Where the Stars Are: OC’s Gold Coast

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Ask The Expert
Aubrey Few: luxury real estate agent with Prudential California Realty

California has long been known to be home to celebrities, however once Hollywood stars started flocking to the Gold Coast, Orange County became internationally known as a hot spot for the rich and famous. With Orange County’s beauty and close proximity to Hollywood, it’s no wonder so many stars have called OC home.

Such well-known names as Bette Midler, John Wayne, Heather Locklear, Diane Keaton, Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Kobe Bryant, James Cagney, Bette Davis, Doris Day, Dean Koontz, Jay Leno, Rita Rudner, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Vanna White, Tiger Woods and Nicholas Cage – mong a long list of others – have owned or currently own homes in Laguna and Newport Beach, so keep your eyes open for star sightings!

Laguna Beach was once solely seen as an artist colony. Another type of artist – actors and actresses – also adorn its hills and beaches. Bette Midler owned a home in Laguna Beach that is almost as famous locally as she is, named “The Norman House” or “La Tour.” The 1926 French Provincial style home features a French Norman tower, which has stairs circling down to the beach; this unique tower can be seen from Victoria Beach, and is a favorite subject among artists and tourists alike. Interestingly, the 1988 movie “Beaches” staring Midler and Barbara Hershey featured scenes filmed a few miles north at Crystal Cove State Park’s historic cottages.

Also in the Victoria Beach area, Ozzie, Harriet, Ricky and David Nelson from the “Ozzie and Harriet” show owned an oceanfront home in Lagunita. An avid swimmer, Ozzie loved to take his daily swim from the north tip of Victoria to Goff Island by the Montage and back. The estate was sold in May 1997 for $1.85 million, and a new home has since been built on the property.

Rick Nelson, son of Ozzie and Harriett, also owned an oceanfront home in the Victoria Beach area where supermarket mogul Ron Burkle built a new home called Sugarloaf Point sold in 2007 for $30 million.

When Heather Locklear married her former husband, Richie Sambora, lead guitarist with the band Bon Jovi, he owned a property in Lagunita, and she fell in love with the area. She may have been among the owners of the Nelson oceanfront estate.

Actress Lori Loughlin – known for her roles in “Full House,” “90210” and a long list of other movies – with her husband Mossimo Giannulli, who is famous for his Mossimo clothing line, owned property in Laguna Beach. Owners of properties in prized Emerald Bay in Laguna Beach include a long list of high-profile people.

Billionaire Warren Buffett sold his house in Emerald Bay for $3.5 million in 2005. Other recognizable names who have resided behind the guard gate of Emerald Bay are former baseball commissioner and U.S. Olympic chairman Peter Ueberroth, pro tennis champion Lindsay Davenport and her husband ex-pro football player Jon Leach, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, and LA Fitness Club President Louis Welch. The Fertitta siblings, who are owners of the Las Vegas Station Casinos and the Ultimate Fighting Championship, recently purchased one of the rare Emerald Bay beachfront properties.

Many celebrities have preferred Newport Beach, which has been called “The Hamptons of Hollywood.”

Nicolas Cage purchased a Newport Beach home on Bayshore Drive for $25 million in 2005. In 2008 he sold it to the owner of Las Vegas Terrible Herbst casino and gas station chains Jerry Herbst for a record $35 million. Nearby, at the intersection of Lido Channel and the Main Channel is John Wayne’s former estate.

At age 13, Shirley Temple was crowned the very first “Miss Newport.” Temple moved out of her longtime residence in Newport Beach, and her house became the home of Buddy Ebsen who was known for his TV roles as Jed Clampett and Barnaby Jones.

Athletes seem to love Newport Coast. Torii Hunter of the Los Angeles Angels, a four-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glove winner, has a home in Newport Coast. Also in Newport Coast, Kobe Bryant of the LA Lakers and his wife, Vanessa, own multiple properties. Former Los Angeles Clipper Corey Maggette, who now plays for the Detroit Pistons, bought a palatial spread in 2011 in the Pelican Heights area of Newport Coast.

Here’s a fun fact as we recover from Halloween: the actor who played Freddy Krueger in the “Nightmare on Elm Street” film series, Robert Englund, lives in Laguna Beach.

Sweet dreams!

Audrey Few is a luxury real estate agent with Prudential California Realty. She can be reached at 949-234-5623 or audreyfew@gmail.com