8761 Appian Way: Former Home of A-List Designer Jean Louis
8787 Appian Way The ancient, original Appian Way in Rome, referred to as the “Queen Road” because of its importance to the Roman Empire, finds a worthy rival in the Southern California equivalent. Appian Way’s gorgeous, winding entry into one of LA’s most coveted Laurel Canyon neighborhoods is where this jaw-dropping 3 bedroom, 2.75 bath Tudor sits. The 2,456 sq. ft. home is currently available for the list price of $1,895,000.
We’ve featured an Appian Way home once before in our 8787 Appian Way post—another stunning home just a few feet away from this one at 8761. The neighborhood is a wonderful mix of Mediterranean-inspired—and like this one, Tudor-influenced–designs. Built in 1936, the property was constructed shortly after much of the initial Laurel Canyon development that happened in the early 1900s–when it was first marketed as a vacation spot for those wanting to rent a cheap place out of town–was finished.
The area was developed by real estate businessman Charles Spencer Mann, a descendant of the famed educator Horace Mann. Mann instituted the first trackless trolley to carry visitors from Hollywood to Laurel Canyon, helping to eke out a reputation for the picturesque area as a sort of resort town away from it all. In the early 1900s his Bungalow Land development was quite a hit, and was the beginning of a steady stream of thrill-seeking nature lovers who sought refuge from the glitz of Hollywood and the Sunset Strip.
But Laurel Canyon drew its own version of Hollywood’s glamorous set. Throughout the mid-1900s, actors such as Errol Flynn and musician Harry Houdini moved into the canyons. Producer Rick Rubin currently owns Flynn’s old estate located at 2451 Laurel Canyon Boulevard—dubbed “The Mansion,” many a well-known band has rehearsed there, and rumor has it that it’s haunted.
The Houdini Estates—now available for rentals—is just south of Flynn’s old property, located at 2400 Laurel Canyon Boulevard. The famed magician reportedly practiced some of his underwater acts in the swimming pool of the sprawling 5-acre compound, and lived there until his death in 1926. According to some websites like WildAboutHoudini.com, however, there’s some uncertainty as to whether or not the property at 2400 Laurel Canyon Boulevard is really where Houdini lived. The site claims that the home was actually owned by a man named Ralf Walker, and that “Walker and Houdini were friends — Houdini might have even invested in Walker’s Laurel Canyon Land Co. — and when the magician came to California in 1919 to film his two features for Famous Players-Lasky, The Grim Game and Terror Island, he and Bess are said to have stayed at Walker’s guesthouse at 2435 Laurel Canyon Blvd.”
Actors and magicians are just a few of the creative types that have always been drawn to Laurel Canyon—throughout the 60s and 70s, the Canyon has, of course, been home to some of rock and roll’s greatest musicians. Jim Morrison, Carole King, Frank Zappa, Neil Young, David Crosby, Mamas and the Papas, and many more all made their way to the neighborhood at some point.
Based on our research of 8761 Appian Way, the home once belonged to a Louis A. Berthault in 1944–likely the famous fashion-designer-to-the-stars known as Jean Louis.
Berthault, born in Paris in 1907, moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1940s and was the head designer at Columbia Pictures, later going on to work at Universal and designing for just about every big-name celeb along the way. Among his hundreds of designs for Hollywood A-listers was a black strapless gown that Jean Louis designed for Rita Hayworth’s performance in Gilda, and the infamous “beads and skin” dress that Marilyn Monroe wore to President John F. Kennedy’s birthday party when she breathlessly sang to him in 1962.
Berthault appeared to have sold 8761 Appian Way to a Max Eckert in 1962, and it was likely that that Max Eckert is the same Max Eckert known for photographing the homes of some of Hollywood’s most beloved celebs.
An old ad from the 1950s advertises 8761 Appian Way as a “Miniature Mansion,” and that, coupled with the “panoramic views” likely provided just the perfect muse for creative types, and why photographer Max Eckert likely operated his studio right out of 8761 Appian Way.
And who could blame him?
There are numerous spots for inspiration to be found across the property, both outdoors and within the 2,453 sq. ft. of living space indoors.
A lovely pool and an elegantly landscaped patio area are enshrouded by plenty of foliage for ultimate privacy.
Side patios offer abundant opportunities for ideal indoor/outdoor California living, and expansive bay windows keep the living areas supplied with plenty of natural light. It’s easy to think of all the entertaining that’s likely happened at this home–what with its bevy of talented and exuberant residents!
British actress Ida Lupino once owned 8761 Appian Way. Known for breaking the glass ceiling both for being the first woman to direct a film noir (The Hitch-hiker) and to direct episodes of the original Twilight Zone series, Lupino was a prolific actress and director whose work dealt with controversial issues such as pregnancy and rape (Wikipedia). She married actor Louis Hayward in the late 1930s and together, they moved into the Appian Way neighborhood. According to Ida Lupino: A Biography by William Donati, “Ida’s restless spirit ascended to an even higher aerie when she found a residence on Lookout Mountain that was a knoll at 8761 Appian Way and commanded a beautiful view of the Los Angeles far below. The neighborhood was a show-biz colony, and the Lupinos were popular hosts (Donati).”
Vaulted ceilings in the living room and sleek wooden floors keep the living areas spacious and breezy.
The expansive chef’s kitchen features a breakfast nook and easy access to an outdoor patio.
An adjacent dining room also opens up onto a patio for easy entertaining.
The sunny, spacious master bedroom lends itself well to country-style furnishings, and an octagonal foyer at the entrance provides additional privacy and seclusion from the rest of the home.
The en-suite bathroom is equally inviting and full of natural light.
The two guest bedrooms are brimming with windows, and one is located on the first floor with its own private entrance—perfect for VIP visitors.
But it is likely the expansive, panoramic views of the canyons and the city that are the biggest draw for most to 8761 Appian Way. Just below the crest, Sunset Plaza Drive winds its way down the mountain into Sunset Strip’s Historic Core—which is close enough to be convenient, but far away enough not to be a nuisance.
Comedy clubs, music venues, and bars still dot The Strip and old ghosts still haunt in some of the legendary buildings that have been around since the 30s, like the Sunset Plaza Apartments or the Piazza del Sol historical landmark, where the Katana restaurant is located and where the Hacienda Apartments once stood proud.
And of course, there’s the Roosevelt Hotel, the Sunset Tower Hotel, and Chateau Marmont all nearby to get a taste of Old Hollywood Glitz.
In the other direction, just north of 8761 Appian Way, is the famed Wonderland neighborhood—where the Wonderland murders happened in 1981 at 8763 Wonderland Avenue. The neighborhood is also home to the highly coveted Wonderland Avenue Elementary School, founded in 1927.
Just a few doors down from 8761 Appian Way is the home where Carole King lived when she released her beloved Tapestry at 8815 Appian Way, a gorgeous Norman Revival style home also once owned by Courteney Cox and now owned by actress Elizabeth Cheap. And over at 8782 Appian is where the estate once owned by Ginger Rogers and her husband Lew Ayres is located. Russell Brand is the current owner of Laurence Olivier’s first home at 8856 Appian Way, a beautifully restored Roy Selden Price-designed traditional home just a quick jaunt over from 8761 Appian. To the future owner of this creative-minded oasis: you’re in great company.