SELLER: Leeza Gibbons
LOCATION: Encino, Calif.
SIZE: 8,522 square feet, 7 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms
YOUR MAMA’S NOTES: Los Angeles is positively littered with celebrity legacy estates — properties that tend to pass from one showbizzer to the next — such as the so-called ‘Al Jolson Estate’ in Encino currently owned by Emmy-winning veteran entertainment news journalist Leeza Gibbons and newly listed on the open market, we first learned from the Bizzy Boys at Celebrity Address Aerial, at $5.995 million.
So the stories go, Mister Jolson, a vaudevillian who became one of the highest-earning entertainers in Hollywood and who “almost single-handedly…helped introduce African-American musical innovations like jazz, ragtime, and the blues to white audiences,” owned the 2.17-acre estate from the mid- to late-1930s. Though there are rumors and reports that suggest he won the property in a poker game, Don Ameche actually paid $28,000 for Jolson’s estate sometime around 1940.
For much of the 1990s the historic spread was owned by long ago divorced Tinseltowners Parker Stevenson and Kirstie Alley, who sold it, in 1997, to Golden Globe-winning “Sons of Anarchy” star Katey Sagal and her second husband, Jack White. According to the San Fernando Valley Blog, Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards bought the property in June 2004 for $4.2 million but soon sold it, in March 2006, for $6.62 million to film, television and Broadway producer Michael Jacobs, who, in turn, sold the property in December 2011 — at a substantial loss — for $5.2 million to Miz Gibbons and her (fourth) husband, Steve Fenton.
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This is not, as it turns out, the first time Miz Gibbons and Mister Fenton have attempted to unload their celeb-pedigreed estate in Encino. During the fall of 2012 and throughout most of the following spring the property was listed at a smidgen under six million clams, and current listing details show the walled, gated and fully landscaped estate includes an updated main house originally built in 1935 and currently configured with with seven bedrooms and 8 bathrooms in 8,522 square feet plus a self-contained guesthouse.
A central foyer with classy and classic crisp black and white market checkerboard floor leads to amply proportioned formal living and dining rooms, a family room with fireplace and built-in wet bar, a marble-floored sun room — furnished in listed photos as a second formal dining room with twin tables for eight — and an office/library lined on at least three walls with glass-fronted bookcases. A large if unconventionally shaped butler’s pantry connects the dining room to a spacious kitchen where there’s a breakfast area with built-in banquette seating, a full collection of high-grade appliances and, hung menacingly over the center island, a brass pot rack. Other indoor creature comforts include a temperature-controlled wine cellar, a fitness room and — natch — a screening room with projection equipment and a built-in bar/candy counter.
The master suite privately occupies the entire second floor, according to online marketing materials, and includes a separate sitting room plus a secondary sitting area in the bedroom, two custom-fitted walk-in closets/dressing rooms and a pair of marble-lined bathrooms, the larger decked out with double-sink vanity, soaking tub and separate, marble-tiled steam shower.
The back of the house opens up to extensive stone patios, one of them tree-shaded with a built-in fire pit, hedge-ringed dining terrace and a complete outdoor kitchen and grilling station. Set off to the side of the house, a huge, rectangular swimming pool is surrounded by flagstone terracing and anchored by a pool house/guesthouse.
Over the course of her long showbiz career, Miz Gibbons — the most recent winner of “The Celebrity Apprentice” who raised nearly half a million clams for her Alzheimer’s-related foundation Leeza’s Care Connection — has owned a number of multimillion-dollar homes in Los Angeles. Currently, according to our research, her property portfolio currently includes a humble if hardly inexpensive bungalow on a prime West Hollywood street she acquired in early 2011 for $1.199 million, and last May (2014) she and Mister Fenton shelled out $7.69 million for a stately if slightly down-on-her-heels clapboard-sided Colonial manse in the flats of Beverly Hills that was once owned, or at least occupied, according to the fine folk at Movieland Directory, by slapstick vaudevillian Harry Ritz.
Listing photos: Coldwell Banker