A Home Fit For A Star

GENERIC Cher Robert Altman Architectural Digest CBS/AP

(This story originally aired May 21, 2006.)

Enter the home of Cher and you are immediately awestruck by the view of the Pacific Ocean and the fact that Cher decided to set a Venetian style Palazzo right smack in Malibu, according to her long time designer Ron Wilson.

Though Wilson and Architect Wallace Tutt took care of getting the work done, completed just a year ago, Cher was involved in every aspect of deciding how the 16,000 square foot home would look. There's also the front courtyard, with its dramatic tile fountain inspired by one Cher saw on a trip to Italy, notes CBS Sunday Morning contributor Rita Braver.

Wilson calls his relationship with Cher "a collaboration." "We talk and argue together and see who's gonna win," Wilson says.

Somehow it works.

The house is a reflection of Cher's sense of drama and her taste: a mixture of old and new.

"Cher loves perfection, and that's the reason why this room looks the way it does, somewhat unlived in," Wilson says of one of the many living rooms in the home.

The living room showcases some pieces that Cher has cherished for many years, like a pair of vases and a stool shaped like a bird. The dining room has a distinctive, hand stamped, copper ceiling.

Of the room, Wilson says, "This is an example of a room that she loves to look at -- not living in -- and probably have never sat at the table."

No one understands people's obsession with how and where celebrities live better than Paige Rense, pioneering editor of Architectural Digest, who started showing homes of stars like John Wayne some 35 years ago when few had ever heard of the magazine.

Rense has now edited "Hollywood at Home," a coffee table book featuring the houses of 27 Entertainment figures, including Cher…and Dennis Quaid, who brought in fireworks to light up his house.

While these homes were shot specifically for Architectural Digest, there are also historical pictures culled from the archives of old-time Hollywood photographers.

Rense had a lot to choose from. The magazine has even done seven issues totally devoted to Hollywood homes over the years.

However, just because a home is occupied by a celebrity does not mean it will make the magazine.

"It wouldn't be kind to name names, but we have seen some things that are really dreadful that it would have to be Greta Garbo coming back to life to use them," Reese quips.

So what does a movie Legend have to gain from letting his home be shown in Architectural Digest?

According to famed Hollywood director Robert Altman, nothing.

But Altman, like many other stars, knew that it mattered to his designer, Steven Shadley. His work on Altman's Manhattan apartment was the first he ever had published in the magazine.

"I just remember going to Paige Rense and showing her these photos. She said 'I'll l publish it' and I thought, really?" Shadley recalls.

Shadley has also designed several house for Actress Diane Keaton, that have been featured in Architectural Digest, but probably no one has ever been allotted more pages than Cher.

"I think its sort of a Cher saga, it goes on and on," Rense says. "It started with English country. It went to, I think Gothics, I mean we've seen a lot of periods."

Ron Wilson has designed more than 20 for Cher.

"She loves houses and she loves the process of decorating more than anything else," Rense says.
  • Sean Alfano

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