Monday, May 30, 2011

Living The Big Sky Life: Celebrity Bulldogs

Memorable Celebrity Bulldogs,
a continuation of "It Takes A Village"...

Mary Hart and husband, Burt Sugarman owned a big spread at the north end of Whitefish Lake. Their ranch bordered an immense forested wilderness which was predominantly owned by the government and managed by the US Forest Service. What the government didn't own, likely belonged to the Burlington Northern Railroad.

Word around town was that Burt intended to create a large land buffer between his ranch and everyone else; and he believed the only way to accomplish said buffer was to lease the surrounding forest service land from the US government for a pittance, thereby allowing him to fence the public out of public lands. The community was in an uproar at the prospect of being denied rightful access to open acreage that had been freely used by all for hiking, hunting, fishing, etc. At one point Burt tried to win local support by wooing the townsfolk with shiny new Christmas decorations for Central Avenue. Many considered the bribe, I mean gesture, an insult.

Maybe Burt should’ve considered doing what Bill Pennington did and just buy up everything in his vicinity at a fair price, albeit that 99-year lease from the US government was unquestionably a much cheaper deal. I honestly don’t think Pennington felt the need to be as frugal as perhaps Burt did, for it sure looked as if Mr. Circus-Circus had plenty to burn. Nor did he seem to me to be overly concerned about spending what was necessary to get exactly what he least that was the attitude he projected when I closed that last transaction for him.

Bill Pennington had arrived in Whitefish after buying the enormous custom log "cabin" Kiefer Sutherland had built for Julia Roberts during their short engagement way back when. The lake front castle was situated in a small nook on the northeastern shore of the lake – it was said that the location was essentially perfect because Mr. Bill needed a nice place to park his cigarette boats after Nevada had outlawed them.

Before Julia broke off her engagement with Kiefer and Kiefer closed on his heartbreak house sale to Pennington, it wasn’t uncommon to find Kiefer and Emilio Estevez hanging out together at the Great Northern Bar. Emilio’s first house wasn’t on the lake though like Kiefer’s castle – it was off Whitefish Stage Road about three miles south of town. Sometime during Emil’s short-lived marriage to Paula Abdul, he decided to sell that house and exchange it for a house on the lake, perhaps to be closer to his buddy Kiefer who ultimately sold out and left town anyway. I closed both the sale and purchase transactions for Emilio. And yes, there is more to tell.

Jim Nabors was a long time Whitefish resident, considered a local by many. He was quite friendly and seemed well liked. My interactions with him and his companion Stan were always pleasant. Jim had a large home off of Big Mountain Road which had been put on the market right before I left in 1996.

I’d been asked one day to open my title office on a Saturday morning to conduct a private closing for a high profile client who didn’t want to attract attention. That client was Jill Clayburgh. She had paid cash for a large parcel of vacant land northwest of town where she planned to build a vacation home. I can only assume she accomplished her goal long before passing away because I never saw her again. I found her to be a lovely, gentle woman. 
Courtesy of 'Time Magazine' 05-31-1993
Next up, "Well-Heeled Bulldogs"...

Living The Big Sky LifeTM
© by DK King


  1. "I closed both the sale and purchase transactions for Emilio. And yes, there is more to tell." More to tell? Please do! Emilio always fascinated me.

  2. Lots of star there I think... Thanks for fantastic blog post..
    whitefish real estate


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