What did Greta Garbo do with her alone time? How did Jayne Mansfield decorate her home office? What did Danny Kayne cook in his kitchen? I love Architecture Digest’s Hollywood at Home. Though it was published in 2005, I find it interesting in 2011. If I could have a hideaway in Truckee, CA I would like my home to have a trough sink for my bathroom like Dennis Quaid’s home in Montana. Quaid’s turn-of-the-last-century cabin has a Montana stone fireplace and refurbished planks salvaged from the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
Reading this architecture and interior design book felt like an extension of my biography reading habit. Reading about Greta Garbo, Jayne Mansfield, and Danny Kaye’s home helped me understand how objects in the home can tell so much about a person’s outlook on life. For example, Greta Garbo collected Renoir. She also had such an eye for great art that when she bought David Levine’s The Pink Hat, it took her five minutes to decide to buy it after she spotted it at its opening. She was also an artist off screen. She designed rugs. Her Birds in Flight rugs are have classical motifs such as medallions yet modern and colorful geometrical patterns. I agree with her own confident statement that “there will never be another Garbo.”
Jayne Mansfield is delightful cheeky in her decor of her Pink Palace. Her red leather office is unabashedly sexy. Mansfield told reporters that she wanted a place full of cupids and hearts. Her bath decor included gold-plated swan fixtures and floor-to-ceiling pink shag. Her sense of humor, sexiness and likability is her legacy.
When I saw Danny Kaye on television in the 1990s, it was on the Cosby Show. He’d make guest appearances as the Cosby children’s dentist. I also watched him in Inspector General every year, during the holidays, with my mom. It tickles me even more that Danny Kaye completed an apprenticeship in Chinese cooking through San Francisco’s Johnny Kan restaurant chefs. His daughter reminisces about her dad’s nine-course Chinese meals that he made in his full Chinese kitchen. His specialties were Chicken Hoi Sin and Banjo Duck. I’m even more crazy about Danny Kaye now that I know he ate lotus paste moon cakes like me!
I recommend the chapters about Angelica Huston and her father John Huston. Martin Scorsese’s townhouse and Jack Warner’s interior design choices are certain to surprise you. Happy reading!