SELLERS: Michele Lee and Fred Rappoport
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
SIZE: 9,593 square feet, 5-6 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Every now and then a multi-million dollar estate promoted as a celebrity owned home will pop up on the market. Your Mama’s years of celebrity real estate experience tells us that more often than not a home pushed on the open market labeled as owned by a famous person usually turns out to be owned by a “famous” person Your Mama ain’t never heard of before.
That’s not the case with a large, Los Angeles, CA mansion recently listed for $7,850,000 that floridly advertises itself in (online) marketing materials as an “enchanting celebrity-owned villa steeped in romance and generation.” As it turns out, we learned first from The Bizzy Boys at Celebrity Address Aerial and then confirmed with property records, the “celebrity-owned villa” is owned by Emmy- and Tony-nominated singer/dancer/actress/writer/producer/director Michele Lee and her producer husband of 25 (or so) years, Fred Rappoport.
‘Course, the youngins won’t have a clue who Miz Lee is but old people like Your Mama anyone with a high-camp view of Hollywood certainly knows Miz Michele Lee was a frequent game show panelist in the 1960s and ’70s (Match Game, Celebrity Sweepstakes, Hollywood Squares) who also appeared multiple times on The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. Her Showbiz salad days really kicked into high gear in 1978 when she landed a starring role on the long-running prime time soap story Knots Landing. The evening melodrama, which also starred Joan van Ark, ran for 14 seasons into the mid-1990s and Miz Lee is the only cast member to appear in all 344 episodes. That may sound bizarrely trivial to someone who farms or saves lives for a living, akin to the Best Attendance Award in sixth grade, but in Tinseltown, where air-time equals money and power for actors and actresses, that is quite an accomplishment.
Since Knots Landing went off the air in 1993, Miz Lee, now 70 years old, hasn’t worked much in front of the camera. Perhaps that’s by choice and perhaps not. Let’s be honest, Hollywood is an ugly, rejecting place for actresses older than 32 or maybe 35. In 1998 she starred in and executive produced the biopic Scandalous Me: The Jacqueline Susann Story and her slender post-millennial credits include a few small parts on the big screen (Along Came Polly) and a number of smaller parts on the small screen (Miss Match, Will & Grace and Family Guy).
Property records aren’t entirely clear, but as best as Your Mama can tell, Miz Lee and Mister Rappoport have owned their Los Angeles estate—at times together and separately—since at least July 1992 and possibly longer.
Property records and listing information shows the gated estate encompasses a pair of pie-shaped parcels that total just over an acre on a narrow, quiet lane in the affluent Los Angeles enclave known in real estate circles as Little Holmby Hills, a collection of curving streets lined with large, well-maintained mansions (and mini-mansions) on the western border of the hoity-toity Los Angeles Country Club, just north of Wilshire Boulevard. The property does not, it should be noted, directly back up to the golf course but a gentle but definitive slope from the front of the property to the back allows for an over-the tree tops view of the links from the mansion’s second floor balconies.
The red-tile-roofed Mediterranean villa was originally built in 1929 and was updated and upgraded by its current owners who, according to listing information, engaged the services of architect Eli Attia for said renovations. We’re not sure how big this place was when it was built in 1929 but listing information indicates it currently weighs in at a quite commodious but far from colossal 9,593 square feet. Each of the five family/guest bedrooms has an attached bathroom, as per listing information, and there are additional staff quarters for those folks who require or desire live-in domestic assistance.
The multi-winged mansion wraps around a double-gated motor court paved with Spanish tiles that continue into the turreted entry and large foyer outfitted with a fireplace and archways that connect to the various wings of the residence. The red tile floors turn to gleaming, wide-plank hardwood in the light flooded formal living room that also features a fireplace, antique-looking wood-beamed ceiling and banks of French doors on three sides that open to the semi-tropically landscaped backyard entertainment areas.
A wide corridor—conveniently outfitted with a sunken built-in wet bar for refreshing cocktails on the way to dinner—connects the formal living room to the formal dining room. One of the mansion’s two kitchens comes equipped with a large center island with snack counter, high grade stainless steel appliances, slab granite counter tops, glass-fronted (upper) cabinetry, and a row of arched windows that over look the lush backyard gardens. We’re just going to pretend we don’t see the pair of pot racks that flank the copper hood over the range top or that deeply upsetting and perplexing, over-sized rooster figurine on the floor by the spiral staircase that, quite frankly, gives Your Mama the heebie-jeebies. Imagine coming up on that thing on a shadowy and boozy late-night candy run? No thank you.
Listing information indicates the Lee-Rappoport residence also includes a cozy den with built in book cases; window-wrapped home office; wine tasting room; substantial (second floor) fitness room; and a multi-level screening room on the main floor where a wide screen rolls magically down from the ceiling in front of a wide, curving grid of square window that overlook the backyard areas.
The second floor master suite includes a sitting room (with fireplace), bedroom area (with breakfast kitchenette), balcony access, and a out-dated but superstar-style boutique-like closet/dressing room with tons of built-in cabinets and hanging racks and an elevated viewing platform with angled, three-panel mirror for checking panty lines.
The back of the house spills out to multi-level brick terraces that surround a swimming pool and spa with outdoor kitchen and cabana. Listing information indicates there’s room for a tennis court should the next owner desire one. Secluded stone pathways meander the tree-shaded slope below the house and backyard.
Your Mama remembers reading somewhere—we can’t recall just where now—that Miz Lee and Mister Rappoport also maintain a residence in New York City but unfortunately we can’t provide the children with any details of that.
listing photos: Coldwell Banker / Beverly Hills North