RUNNING INTO A CELEBRITY NOVEMBER 04, 2013
I see where Merv Griffin’s little ranch out on Ave. 52 in La Quinta is being sold to the tune of 7M, and I think the buyer has stolen the place. It’s what I would call a Compound: there are guest houses, just 3 or 4, lying around the main big home which Merv occupied, sometimes with Ava Gabor for companionship. Then there is a large home for the caretaker/security guard next to the huge security entry gate with cameras, bells, and microphones to keep out the riff-raff. There are several barns, for all the beautiful Arabians he raised. There is even a race track. The horses had acres to roam around to stay healthy and happy.
I was inside that compound one day, and I’d like to elaborate on how I got there.
My compound (and I use the term loosely) where I lived for 25 years is located on Ave. 50 in La Quinta, the second little “ranchette” east of Jefferson. These parcels were about 8 acres, whereas the Griffin place is probably 40 acres, at least. I was driving out of my driveway which was probably 150-200 feet to the street, and there was a clear view since there was no high wall nor a big security gate to contend with. I was on my way over to my real estate office in PalmDesert. The time was around 11:30 am. Off to my right, I noticed a car travelling slowly, and then pulling off the asphalt to stop across from my driveway. It was a white ‘85 Cadillac Fleetwood, smaller than the big ones they had previously put out. My auto that very moment was an exact replica — it is indeed a small world after all. Then the driver was getting out and signaling me, waving her arms frantically, so I pulled over across the street, got out and walked back to meet her. She appeared to be a strong woman, dressed in a white uniform-type dress — maybe a nurse, and she’s pointing to a right front flat tire. So, in trying to lighten the situation (by now I saw there was a little woman in the passenger seat also yelling) I jokingly remarked: “Not to worry, it’s only flat on the bottom.” The woman in white went right on about the predicament they were in. She had Jolie Gabor in the car, and they were supposed to arrive at Merv Griffin’s ranch for a luncheon. “You must know Jolie Gabor (well, I knew OF her), her daughter Ava is with Merv, bla, bla, bla, and we have to get there.” I asked “Would you like to have me call the 3A’s to come fix it?” Nurse/Caregiver Type: “That might take so long —- oh, what to do?” Then the two of us helped Jolie out of the Fleetwood, and that was no easy trick. She must’ve been around my present-day age of 95 —this scene was taking place in 1992. She kept wringing her hands, and telling me how they HAD to be there. I thought maybe like a command performance for royalty.
We finally decided that I would drive them to Merv’s — with Ava. We got Jolie situated in the front passenger seat. I wouldn’t have let her drive! Maybe Wonder Woman. So off we went to Merv’s, and during the entire drive, Jolie still with the wringing hands, kept telling me all about it. Did I know where Merv’s ranch was. Yes, I did. Jolie spoke in this Hungarian Version of the English Language. She knew how to speak it, but I don’t know how to write it. All the while, it’s about her daughter Ava, and how she is there with Merv on his $7M ranch. Over and over, I heard the same stuff. It may have taken about 10 minutes to drive there, but I heard the story at least 15 times.
I was wondering if Jolie had heard about Merv being gay – very old news, and maybe she was in denial. Ava made a beautiful prop for all his entertaining.
We pulled up to the gate, and Iron Woman got out so she could be on camera while talking to the gatekeeper. It worked and we drove in. My eyes must’ve been like the proverbial saucers. What a spread! I drove v-e-r-r-r-y slowly to let it all sink in. The drive in to the mansion was lengthy, and we pulled up, and there they were out on the terrace at the huge front door to greet us — Merv in all his sartorial splendor, and Ava — well, Ava was the knockout — she was in her early 70’s and had the look of a woman in her 40’s, and body that went with it. In a white silk pant suit, she reminded me of Raquel Welch. And Raquel Welch was no ugly duckling even in that Hungarian Version of English.
After Jolie and her Warden got out, they introduced me to host and hostess. I didn’t get invited to stay for lunch, so I drove away.
A few days later, Jolie called to take me for lunch at LeVallauris in Palm Springs in appreciation for my saving the 2 stranded damsels in distress. We talked several times to set it up, but it was either her with her social functions, or I with my real estate wheeling and dealing, so it never took place. I kept getting cold feet about going anyway because a little bird had whispered in my ear — and I figured out that when the tab arrived at the table, it would be Yours Truly picking it up. Besides, it would be hard to have a decent conversation with someone speaking the Hungarian Version of the English Language.
Another thing : At the beginning of this narrative, I wrote about Merv’s place being sold, and about the price at $7M. This was in the Desert Sun just a week or so ago. When I came to Jolie’s part, I KNOW she kept telling the amount of dollars it cost him. It is in my brain as though written with a permanent Sharpie. If my memory is correct with the Desert Sun, then someone did get a real buy.
I just now went to the Desert Sun on internet, and did find the place had been on the market for $9.5M. So, it cost him the $7M, and that’s what his estate sold it for. So there!