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Luxury

A True Hollywood Story: The Intriguing Estate of Cary Grant's Ex-Wife

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    The retro bathroom

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    Wood beams in the living room

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    Betsy Drake, Cary Grant

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Perched on a quiet stretch of a quiet street, this modest Spanish-style home in the Westwood area of Los Angeles offers little indication of the amazing life that its former owner lived.

This three-bedroom, two-bathroom home, now on the market for $1.3 million, is the former residence of Betsy Drake, the third wife of actor Cary Grant, a descendant of the founder of Chicago's famed Drake Hotel, and a survivor of one of the most famous ocean liner disasters of the 1950s.

Drake bought the home in 1980, long after her 1962 divorce from Grant, and lived there until 2003, when she moved permanently to London. But she held on to her Southern California home, keeping a vast collection of books and artwork there, says listing agent Allison Gold. Drake died last year, and her estate has put the home on the market,

The house needs TLC, Gold says, but it's a gem for those who appreciate Spanish and Art Deco styles. Built in 1931, it offers a rare combination of both styles.

"There's definitely Spanish detail on the interior of the home," including the wood beam ceiling in the living room, Gold notes. But there's "also some Deco detail in the lighting [and elsewhere]. It's beautifully built." The retro green bathroom would delight anyone looking for a vintage vibe, she adds.

Art Deco etchings decorate the master bedroom walls, Gold notes. A recent inspection found "this house is sturdy," she says. It's survived numerous area earthquakes and tremors over the years with no visible foundation or wall cracks, she explains.

Grant married Drake in 1949, the third of his five wives and the one he stayed with the longest. She was an actress when they met, and the couple went on to star together in films as well as a radio series in 1951. Alas, Italian movie icon Sophia Loren came between them when she had an affair with Grant.

Drake survived the epic sinking of the Andrea Doria in 1956, one of the major disasters of a decade when ocean liners were still the main way to cross the Atlantic. She's said to have left behind $200,000 in jewelry and a screenplay to get off the sinking hulk after it collided with another ship at sea, Gold says.

"She was just incredibly interesting and interested person. She was just interested in life," says Gold. Now a new buyer can walk in her footsteps in this quaint home.