“We kissed a lot of frogs out here” is how Joseph Hahn and David Brinkman describe their search for a Palm Springs weekend house. The frog that turned into a prince was a 1960 home built by Dragnet star Jack Webb. “There were so many great midcentury houses that were changed beyond recognition,” laments Brinkman, the director of a non-profit shelter for homeless kids. “They were horrifying and sickening to someone who appreciates the aesthetic.”
“We saw a lot of Alexanders that had been turned into Spanish adobes or Cape Cods with clapboards and shutters,” adds Hahn, a civil litigator. The prevalence of sellers who had installed Mexican Saltillo pavers throughout and heavy draperies on the walls of glass—theoretically a selling point of the homes—dismayed the couple. One home they looked at had an aluminum carport-like structure constructed over the pool as a sunscreen. This makes a certain amount of sense in a climate where people have chillers for cooling their pool water, but as Brinkman notes, “It was just like an E-Z Bake oven in there.”
The Deepwell neighborhood where the pair eventually found their home was built with a certain level of buyer in mind, and each was a custom design. The couple discovered that Jack Webb built their house in 1960 as an anniversary present for Jackie Loughery, a former Miss USA and either the second or third of Webb’s four wives—depending on which online biography you read.
Next door was singer Julie London’s weekend pad, which was convenient since she was Webb’s first wife and their children could pop back and forth between the homes. Webb’s bio, Just the Facts, Ma’am, mentions the rock waterfall next to the pool in Brinkman and Hahn’s back yard and that Webb loved playing in the pool with his kids.
“I thought Jack Webb was the guy on ‘Hawaii 5-O’,” Hahn confesses laughingly. Webb, who died in 1982, was best known as Sergeant Joe Friday on “Dragnet.” His biography mentions that Eva Gabor, who would later live down the street, was a frequent guest at the house, as was Joan Crawford and Dick Van Dyke.
“We named our bar after Joan Crawford,” Brinkman says dryly. “We figure that is most likely where she would have been found.”
William Holden once lived across the street, which gave Hahn and Brinkman a bit of a thrill since they say “Sunset Boulevard” is their favorite movie. Liberace also bought a desert house in Deepwell in 1957. According to the book Palm Springs Confidential, the Las Vegas entertainer had a pink kitchen, candelabra-shaped garden torches and walls decorated with plastic flowers, cupids and portraits of his French poodles. And in the early 1990s, aging actress Loretta Young moved into a nearby home with a circular white living room and a suspended fireplace. Yet even in this stardusted neighborhood, the area is definitely looking better today than it did 10 years ago.
Jack Webb is Ready for His Closeup
Find out what habit of Hahn’s finally forced him and his partner to go out and buy the Webb house in Part 2!