Friday, April 12, 2019

Palm Springs delights: where the rich and famous escaped Hollywood

The Elvis Presley home in Palm Springs is a major attraction and a striking presence, with its unusual modern design. 


Palm Springs and its star-studded list of  residents came
 about because the studios wanted to keep stars close to L.A.

THE STARS come out in Palm Springs. Or at least star-gazers do. Many of the greats who once luxuriated in the desert sun are gone to that big movie palace in the sky, but there are still some around this ever popular hide-away of the rich and famous. The stars settled here because studios insisted contracted personnel be within two hours from Hollywood -- not as far as "Sin City," Las Vegas.
 Many of Palm Springs' current residents snd visitors were barely born when Frank Sinatra, known as "the Chairman of the Board," caroused with Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin.  John F. Kennedy visited Palm Springs to see Marilyn Monroe, who lived in a sweet little bungalow at 1326 Rose Avenue.
Loretta Young entertained here.  Bob Hope golfed here.
Find out which star owned this Palm Springs home
when you take a lively tour with guide Jeffrey Swanson.
"The King," Elvis Presley, leased and later purchased a striking contemporary home here, honeymooning with Priscilla in 1967 after a secret wedding in Las Vegas. After ups and downs with listings -- from $9.5 million in 2014 to $5.9, to less than $1 million, the home is currently valued at a surprising $750,000.
Keep in mind that July in Palm Springs can be 110 degrees! It is not a year-round comfort zone, but gorgeous on our recent spring visit.
Designed by prolific modern architect William Krisel, the Elvis house was built for Robert Alexander of Alexander Construction Company, which assembled thousands of Southern California homes in the 1950s and ’60s, defining the architectural style of Palm Springs.
The Double Tree by Hilton Golf Resort Palm Springs is a luxurious base
for touring this beautiful resort town. Fabulous landscaping, great food.
THE ELVIS HOME is a five-bedroom, 5,000-square feet spectacle, built in four intersecting pod-like wings. The unusual house where The King held court was named "House of Tomorrow" by Look Magazine in 1962. Pool and tennis court included, of course.
We discovered Palm Springs on an entertaining near 3-hour tour with a brilliant guide, Jeffrey Swanson. He's lived in Palm Springs most of his life, and knows the stars' homes and the stories that bring them to life. He described "Hollywood's Playground" with anecdotes and lively history, including bits about Marilyn, Elvis, Nat King Cole, Liberace and the Rat Pack, Cary Grant, Jack Benny and more.  His user-friendly commentary offered insights into plants, climate,
Jeffrey Swanson is a font of Palm Springs
knowledge and lore, a terrific tour guide.
architecture, eateries and the region's history, including its Native American heritage. We ended the engaging day with a date milkshake at Windmill Market.
THE MOST famous contemporary star owning Palm
Twin Palms, Frank Sinatra's Palm Springs home.
Springs property today is Leonardo DiCaprio, who bought singer/actress Dinah Shore's former home at 432 Hermosa. It's an elegant but not over-the-top place designed by famed architect Donald Wexler with Shore's help in 1964.
A gigantic statue of Marilyn Monroe, "Forever
Marilyn,"  was in Palm Springs for many years
and has toured Chicago and other U.S. cities
For a thrilling bird's eye view, take the Palm Springs
Aerial Tramway, 8,500 feet above the town.  Hike, shop,
explore and dine in the Forest View Room.
The Sinatra house, "Twin Palms,"  is a pretty mid-century modern house where "the Chairman" lived from 1947 to 1954. Liberace designed his two Palm Springs homes in musical motif. Swanson showed us both,  along with those owned by Alan Ladd, George Montgomery and the famous Gabor sisters, Eva and Zsa Zsa.

You can find the homes yourself, but we recommend the delightful Viator tour for its ease and entertainment. Swanson's love of the place shines through.
And don't forget the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, to give you a bird's eye view of the whole extravaganza.
  Dean Martin's home is a laid-back ranch style place propped
against the hillside with welcoming palm trees. 

Peny Ganner and her brother, James, swoon in childlike wonder
during an afternoon of indulgence at the Museum of Ice Cream. 
UP NEXT:  Ice cream, we all scream! Who doesn't like ice cream, so why not venture into the Sprinkles Pool with us at the San Francisco. We took our favorite photo subjects to The Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco. The concept began in New York City as an interactive art exhibit with ice cream and candy themed exhibits, all brightly colored, in a maze of rooms containing a rock-candy cave, a unicorn, soda fountain and a swimming pool of rainbow sprinkles. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us each Friday.


  1. Houston Sinatra FansApril 13, 2019 at 6:29 AM

    So good to know we can see these places on a tour rather than trying to figure how to see them on our own-- which would take days. We will find Jeffrey! Sounds fun.

  2. Santa Barbara GolfersApril 13, 2019 at 6:38 AM

    Great overview of our favorite get-away. Pretty golf course and we stay at the lovely Double Tree, too.

  3. Pasadena Desert RatsApril 13, 2019 at 11:03 AM

    We took this same tour and agree Jeff is amazing. His stories were so entertaining, as you say. He really made the tour for us.

  4. San Francisco Fun SeekersApril 16, 2019 at 10:04 PM

    Jeffrey sounds like a treasure. When we book this next month, we will ask for him. Good story and photos of an historic town.

  5. We love this tour and are so happy to see Jeffrey lauded. We take city tours all over the world and he is tops. Great reporting and fun photos.