Living In Mickey Rooney’s House

On page 100 of Tom Snyder’s denigrating bio, Garth Benton say:

“I rented my place out and we moved into Christine’s place on White Oak – you know, the Micky Rooney house – because it was a really nice place. Did you know that it was originally the caretaker’s cottage on the Clark Gable estate?”

I am still researching this claim that says Raoul Walsh owned this ranch before Gable bought it, and it was remolded while Clark was making Gone With The Wind’. This is – Terra! Raoul was in Birth of a Nation.

John Presco

According to E.J., at the time, the home’s entrance was located on Petit Drive (as you can see in this 1940 census, the original address was 4525 Petit Drive; it is now 4543 Tara Drive) and the property was surrounded by acres upon acres of orchards and fields.  Tabloids quickly labeled the two-story clapboard residence “The House of Two Gables”.

4543 Tara Dr
Encino, CA 91436

7 beds9 baths7,093 sqft

Off Market
Zestimate®: $3,988,663
Rent Zestimate®: $13,462 /mo

Est. Refi Payment


4543 Tara Dr, Encino, CA is a single family home that contains 7,093 sq ft and was built in 1933. It contains 7 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms. This home last sold for $587,500 in October 1977. The Zestimate for this house is $3,988,663, which has increased by $96,308 in the last 30 days.


Instead of acquiring an impressive estate, the couple moved to a twenty-acre ranch in the sparsely settled San Fernando Valley town of Encino sev­eral months after their marriage in 1939. The property, which included a nine-room house, had belonged to director Raoul Walsh and cost $50,000.

The ranch house, which Carole Lombard had renovated while Gable worked on Gone With the Wind, featured a white-brick-and-wood-frame facade, spacious red-brick terraces and a gambrel roof.

Clark and Carole had both visited director Raoul Walsh’s home in the San Fernando Valley and were admirers of it. A twenty acre property removed from bustling Hollywood, it had a small main house, garage, stable, barn, fields brimming with alfalfa and oats, and an orchard with orange, lemon and grapefruit trees. In late 1938, Carole got wind that Raoul was looking to sell and sell quickly. Clark and Carole both jumped on the idea, but Clark being cash poor, anticipating a huge settlement looming to divorce Ria, Carole ponyed up and wrote the check for $50,000 and began the renovating and decorating process while she patiently waited for that divorce decree.

It came the following March and they were married. By summer they had moved from Carole’s house in Bel Air and settled into domestic bliss on their ranch.

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard

Clark and Carole with chickens on their ranch

If Carole had lived, it seems the ranch would not have been their long-standing home. News reports in 1941 state that they were looking for even more land to set up a big cattle ranch; the location anywhere from Northern California to Arizona or even Wyoming. Carole died before these dreams were realized.

Following Carole’s death, Clark couldn’t bear to stay at the ranch for a few weeks. No doubt when he did return it was with a heavy heart. Soon afterwards he put the ranch up for sale.

From a 1942 article:

[One night Clark Gable’s friend] Al Menasco went home to that Encino house with him.

“I’ve got to get out of here,” Clark said. “Sunday I’ll go look for a new place.”

“You bet,” said Al. “I’ll help you.” He did help too. On Sunday, he drove Clark all over the San Fernando Valley and every place they looked at, he’d point out the advantages. He told Clark that there would never be a thing on any of these ranches to remind him of Carole, never a stable where they hung up their tack after their long rides, never a barn where he’d remember the first cow he bought, which hadn’t given enough milk, and how, when he’d sent the animal back to its original owner, Carole had said it must be the most humiliated cow in all of California. He kept pointing out these advantages. Gable finally gave him a look from beneath those brows of his.

“So ok,” he said very sharply. “So turn around and I’m not leaving the old house.”

His trusted caretaker, together with his few house servants and his faithful secretary, Jean Garceau, kept the ranch running while he was in Europe during World War II. Upon his return in 1944, he again put the ranch up for sale. But again took it off the market.

In the late 1940’s, Clark traveled around, spending time in New York, Florida and on hunting trips. He spent nearly two years in Europe and Africa in the early 1950’s (filming Mogombo, Never Let Me Go and Betrayed), not returning to the ranch once.

But eventually he did return home to Encino. The ranch to him was a place that I think pained him, but perhaps it was more painful to think of letting it go.

Fourth wife Sylvia Ashley moved in in 1949 and swiftly out in 1951.

Sadly, on November 5th, 1960, while changing a tractor tire in the ranch’s driveway, Gable suffered a heart attack.  The following morning, he was taken to Hollywood Presbyterian hospital, where he passed away ten days later, on November 16th, 1960.  Despite being married to Kay at the time, the actor was interred next to Carole Lombard at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale.  Spreckles and John Clark Gable (Kay and Clark’s son and Clark’s only legitimate child, who was born four months after the actor’s death) continued to live at the ranch until 1973, at which point it was sold to developers.  Financier Michael Milken later bought the place in October 1977 for $587,500 and it appears that he still owns it to this day.  According to Zillow, the dwelling currently boasts seven bedrooms, nine baths, 7,093 square feet of living space, and a 1.17-acre lot.

Jack Webb, who lived in a ranch house four blocks away, liked television so much, he had nine remote-control, 15-inch color sets installed in the south wall of a bungalow in the backyard of his house on Encino Avenue in Encino. The TV sets are still there.

Mickey Rooney also lived in the Valley, but in a more grandiose style–in a 27-room hacienda on Densmore Avenue in Encino, with a white tile roof, bay windows and a large pool. The two-story house, built in the early 1940s, has five garages.

In 1938, at the peak of his stardom, Rooney moved from Schumacher Drive into an
expansive 18-room Spanish-styled hacienda sited amidst a walnut grove in the
San Fernando Valley at 4410 Dinsmore Avenue, where he would remain until his 1942 marriage to Ava Gardner. Although the Encino estate was later subdivided, the small house Rooney occupied during his climb to stardom remains largely unaltered from the time he lived there between 1934-1938.

Rooney’s standout performance in Manhattan Melodrama forced Louis B. Mayer to reconsider his earlier dismissal and Rooney was soon offered a much-coveted contract with MGM Studios. With a starting salary of $150 a week with a forty-week guarantee, Rooney and his mother took a lease on a handsome six-room Spanish-styled house in Carthay Circle at 727 Schumacher Drive, which had been designed by architect Vincent Treanor in 1929. Hardly grand by Hollywood standards, their new home nonetheless seemed palatial in comparison to the many cramped rooming houses they had been forced to endure in the past.  The four years Rooney would spend in the house on Schumacher Drive would be among the most important of his career. During this period he would rise from a little known contract player into the world’s number one box office draw. He also began appearing, starting with 1937’s A Family Affair, in the role he is perhaps most identified with – the lovable Andrew “Andy” Hardy. Rooney was to make 18 of the highly successful films between 1937 and 1958.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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