The longtime Los Angeles home of British surrealist comedy genius Eric Idle has slid onto the market this week priced at a sliver under $6.5 million.
Best known for his long association with the iconic Monty Python comedy franchise, as well as being the writer and lyricist for the Tony- and Grammy-winning mega-hit Broadway musical “Spamalot,” Idle, now 79, and his wife Tania are all set to more than quadruple their money on the quirky 1930 Spanish Revival-style villa they scooped up 18 years ago for $1.5 million.
Idle bought the home from British musician Mike Oldfield but neither was the first well-known entertainment industry denizen take up residence in the canyonside home. In 1970 it was owned by groundbreaking and Grammy-winning country singer/songwriter Bobbie Gentry, whose 1967 ditty “Ode to Billie Joe” is a timeless classic, and in 1981, the same year Gentry retired from performing, it was owned by writer/director/producer Ted Flicker, co-creator of the 1970s and ‘80s sitcom “Barney Miller.”
Unsurprisingly, the home’s meandering layout is as interesting and quirky as its longtime owner. Set on almost three-quarters of an acre and enveloped in jungle-like foliage, the slightly more than 7,000-square-foot mullet-style house presents itself to the street as a one-story home but falls to three stories at the back. There are four and potentially five (or more) bedrooms, plus a couple of offices, and a total of six and a half bathrooms sprinkled throughout the home. Extensively updated over the years, numerous original (or authentically re-created) details remain: a mix of Saltillo tile and hardwood flooring, vibrant tile work, and exposed wood ceilings.
Set into a turret, the carved wood front door opens to a vestibule the shape of a slice of pie. There are ample formal living and dining rooms, the former with a sculpted fireplace and several sets of French doors that open to a wrap-around balcony. At one end of the 25-foot-long galley kitchen, which has counter space only along one wall, is a wee breakfast area with a built-in breakfront and a curved wall of windows. At the other end, inside a window-lined walk-in pantry, an all-but-hidden staircase leads down to a pint-sized library on the lower floor. Other slightly eccentric luxuries include a roomy kitchenette within the sprawling primary suite, which additionally offers a fireplace in the bedroom, an unexpectedly glitzy marble bath, and a dressing room so big it has its own walk-in closet.
The lowest level is no less eclectic. Along with a wine cellar, an en-suite bedroom, and a couple of huge storage rooms, there’s a bi-level semicircular family/media room that is accessible only by passing through the laundry room. The slightly odd and not exactly ideal approach, however, is worth it; gigantic arched windows with inset French doors allow the surrounding greenery to serve as the room’s verdant backdrop.
Outdoor spaces are also charming and varied. The home’s middle level opens to a sunken courtyard paved in brick and bisected by a bridge that links the street to the front door. One side of the courtyard has a tiled fountain, while another section has a rock-lined koi pond. In addition to a tiled spa that overlooks a photogenic swimming pool, the grounds include a huge semicircular terrace amid lush treetops and winding pathways that lead to a bocce ball court and a small cabana perfect as an art studio or meditation space.
Ready for its next famous (or not famous) resident, the one-of-a-kind property is available via Juliette Hohnen at Douglas Elliman Realty.