Liberace’s House from “Behind the Candelabra”Jun 4th, 2013 | By Lindsay | Category: TV Locations
Two Sunday nights ago, I (along with the rest of the world) was glued to my television set watching Behind the Candelabra, the HBO biopic about legendary pianist Liberace (Michael Douglas) and his teenaged lover, Scott Thorson (Matt Damon). I have to say that I was a bit disappointed when all was said and done, though. As Melissa Maerz said in her review of the flick for Issue #1261/1262 of Entertainment Weekly magazine, “Liberace’s fans were actually mostly straight women, the older, blue-haired types. And for better or worse, that seems like the target audience for this movie, a glossy story of love gone wrong and then (slightly) redeemed at the end, without a whole lot of deep pathos in between.” While entertaining, I had expected more. I did, of course, become a wee-bit obsessed with tracking down the film’s many locations, though, especially being that quite a bit of it was lensed right here in Palm Springs. Mike, from MovieShotsLA, also got in on the hunt and managed to find Liberace’s desert home from the movie, so I ran right out to stalk it – braving 107-degree heat, mind you! – this past Saturday afternoon.
Mike was able to locate the residence thanks to the fact that a massive brown manse was visible in the background of the scene in which Scott went to visit Liberace on his deathbed. Using aerial views and Google Street View, he matched up the angle of the manse shown in the movie to an address that was identified as 696 North Via Monte Vista in the Old Las Palmas neighborhood of Palm Springs. Sure enough, it was the right spot. Ironically enough, and unbeknownst to Mike, the hilltop mansion that he had spotted was none other than the house where Tom Rose (James Handy) lived in the Season 5 episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 titled “P.S. I Love You” (which I blogged about here).
In real life, the 5-bedroom, 4.5-bath, 2,772-square-foot dwelling, which was originally built in 1930, is known as Casa de Monte Vista. The site boasts a 0.77-acre plot of gated land, vaulted wood-beamed ceilings, a rotunda entrance, a formal dining room, a library, a clay tile roof, a covered patio, a saltwater pool, lush landscaping including an organic herb and vegetable garden, mountain views, and four (!) guest casitas. According to Zillow, the space last sold in May 1996 for $408,000. It appears to have been put on the market once again in 2008 at a price of $1,695,000, but was later taken off. The abode currently serves as a private residence/special events venue/vacation rental. You can check out the home’s website here.
As you can see below, the property is absolutely gigantic! According to the Casa de Monte Vista website, in the 1950s, the pad was owned by actor Robert Stack and then later, in the 1960s, became a frequent stomping ground of members of The Rat Pack. And while the short-lived Casa de Monte Vista blog states that the home also once belonged to Lucille Ball (as well as the creator of the margarita), I am not sure if that information is correct. The residence’s most recent brush with celebrity, besides the filming of Behind the Candelabra, took place on Sunday, May 26th when Debbie Reynolds, who played Liberace’s mom, Francis, in the flick, hosted a special viewing party on the premises.
Casa de Monte Vista was featured twice towards the end of Behind the Candelabra. The exterior of the house first popped up in the scene in which Scott went to say goodbye to Liberace at his Palm Springs residence after learning that he was gravely ill.
The real life interior of the residence, which you can see photographs of here, was also shown in that scene.
The exterior of the home showed up once again in the scene in which it was announced to the press that Liberace had passed away.
What was shown of the property in Behind the Candelabra looked so much like The Cloisters (Liberace’s real life former desert home) that I originally thought filming had taken place there. When Mike informed me that was not actually the case, I couldn’t help but wonder why on earth The Cloisters hadn’t been used. Then I passed by the place this past weekend and was shocked (and saddened) to discover that the exterior had been completely remodeled since I stalked it last and currently looks nothing like it did in Liberace’s day. (I think the actual residence might have been left unaltered, but the fencing, front gate, foliage, and driveway area have, unfortunately, been rendered unrecognizable.)
The photograph below is one I took of The Cloisters, from virtually the same angle as the above picture, back in April 2008 when I originally stalked the place. You can read that blog post here and I will be writing another post on the location in the near future.
While not technically used as a location in Behind the Candelabra, The Cloisters, in its altered state, did pop very briefly up in the background of Liberace’s funeral scene.
Big THANK YOU to Mike, from MovieShotsLA, for finding this location!
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: Casa de Monte Vista, aka Liberace’s house from Behind the Candelabra, is located at 696 North Via Monte Vista in the Old Las Palmas neighborhood of Palm Springs. You can visit the home’s vacation rental/special events venue website here.