsbergens. The Hollywood Roosevelt, also built in the 1920s, is undergoing complete rehabilitation, and the Heinsbergens are recreating mural decorations in the lobby, main dining room, ballroom, large banquet room and penthouse that the firm completed when the hotel first opened. "We are particularly excited by the main lobby," Dawn Heinsbergen said, "as every inch of the ceiling is beautifully hand painted with Spanish designs, and we are working from the original sketches made by A. B. Heinsbergen in 1926."

It was called a "low-key, quiet" opening, but the 2,200 residents of Catalina Island were invited to it Thursday at the Wrigley Mansion, now known as the Inn at Mt. Ada.

The 64-year-old home, built for chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr., is now a bed-and-breakfast, as guests at the opening, including some mainlanders, saw. A major opening with much hoopla celebrating the conversion (completed with architectural help from Warkentin Cox of Costa Mesa) is expected to be held in November.

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