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Frank Sinatra Residence

Los Angeles, USA
Exterior Sinatra residence, Merge Studios 1956
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Exterior Sinatra residence, Merge Studios 1956
Mott-Merge Collection, California State Library

in the 1950s Frank Sinatra wanted to extend his career by acting in more films. Between marriages and needing a home base near the Hollywood studios, he purchased a hilltop lot on Bowmont Drive in the Trousdale Estate development with spectacular views of both Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley. He quickly hired Williams as his architect and gave the designer carte blanche. Given a free hand to design, the house would become Williams’ unfettered vision of the future.

Person to Person, an early progenitor of modern reality television was a rating hit from the beginning as it capitalized on the public’s fascination with celebrity. The viewers were no longer satisfied with only reading about famous people; they now craved authenticity. Murrow’s staged, at-home conversations with the most famous personalities of the day were unprecedented. That night Frank Sinatra proved to be an irresistible draw. Murrow and the viewers followed Sinatra as he walked them through his newly completed home designed by Paul R. Williams. By the tour’s end the house had become part of popular culture.

As many of Williams’ celebrity clients were inexperienced and unsure in their tastes, the architect frequently employed well-known interior designers to guide them. By the 1950s Williams could call on a trusted in-house team headed by his daughter Norma Williams Harvey. An experienced “color consultant,” Norma knew her father’s design philosophy. Her role on the Sinatra project was to select the soft goods and oriental style furniture and decorative items to compliment her father’s bold Japanese Modern concept.

Frank Sinatra wanted his home fitted with the latest of everything and he proudly demonstrated some of the "equipment" to the television audience. Williams, always fascinated by gadgets and mechanical toys, brainstormed with leading engineers and immersed himself in futuristic state-of–the-art technologies. The Sinatra house was filled with his discoveries. He had modern built-in cabinets installed to house the electronics, control pads and "dooh-dads" creating a neat, uncluttered look. When Sinatra told him he wanted his house built around the hi-fi system, Williams had the walls of the main living space filled with special acoustical gravel and installed a series of powerful loudspeakers under the ceiling sheetrock. Guests raved about the sound quality of the recorded music.

Bowmont Drive