Danny Thomas was once a struggling young entertainer who vowed to do good if he ever made it big. Thanks in large part to a successful TV series, "Make Room for Daddy," in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the comedian realized his dream and kept his promise -- he founded St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Tennessee to provide care for sick children.
However, he also set aside some cash to build this lavish 18,000-square-foot estate in Beverly Hills in 1970. Located on 2.5 acres on a promontory that gives it 360-degree views that extend from Los Angeles to the Pacific Ocean beyond, it's now listed for $135 million. That price tag may make it one of the most expensive pieces of property currently being sold in the United States.
Listing agent Aaron Kirman doesn't know where it ranks nationwide, but he's emphatic about its appeal. "It's the best estate site in the city of Los Angeles, arguably around the world," Kirman says.
The Moorish-style home, perhaps favored by Thomas because of his Lebanese roots, opens with an entryway "that is unbelievably grand," says Kirman. It features Italian marble, a gold-leaf ceiling, and $2.5 million in Baccarat crystal chandeliers. "You walk in, it's a jaw-dropping experience," Kirman says.
The home has seven bedrooms and 10 bathrooms. The chef's kitchen has Viking and Miele appliances, Kirman says. "You could literally cook and entertain for hundreds of people," he says.
There's also a ballroom, media room, pool with waterfall spa perched atop the hillside, and motor court for up to 20 cars. As you might expect for a home this size, it also includes quarters for live-in staff.
The estate last sold in 2000 for $15 million. The current owner spent millions on a complete restoration, says Kirman, who couldn't discuss the owner's identity. However, a published report said it's a billionaire business mogul with ties to the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign.
Thomas, who began his career as a singer and nightclub comedian, starred in his own show and went on to become a successful television producer. He died of heart failure in 1991 at age 79. His daughter, Marlo Thomas, continues to be featured in annual fundraisers for St. Jude's.
Kirman says the listing has been quite active so far, attracting the upper-income types who typically have houses around the world. The former nightclub comedian from Toledo would likely be amused by members of the 1% clamoring for his pricy estate.