Encore Performance: The Gary Cooper House - Page 2

Designed with star power by architect A. Quincy Jones—the Cooper house takes center stage for the second time

"We would collect rocks from the beach and throw them in too," she says. "It was a family thing, bringing nature into the house as much as possible." Each bedroom has its private courtyard.

Janis remembers watching Jones at work, talking intently to her parents before arriving at a design. "They worked closely together," she says. "That was Quincy's way." He became friends with the Coopers, and sometimes socialized with them in years afterwards. Parties at the Cooper house attracted Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, and Clark Gable, and often involved jam sessions around the piano. But Janis says Jones seemed too busy for much socializing.

quincy jones architect

"I remember him being very intense about his work," she says.

She also knows one thing: "Quincy Jones was no Howard Roark." Consider what happened when the Coopers, expecting their home to be nearing completion, arrived back in town from a European vacation. They noticed that the walls to the kitchen only went halfway up towards the ceiling. "My mother said, 'When is that going to be closed in?'"

"Oh no," Jones said, "that is never going to be closed in." "Oh no, we can't have that open," Rocky said. "The food smells will come into the house."

Jones, rather than blowing up the house, ran the walls to the ceiling. "He laughed at their inability to read an architectural plan and understand it right there!" Janis says.

It all worked out in the end. "They loved it, absolutely," Janis says of her parents and the house. "He loved the aesthetics of it. My father was an artist before he was an actor. Wherever you looked it was kind of a treat for the eye." Cooper liked the house so much he named his production company Baroda, after the street the house sits on.

gary cooper house in construction

They did have problems with the radiant heat, however. It leaked, causing the floors to buckle.

The Coopers hung paintings by Picasso and the French Impressionists, and Rocky decorated the house eclectically, Janis remembers. There was Chippendale furniture, a 19th century Chinese screen, and modern furnishings by the Hollywood decorator Billy Haines.

The gardens, which were designed by the now-legendary Garret Eckbo, included terraces for Cooper's garden, where he grew tomatoes, potatoes, green vegetables, and corn. "Especially corn," Janis says. "We loved fresh corn." They'd enjoy it while barbecuing alongside their nearby tea house.

Cooper also appreciated the three-car garage, where he enjoyed working on his cars, which ranged from Jaguars to a custom Plymouth with rocket-size tailfins and enough power to move like a Titan rocket. "He was under a car as much as he was in it," Janis says.

gary cooper wife and daughter curbside

In many ways, Cooper was a simple guy. Janis remembers a father who'd use phrases like 'hot ziggity,' or 'by damn!' when he was excited, and would drive the family to Sun Valley while reciting 'The Cremation of Sam McGee,' the famous Robert W. Service poem. But he was Hollywood as well, and an affair with Pat Neill (his co-star in 'The Fountainhead') led to a marital rift that lasted several years, with Cooper out of the country most of the time.

The house, Janis says, "brought mother and father together. Working together on building the house was a very good vehicle, working together on something new."

David Bohnett, who bought the house in 1998, was also attracted by the idea of working on something new. He hired architect Mark Rios of the firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios to upgrade the home's systems and to make some relatively minor changes. A prior owner had done a more substantial restoration, undoing damage wrought by earlier owners.

baroda wall

But Bohnett's transformations of the setting have been profound. Working with Rios, he redid the garden, brought in artist Brad Howe to create 'the Baroda Wall,' 240 feet of retaining wall filled with abstract forms that tell the story of the house, its setting, the clouds that scud by.

interior and pool views

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