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'Soap' Star Plays New Role: Restorer

November 23, 1986|RUTH RYON | Times Staff Writer

Richard Mulligan is playing a different role these days than the ones that made him recognizable in the weekly TV program "Soap" (he played Burt Campbell) and the movies--among them, "S.O.B." and "Micki and Maude." (His next starring role will be in the ABC-TV musical "Babes in Toyland," which will air in December.)

The award-winning character actor went from Broadway to Hollywood to Las Vegas--but not the one in Nevada. He and his wife, Lenore--an interior designer who has decorated several offices and homes for people in the film industry, went to her home town--Las Vegas, N.M.

They only went for a visit, and they didn't stay, but they joined a group of local property owners and other investors in La Plaza Vieja Partnership to renovate, lease out and manage 19 buildings in the historic Old Town district.

Las Vegas, a way station on the Santa Fe Trail in 1835, became a boom town when the Santa Fe Railway pushed west in 1879, but the town began to fizzle out in the 1920s when the railroad shifted its operations to Albuquerque. Then, when industrialist Armand Hammer founded his United World College of the American West just outside of Las Vegas in 1982, interest developed in refurbishing the Victorian buildings.

"A lot of people I knew from childhood moved away, but several who loved the town came back--with their architecture and law degrees--to restore the town," Lenore Mulligan said. "Some buildings hadn't been touched since the turn of the century. Many were boarded up."

Soon after Hammer discovered Las Vegas, the Public Service Co. of New Mexico established a fiberboard plant there, and Wid Slick and his wife, Kack, moved to Las Vegas from Texas and purchased the old Plaza Hotel, which they restored. Slick is property manager for La Plaza Vieja Partnership, which was formed two years ago.

Since then, the partnership made plans to renovate 14 buildings at one time--a good move in light of changes under the new tax law that will reduce the size of tax credits for historic restoration and make the credits more difficult to obtain.

Slick hopes to renovate most of the buildings before year's end, and so far, work has been progressing well, said Lenore Mulligan. She and her husband visit Las Vegas from time to time to see how things are going. "He really enjoys going back there," she said.

And who knows? Someday he may go there to work. Someday Hollywood might come to Las Vegas.

Julian Myers, who represents her husband, called the restoration effort "a daring attempt to restore yesterday and to attract a multi-million dollar tourist trade." He also said that the Mulligans and several of their associates are "rebuilding the town center to recreate the Old West" as a locale for filming movies.

Sealed bids will be opened Tuesday for the Beverly Hills Hotel, but the name of the buyer is not expected to be announced until after Thanksgiving.

The 74-year-old hotel, which has been on the market since early October through Morgan Stanley Realty Co. in New York, has been estimated to be worth $150 million to $250 million. New York real estate developer Donald Trump and Denver oilman Marvin Davis are said to be among the qualified bidders.

The sellers are Seema Boesky and Muriel Slatkin, daughters of the late Ben Silberstein. Burt Slatkin, Muriel's husband, reportedly also has an interest. Silberstein was a Detroit real estate broker who bought the hotel in 1954 from a consortium including actresses Irene Dunne and Loretta Young and their husbands.

Silberstein died several years ago, leaving each of his daughters a 48% interest with the other 4% going to his sister, but a couple of years ago, sources say, Seema's husband bought out Silberstein's sister and, with Seema's interest, acquired hotel control. Seema's husband is Ivan Boesky, that Wall Street investor who has been making headlines for having agreed to pay $100 million in penalties involving a securities fraud case.

The word is that a month ago, he sold his (reported 13.5%) share in the hotel to his wife, and she now holds controlling interest. Her sister's family ran the hotel for years, and Burt Slatkin is still chairman of the board. William S. Bahrenburg Jr., president of Morgan Stanley Realty, earlier recognized "some widely publicized family disputes" between the Slatkins and the Boeskys but stressed that the feud is "irrelevant to the transaction, which is purely tax driven."

Interesting coincidence, by the way: On Tuesday--the same day bids are to be opened--there will be a cocktail reception at the hotel in preparation for its 75th anniversary. The reception will be, the invitation reads, "for leaders of society, industry and the entertainment world who have made . . . (the) hotel legendary."

Frank and Barbara Sinatra have lowered the price on their Beverly Hills-area home by $1 million.

Why the drop? Ed Kelly, who has the listing with Mike Silverman & Associates in Beverly Hills, said:

"They want to sell it and asked me, 'What do you think?' I said I thought the price was too high. So Frank said, 'Let's make it $2 million instead of $3 million."' The price includes furnishings.

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