As I sit in my quaint little house, flipping through home decorating magazines, I fantasize about what it would be like to have a really large home, a home that I would hire a professional interior decorator to style. It would probably be on a mountain over looking the river. Who has a home like that? None of my friends do. But I have seen them. I have been inside. I have worked on an assortment of filmed interviews and photo shoots that have taken me inside the homes of celebrities and allowed me a peek inside the personal worlds of the people we normally only see on film or on the red carpet. People we are usually only allowed to see in a glamorous light. But this isn’t new for a makeup artist. It is our job to be trusted with these real people and to transform them larger than life. Sometimes it is in a makeup trailer, and sometimes it is in their homes. It is exciting to see how the insanely successful live, to see their glamorous homes and rich décor. It is not always, but sometimes the home some of us only dream of. I want to share some of my experiences with you.
I had a job to do grooming for a very successful acting manager for W Magazine. The location was in a house in the Hollywood Hills. It was clear immediately that the owner of the home we were shooting at was a secret. No one was supposed to know where we were, and no one was telling. Well, that was my cue to go on a scavenger hunt. It took a little time to set up the shot, so I just moseyed around the house a bit. There was a beautiful pool outside over looking the Hollywood mountains. I came inside and wandered into the large bathroom with the very large connected walk in closet and looked around. The towels all had embroidered L’s on them, and Lions. Then I noticed a collage of people pictures leaning against the counter. I found my answer. Leonardo Di Caprio. The shoot was of his manager.
Another time, I had to do grooming for Thomas Jane. He was married to Patricia Arquette at the time. I drove to their beautiful 1920’s Spanish home in Hollywood. It was right next to a busy Boulevard where I had driven down a thousand times, yet never knew who was inside the home I frequently passed. The yard was flooded with roses. The ceiling was sky high and ornately graved. There were beautiful vintage stained glass windows. I didn’t expect to see Patricia, but there she was. She was hanging out in the kitchen with their baby dressed in her sweats. No makeup. Still beautiful. Her wedding pictures were strewn across the dining room table, and there was a huge painting of her face leaning against the wall. She saw me gazing at the painting and came into the room. “I’m not keeping that,” she said, “someone gave it to me.” I could tell it was a gift from a fan and she wanted to make sure I knew she wasn’t that vain. I just smiled.
Larry Hagman had two homes, one in Ojai, the little town where I grew up as a kid, and one on the edge of a cliff over looking the Santa Monica Ocean. That’s the home I went to. It was a condo. Large glass windows stretched across half of his home. It felt like we were hovering over the ocean like a bird. What a beautiful place to live. He and his wife were very nice.
Penny Marshall’s home was in the Hollywood Hills. She’s a collector, and a huge fan of the Lakers. She had signed clothes, shoes, and basketballs. In fact, she was watching a game on TV while I was doing her makeup. A unique challenge I have not experienced since.
Sometimes I go to homes that leave sadness, despair, and tragedy behind. Remember Phil Spector? He was a very successful music producer. He produced The Beatles album, Let it Be, as well as Tina Turner and The Ramones among many others. He lived in a castle type home in an unassuming area of East L.A. He had knights in his entry where his date was shot and killed, which is also where we interviewed his new wife for 20/20. I wandered around his home and saw souvenirs of this music legend. I saw his grand piano where he played. I saw his gun collection. His new young wife’s clothes cluttered the entire upper level. Dead shrubs circled his yard. It was creepy. Did he do it? His wife was convinced not. She said it was an accident. He was in his 70’s when he went to prison with cancer. He’ll be there for at least 19 years if he lasts. What a way to go.
My very first concert was the Jackson 5 tour. I admit it. I had a serious crush on Michael Jackson when I was 15. I would never imagine in my lifetime that I would be in the home where he passed away. I worked on a photo shoot in the very bedroom where he took his last breath. I even sat on his bed. It was so close to the time of his death that his armoire still had his writing on the mirrored glass. Some rehearsal plans for the This Is It tour were written in his foundation. If that’s not stepping into a very personal part of one of the most famous celebrities in history, than I don’t know what is.
There are more homes. Modest homes in a suburban neighborhood, and a home surrounded by the red rock mountains of Sedona. A career in makeup artistry has shown me time and time again, the lives of the extraordinary. It has also shown me that when you take away the glamour, the extraordinary are real people, some with bigger problems than others. I feel very lucky to be allowed a glimpse into the personal lives of some very talented and intelligent people, whether it’s a time of grief or a time to celebrate their accomplishments. Thank you for sharing your homes with me!