Monday, November 28, 2011

How the Stars Really Lived

Articles about how the stars live at home have always helped to sell magazines. Not only has the roster of popular actors and actresses changed through the years, but so too have the decorative styles with which they choose to live. In the 1930s, more than a few actresses resided in homes that bore striking resemblances to the glamorous movie sets of the era. But, by 1940, some of that Hollywood pastiche seemed to give way to more established styles like French Provincial or even Early American.

The homes featured here appeared in the November 1940 issue of House & Garden. It seems that designer William Haines had a lock on the Hollywood movie community as five out of the six homes shown were of his doing. The sixth home was designed by Tom Douglas. While some rooms bear the mark of drama that you might expect from the likes of Ann Sothern and George Cukor (who of course was a director rather than actor), others seemed to evoke a sense of East Coast propriety. That bedroom of the Richard Wallaces looks like a room in which one of Katherine Hepburn's characters might slumber.

The dressing table of Ann Sothern which, according to the magazine, was planned by Sothern herself. Helen Conway of William Haines decorated the room.

The Richard Wallaces' bedroom designed by William Haines. A rose chintz covered the walls, windows, and the headboard.

"Constance Bennett likes a formal setting", or so said House & Garden. William Haines, decorator.

"Chinese elegance" in the William Haines' designed living room of George Cukor.

One of the only houses in this article that was not designed by Haines. The home of Wayne Morris was the handiwork of decorator Tom Douglas.

Tropical flowers abound in actor Sam Jaffe's entrance hall. William Haines, decorator.

All photos from House & Garden, November 1940


  1. Love the bedroom -- and the entrance hall.

  2. Marvelous~a sort of time capsule of pre-war taste.
    I'm really taken with the lampshades in the Tom
    Douglas designed room, and trying to figure them out!

  3. Oh how times have changed!!!!! Thanks for the peek.

  4. I adored seeing these. Thanks xx

  5. I am so glad that we have evolved. These rooms explain quite a bit of what the social structure was like in that time frame. Pretty stiff, although gorgeous. thanks. Mary

  6. Though these rooms may not inspire us, it is very interesting to examine past ideals of comfort and style. Shiree'

  7. I always love seeing historic interiors, especially homes of Hollywood stars. Their abodes always seem so much more homey than their glamorous personas would imply. Love the citron settees and those black and white lamp shades.



  8. I have always loved Cukor's home. But I don't know if I really want to see it now or not, decorated by the current owner Lynn von Kersting and her husband Richard Irving who own the famous see-and-be-seen restaurant, The Ivy.

  9. No mention of Constance Bennett is complete without this link:

    Thanks for the star tour!


  10. I love this post! I was just reading "Class Act: William Haines"... always noticed him mentioned in Crawford bios but I was excited to learn even more about his work in its own right. And did these scans ever help! Thanks for posting!