In 1994, a new Greene & Greene residence was born in the Hollywood Hills just north of Sunset Blvd. and east of Trousdale Estates. Well not exactly, since the famed American craftsman architects Charles and Henry Greene passed away in the mid-1950s, but Flicker House is a modern homage to their work. It was designed and crafted with the same architectural details and principles that made them renowned in Southern California in the early 20th century. Best known for two masterworks in Pasadena — the Gamble House (1908) and the Blacker House (1907) — Greene & Greene designs are still considered some of the finest residences in American architecture more than 100 years later.
Flicker House is located in a winding neighborhood of streets named after birds (Blue Jay Way, Thrasher Ave., Oriole Dr., etc.) known as “the Bird Streets,” a sought-after location for both its privacy as well as its proximity to the bustling Sunset Strip and Beverly Hills. The area has become popular for Hollywood celebrities, executives, agents, and lawyers with houses ranging from sprawling modern estates to quaint family homes of the past designed by signature architects like Paul Williams and Gerard Colcord. Flicker House stands out on the corner of Doheny and Flicker Way as a Greene & Greene classic, but in keeping with Hollywood tradition it’s not quite what it appears to be, nor did it always look like this.
In 1931 when the Bird Streets were just being developed, an ordinary two-story English cottage-style home was built on the property. In the early 1990s when this area began to increase in value, a developer named Peter Ford bought the house to completely re-conceive it as a classic Greene & Greene bungalow. Ford was not only an experienced builder of homes — many for Hollywood producers and actors — but he himself is the son of two Hollywood legends, Glenn Ford and Eleanor Powell. Glenn Ford is best known as the star of classics such as “Gilda” and “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father,” and Powell was considered Hollywood’s greatest tap dancer in films like “Broadway Melody of 1940” opposite Fred Astaire and “Born To Dance” with Jimmy Stewart. She ended her film career In 1945 when her son Peter was born.
Growing up around the movie business, Peter Ford worked on over two dozen film projects with his father, both as an actor and dialogue director. After appearing in several movies and television shows, Peter found a new passion — building and renovating homes. Working with many noted architects, one of his projects included overseeing the building of Frank Gehry’s Schnabel House in Brentwood which has been called “one of the greatest houses of the 20th Century” by Architectural Digest.
In 1993, Ford bought the home at Flicker and Doheny from a then-unknown young actor named George Clooney who had lived there for several years. Clooney had to sell the house because he couldn’t afford the payments, and ironically only months later he was cast in a new TV series called “E.R.” which changed his career dramatically. Expanding the footprint slightly to about 4500 square feet, the house was completely rebuilt by Ford as if Greene & Greene had designed it themselves. The overriding principle was to unify the site, gardens, structure, interiors and furnishings so the entire property would merge with the natural surroundings.
The “new” house would have dramatic gabled overhanging roofs; a foundation of native river rock boulders; exposed copper downspouts; burnt umber cedar shingles covering the exterior; coordinated landscaped gardens with wrought-iron fencing; leaded glass interior doors, sconces, and light fixtures; custom furniture featuring the signature Greene & Greene mortise-and-tenon construction; and extensive use of decorative wood paneling, molding, stair railings, hardwood floors and built-in cabinetry.
The craftsmanship is so convincing that the house appears to have been built at the beginning of the 20th century. But it also has modern conveniences such as zoned air conditioning and heating and a central sound system. More importantly, the house is built to modern code for withstanding earthquakes and rain which is unfortunately not the case for some for the best original homes by Frank Lloyd Wright or the Greenes.
Upon completion, Ford abandoned plans to live in the house himself and sold the property to actress/model Barbi Benton and her real estate developer husband, George Gradow. Their primary residence was in Aspen so the Flicker Way home was used only for short trips to L.A. In 2004, the house was purchased by television executive and producer Robert Greenblatt, former president of Showtime, and former chairman of NBC Entertainment and Warner Media Entertainment. He is also a Golden Globe-winning producer (“Six Feet Under”) and an active Broadway producer and winner of two Tony awards.
Greenblatt lived in the home for 16 years and in 2018 undertook an extensive renovation of the backyard, installing a lagoon-like pool and waterfall to complement the bungalow architecture and period style of the home. Offered with the custom-built furniture, Flicker House is the next best thing to acquiring a Greene & Greene work of art, centrally located in the convenient and desirable Bird Streets in the heart of West Hollywood/Beverly Hills.