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Hollywood's Aquarius Theater for Sale

January 25, 1987|RUTH RYON | Times Staff Writer

The Aquarius Theater, known as Earl Carroll's Vanities for 10 years after it was built in 1938 and later as the Moulin Rouge nightclub and a TV production facility for the popular program "Queen for a Day," is for sale--again.

The Art Deco structure, on the south side of Sunset Boulevard between Vine Street and El Centro Avenue, was sold to its present owners 2 1/2 years ago, said Bob Leevan, who shares the listing with Barbara Greene, both of the George Elkins Co.'s Beverly Hills office.

Martin Tahse bought it from the Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum in 1982 reportedly for just under $3 million. It's on the market now at $8.9 million.

When Tahse bought the Hollywood landmark, he had plans to restore it to its former glory. He spent a bunch renovating it but fell short of his ambitions.

The 31,000-square-foot building still functions as a theater, but its primary use has been as a multi-camera video studio--quite a change from the days when it was Hollywood's most glamorous entertainment spot with Carroll's beauties parading across the stage. That ended with Carroll's death in a plane crash in 1948.

Through the years, the theater also operated as a rock-and-roll nightclub and as a stage for such productions as "Hair" and "Zoot Suit."

Rolls Royces and limos lined the driveway last Sunday into Eva Kollsman's 120-acre estate overlooking Beverly Hills.

Why? To get a glimpse of the home the late Wallace Neff designed in the '20s for cowboy star Fred Thomson and his wife, Academy Award-winning screenwriter Frances Marion, and to share the excitement of Neff's son Wally, in finally getting a book published on his famous father. The younger Neff worked on the book, "Wallace Neff, Architect of California's Golden Age" ($50, Capra Press, Santa Barbara) for years.

Actor Carroll O'Connor, who has lived in his Neff-designed home in Westwood since 1971, was among the celebrants at the champagne buffet, catered by Heather Goss, daughter of Norman Goss, founder of the Stuft Shirt restaurants and Chamifal winery in San Luis Obispo. O'Connor said his wife asked Neff to look at their home before restoring it. The O'Connor home was built for opera star Amelita Galli-Curci.

Among the other 300 or so celebrants at the lavish but tasteful event (complete with chamber music) were Princess Faiza (the late Egyptian King Farouk's sister); Jesse Lasky Jr., son of the late, movie pioneer Jesse Lasky Sr.; Beverly Hills council members Max Salter and Donna Ellman; world-famous neurologist Dr. Leslie Weiner; film producer Theodore Holcomb of New York City; wine critic and author Bob Balzer; the estate's major domo, Franz Koch, and Eva Kollsman, widow of altimeter inventor Paul Kollsman, who bought the beautiful Beverly Hills mansion 25 years ago.

Actress Valerie Harper just stepped up from her home in Brentwood to a more expensive one (over $1 million) in Beverly Hills and is having the 1930s-era, Spanish home redecorated before moving into it in a month or two.

So says Anise Irwin of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, who sold the home to Harper, then sold Harper's home in Brentwood.

Many stars lived in the Beverly Hills house, Irwin noted, "and I think Cornel Wilde owned it at one time."

Oilman Marvin Davis didn't get everything that was considered Beverly Hills Hotel property when the partnership he heads bought the landmark for $136 million in cash last month.

Mike Silverman announced last week that Joan Richmond in his Beverly Hills firm is marketing three lots, each just under an acre in size, that are adjacent to the hotel and are owned by the former owners of the hotel--that is, Muriel Slatkin and Seema Boesky. "The lots were accumulated through the years but were not included in the package Marvin Davis bought," Silverman explained.

Two lots are on Hartford Way and one is on Crescent Drive. Prices range from $2 million to $2.5 million.

Actress Joan Collins has moved into the "Dynasty"-like, 12,000-square-foot mansion she bought last May despite her announcement last month that she was seeking an annulment of her 13-month marriage to pop singer-turned-producer Peter Holm.

She delayed moving from her smaller, 5,000-square-foot home nearby until remodeling was completed on the larger one, which she got for a measly $2 million. (That IS a deal for 12,000 square feet in Beverly Hills!)

Her smaller house has been on the market for a few months, but Collins just reduced it from $995,000 to $695,000. It's listed with Thelma Orloff of Stan Herman & Associates.

To locals, it's known as the "Witches Cottage" because of the way it looks with its steep, gabled roof and moat, but the Beverly Hills, Hansel-and-Gretel style home was the Irvin Willat movie studio in 1921 and, before that, as the story goes, it was built as an MGM movie set in 1912 and later moved from Culver City.

Now the 3,700-square-foot residence--with two bedrooms, four baths and maid's quarters--is for sale through Gina Ralbag in Fred Sands' Beverly Hills office at $1.75 million. Said Ralbag: "The owners plan to tear it down and build a spec house if the cottage isn't sold."

Hidden Hills--that gated and guarded, equestrian-oriented city in the foothills northwest of Calabasas, where entertainers John Davidson, Frankie Avalon, Neil Diamond, Bob Eubanks and Sheena Easton are all reported to have residences--will soon have a new development with custom homes starting at $1 million each.

The project is being planned on a 115-acre parcel bought for $4 million by a joint partnership headed by Continental Communities.

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