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Ernestine Rings Up Los Feliz Sale

July 18, 1999|RUTH RYON | Los Angeles Times

Lily Tomlin has sold her longtime Los Feliz residence, which was once the home of comedian W.C. Fields, for close to its $2.75-million asking price.

The actress-comedian-writer, who co-stars in the movie "Tea With Mussolini," played Murphy Brown's boss (1996-98) on the CBS sitcom, and she recently portrayed a mischievous ghost on "The X-Files."

Tomlin, 59, first gained fame on the TV show "Laugh-In" (1969-73) with such characters as Ernestine the phone operator. She went on to win a Tony in 1986 for her one-woman Broadway show, "The Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe." Tomlin also has won Grammy and Emmy awards in addition to a '97 Peabody for her "Edith Ann's Christmas" on ABC.

She sold her home to an entertainment executive and his wife. Tomlin has been renting in the area for some time. She relocated while finishing renovations on the house she just sold.

Built about 1920, the five-bedroom 7,000-square-foot house is in a lushly landscaped enclave known as Laughlin Park. Among the area's early residents, besides W.C. Fields, were Hollywood producer Cecil B. DeMille and the singing actress Deanna Durbin. Fields, who died at 66 in 1946, leased the house for many years.

Tomlin painted it pink inside and out soon after buying the house about 20 years ago. She reworked the upstairs rooms to make a master suite with large closets and two baths. The gated home also has five fireplaces, a solarium, rolling lawns and a pool.

Brett Lawyer of Nourmand & Associates, Beverly Hills, represented Tomlin, and Nick Segal of DBL Realtors, Sunset Strip, represented the buyers, other sources said.

A Hancock Park home owned for many years by the late singer Nat King Cole has come on the market at just under $2.2 million.

Built in 1924, the English Tudor-style 6,800-square-foot home has five bedrooms plus maid's quarters, a library with a fireplace, a master suite with a fireplace, a guest house, pool house, pool and two patios.

The owner, a friend of the family, bought the house from Maria Cole, the singer's widow, in 1972. Nat King Cole died at 45 of lung cancer in 1965.

"His kids grew up in the house," said Jerry Primack, who shares the listing with Rhonda Payne at Prudential-John Aaroe & Associates, Pacific Design Center. Among the Cole children is his daughter, Natalie, who released her interpretations of 22 Nat King Cole classics in 1991, including a duet on "Unforgettable," which she sang, through electronic wizardry, with her father.

Primack describes the property as "a large corner lot with unforgettable history."

According to newspaper stories at the time, when the Coles bought the home in 1948 for $65,000, an attorney for nearby property owners said, "We don't want undesirable people coming here."

The singer responded, "Neither do I, and if I see anybody undesirable coming into this neighborhood, I'll be the first to complain."

Neighbors also told the black singer and his bride of five months that when Hancock Park was established in 1920, the community had 50-year covenants restricting ownership to members of the "Caucasian race," news reports said.

Before the Coles moved in, the neighbors offered to buy the house, but the singer turned them down.

Three years later, the IRS tried to take the mansion away for back taxes, but the Coles paid the debt. Nat King Cole went on to live in the house for 17 years; his wife lived there for almost 25.

Doug Herzog, who started in January as president of the Fox Entertainment Group, and his wife, Noreen, have purchased a former Brentwood home of comedian-actress-talk show host Roseanne for about its $3.1-million listing price.

Moving from New York, Doug Herzog, 39, went to Fox after introducing "South Park" to Comedy Central and "The Real World" to MTV. The house that he and his wife bought has six bedrooms and a projection room in nearly 4,000 square feet, built in 1938.

The couple bought the house from a bicoastal businessman who purchased a $4.65-million Tuscan villa in Brentwood Country Estates, a development of the Hilton family.

The 8,000-square-foot house, on 4.9 acres, was built by Barry Hilton, a grandson of the late hotelier Conrad Hilton.

The Fox executive and his wife were represented by Richard Stearns and Steve Moritz of Fred Sands Estates, Brentwood.

The businessman was represented in his purchase by Rodrigo Iglesias of Coldwell Banker Previews, Brentwood, and Rick Hilton (Barry Hilton's brother) of Hilton & Hyland, Beverly Hills; they also had that listing.

A Laguna Beach house that was on the market at $21 million is in escrow and will be one of the largest single-family home sales ever in Orange County when it closes, local Realtors say.

The 12,500-square-foot house, on a cliff over the ocean, was sold in 1996 to a tech guru who seldom goes there. He listed it in January 1998 at $18 million and raised the price to $21 million a few months ago, sources said.

Built in 1979, the house was sold in 1986 to a resort owner who sold it to the current owner.

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