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Farralone – Frank Sinatra’s Former House

Dec 14th, 2011 | By | Category: Marilyn Monroe Locations

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While doing research on the Chaplin Court apartment complex, which I blogged about last Thursday, I came across some information about an oft-filmed-at Chatsworth-area estate formerly owned by Old Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra, that, for some inexplicable reason, I had somehow not previously known about.  The mansion, which in most circles is known simply as Farralone, is a marvel of modern design that just came on the public market for the very first time in history a couple of weeks ago.  And, let me tell you, I took one look at the photographs featured on the real estate listing and became just a wee-bit obsessed with stalking the place.  So I dragged the Grim Cheaper right on out there last weekend to do just that.

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Farralone, or the “Great Glass Mansion” or the “Sinatra Compound” as it is also sometimes called, was commissioned by Chase-Manhattan-Bank-heiress Dora Hutchison in 1951 and was designed by Pereira & Luckman, the architecture firm who also gave us the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco, the Theme Building (aka The Encounter Restaurant & Bar) at the Los Angeles International Airport, and, my personal favorite, the Disneyland Hotel.  Dora built the house to be used as a party pad and regularly hosted rousing soirees where she counted Ava Gardner, Lucille Ball, Judy Garland, and Vincent Minnelli as guests.  When Dora moved back to her native New York, she leased the property to none other than Frank Sinatra, who remained there for almost ten years.  Sadly though, as you can see above, not much of the property is visible from the street.

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But that’s why God created real estate listings!  The estate, which was just put on the market earlier this month for a cool $12 million, boasts sweeping views, parking for over 200 cars, 10,000 square feet of living space, 4 bedrooms, 6 baths, 3 private offices, a conference room, a detached gym, a 50-foot swimming pool, 14 acres of land, a vineyard, a production studio, 16-foot ceilings, glass walls, and a 1,000-square-foot, 1-bedroom, 2-bath guest house (with its own separate pool) where my girl Miss Marilyn Monroe supposedly lived in for a time.

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Farralone has seen so much filming over the years that, according to a December 2nd, 2011 Forbes article, it not only nets up to $2 million a year in location fees, but also “comes with a property manager who acts as a liaison with the studios, paid for by the studios.”  The article further states that the “main house also boasts a lower level production studio equipped with conference room, edit bays, private office and a separate entrance, all paid for and maintained by the studios.”  Ironically enough, when we showed up to stalk the property some filming was actually taking place.  The super-nice security guard on duty informed us the the shoot was for a reality dating show of some sort, but she was unsure of the name.

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In the Season 4 episode of Californication titled “Lawyers, Guns, and Money”, Farralone showed up as the residence belonging to Stu Beggs (aka Stephen Tobolowsky), where Marcy Ellen Runkle (aka Pamela Adlon) made a house call to give Stu a “full Kardashian” body wax.

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In the 2001 thriller Swordfish, Farralone was the house where Gabriel Shear (aka John Travolta) lived and where Halle Berry famously shed her top for the very first time onscreen – an act for which she was supposedly paid a whopping $500,000.  Thanks to some crafty CGI, the Sinatra compound was made to appear as if it was located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles for the film, instead of Chatsworth.

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Farralone was also the home where Jack Wyatt (aka Will Ferrell) lived and threw his post-divorce party in the 2005 romantic comedy Bewitched.

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In 2006’s Dreamgirls, Farralone stood in for the residence belonging to pop star Deena Jones (aka Beyonce Knowles) and her music-producer husband, Curtis Taylor Jr. (aka Jamie Foxx).

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In the Season 2 episode of Mad Men titled “The Jet Set”, Farralone was used as the supposed-Palm-Springs-area home where Joy (aka Laura Ramsey) took Don Draper (aka Jon Hamm) while he was visiting California.

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In the 2002 flick The Salton Sea, Farralone was the home where Nancy Plummer (aka Shirley Knight) and Verne Plummer (aka R. Lee Ermey) lived.

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In 2001’s Tomcats, the Sinatra Compound was where Kyle Brenner (aka Jake Busey) lived.

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The real estate listing mentioned that Farralone had been featured in an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and I really have to pat myself on the back for this one because as soon as I read those words I knew immediately that the episode in question was Season 9’s “Kill Me If You Can”.  I was not even watching CSI regularly back in 2008 when the “Kill Me If You Can” episode aired, but I had caught it on TV at some point and when I saw CSI mentioned in the listing, my mind immediately flashed to an image of Lawrence Fishburne standing by the Farralone pool while investigating the death of an art dealer.  Why these random, useless bits of location information remain stored in my head is beyond me, but they do.  Smile

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Thanks to commenter Becky on the Design Public blog, I learned that in the Season 1 episode of Six Feet Under titled “An Open Book”, Farralone stood in for the home belonging to the parents of Brenda Chenowith (aka Rachel Griffiths).

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And thanks to the HGTV website, I learned that Farralone was where the Design Star contestants lived during Season 4 of the reality series.

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Location manager Scott Trimble also let me know that Farralone was where Optimus Prime came out of the swimming pool in the first Transformers movie.

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Fellow stalker Jason informed me that the estate also showed up as the party location at the very beginning of 2005’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

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Farralone also popped up in the 2004 music video for Usher’s hit song “Burn”.

Usher–Burn–filmed at Farralone in Chatsworth

You can watch the “Burn” video by clicking above.

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Several articles have also claimed that the home appeared in the 2001 biopic Ali, but I scanned through that movie yesterday and did not seen anything resembling it pop up onscreen, so I am fairly certain that information is incorrect.  I am thinking that the house might have instead been featured in the similarly-named television movie Ali: An American Hero, but because I have never seen it and was unable to find it anywhere online,  I cannot verify that hunch.  One rumor that I can put to rest is that the Farralone pool was not actually the site of Marilyn Monroe’s second-to-last photo shoot, as the real estate listing and several articles about the property have claimed.  Truth be told, that photo shoot was not really a photo shoot at all, but simply consisted of photographer Lawrence Schiller snapping some stills of the starlet while she filmed scenes for her very last movie, Something’s Gotta Give.  The shoot, which took place a few days before Marilyn’s death and featured her skinny-dipping while talking to co-star Dean Martin, was not actually shot on location, but on a set that was built inside of Stage 14 on the Fox Studios lot in Century City.

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As you can see above, the pool from Something’s Gotta Give does not match the real estate listing photographs of the Farralone pool.

You can watch a YouTube video of the Something’s Gotta Give pool scene being shot, during which it is stated that filming took place on Stage 14 of the Fox lot, by clicking above.

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: Farralone, the former Frank Sinatra estate, is located at 9361 Farralone Avenue in Chatsworth.  You can visit the home’s official real estate listing here and you can check out some fabulous interior pics of the property here.

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12 comments

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  1. Patrice Bader says:

    Also the scene of Mick St John’s seduction by the vampire, For slime DuVall in CBS’ MOONLIGHT.

  2. jmore818 says:

    I have had a view of this mansion ro 46 years from the house I grew up in, which is at just about the same altittude as the mansion. This mansion was only leased by Frank Sinatra, from Dora Hutchinson, an heiress to Chase Manhattan bank, I believe. She resided in the residence from about 1951 until about 1954. Sinatra sublet he guest house to M. Monroe and suppsedly her last photo shoot was taken there by the pool. Judy Garland and Vincent Minelli, as well as Lucille Ball and Lauren Becall were supposeldly married there, before Sinatra leased the place, is what I have been told. During the late 60’s the Chatsworth Reservoir was full and the water came up to the base of the hill on which the property is located. The “summit” housing tract is adjacent to the property, and was once part of the mansion property, and was occupied by horses, lots of horses. I have photographs of the hill as it was before they developed the property, graded down a hilltop and built expesive homes. I have heard that some of the owners and/or former owneres of the homes in the tract next to the mansion include famous Rock and Roll Stars, Baseball Players and the Comic Sinbad. I never really looked close at that house with binoculars so it is nice to have some pictures to see what the property looks like. My house is in one of them as it is part of the view from the mansion.

  3. John (Bay Area) says:

    Wow… Great Post! Such a facinating location. Next time I see it in a movie or TV show, its going to jump out at me now. I bet they will film an episode of the Mentalist there someday. You should pose as a prospective buyer to get inside.

  4. Marty McFly says:

    Val Kilmer attended Chatsworth High School along with Kevin Spacey and Mare Winningham. Val Kilmer was raised in the original Roy Rogers estate that is very nearby to the Farralone estate which is literally several blocks down. I wonder if Val had a chance to visit his old neighborhood while filming for The Salton Sea. You can read about the Roy Rogers estate here:
    http://www.sfvalleyblog.com/2011/09/celebrity-real-estate-former.html

  5. We also filmed there on the first “Transformers” movie. It’s the scene when Optimus Prime pulls himself up out of the swimming pool and sneaks away just as the young girl’s family comes outside.

  6. April says:

    Great post Lindsay!! 😀 I would love to visit this place now!!!

  7. Jason says:

    What about the movie “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” with Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr.? The first scene looks like this house. Was it? If not, where was that filmed?

  8. Lavonna says:

    You know I love old hollywood so great post. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz lived in Chatsworth they had a ranch they named Desilu (like their production company)


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