Lemmon group helps put kibosh on mansion

Jack Lemmon and other stars from Celebrity Row stormed a castle and won.

Heeding a spirited protest, the Beverly Hills City Council voted 4-1 on Tuesday to kill approval of an 18-bedroom, 21-bathroom castle that would have been larger than a football field.

A group led by Lemmon and other wealthy residents had gathered 12,000 signatures to oppose the development by British businessman Robert Manoukian, saying it would dwarf a neighborhood where most homes are 5,000 to 8,000 square feet.

Faced with a choice of upholding the city’s reputation as a premiere hideaway for the wealthy or listening to a group of those same residents, the council made its choice. Members reversed a Planning Commission decision that had granted conditional approval of the 51,000-square-foot mansion.

Manoukian had no comment after the hearing, but his lawyer, Terrence Everett, said he was disappointed and would conduct meetings about the decision.

Lemmon and 150 other residents took to the palm-lined streets to protest the project, then filled the council chambers with cheers, jeers and hisses as they exchanged accusations with lawyers for Manoukian.

“I felt, by golly, that the people really did get to the council members,” Lemmon said after the vote.

Talkshow host Jay Leno, actress Shirley Jones and her performer-husband Marty Ingels were among those who arrived to show support for Lemmon’s group. Leno criticized the “mansionization of the city.”

Lemmon, MCA president Sidney Sheinberg, Ticketmaster head Fred Rosen and developer Stuart Ketchum, among others, founded Citizens for the Preservation of Beverly Hills to stop the mansion’s construction.

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