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Carrie Fisher Leaves Small, Showbiz-Pedigreed Property Portfolio

Variety logo Variety 12/29/2016 Mark David
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Carrie Fisher suffered a massive heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles and she died several days later on December 27, 2016. She was 60 years old. The saucy and husky-voiced novelist and actress, perhaps best known for penning both the book and screenplay for “Postcards from the Edge” and for portraying Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” movies, had been in the U.K. prior to her death filming the third season of Amazon’s “Catastrophe.” We’ll leave it to the real entertainment industry reporters to give Miz Fisher all the props she earned and deserves and instead do what we do, which is to have a wee peek at her sometimes tumultuous and too-short life through the lens of her small but fabled property portfolio.

An unnamed “source close to the actress” told Entertainment Tonight the gutsy and outspoken Hollywood royal — her parents were crooner Eddie Fisher and the inestimable Debbie Reynolds — “’had just bought a place in London’ and was ‘looking forward’ to having ‘more time there.’” No details about the property were provided and, in truth, we know nothing about the alleged acquisition. What we do know is that for at least the last 20-some years she resided in a Hollywood-pedigreed hacienda-style home on 2.66 lushly landscaped acres secreted down a long gated driveway in the Coldwater Canyon area of Beverly Hills. The property was once owned by Robert Armstrong, the ship’s captain in “King Kong” (1933), and later owned and/or occupied by Bette Davis as well as by eight-time Oscar winning tour-de-force costume designer Edith Head.

Property records aren’t clear how much Fisher paid for the place but they do suggest the secluded spread was acquired in 1992 or 1993 and, although it’s tough to know if the numbers are correct, property records and other online resources indicate the red-tile-roofed main residence dates to the late 1910s, was rebuilt in the mid-1930s, and is configured with four bedrooms and four bathrooms in 4,210-square-feet. Fronted by an inviting porch paved with terra cotta tiles, the main house was photographed for the November 2004 issue of Architectural Digest where it was described as a “hip museum of a house, an ode to the obsessive joy of collecting” with stained glass windows and a “warren of rooms” filled with “audaciously oversized leather 1930s club chairs,” “Biedermeier low and side tables,” and “whimsical offerings of folk art and Indian rugs.” The interior spaces are composed of a series of rooms that lead straight into another without hallways and include spacious, comfortably appointed living and dining rooms separated by a massive archway.

Bordered by estates owned by Paul McCartney and inventor Ron Popeil, Fisher’s property additionally includes a swimming pool set into a tree-ringed clearing, a tennis court and a guest cottage that, according to Architectural Digest, she lent out to any number of “famous and near famous” folk who needed a place to hole up, hide out or heal. The guesthouse’s quirkiest attribute may be an upright piano rather unusually located in the acoustically pleasing bathroom where singer James Blunt famously recorded his 2003 song “Goodbye My Lover.

Property records show that at the time of her passing Miz Fisher also owned a 1930s cottage above Laurel Canyon that appears to have been bought in 2001 for an unknown amount and that property records show has just two bedrooms and one bathroom in 926-square-feet, all figures that may or may not be accurate.

Since late 2000, Fisher’s nearest neighbor was her Emmy, Oscar and Golden Globe nominated “Singin’ in the Rain” star mother. Reynolds’s, memorabilia-filled house, acquired for an unknown amount, is completely hidden from the street behind gates, towering trees and riot of bougainvillea on a flat parcel of almost one-third of an acre, and measures in at 2,602-square-feet per L.A County Tax Records with three bedrooms and three bathrooms. Mother and daughter recently filmed a by all accounts entertaining and tender documentary portrait about the deep but sometimes troubled relationship between them called “Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds” — it premiered at Cannes this year  and is scheduled to air on HBO early in 2017 — in which Fisher says, “Mother and I live next door to each other, separated by one daunting hill.” Tragically, Reynolds was rushed to the hospital the day after Fisher’s death and later died. She was 84 years old. Her son, Todd Fisher, told Variety, “She wanted to be with Carrie.”

Aerial photo: Bing

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