February 16, 2009

Twin Palms

Frank Sinatra's Palm Springs, weekend home he called Twin Palms:

photograph by Rand Larson

Some background from a Los Angeles Times article and accompanying slide show:

Twin Palms, the four-bedroom, 4,500-square-foot mini-mansion where Sinatra lived from 1947 until about 1954, sits plainly and unassumingly a mile from busy downtown Palm Springs, right off one of the city's main drags. Back when Palm Springs was a drowsy desert village, Sinatra commissioned the house to be built as the primary residence for his family, and he wanted it built fast. Workers using floodlights labored around the clock.

But not long after moving day, Sinatra had a change of heart. A sea change. He met Ava Gardner, the love of his life, and promptly left his wife Nancy, who begrudgingly granted him a divorce. Twin Palms soon became the setting for one of the 20th century's great romances, the amphitheater in which Sinatra and Gardner conducted their operatic affair. "Maybe it's the air, maybe it's the altitude, maybe it's just the place's goddamn karma," Gardner wrote in her 1990 autobiography, "but Frank's establishment in Palm Springs, the only house we really could ever call our own, has seen some pretty amazing occurrences."

Amazing was Gardner's catchall word for the intense violence and passion that defined her off-and-on saga with Sinatra. After half a dozen tumultuous years, the two were finally forced to conclude that they couldn't live together. Sinatra sold Twin Palms and bought a bigger place on the other side of town, which came to be known as The Compound. Twin Palms changed hands several times in the next five decades, and eventually fell into disrepair, its roof caving in. Recently, however, the house underwent a full and careful restoration, and today Twin Palms belongs to three New Yorkers who gladly rent it to the curious and the Sinatra-besotted for $2,150 a night in season.

Here's the portion of an AMC special called Legendary Hollywood Homes II in which Twin Palms is featured:

No comments: