A Beverly Hills English-style manor comes to market with an extraordinary pedigree of success and positive energy, courtesy of Bob and Gilda Marx, the active homeowners who have radiated exceptional light and love on this dynamic estate for 36 years.
Listed for $12.5 million by Jade Mills of Coldwell Banker Global Luxury, the Benedict Canyon manor is the center of the couple’s universe—where they laugh and live healthy, purposeful lives.
The Marxes are celebrities, business tycoons, committed philanthropists, and a happy husband-and-wife team who recently celebrated their 44th anniversary. This authentic English manor is their beloved, stately comfort zone of countless fond memories. Alas, it’s time for the retired couple to downsize. But don’t mistake that for slowing down. Slowing down isn’t part of their genetic makeup.
Bob Marx is a former TV executive, home builder and descendant of comedy royalty, the Marx Brothers. He’s the son of Gummo Marx and nephew of “Groucho,” “Chico,” “Harpo,” and “Zeppo”—vaudeville, Broadway and Hollywood icons who defined slapstick humor from 1905 to 1949 and beyond. Gilda is a fitness and fashion legend who invented the world famous Flexatard workout apparel. She has influenced the likes of Jane Fonda, Oprah Winfrey and Barbra Streisand, and is the reputed inspiration for the 1979 Streisand-Ryan O’Neal film, The Main Event.
Oh, is that all? The couple invested that success into their meticulous, 8,600-square-foot Beverly Hills sanctuary, which emulates a grand English countryside estate with old-world charm. “This is an extraordinary house,” says Bob. “There are walls that are 12 inches thick. You can’t hear a car going by 50 feet in front of the house. The ceilings are up to 30 feet high. It’s like walking into a small castle. To live in a house like this validates that you’ve had a successful life.”
Built in 1982 on half an acre, the enchanting six-bedroom manor looms elegantly behind a gated entrance and large motor court, with its majestic gray stone façade, bay windows, cherub and lion sculptures, hedged paths, lush lawn, and front garden with fruit trees.
“I love my flowers and my fruit trees,” says Gilda, recalling what she’ll miss when the manor sells. “We had lemon and orange trees. We’d walk out every day to see what bloomed. One year, I ate an entire orange tree—120 oranges.”
The manor opens to a grand foyer and a red-carpeted staircase framed by an imposing coffered ceiling and ornate chandelier. Interiors feature the fine craftsmanship of a bygone era—refined furnishings, intricate hardwood floors, exquisite carpentry (railings, moldings, built-ins), and wood-framed doors and towering windows with beveled glass—all beneath soaring ceilings. Museum-style paintings and bronze sculptures decorate the home.
The main level includes a living room with fireplace, formal dining room, a wooden library parlor (with spiral staircase), family room with fireplace and bar, and an expansive kitchen with island, breakfast room, and butler’s pantry with wine storage.
Downstairs houses a one-bedroom suite while upstairs offers five bedrooms, including a spacious master suite with fireplace, sitting area, dual walk-in closets, and large bathroom with sauna and dual vanities. There’s also an elevator, gym, laundry room, powder room, storage space, and a central vacuum system.
“Everything in this house is female friendly as well as male friendly,” says Gilda. “There’s everything that women want to have for themselves, including separate hers and his showers, and privacy in the dressing room of the master. You’re together but you each have privacy.”
The resort-like backyard is spectacular, primed for entertaining with open and covered patios, an outdoor living room, terrace overlooks, an oval pool, raised rock spa, and a spotlighted hillside landscape—amid a sea of green and red floral arrangements. In this space, the Marxes entertain family, friends and charity events.
“I adore looking at the landscaping every morning at breakfast and seeing the greenery, trees and nature,” says Gilda, who frequently walked her Tibetan terrier Romeo around the grounds. “So much inspiration for my Flexatard line came from nature.”
Gilda Marx’s fitness empire took Hollywood by storm from the late 1960s through the 1980s—before Jane Fonda’s Workout, Richard Simmons’ Sweatin’ To the Oldies, and Denise Austin’s Hit the Spot videos. “I started it,” she says. “It was like I lit a match. My studio incubated the whole fitness craze for women.”
Her Century City fitness studio students included A-listers Streisand, Fonda, Bette Midler, Mary Tyler Moore, and Jodie Foster. Fonda toned up before filming On Golden Pond and Streisand filmed scenes for The Main Event in the panoramic penthouse studio-fashion boutique, which Bob built.
Sold in 45 countries, Gilda’s Flexatard leotards (with vibrant colors and prints) were a smash hit—cherished and worn by Streisand, Princess Diana and Oprah Winfrey, who featured it on her TV show. She even designed fitness icon Jack LaLanne’s unitards. “I felt so validated by the fact that I created something that women loved,” says Gilda.
A member of the National Fitness Hall of Fame, Gilda has authored books (Body By Gilda), produced fitness videos, received an invite from Harvard Graduate School of Business (for entrepreneurship), and she even carried the 1984 Olympic torch.
“[Once], on a flight from L.A. to San Francisco, I was permitted to stand up with a megaphone and lead an exercise class for the whole flight so that the passengers wouldn’t get stiff,” says Gilda. “That could never happen now.”
After his military service, Bob joined the family business in Hollywood as a public promotions VP at CBS, followed by stints on the Groucho Marx-hosted show You Bet Your Life and the Art Linkletter show People Are Funny. Later, he was an assistant director and assistant producer at Screen Gems.
Not satisfied, he ditched the entertainment industry to become a builder of striking Midcentury modern properties in the Rancho Mirage, California desert. With his architect partner Val Powelson, Bob built iconic homes such as 1957’s “Sputnik House” (named after the Russian satellite) for his father, and the “Maranz Residence” for his former father-in-law (Tastee-Freez ice cream founder Leo Maranz)—which, due to their dramatic rooflines, are highlighted in the book Mod Mirage: The Midcentury Architecture of Rancho Mirage.
“The concept for both of these homes was to flare the houses out over the [Tamarisk Country Club] fairways so that the greenery was the focus from inside the homes,” says Bob. “Originally, my father had a small house in the desert. Groucho and Harpo started spending more time at the Tamarisk Country Club. [So my father] wanted a bigger house. I had no idea that 50+ years later people would think that Val and I did these wonderful things.”
When Bob left show business, he had a heart-to-heart with his father Gummo, who questioned why his son opted out of a good contract. Bob told his dad, “I never know if my success is because I made it or because of you. You will never know what it’s like to be Gummo’s son.” Gummo responded as only a quick-witted Marx Brother can, “You say to me that all your life you’ve been Gummo’s son, but all my life I have been Groucho’s brother!”
Now, Bob can rest assured—he is happy and successful in his own right. This Beverly Hills sanctuary, its $12.5 million price tag, and the golden years’ promise of future travel with Gilda are proof enough.