Hilltop of the Dolls – The Patty Duke/Sharon Tate Residence

“It was a colonial mansion off Benedict Canyon in Beverly Hills, jutting out on its own precipice at the top of the mountain with a twelve-car parking lot, a four car garage and a 360-degree view of Los Angeles. Its nine rooms were big, bright and airy, with bay windows and fireplaces everywhere. Everyone who sees this house loves it; Sharon Tate later rented it for a while when she first got pregnant, and she and Roman Polanski wanted to buy it. For Harry and me, two young people supposedly starting out in life, there was great, great excitement about living there.” – Patty Duke in Call Me Anna

Designed by M.J. Bussand for the Beverly Corporation and completed in 1942, the beloved hilltop residence of Academy Award-winning actress Patty Duke at 1600 Summitridge Drive in BHPO was where she was living between 1966-1970 during her first marriage to director Harry Falk and at a significant point during her career as she struggled to break out of her Patty Duke Show image into adult roles. This challenge was why she campaigned so strongly to play the ill-fated “Neely O’Hara” in Fox’s big budget production of Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls (1967), even submitting, in spite of the shiny Oscar on her mantel up on Summitridge, of having to do a screen test for the part. It was, in retrospect, the equivalent of scratching and clawing your way onto the Titanic. The reviews were nothing short of ghastly with virtually every critic trying to outdo the other in how badly they could damn this film to the fiery pits of Hollywood hell. “LOWEST RATING…A PIECE OF TRASH…MELODRAMATIC MISHMASH…INEPT…INANE…TASTELESS…ONE OF THE MOST STUPIFYINGLY CLUMSY FILMS EVER MADE…UNBELIEVABLY HACKNEYED”…and my personal favorite…”HAS NO MORE SENSE OF ITS OWN LUDICROUSNESS THAN A VILLAGE IDIOT STUMBLING IN MANURE.”

In Hollywood, however, only the box office matters and Valley of the Dolls, in spite of its vicious critical reception, became a box office sensation, in fact, it was no less than the biggest non-roadshow grossing film in the history of Twentieth Century Fox up to that time. Today, Valley of the Dolls has been given a new lease on life. In the succeeding years it has begun to build momentum and is frequently revived and appreciated by a whole new generation of filmgoers who were too young to have seen it originally. But why would anyone want to revive a bad movie? Quite simply because Valley of the Dolls is no run of the mill bad movie. Anyone with a camera and a roll of film can make a bad movie, but it takes a certain talent to make a really bad movie. And Valley of the Dolls is a really bad movie. It is truly, deeply, and completely bad. In fact, it is perfectly bad. And what makes it so bad in addition to its inept script, direction and acting, is the deadly seriousness by which it takes itself. This film was not made as a parody even though it contains virtually every old show business cliché in existence. No, the makers of this film thought they were creating a masterpiece. And this celluloid monstrosity was made not by a cheap sleaze ball operation or an Ed Wood-type director, but was a major motion picture from a major motion picture studio with a top flight producer, director and cast. And it was based not only on a best-selling book, but on what was the best-selling novel of all time. Now, that is special!

What else is special is the home where two of the stars of this cult/camp classic lived. 1600 Summitridge is as good as Valley of the Dolls was bad. It is as Duke described it, a really lovely home that is both beautiful and inviting and one cannot help but wonder what would have happened had Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski been able to buy 1600 Summitridge, but alas, it was not then for sale. Now, however, it is and has been listed at $6,500,000. The Redfin listing may be found by clicking here and the home’s website, which has many more pictures, is here.

The very talented Patty Duke managed to survive her descent into the Valley of the Dolls and went on to a long and highly successful career in films, television and the theater that continues unabated today. And if this post hasn’t convinced you go out and immediately rent Valley of the Dolls, then I am a complete and utter failure.

Well then, at least buy the house.

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23 Responses to Hilltop of the Dolls – The Patty Duke/Sharon Tate Residence

  1. Mike D says:

    I’ve seen parts of Valley of the Dolls several times. Never actually made it all the way through…

  2. Brian says:

    I was similarly appalled when I first saw Valley of the Dolls, but something – I don’t have a clue what it was – drew me back. Now I own the DVD and watch it at least twice a year. Yes, it’s bad, but it’s quality bad! :-)

    • Steve says:

      It’s like a car wreck. You can’t help but look.

      • Brian says:

        Funny you should say that. I once remember referring to Valley of the Dolls as a spectacular train wreck of a movie.
        The tacky 50’s movie A Summer Place is equally irresistible, for precisely the same reason.

  3. Lyon says:

    This is Lyon, and I will die in this house, if I get it!

  4. Lyon says:

    Nice commentary, writing. I love the Valley of the Dolls photo.
    Thank you.

  5. Lyon says:

    Except the bad mouthing of Valley.
    Valley is sensational, but the movie is sensational, too.
    It needs me to remake it the way it should be, like the book. I want to play Lyon in a remake of Valley of the Dolls.

  6. Lyon says:

    I love you all.
    Your Lyon

  7. Pingback: PriceChopper: Beverly Crest House That Patty Duke Rented to Sharon Tate | LA News Talk Radio

  8. mark says:

    the sad thing is…Sharon and Roman had been renting dukes house with the understanding they had an option to buy, and Duke for whatever reason reneged at a later date, and Sharon had to go out and find another, thus unfortunate circumstances put them at 10050 Cielo and sealed her fate. This is all per Sharon s one living remaining sister. Hope whatever Dukes reason was for making them move was a good one.

  9. The house is beautiful.
    I have been on Summitridge Drive and you go up and up.
    The view is amazing.
    Not a good place to drive up if you are scared of heights.

    George Vreeland Hill

  10. Pingback: Warm Feelings About Patty Duke’s Former Home Have Not Resulted in Sale — Yet | Zillow Blog

  11. Pingback: Warm Feelings About Patty Duke’s Former Home Have Not Resulted in Sale — Yet – Real Estate for Sale in Santa Monica | Santa Monica Real Estate 90402 | Homes for Sale in Santa Monica 90402

  12. Pingback: Warm Feelings About Patty Duke’s Former Home Have Not Resulted in Sale — Yet

  13. Chas Gregory says:

    VALLEY OF THE DOLLS is a GREAT movie because it’s high drama. And audiences love drama. I also watch it about 4 or 5 times a year. My teenage nieces have fallen in love with it too. And they adore Barbara Parkins, Patty Duke, and Sharon Tate! There’s just something special about that movie and I don’t thinky anyone can really define it. It is what it is. Chas Gregory, Blythe CA

  14. Pingback: Patty Duke’s Former Beverly Hills Home Going For A Song: Take A Peek Inside! | Radar Online

  15. I don’t think “Valley Of The Dolls” would have it’s appeal if it weren’t for the tragic end to one of it’s stars, Sharon Tate. Otherwise I think all three actresses just would have wanted to forget the whole thing. It was said That Sharon Tate never thought anything much of the book or the movie but she did it because she was under contract and wanted to get some exposure. Or the studio wanted her to get some exposure. I really don’t think she ever would have mentioned it again otherwise. It was the 60’s and this was a typical 60’s exploitation film. She was married to a brilliant director and I can imagine what Roman must have thought of the film. Sharon was very beautiful in the movie and I’m glad that everyone got to see at least that. She was a rare beauty. I don’t think she had the experience yet as far as an actress so it’s really not a good movie to judge her acting. I think she would have gone on to be a great actress if given the right roles and experience.

  16. Dawn says:

    I used to think Sharon Stone could have played Sharon Tate’s role had a major motion fim been made about Ms Tate’s death (after the movie Helter Skelter). Somewhat surprised another film wasn’t made knowing how irreverant Hollywood tends to be.

    Lovely home, interesting article.

  17. Johnny says:

    Didn’t Jean Harlow’s husband, Paul Bern, take his life here. Or was it in the home Sharon and Polanski were living with at the time of her death?

  18. JungleRed says:

    @Johnny – Neither this home nor the Cielo Drive home was where Paul Bern was found shot (whether it was suicide or not is still up for debate hence my wording). Bern and Harlow lived in a lovely home on 9860 Easton Drive in Benedict Canyon which is where Bern’s body was found. Jay Sebring, whom Sharon Tate later dated and became engaged to, bought Harlow’s old house. Sharon stayed there alone at one point and she said she saw a ghostly apparition – a bloodied body with a rope around its neck at the bottom of the staircase. As we all know, Jay and Sharon were later murdered at Cielo Drive and both were stabbed (Jay was shot) and tied up.

    As for Duke’s Summitridge home, she most certainly didn’t yank it from under Sharon and Roman like another poster tried to insinuate. Duke said the couple did try to buy the home but their business people could not agree on a price. Duke also said she felt terrible for years after because of the “what if” factor. Tate’s murder certainly wasn’t her fault and no one should try to lay the blame on her or hint around that she kicked poor Sharon out and basically sent her on a path to death.

    • Steve says:

      Couldn’t have said it better myself on all counts. Thank you! Dee Bunker wanted me to point out that the address is actually 9820 Easton. (It’s what they live for.) Thanks again!

    • Rossim says:

      Actually the Paul Bern/Jay Sebring address is 9810 Easton.

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