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Celeb Homes

Over Two Decades of Star-Studded Soirees: Stories From a Hollywood Hills Estate

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    One of the home's six bedrooms.

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    The pool

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    The home at night

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    Marlon Brando, Frank Zappa, David Carradine

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    Over two decades, 3222 Benda Place has been the site of countless celebrity parties.

Once a star-studded party pad for the likes of Marlon Brando, David Carradine, and Frank Zappa, this glamorous Hollywood Hills estate is now on the market for $3.5 million.

Built in 1939 by Paul Williams, a starchitect to celebrities such as Lucille Ball and Frank Sinatra, this six-bedroom home has been the site of countless soirees.

And while the walls can't talk, homeowner Jack Baumann gave us the inside scoop on what transpired over the years at the legendary 3222 Benda Place in Los Angeles.

Baumann said Brando bought the home shortly after filming "Mutiny on the Bounty" in the early '60s. He co-owned the place with his childhood friend, actor Wally Cox.

While the two friends bought the place "for celebrity parties," Brando wasn't always game for all-nighters, Baumann says. When Brando became tired, he'd head into the study and open a fake bookcase, revealing a secret room "no bigger than a phone booth."

Brando would close the bookcase and read from a stack of scripts underneath a single reading light until one of his friends told him partygoers had vamoosed, says Baumann. (The secret room and fake bookcase still exist!)

The home's half-acre lot features a tiered fountain, a swimming pool, a deck and barbecue area, and plenty of trees. A fence encircles the property.

According to another local tale, teenagers would often hop the fence for midnight swims. Brando allegedly electrified the fence -- until one boy tried to "short it out by peeing on it," Baumann says. "And, well, urine conducts electricity." After that incident, Brando turned off the current.

When Brando moved out in 1968, the house turned into L.A. Yoga IYA, a yoga center for celebrities. It was "kind of like a commune," Baumann says, and housed stars such as Zappa, Tina Louise, James Taylor, and Stacy Keach.

In a Chronicle Project interview, filmmaker Kenneth Green says the center "became quite the wild place" where there was "no way" of keeping vows of celibacy. Green had stayed at the house during its ashram days.

In the early '70s the yogis moved out and the house went up for sale. Carradine, an actor and martial artist, and his then wife, actress Barbara Hershey, bought the house and apparently kept up the property's party house reputation.

Carradine kept horses in a stable, which has since been removed from the property. During a party a horse got loose and "took a dip in the pool," requiring the fire department to get the animal out, Baumann says.

After Carradine sold the house in the '80s, the property took a more sedate turn. It changed hands a few more times before Baumann bought it in 2007 for $2.15 million. With his two daughters grown up, he says, the home has become "a bit of an empty nest" and "a bit much" for just himself.

However, if you want to bring this home back to being the talk of the neighborhood, put on your best party hat and give listing agent Joe Babajian a call.