It was literally an accident that lured Bonnie Bruckheimer to the Valley 30 years ago.
Then running All Girl Productions (Beaches, Gypsy) with her partner, Bette Midler, Bonnie received a frantic call from her son’s nanny one afternoon. The 2-year-old had fallen and bit through his palate. Bonnie jumped in her car and raced from her office on the Disney Studios lot in Burbank to her home in West Hollywood.
“We’re moving to the Valley,” she decided right then and there. “I just could not be as far away as I was.”
Ceramics by Bonnie’s friend, artist Jane Jenkins
Friends advised her to buy south of the Boulevard. Instead, she moved into an iconic 1936 Spanish-style bungalow in Valley Village that had belonged to Fleetwood Mac guitarist John McVie.
With stucco exteriors, a red tile roof, arched doorways and exposed wood-beamed ceilings, “It needed a bit of work. The ceilings had been painted brown, for example. John was on the road quite a lot back then and hadn’t paid too much attention to it. But I fell in love with it,” Bonnie recalls.
ABOVE: Among Bonnie’s collections are Chinese heads from the turn of the 20th century—several sculpted by artist Esther Hunt.
Bonnie quickly made the place her own, integrating her own sense of style. “I have decorated it with things that make me happy. Most of the paintings and ceramics were done by friends who are artists. And I like to be surrounded by my collections.”
Three decades later, that hasn’t changed—although much else in her life has.
Her two adult children live out of state, and six years ago, at the age of 70, the divorcée made a 180-degree career pivot and launched a career as a sales executive for Vesta Home Staging.
“I have decorated it with things that make me happy. Most of the paintings and ceramics were done by friends who are artists. And I like to be surrounded by my collections.”
Though she teaches a women’s studies class at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, Bonnie isn’t currently producing. She says her decision to back off from showbiz a few years ago was prompted by major studios’ increasing preference for blockbuster action movies over more intimate female-oriented stories.
She tried the independent film route, but was turned off by the major task of an indie producer: raising money. At a friend’s suggestion, she transferred her sales and organizational talents to the home staging business. “Honestly, I didn’t know a thing about the business. I had to start over and learn everything. Thank goodness Brett Baer [Vesta’s owner] decided to take a chance on me,” she quips.
With the pandemic forcing her to work remotely, Bonnie has a renewed appreciation for her home. “I’m enjoying it now more than ever. I’m here, and I see the light change during the day. Looking around at everything that I have collected over the years brings me great, great joy.”