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February 9, 2012

At Home With Movie Stars in the Hollywood’s Golden Age

Access. It’s a big word in the media these days, when celebrity culture is the engine driving so much online content and so much offline conversation. Who has access to Celeb A? How did that magazine get access to Celeb B? Where on earth did that gossip site get those tawdry (and hypnotic) photographs of Celeb C?

In its prime, LIFE magazine — almost alone among all of the popular culture publications of its day — enjoyed the sort of access to A-list stars (and, admittedly, to lesser lights) that today’s tabloids and paparazzi can only dream about.

Here, a fond look back at some of the 20th century’s biggest, brightest entertainers, in the friendly confines of their own homes.

Carole Lombard drinks a cup of coffee and talks on the telephone while lounging on the floor of her Hollywood home in October 1939, a few months before her marriage to Clark Gable (Alfred Eisenstaedt—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Fasten your seat belt; it's going to be a bumpy ride across the patio in a lounge chair for Bette Davis and her Pekingese, Popeye the Magnificent, at home in Beverly Hills in 1939. (Alfred Eisenstaedt—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Oscar-winning actress Claudette Colbert poses in a two-piece evening dress in front of the fireplace in her home in Los Angeles' posh Holmby Hills neighborhood in 1939. (Alfred Eisenstaedt—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Vivien Leigh at home with her Oscar for Gone With the Wind, 1940. (Peter Stackpole—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Sisters and frequent rivals Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland share a family moment as they look out over Beverly Hills from Fontaine's home in 1942. (Bob Landry—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Greer Garson sits her living room at home in Los Angeles' exclusive Bel Air neighborhood, picking out records to play in April 1943, a month after her Best Actress Oscar victory for Mrs. Miniver. (Peter Stackpole—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Marilyn Monroe at her Hollywood home in 1953. (Alfred Elsenstaedt—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Forget that toy keyboard in Big; pianist Liberace has a full 88 keys to dance on at the grand piano-shaped pool in his California backyard in 1954. (Loomis Dean—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

17-year-old Ricky Nelson — at the height of his fame as a teen idol, TV star in his family's sitcom, and rockabilly hitmaker — plays guitar in the backyard of the Nelson family's Hollywood home in 1958. (Hank Walker—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Years before he became a salad dressing mogul, Paul Newman's own Hollywood kitchen saw him cooking eggs for good pal Anthony Perkins in 1958. (Newman's wife Joanne Woodward removes sweet rolls from the oven.) (Leonard McCombe—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman, whose marriage would last 50 years (until his death in 2008), share a laugh as they get dressed in their Hollywood home in 1959. (Gordon Parks—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Jayne Mansfield combs her hair while bathing in the pink carpeted bathroom of her home, known as "The Pink Palace," in Los Angeles, 1960. (Allan Grant—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Steve McQueen and his first wife, TV actress Neile Adams, dress for a warm day at their Hollywood home in 1963. (John Dominis—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Sophia Loren picks flowers at her Italian villa she shared with producer Carlo Ponti in 1964. (Alfred Eisenstaedt—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

The Irish-born actress Maureen O'Hara relaxes at home in Los Angeles in 1946. Who doesn't dress like this when they're lying in bed, sewing? (Peter Stackpole—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

The Jacksons (clockwise left to right: Jackie, Marlon, Tito, Jermaine, and Michael) join parents Joe and Katherine in their backyard in Encino, California in 1970. (John Olson—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)


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