charles butterworth house

If This Pool Could Talk

Tucked away behind tall hedges and walls, this Palm Springs home is steeped in Old Hollywood lore.

Lawrence Karol Current Digital, Home & Design, Real Estate

charles butterworth house
The quote, "Get out of those wet clothes and into a dry martini," is a play on a line from a 1942 movie starring Ginger Rogers. It's attributed to actor Charles Butterworth, who was the original owner of 77 Palms Estate.

This 1935 Spanish residence in Palm Springs is known as 77 Palms Estate since — you guessed it — the almost one-acre property has 77 palm trees. But like so many other local homes, there's a lot more to the story.

Currently on the market for $1,688,000, the estate is next door to the site once occupied by the Racquet Club resort, a well-known celebrity hangout founded in 1934 by actors Charlie Farrell (elected mayor of Palm Springs in 1948) and Ralph Bellamy. The home's first occupant was fellow actor Charles Butterworth, who was of the original members of the Racquet Club. (Butterworth's distinctive voice was the inspiration for the Cap'n Crunch commercials.)

See related story: History of the Racquet Club

"I have always compared my 77 Palms Estate to a lengthy but fascinating novel with so many wonderful chapters," says the home's current owner, Wayne J. Rizzi. "One of my favorite features is the original swimming pool with the phrase: 'Get out of those wet clothes and into a dry martini.' In The Major and the Minor, a 1942 movie, Robert Benchley says to Ginger Rogers, 'Why don't you get out of that wet coat and into a dry martini?'


The kitchen is outfitted with a Sub-Zero refrigerator, Viking appliances, and granite countertops.

Although Billy Wilder was the movie's co-writer and director, he said Benchley came up with the line. However Benchley, in his turn, attributed it to his friend Charles Butterworth." (In 2014, author Michael Turback published a book entitled, Out of Those Wet Clothes and Into a Dry Martini: A Charles Butterworth Witty Cocktail Guide.)

Rizzi notes that the home has been featured in several books about the adventures of Old Hollywood and that Jane Wyman lived here after her divorce from Ronald Reagan. "Joan Crawford, the Kennedy family, and many others attended lavish parties hosted at the Butterworth Estate," he adds.

See related story: Stars like Jane Wyman made tennis a hot sport in Palm Springs' early days.

Saltillo tiles flow throughout the main house which has four bedrooms and four bathrooms in over 4,700 square feet, including a detached casita with a living room, kitchen, one bedroom, one bathroom, and private patio area.

The master bedroom has a double-sided fireplace that opens to its lounge area and to the master bathroom. There's also a wood burning fireplace in one of the guest bedrooms and a gas burning one in the living room. The master ensuite features a large soaking tub, walk-in shower, and walk-in closet. Imported tiles from Italy and Mexico are incorporated throughout.

Outdoors, there are several entertainment areas; the large oval-shaped pool; multiple water features; views of the San Jacinto Mountains; an outdoor palapa with a kitchen; and a putting green situated in its own separate yard.

"The beautiful palm trees combine with lush landscaping, brickwork, and various water features to produce the five-star resort feel my family and I have come to enjoy day in and day out," says Rizzi.


Saltillo tiles flow throughout the home. The living room is centered around one of the home's four fireplaces.


The master ensuite features a large soaking tub, walk-in shower, and imported tiles from Italy and Mexico.


Among the many outdoor features is a putting green situated in its own separate yard.

2905 North Puerta Del Sol, Palm Springs

For more information, contact Cynthia Carvel or Misty Frasier, 424-500-8543,, Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Staging by Kathleen & Company Home Staging, Kathleen Kozac,, 760-601-5356.