16 December 2010
Sinatra Ordered a Georgian But Got a Modern
I've been reading Frank: The Voice, the terrific new biography of Sinatra, by James Kaplan (who lives somewhere here in Westchester), and about halfway through there's a description of Sinatra's house, in Palm Springs. Sinatra had gone to the architect and ordered a Georgian mansion. He went to visit the architect to see the drawings:
E. Stewart Williams had shown Frank Sinatra two very different sets of drawings: one was of the Georgian mansion Frank had requested, and the other depicted Williams's far more modern concept, a low-lying concrete structure with tall picture windows and a shed roof. The young architect had literally held his breath as the singer scanned the drawings, a serious look on his tanned features. Sinatra's domineering reputation had preceded him, yet Williams, trying to forge a career, knew that building Georgian in the desert -- impractical as well as retrograde -- would make him a laughingstock in the field. He wold be seen as a servant rather than as an artist. Frank nodded, frowning, as he inspected the modern design, then, suddenly looking interested, nodded some more.
The house wasn't quite a mansion -- at forty-five hundred square feet, it was large but not gigantic, and there were only four bedrooms -- but the rooms and the windows were big, and every window, as well as a sliding glass wall, looked out onto the swimming pool, which was shaped (Williams couldn't help smiling at this inspired touch) like a grand piano. A breezeway over one end of the pool was designed to shed shadows that would resemble piano keys. Bright sun and sparkling light off the pool filled the living room: if shade was needed, the flick of a switch closed a $7,000 motorized curtain. In the distance stony Mount San Jacinto shimmered white in the fierce sun; in the foregound, two palm trees waved in the desert wind. ... Frank would call the place Twin Palms.
Here's the Twin Palms website. -- ta