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The “Just Married” Mansion

Apr 5th, 2010 | By | Category: Movie Locations

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Since we are currently knee-deep in the middle of wedding planning, a few weeks ago my fiancé and I decided to sit down and finally watch the 2003 movie Just Married for the very first time.  And I have to say that I absolutely LOVED it!  While watching it, though, I became obsessed with finding the gargantuan, red brick, Tudor-style mansion where Sarah (aka Brittany Murphy) and her family lived in the flick, which as luck would have it, wasn’t too hard to track down.   Thanks to IMDB’s Just Married filming locations page, I discovered that the mansion was located at 160 South San Rafael Avenue right here in Pasadena.  So, I immediately dragged my fiancé right over there the following morning.  We had a sad surprise awaiting us when we arrived at the front gates, though – the mansion was no longer there.  It had completely burned to the ground in a massive fire back in October of 2005.  SO SAD.

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All that currently remains of the once massive mansion are its front gate, guard house, and red brick retaining wall.  I can’t tell you how depressing this was to discover, being that the now-fallen house was something of a historic landmark in Pasadena.  The residence which once stood on the property was originally built in 1929 for British thoroughbred horse breeder Jack Pease Atkin for $500,000.  The home was designed by famed celebrity architect Paul Revere Williams, who is best known for being the very first African American member of the American Institute of Architects and for designing the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Jet-Age Theme Building, aka Encounter Restaurant, at LAX.  He also built Jennie Garth and Peter Facinelli’s house, but I digress.  The three-story mansion boasted 21 rooms, three stories, a 1,200 square foot gate house, over 12,000 square feet of living space, and sat on a lot measuring 3.3 acres.  The house’s love affair with the movies began early on, in the 1930s, when Atkins decided to rent his property out to film crews in order to raise money to fund soup kitchens for the downtrodden in Depression-era L.A.  And the filming never stopped.  In 2004, the home was purchased by Michael Armand Hammer, the grandson of oil tycoon Armand Hammer, who also founded the famed Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Culture in Westwood. Hammer immediately set about completely restoring the entire property.  Sadly, though, a massive fire broke out at approximately 9:20 p.m. on the night of October 5, 2005, one month before he was set to move in.  Over 80 firefighters were called in from neighboring cities to fight the blaze and it took them over three hours to even contain it.   Flames were still burning the following morning and ended up causing over $20 million worth of damage and completely gutting the property.  According to some neighbors that I spoke with while stalking the place, rumor has it that the fire was started due to a dispute between contractors.  What a complete and total shame!  No charges were ever filed in the case and the 3.3 acre vacant lot is currently for sale for a whopping $10 million.  You can see some great aerial views of the mansion before and after it was burned on Zillow

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Hollywood rumors about the mansion have been circling around Pasadena pretty much since the time the house was built, the two most prevalent of which being that it was owned at one time by former Beatle Paul McCartney and that it was used as Bruce Wayne’s manor in the 1960s television series Batman.  Both of those rumors are completely false.  And while I am not sure how the Paul McCartney story came to be, the Batman rumor is easy enough to figure out.  The real Wayne Manor is located just a few houses up the road at 380 S. San Rafael Avenue and looks extremely similar in appearance to the Just Married mansion. Batman and Paul McCartney aside, though, the Atkin’s house has a Hollywood resume any actor would envy.

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In Just Married, the mansion, which was supposedly located in Beverly Hills, belonged to Sarah’s extremely wealthy father, who co-owned both the Dodgers and the Lakers in the flick.  For whatever reason, though, the exterior of the house was never shown in its entirety, but the front gate area did appear quite a bit.

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As did the front door/front porch . . .

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. . . and the intercom outside of the main gate, which was used as a running joke throughout the movie.  And, even though it wasn’t the same exact intercom which appeared in Just Married, I just had to pose for a pic with it.  😉

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Thankfully, the area where Sam (aka Ashton Kutcher) played flag football with Sarah’s family is still intact and is visible through the front gate. 

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The mansion also stood in for the Carlton Hotel in several episodes of TV’s Dynasty.

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The residence was also featured in the 1985 movie Clue, but as you can see in the above screen capture, some movie magic was definitely employed in the production.

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  According to some reports that I read online, while the real life driveway, retaining wall, front porch and bottom half of the mansion’s exterior were used in Clue . . .

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. . . producers had a matte painting added to the top portion of the house to make it appear larger and more sinister than it actually was.   

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In the 1991 movie Mobsters, the mansion belonged to Arnold Rothstein (aka F. Murray Abraham), but only the interior of it was ever shown.

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In 2003’s Hollywood Homicide, it belonged to Jerry Duran (aka Martin Landau) who gave part time real estate agent Sergeant Joe Gavilan (aka Harrison Ford) 72 hours to sell it.

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I am fairly certain that the real inside of the home was used in the movie, as well.

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According to several books, the mansion also stood in for the home of Rocky Balboa in Rocky V, but as you can see in the above screen captures, while the two properties resemble each other, they are not in fact the same.  There are also reports which state that the mansion was featured in the 1979 Peter Sellers’ movie Being There, but I just re-watched that film last night and did not see it anywhere.  I am guessing that it was either not in fact used in the movie or that it was used solely for interior shots.

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The mansion also supposedly appeared in The Bells of St. Mary’s, Sweet Bird of Youth, Three Men and a Little Lady, True Confessions, an episode of Murder, She Wrote, and in both the movie Topper and the subsequent television series of the same name, but because I don’t own any of those productions I have not been able to verify that information. 

UPDATE – Fellow blogger Petrea from the Pasadena Daily Photo website just sent me this amazing photograph that a friend of hers named Dave Thompson took of the Just Married mansion shortly after it was destroyed in the 2005 fire.  Thanks, Petrea!

Until next time, Happy Stalking! :)

Stalk It: The Just Married mansion was formerly located at 160 South San Rafael Avenue in Pasadena.  Sadly, the area is currently just a vacant lot.

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10 comments

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  1. Cal says:

    Have only just found your blog…LOVING it! The Cluedo movie is one of my all time faves and always wondered where it was filmed actually thought it was a set! LOL

  2. JT says:

    The Atkin house at the beginning and at around 27:25 and 33:05 of this movie from 1957 http://youtu.be/Yn2BF-xtWD8 IMDB has this house as being Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, which is incorrect.

  3. JT says:

    The home in Topper (1937) http://tinyurl.com/7lp2ou9

  4. Serenity says:

    OMG, Architect Paul R. Williams designed this house too. I’m about to have a massive heart attack of JOY! Woo-hoo! I live on the east coast. I wonder if that’s a reason why I wasn’t familiar with his legacy until now. I recently found out that my friend’s father [he was an architect] was mentored by Paul Williams [unfortunately my friend’s father died last month :( ]. Thank you for the education!!

  5. Mayra Cansigno says:

    That’s so cool……..I love the movie Just married :)

  6. Lavonna says:

    Great Post! You said you just re-watched Being There…how many movies do you own? What is your FAV?

  7. Davidete says:

    Good post, Lindsay 😉 I can imagine your face when you discovered that the mansion wasn’t there anymore… how and when did you realize all about the fire incident? right there, through your blackberry or did you ask to any neighboor?

    By the way, a very sad note (at least to me) for the passing of John Forsythe, our unforgettable Blake Carrington from Dynasty : __(

    • Cindy says:

      You are right, Davidete, great post! RIP John Forsythe and thank you for all the years of your great work and talent. You will be missed!


Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. […] also gave us Johnny Weissmuller’s former home, the McGinley Residence, Perino’s Restaurant, and the Just Married mansion.  It was actually the first home that Williams ever designed in the Brentwood area.  The property […]

  2. […] posts:The “Just Married” Mansion Since we are currently knee-deep in the middle […]

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