History

Off-Duty Hollywood: Stars of the Golden Age of Cinema in the Comfort of Their Own Homes

The actors and actresses of Classical Hollywood were some of the most glamorous people to have ever existed. Their devastatingly good looks and sultry on-screen presence continues to withstand the test of time. But what about the personal spaces and private moments of old Hollywood stars?

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Image: Curbed

At Popular Everything, we’re lifting the lid on the homes that hid icons of the Golden Age of cinema. Which legendary actor lived in a tiny studio apartment? Who slept on a sofa bed? And which star felt compelled to sleep with all her pets? Take a look at beautiful photographs of these private spaces.

Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti’s Extravagant Love-Nest

Old Hollywood actress Sophia Loren and film producer Carlo Ponti are the iconic Italian couple who stood the test of time. Despite their age gap of 22 years, the couple stayed together right up until Carlo’s passing in 2007. When asked if she would remarry, Sophia replied: “No, never again. It would be impossible to love anyone else.”

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Image: The Times

There was nothing normal about their love nest. On their wedding day, Carlo had promised Sophia the “most beautiful house in the world,” and boy did he deliver. They lived in a 16th-century 50-room Italian mansion, lavishly embellished and screaming luxury. Here they are in their ornately-decorated bedroom lying on their palatial bed. And to think, they were just ten-minutes from the Colosseum.

James Dean’s Humble Abode

Cultural icon and Hollywood heartthrob James Dean lived in a tiny studio apartment in Manhattan, New York in his youth. It was a far cry from the luxury you’d expect the major actor to enjoy. His single room sat on the fifth floor of a building on 19 West 68th Street, having moved into it in 1953 just before he hit it big. It was still in his possession when he passed away.

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Image: Vintage Everyday

He returned to it whenever he needed a break from the wealth and pomposity of the Hollywood scene. It didn’t even have a private bathroom – instead, James would use the communal shower and toilet shared by the rest of the fifth floor. We can see that his books took up major real estate in his humble abode, showing that the great actor valued knowledge above extravagance.

Jayne Mansfield’s Shrine to Herself

Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles housed one of the most extravagant homes ever seen. It belonged to Hollywood starlet Jayne Mansfield and was nicknamed the “pink palace” due to the barbie pink exterior and matching fixtures. Jayne was the blonde bombshell of her day and gave herself a home that was just as over the top as her public image.

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Image: Hearst Magazine Media

Here she is ascending the stair of her mansion in an ivory silk and fur gown. Upon entering through a side door, she has covered her walls from floor to ceiling in images of herself. From movie posters to magazines, she created nothing short of a shrine to her Hollywood persona. As you’ll see later in the article, it was just the tip of the iceberg for the pink palace.

Shirley Temple’s Sprawling Studio

A legend of classic Hollywood cinema, Shirley Temple had been in the public eye ever since she began starring in films as a child actress in 1935. Since then she had a long and incredibly lustrous performing career. Here she is as a young woman, posing in front of her grand piano at her home in California.

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Image: Pinterest / msclockart1

It’s 1944 in Los Angeles and we can get a glimpse of what Shirley’s life was like at home. She is holding on to some fan mail and a pot of ink – obviously, she is on her way to reply to her dedicated admirers. Not without a snack though; in her free hand, she holds an apple. Is it just us, or does this photo seem like a glamorous ’40s allegory for Eve in the Bible?

James Stewart’s Tucked into Bed

American actor from the Golden Age of Hollywood, James Stewart was the first big movie star to enlist in the United States Army. He fought in World War Two as a pilot in the air force, having come from a military family. This image is an intimate portrait of the late actor resting after coming home from the war.

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Image: Country Living

The Oscar-winner lies in bed in his family home after having just returned from fighting. He enjoys a simple pleasure – reading a newspaper – cozy, tucked in, and ready to sleep. It’s an incredibly private moment that even his closest friends wouldn’t get to see him in. We see he has none of the glamorous accents we’d expect him to have. He’s resting up in the simplest, most humble little room.

Marilyn Monroe Liked to Sleep on the Couch

Marilyn Monroe was held up as the ultimate 50s siren. Here she is in her Hollywood home in 1951, reading in the living room. But something here looks a little more familiar to today than it does to old Hollywood. She’s thrown one of the plump cushions on the floor, and brought over a comforter for the couch!

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Image: Harper’s Bazaar

It looks like Marilyn is one for sleeping on the sofa, too. She may be reading on it in this image, but the bed pillows to the side of her suggest she’s usually sat there in her pajamas. It’s comforting to know that even the most glamorous woman in Hollywood enjoyed some of the same home comforts that we do.

Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart Let the Dog on the Couch

Recognized for “her central place in the Golden Age of motion pictures” by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Lauren Bacall remained married to fellow acting sensation Humphrey Bogart right up until he passed away in 1957. They had enjoyed marital life together ever since they wed in 1945.

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Image: Reddit / v391pegasi

Take a look at this image of marital bliss of Lauren and Humphrey having some quality time with their pet boxer. She is known for having an obsession with dogs, always having canine companions around her throughout her life. She even left thousands of dollars to her pet dog, Sophie, in her will before she passed away. And nothing proves it more than this image of her with the real love of her life… and Humphrey, too!

Brigitte Bardot Let All Her Dogs on the Bed!

Forget Lauren Bacall letting her pet boxer on the couch – French siren of the ’50s and ’60s Brigitte Bardot lets all of her dogs on the bed! Pictured in her home in Saint Tropez circa 1980, she was clearly a little too soft on her beloved pooches as she couldn’t help but let them sleep with her.

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Image: Jack Garofalo / Paris Match

She doesn’t stop there – she’s also feeding them treats! And has a little kitten sitting in her lap. She’s a passionate animal-rights activist, and it’s clear in the photos that animals have an extra special place in her heart. Even her sleeping quarters are open for her canine companions to enjoy.

Liza Minnelli’s Minimalist Condo

Cabaret actress and singer Liza Minelli lived in the Imperial House complex on East 69th Street, New York. The luxurious condo boasted enough space for live-in staff and was eventually sold in 2015 for $8,372,591. It cost a pretty penny to live in the multi-award-winning legend’s high-end abode.

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Image: Architectural Digest

Designed by Timothy MacDonald, Liza exclaimed “I’m finally home,” when she first stepped into the home built for her and her husband, Mark Gero. And they certainly seem to be at ease in this photo, reclining happily on their neutral-toned couch. These two were implementing minimalist interior design before it was in fashion, littering the large living room with tall plants and cream-colored furniture.

Carole Landis’ Special Responsibility

Blonde bombshell Carole Landis looks a little different from how you might remember her in this photo. Her dark brunette locks weren’t her typical, Hollywood look – she was better known with her platinum blonde hair and referred to as “The Ping Girl” and “The Chest” because of her curvaceous figure. But for Carole, nothing was as dear to her than her canine companion Donner, the Great Dane.

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Image: Pinterest / eayala8

Upon his passing, she even wrote an article about their special relationship: “Now the house is very neat and quiet. Donner doesn’t sneak smelly bones indoors anymore and lay them at my feet. ‘Just see how much I love you, Carole…'” Her beach house was his beach house, and as we can see in the photo, they were very much in love.

Charlotte Rampling Made a Mess

English actress and icon of the swinging sixties, Charlotte Rampling was the stunning “it” girl who caught her big break in French and Italian arthouse films of the ’60s and ’70s. She was born and raised in England before she went on to become a muse to French director François Ozon.

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Image: Twitter / startledjesus

Pictured at home in London in July of 1968, young Charlotte was in the throes of the swinging sixties. She is relaxed and sitting on her messy floor, going through rolls of film. This intimate portrait is a rare insight into the private life of one of the most beautiful women of the 20th century.

Elvis Presley’s Regal Color Palette

The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley, had the world at his feet. And what kind of a place would someone who could have anything he wanted, choose to live in? The King opted for the infamous Graceland; Elvis’ private retreat and pop-colored mansion.

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Image: The Guardian

Just take a look at the King here – reclining on his white sofa, playing an electric Fender Stratocaster. And what about the bright right velvet curtains, and the ostentatious gold-leaf lampshade? Even the matching gold and red cushions that line the sofa scream of regality; fit for the one and only King.

Sophia Loren’s Kitchen Fit for Homemade Italian Food

Italian actress needed a top of the line kitchen in order to make top-quality Italian home-cooking. Luckily, she had some culinary talents and enjoyed spending time making food almost as much as she enjoyed eating it. Once she even served pizza to promote a film!

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Image: Medium

In 1954, she starred as the unfaithful wife of a pizza maker in The Gold of Naples, directed by Vittorio DeSica. If anyone understood the importance of a good kitchen, it was Sophia. She famously said the words: “I’d rather eat pasta and drink wine than be a size 0,” adding that “all you see I owe to pasta.” We’re glad someone captured this image of the foodie doing what she loved in the privacy of her own home.

Audrey Hepburn’s Soft Sanctuary

Take a look at film and fashion icon Audrey Hepburn in 1953, reclining not on a sofa but her plush carpet floor. As well-loved as the actress was, she acknowledged her need for private time in the comfort of her home. “I have to be alone very often,” she admitted to LIFE Magazine in 1953.

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Image: Pinterest / markdsikes

She continues: “I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.” Her introvert tendencies were complimented by the decor she chose to furnish her home in. She opted for fluffy carpeted floors, many blankets, cushions, and rugs to make her house feel like a cozy home.

Mickey Hargitay’s Gold Bathroom for One

Former Mr. Universe, Mickey Hargitay, assumed the role of Jayne Mansfield’s husband after her first marriage to Paul Mansfield ended in divorce. The Gungarian-American was also an actor, and lived with her and their children in the infamous “pink palace.” Just look at how they decorated the place.

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Image: LIFE Magazine

Pictured in his personal bathroom quarters, this gold and black bathroom was exclusively for the bodybuilder; Jayne Mansfield had her own fluffy pink bathroom all to herself. Here he is attending to his daily shaving ritual… whatever you may think of the decor, you’ve can’t deny that it’s quite a sight.

Brigitte Bardot at Her Grandparents Home

French actress Brigitte Bardot was a mere teenage girl in this photo dated from 1952. Pictured in the home of her grandparents, she is in Louveciennes, France, reading on their chaise longue. We can tell that Brigitte obviously came from a background of financial ease.

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Image: Pinterest / talesfromweirdland

Her grandparents have pretty accents around the room – decorative china plates, a painted lamp, and the upholstered couch all perfectly characterize this French abode. But a young Brigitte is where the gaze can’t help but sit. She sits upright and directly down the lens of the camera, unashamed to wear her heels on the furniture.

Burt Reynolds in His Man Cave

You may be confusing Hollywood heavyweight Burt Reynolds with the equally famed Marlon Brando here, but it is, in fact, a young Burt. The actor, director, and producer was a bigshot ever since he starred in Deliverance in 1972, becoming a film lead throughout the ’70s and ’80s.

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Image: Palm Beach Post

Take a look at where the Hollywood hunk read over his lines or examined screenplays. This is Burt’s home office; a cozy, low-ceiling, wooden-paneled basement room containing books and little nick-knacks. He keeps photos of his career highlights on the wall behind his study chair. It’s essentially his man-cave.

Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles’ Sprawling Mansion Grounds

The glamorous screen idol, Rita Hayworth, lived through five marriages and divorces in her lifetime. She famously revealed that she was attracted to “mean personalities,” as well as admitting that she felt like “men go to bed with Gilda, but wake up with me.”

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Image: Vintage News Daily

She described Orson as the “great love” of her lifetime, producing one daughter, Rebecca, pictured above. They certainly had enough space for a young girl to run around and have fun. But by the looks of it, Orson was doing most of the playing! Their sprawling mansion pool is even big enough for a wooden paddling boat.

Sophia Loren in Her Gold Palace

Italian actress Sophia Loren’s drawing-room could be attached to the Queen of England’s palace for all we know. The entire room is an explosion of antique luxury, granting Sophia her wedding day promise from husband Carlo Ponti to give her the “most beautiful house in the world.”

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Image: Hearst Magazine Media, Inc.

She melts right into the decor, mirroring the bust statue a couple of meters behind her. From the wall frescoes to the intricate detailing of the coffee table legs, not a single item in this room has not been thought of. If ever an interior epitomized the saying “go hard or go home,” this is it.

Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh’s Californian Crib

Old Hollywood star Tony Curtis was married to the actress, singer, and dancer Janet Leigh during the 1950s. Here they live in their sunny Los Angeles home, where they raised two children together. Their marriage was the focus of much media speculation and gossip which isn’t really surprising, considering their Hollywood prestige.

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Image: Pinterest / bchap22

At least this vintage power couple had a beautiful and relaxing space to call home. They decked out the villa in light, neutral tones, inviting in more of that gorgeous Californian sunshine into their home. To us, their living room looks like it could be cut straight out of a Zara Home catalog.

Jayne Manfield’s Pink Palace Piano

Old Hollywood star Jayne Mansfield may have had an aptitude for acting on-screen, but she was also talented in playing musical instruments. She was classically trained in piano, as well as violin and viola, and kept a grand piano in her jewel-tones living quarters.

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Image: Tumblr / retrogirly

And here she is, tapping on the keys with a big smile on her face. If you’re as successful as this Golden Age goddess, a large mahogany grand piano is a must. We’re just impressed that in her case, it wasn’t only for show.

Frank Sinatra is Poolside in Palm Springs

This beautiful color photograph shows the legendary singer, Frank Sinatra, sat beside the pool in his home in Palm Springs. He is joined by the Russian-American actor Yul Brynner, a close and personal friend of his. It’s 1971, and we can see that the musical artist had a tremendously luxurious home.

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Image: W Magazine

Not only does he have a spotless swimming pool, just behind it lies a private tennis court. And in the background further, we can see a beautiful view of the Californian mountains. Taking into account how good the weather is all year long, we’re sure this outdoor area was a frequented living space.

Don Knotts’ Child-Friendly Home

American comedian and actor Don Knotts was one of the best-loved American TV personalities, ranking number 27 out of TV Guide’s top “50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time.” He was married three times in his life, producing a mini-me son and daughter, Thomas and Karen, from his first marriage only.

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Image: Upbeat News

He was described by co-star Betty Lynn as “very sweet,” and we can see some of that characteristic here. Sat in his trendy Los Angeles home, he reads to his young children on the couch. Despite the ups and downs, he endured during his personal life, he created a stable home for his children to grow up in.

Diane von Furstenberg’s Bubblegum Bedchamber

Belgian fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg is best known for her signature wrap dress design, as well as for marrying into the German princely House of Furstenberg when she married Prince Egon. Take a look at the legend herself in her crazy, bubblegum pink bedroom.

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Image: Vogue

There’s all manner of patterns and textures in her highly embellished room; from the bed linen to the four-poster bed itself and even the magazine shelves to the side, no expense has been spared in maxing out her girly hideout. It’s truly a room fit for a princess.

Judy Garland Cooks up a Storm

It looks like the American actress, singer, and dancer Judy Garland was a jack of all trades. Here she is in her kitchen cooking up some chicken and potatoes over her then, state of the art gas stove. It’s not totally clear what she’s thinking but she’s smiling away at her results regardless.

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Image: Business Insider

We’re surprised she even had time to pick up some culinary skills with everything else she was doing! We think this candid behind-the-scenes photo of an entertaining legend is a great peek into what life was really like at home for her. Turns out, she was just like everyone else; popping the apron on and getting stuck in.

Natalie Wood’s Bizarre Bedroom Design

Russian-American actress Natalie Wood was three-times Oscar-nominated star of old Hollywood before she had even turned 25 years old. There are quite a few mysteries surrounding the details of her life, and this image from 1965 only intensifies our curiosity. She is pictured in her bedroom at home in Beverly Hills.

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Image: Angelo Frontoni

Natalie has gone for an especially unusual design for her bed-chamber. She has decorated the walls with religious artwork in a manner that makes you feel suffocated and thrown a luxurious fur throw over her bed. She wears a form-fitting evening gown by Mainbocher as she poses for the photographer, Angelo Frontoni.

Henry Fonda’s Family Home

Take a look at Hollywood legend Henry Fonda, at home with his daughter playing the doting father. She might be familiar to you too – it’s a young Jane Fonda when she was only 22 years old and just starting out in the world. This wonderful photo demonstrates the closeness they had and what it was like in the comfort of their own home.

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Image: vintage.es

Pictured in New York in 1960, they were talking about showbusiness and Henry had just finished telling a story about a particular scene of his. It’s obvious to see where Jane got her acting prowess from – one of the greatest actors of the 20th century.

Ava Gardner’s Not-So-Humble Abode

Listed as the 25th for the Greatest Female Stars of Classic Hollywood Cinema, Ava Gardner sure made a lasting impression as an actress. She had a great on-screen presence and an infectious smile, which stayed with her even in her later years as we can see in the photo.

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Image: News Observer

Here she is cuddling up to her beloved Corgi pooch on the floor. It would be a humble image if we only saw Ava in her sweats with her adorable dog, but the elaborate decorations of her apartment remind us that she was part of the 1%. All the furniture hardware is gilded in gold and the color palette appears to be neutral and beige.

Faye Dunaway’s Iconic Morning After

Captured by the renowned photographer Terry O’Neill, American actress Faye Dunaway lies in front of a pool the morning after winning an Academy Award for “Network.” It’s 1977, but the quality is so crisp and colors so well-balanced that it looks as though it could have been taken just yesterday.

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Image: NY Times

Reclining in a satin gown with last night’s heels on, Faye looks contemplative as she stares into the distance. She is at the height of her career and has all the luxuries money could buy – just look at where she is living! It’s no wonder she’d need to take a quiet moment by the water.

Judy Carne’s Cute Bedroom

English comedic actress Judy Carne is best known for saying “sock it to me!” on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. She was married twice, first to fellow actor Burt Reynolds and second to the producer Robert Bergman, in both instances no longer than two years.

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Image: Snopes

Take a look at her zany expression as she plays with a rattan-weaved figure of a monkey on her bed at home. We can spot familiar comforts in the background – a little bookshelf scattered with knick-knacks, pattern bed sheets, and equally patterned wallpaper. Being famous didn’t necessarily mean you were out of touch with everyone else’s reality.

Lucille Ball’s Big White Beverly Hills House

They don’t make them like Lucille Ball anymore. She was the actress and comedienne that starred in her own self-produced shows I Love LucyThe Lucy ShowHere’s Lucy, and Life with Lucy. She actually first entered show business as a model before moving onto broadway, minor film roles, and eventually film and TV work.

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Image: Architectural Digest

Her house had just as any girly accents as you might expect. The soft furnishings of the outdoor furniture are pale baby pink, with swirly designs and fringing hanging off the edge of the gazebo. And she dressed to impress, even at home, as she’s stepped out in a fine blue dress and matching fur shawl.

Jayne Mansfield Didn’t Know When to Say No

If you thought you saw the worst of what American actress Jayne Mansfield had to offer in her Pink Palace; think again. Take a look at 1950s starlet’s personal bathroom. Your eyes do not deceive you – that is in fact pink fluffy walls! It’s not the usual choice for an ensuite toilet but who are we to judge.

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Image: Pinterest / iluvrandomness

The pink fur continues from floor to ceiling, with the floors being decked out in the same material. Taking a bath here must have felt like you were in some kind of dream. Not to mention her bathtub was in the shape of a heart and the bathroom fixtures were all gold.

Audrey Hepburn’s Evolving Style

It seems like fashion icon and actress from the Golden Age of Hollywood, Audrey Hepburn, had a drastic style evolution over the years. Here she is in her Parisian apartment in 1991, dressed in a very expensive-looking suit. It’s detail matched the attention to detail of the rest of the apartment.

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Image: Words of Women

The photo was taken by Jean-Claude Sauer for Paris Match magazine and shows the actress’s classical taste. There is a lot of forest green, velvet, and gold detailing in the apartment, making it look fit for royalty. We wonder what she looks so concerned about here, though.

Betty Grable on Christmas Morning

Most of us are a far cry from presentable on Christmas morning when we wake up with a hangover and make our way downstairs to open presents. That’s not the case for actress Betty Grable, who has her hair perfectly arranged, makeup on, and her famous “million-dollar legs” on show.

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Image: Pinterest / herbal191

She’s getting stuck in with her kid who’s just opened one of his big presents – a new train set! Not only did she have time to get all spruced up for the family this Christmas, but she also didn’t disappoint her little ones. Now that’s a household we wouldn’t mind growing up in.

Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s French Villa

Before there was Meghan Markle, there was Ms. Wallis Simpson. She was the American socialite who stole the heart of British King Edward VIII, eventually leading to his abdication of royal duties. She caused a constitutional crisis back in the 1930s, for which she is remembered for today.

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Image: Town and Country Magazine

Once King Edward had abdicated the throne, the couple were exiled from England only to find themselves across the channel in France, where they set up home in the handsome village of Bois du Boulogne. Nicknamed “Villa Windsor,” it was decked out in all the finery you would expect a British royal of the time to live in, despite the move from England.

Brigitte Bardot’s 1960s Home

We’ve seen the glamorous French actress in her formative years, but take a look at her lounging around the house when she was at the height of her fame. The 1960s saw Brigitte change up her hair into the blonde bouffant with bangs that we’ve come to know her for, and her living arrangements underwent a makeover to match.

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Image: Mutual Art

She’s taken her shoes and lit a cigarette. Despite all her fashionable soft furnishings, she’s elected to sit on the floor as she smokes. We don’t know why, but a part of us thinks that the house is so luxurious that you wouldn’t mind sitting anywhere! Couch or carpet; it’s all soft and plush.

Bette Davis Can’t Come to the Door Right Now

Regarded as one of the greatest actresses in the history of Hollywood, Bette Davis is written in the books as one of the best that ever lived. We’ve seen her on-screen plenty of times, with a career spanning six decades and having 100 acting credits. But it’s rare to see her behind closed doors.

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Image: Alfred Eisenstaedt / The LIFE Premium Collection

She’s pictured at home, on her couch, talking on the phone. She holds a cigarette in her left hand and puts her feet up on the furniture – that’s how you know she’s in her own house. She’s kept decorations modest, appearing to live in a comfortable, middle-class home.

Doris Day and Rock Hudson Enjoying Some Quality Time

American actor Rock Hudson reclines on an outdoor sofa with American actress and singer Doris Day, who he co-starred opposite in the films Pillow Talk (1959,) Lover Come Back (1961,) and Send Me No Flowers (1964.) They were good friends at this point, and as we can see, they shared a close and personal bond.

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Image: Silver Screen Collection

Doris looks radiant in her pink gingham summer’s dress while Rock looks as handsome here as he does on screen in a light blue shirt and white slacks. Pictured in 1960, they were spending more time together due to the filming of their second film. It’s nice to see they got on so well in real life.

George Nader’s Cozy Kitchen

Old Hollywood actor George Nader lived a somewhat secretive life due to the hiding of his romantic orientation. He lived with his partner, Mark Miller, who was an actor-turned-personal secretary to his partner George. They lived in Palm Springs, having happily settled in together in the south of California.

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Image: Esquire

But as we can see, they lived a bit on top of each other. This image shows the late actor George at the stove preparing some coffee, but we can see there’s not a lot of room. In fact, their kitchen, surprisingly, looks nothing out of the ordinary. Dishes drying in the wire rack and a stove squeezed onto the corner. We can understand why Mark would be happy living anywhere with George, though!