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Housing the Hulk: Family Project

December 06, 1987|RUTH RYON | Times Staff Writer

Hulk Hogan will soon get a new home that will be built by . . . his mother-in-law.

Mother-in-law? All those gals who thought the famous wrestler was single after hearing Dolly Parton sing to him on her TV show will be upset to hear that! (Dolly crooned about dreaming of marriage with the 33-year-old heavyweight champ.)

Yep, as Dolly might say, the Hulkster, which his friends call him (and I sure don't want to be his foe), is married. He has been for four years.

And his mom-in-law is Gail Claridge, a dynamo designer-builder with three grown kids, including beautiful 28-year-old Linda, who is expecting the first Baby Hulkster in April.

Grandma-to-be Claridge won't have the Hogans' house finished by then, but she has begun to plan it and expects to start building it in the western San Fernando Valley during 1988. Escrow closed last Monday on the four-acre, $1.5-million site, which was comedian Redd Foxx's estate. The house there now is a tear-down, Claridge said, built in the '40s.

In its place, Claridge will build a 12,000-square-foot house--one that will be big enough, she says, "to fit 6 feet 8 inches and 310 pounds through the door." She will design everything--even the furnishings, she says, with the wrestler's huge frame in mind.

Claridge knows her subjects: She designed the interiors of the Hogans' two other homes in Connecticut and Florida. This will be their first home on the West Coast. When finished, it will have an aviary, gym (of course!) and large kitchen, which is Claridge's trademark.

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Claridge, who started out about 10 years ago as a Chatsworth decorator for housewives, has really been rolling in business since she mortgaged her own house to buy and restore one of the first houses built in Bel-Air. It was the 51-year-old, 7,000-square-foot "Sturdywood," which Claridge sold for more than $3 million in 1986.

Since then, she has bought the 1938 Vanalden estate in Tarzana, and she's restoring the Colonial-type farmhouse and subdividing part of the property into three one-acre estate sites. In March, the Vanalden house will be used as a Design House by the local chapter of the International Society of Interior Designers to raise funds for the American Cancer Society.

Claridge is designing the interiors, right down to the hand towels, of the Bel-Air mansion she sold, and she's redesigning the house on the late director John Huston's estate, which commercial developer Norman Kravetz bought last summer.

She and Kravetz are partners in turning a 19,000-square-foot former racquetball facility into a New England-style shopping center where she and her son, Joe Jr., will have their "Claridge House" offices and her daughter Christie will open a Country French antique shop. The $2-million project, in Northridge, is expected to be ready for occupancy on Jan. 1.

About the Kravetz house, Claridge said, "I'll turn it into a Connecticut mill house, adding a large water wheel and a large country kitchen, which will be something like my own." Claridge's own kitchen, in Chatsworth, is 36 feet long and three stories high.

It will be on view Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when she hosts her fifth annual invitational open house to raise funds for underprivileged families in the San Fernando Valley.

Claridge has decorated four large Christmas trees in her 7,000-square-foot house--one with antique toys and teddy bears, one with an English hunt theme, one with Charles Dickens-type characters, and one with antique lace and satin trimming. Admittance, including a holiday buffet, is $15. More details? Call 818/701-9803.

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Champagne and smoked salmon canape dreams became a reality the other day at the start of a lunch toasting completion of a prototype for 74 guest suites in the planned St. James' Club/Los Angeles.

The club, the London-based chain's fourth in the world (besides London, Paris and Antigua) and first in the United States, is due to open in February in a $35-million restoration of the 1931-vintage Sunset Towers on the Sunset Strip. The restoration is being coordinated by designer David Becker, who selected furnishings reminiscent of Art Deco pieces at the Beaux Arts Museum in Paris and Metropolitan Museum in New York.

A stretch limo took guests a few blocks from the luncheon--at the home of Anthony Walters, the club's financial director--to the prototype in a condo building behind the project at 8358 Sunset Blvd. "It's like stepping back into the '30s," H. Ross Justice, the club's general manager, said.

In the '30s, the building attracted such celebrity tenants as Errol Flynn, Jean Harlow, Howard Hughes, Clark Gable and John Wayne. After February, it's expected to attract such St. James' Club celebrity members as Sir John Mills, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Liza Minnelli, Dudley Moore, Christopher Plummer and Roger Moore.

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