“Breakfast at Tiffany’s:” Holly Golightly’s Real-Life Manhattan Townhouse For Sale

by hookedonhouses on February 20, 2012

Who could forget the iconic four-story townhouse that Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly lived in on the Upper East Side? Now the real thing, where the exterior shots and some of the interior scenes were filmed for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, is on the market for $5.85 million. (I’ll bet Holly paid a lot less than that to stay there in 1961!)

I thought it would be fun to compare how the building looked in the movie to how it looks now. It has changed so much in the past 50 years that I’m not sure I would have recognized it.

In the movie, which was based on a short novel by Truman Capote, the building sported green and white-striped awnings that must have blocked out most of the light coming into the rooms:

The front door was green, too:

Audrey Hepburn was not who Truman Capote had in mind for Holly. He pictured Marilyn Monroe in the role, but she turned it down. Kim Novac was reportedly offered the part, as well.

Hepburn was an unlikely actress to play the 19-year old country girl from Texas whose real name was Lulamae Barnes. For one thing, Hepburn was in her 30s; for another, her accent was anything but Texan. In the novella, a character says, “When she opens her mouth…you don’t know if she’s a hillbilly or an Okie or what.”

Hepburn herself felt she was miscast and said she was uncomfortable with the role. She essentially created a new–and memorable–version of Holly for the movie.

According to an article in the New York Times about the brownstone, most of the interiors were shot on a soundstage. However, the previous owners reported that it was used for some scenes, “with cameras perched outside so they could shoot into the rooms.” It’s believed that the party Holly hosted in a bed sheet, for example, was held in the real living room.

In the book, the story takes place during the war, in the 1940s. In the movie, it’s 1960.

Holly was a much more scandalous character in the original story, especially for those times. A lot of her rough edges were smoothed down for the movie–and so that Audrey Hepburn could play her.

I want to cry every time Holly throws “Cat” out of the cab, into the rain. Hepburn once said it was the worst thing she ever had to do in a movie.

See the little white “loveseat” in her living room? It’s a claw-foot tub cut in half.

Hepburn wears the same black dress about four times in the movie, but it looks different the way it’s styled and accessorized.

George Peppard played Holly’s upstairs neighbor Paul Varjak, a struggling writer who is “kept” by a wealthy woman.

I always want a better look at this screen in Holly’s bathroom:

She’s so thin in this movie that it’s hard to believe she gave birth to her son Sean only 3 months before filming began.

Paul’s apartment has been furnished by his “decorator,” a woman who goes by the name 2-E (they don’t explain it in the movie but it’s because her name is Emily Eustace).

In the novella, Holly and her neighbor were never lovers, she never finds the cat again after throwing it out of the cab, and she moves to Brazil in search of a rich husband. In the movie, she changes her mind and stays with Paul–and the cat, which they find in an alley.

Mr. Yunioshi was played by Mickey Rooney, pretending to be Japanese (different times, I know, but I cringe through those scenes). He lives in an apartment on the top floor:

Here’s how the townhouse looks today in the real estate listing:

It’s currently divided into two duplex apartments.

There’s even a solarium:

For more photos and information, check the listing with Corcoran. You can see the floorplans at Curbed and read about the current owner in the NYT article.

Remember the Stepmom House?

While we’re on the topic of real-life movie houses, I was excited to hear from the owner of the one where the Julia Roberts-Susan Sarandon movie Stepmom was filmed that it’s back on the market. The price has been reduced by a million or so and the new listing has more (and better) photos of the gorgeous old home in Upper Nyack, New York.

Check out my post about it for the updated information and pics:

The Real Stepmom (& Bounty Hunter) House

More Classic Movie Houses:

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Peggy February 20, 2012 at 9:01 am

A beautiful house, but I don’t think I’d want to spend that much and have to live with window units!

Jessica at Lavender and Lilies February 20, 2012 at 9:04 am

This is so cool. I love that movie!

Black Eyed Susans Kitchen February 20, 2012 at 9:10 am

Gorgeous architecture…so very typical of NYC. I loved the book and the movie but saw them as separate stories. Hepburn sure did have her own style!

Amanda @ Serenity Now February 20, 2012 at 9:14 am

I’m going to make a shocking confession–I’ve only seen a little bit of the beginning of the movie. :s Isn’t that awful?? Your post makes me want to run out and grab the DVD!

Luciane at Homebunch.com February 20, 2012 at 9:15 am

Lost of money, but also lots of charm! It would be lovely to own something like that.

Have a Blessed Week, Julia.

xo

Luciane at HomeBunch.com

Kathleen Ellis February 20, 2012 at 9:25 am

Loved this post, Julia! I always enjoy your posts of celebrity homes…along with the background you dig up…brings back memories of a different time! Thanks you!
Blessings & Beauty to you~
Kathleen

Gillian February 20, 2012 at 9:28 am

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is on my list of movies I have loved in my lifetime. Oh, my gosh, truly if I could get my hands on 6 million today, I would do all that I could to posess that house. That movie not only influenced my own life but my daughter’s-she is a major Audrey Hepburn fan both of her movies and of her style and class -she is in college studying art and design and has the goal to design for Tiffany’s

julita February 20, 2012 at 10:42 am

the Bath was used as a sofa!! :D

Molly @thewaffler February 20, 2012 at 10:55 am

Great post! I love Breakfast at Tiffanys (the movie) but I’m not sure I could read the book now because for me the movie would be the “correct” plot (usually it’s the other way around). I love the contrast between those two bright purple pillows and the white of the couch/tub.

Pat February 20, 2012 at 11:02 am

One of my favorite movies~ and at the time I thought I could surely be another Holly if I had the chance! Oh those teen years are full of such dreams!
Here’s a little Monday trivia for ya…George Peppard’s final resting place is in the same small cemetary in Dearborn Mi. as my parents.; you could say they are neighbors!
Have a great day Julia!

Melanie Penelope February 20, 2012 at 11:31 am

Thanks for this post! I’m thinking that Carrie’s brownstone on Sex and the City was highly influenced by Holly’s. Carrie said she lived on the Upper East Side but as you know her house is on 66 Perry Street in the village. I love going on google earth and looking at the steet view of different TV/movie houses. Carrie’s place is not too far away from Monica & Rachel’s apartment at 90 Bedford Street (and I’m pretty sure the Huxtable’s brownstone is also in Greenwich village – not Brooklyn Heights).
LOVE your site!! :)

Janice Mahon February 20, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Oh my gosh, thank you! What a beautiful home and a memorable movie!
Do you remember Mickey Rooney as Mr. Yonioshi, yelling down the stairs at Holly whenever she forgot her key? Rooney is still with us, still being Mickey! All the rest of the main cast passed on.
But the end of the movie just still makes me cry. Poor Cat, drenched after being thrown out of a cab. And then Holly comes back for him! oh tears stop now! The happiest ending of a movie ever!

laney February 20, 2012 at 5:06 pm

..oh my…we were all so young in the 60s…and i can tell you everyone of us wanted to move to new york city… have an apartment with a bathtub sofa…and live holly’s life…yet i don’t think a single one of us actually understood what holly’s ocupation was…

Julie February 20, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Ha, Laney. You’re absolutely right! We all wanted to be Holly, but I always thought men just gave her money to be in her company. We were all so innocent.

Kim February 20, 2012 at 5:47 pm

I have not seen “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, but it looks like a really good movie. I love the townhouse. I’ve always thought it would be cool to stay in one.

I love Aubrey Hepburn. One of my favorite movies of her’s is “Roman Holiday”. It’s such a good movie.

Entirely Elizabeth February 20, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Great post- love the movie! Never realized her couch was a claw foot tub cut in half! Very surprised the current owners block that amazing fireplace with a TV! But I would love to have their solarium!

Was the Stepmom house used for an episode of Lipstick Jungle?

hookedonhouses February 20, 2012 at 7:11 pm

I don’t know. I never saw that show. Anyone else recognize it from there?

cherylK February 20, 2012 at 7:26 pm

I sure did learn a LOT with this post! Didn’t know the differences between the novella and the movie, actually. And I didn’t know Hepburn was the third choice for the role…she was perfect in that role. Such a gorgeous woman. I love that house as it is now.

Elena February 20, 2012 at 7:44 pm

You made a comment about how thin Audrey H. is in this movie. Well, she’s always been that way. It’s because she’s a survivor of one of the German, Nazi camps from WWII. She was really young when this happened, though, but you can probably understand, now, why she would be so thin.

Dean February 21, 2012 at 11:46 am

Actually, Hepburn was never in any of the camps, but rather had to endure the effects of Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. As a child she suffered from malnutrition and anemia , influencing her commitment to UNICEF later in her life.

belledame February 21, 2012 at 8:15 pm

didn’t she struggle with eating disorders?

belledame February 21, 2012 at 12:34 am

yonioshi’s pad is one of my favorites. i’ve been trying to find someone to screencap the blu-ray edition. the image clarity is divine.

rj actually makes that comment about holly’s original accent in the course of explaining her current accent. he had her learn french in order to relearn english.

E. George February 21, 2012 at 1:15 am

Hi Julia I’m sure everyone will agree that we are so glad it was Audrey H. who got the part somehow I can’t imagine the other ladies playing the part as beautifully. Love the NYC architecture it looks so – may I say romantic? The house is lovely with beautiful decor. Thank you for sharing I’ve always loved this movie. Regards Esther from Sydney. PS like you the CAT scene always gets me.

Billy February 21, 2012 at 1:31 am

The comparison of the novella to screen play proves either Capote was ahead of his time or just twisted.

BTW the listing includes floor plan porn. I wonder how much to put it back together as one unit a la “Chapter Two”?

hookedonhouses February 21, 2012 at 7:39 am

I love when they show us the floor plans!

Jodi from New Jersey February 21, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Wow! That is so cool.I was born in 1961 — I guess that’s the same vine growing in the front for 50 years! Amazing.I’d love to know what kind it is. I prefer the green door and awnings, but I’m a sucker for green and black front doors. Nobody carries a black dress like Audrey–so elegant –and that hairdo is just ageless. Thanks for a fun post, Julia!

Asia from OBX March 13, 2012 at 7:36 am

I was just there in December! I’m a big fan of Audrey and many other old Hollywood starlets, but Audrey is my favorite! We walked all the way from Jackie Kennedy’s Apartment near the park to the Breakfast @ Tiffany’s apartment- I loved it! I hope someone buys it and enjoys it as much as an Audrey fan would!

Dennis Caracciolo March 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm

A fine site! Can’t really explain why there is this fascination with movie houses for many of us. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the house from Doris Day’s “Please Don’t Eat The Daisies” one of my all time favorite movies that carries a special significance for me as a youth. Can’t think of “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” without thinking of an interview I once saw with Audrey Hepburn in which she said she had argued with director Blake Edwards over the very first shot: pulling up in the cab in front of Tiffany’s. She wanted to have an ice cream; he wanted the coffee and donut. He won out. But Hepburn won out when it came to singing the title song on the apartment fire landing as George Peppard looks down from his apt: Edwards wanted to dub it with another voice. Hepburn sang it in her soft, misty rendition and it became screen history.

I hope you will consider adding other screen and TV homes to your site: How about the Nelson House (“Ozzie and Harriet”)? And one I’d love to know about: the house used in Jimmy Stewart’s “Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation.” And old creepy looking place all alone at the beach.

But the ultimate “house” would have to be “TARA” the home of Scarlet O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind.” The core was actually David O’Selznick’s office at MGM with many matted paintings and camouflages to make it look like a southern plantation.

Dennis Caracciolo
Lafayette, CA March, 2012

hookedonhouses March 23, 2012 at 7:48 am

I loved watching the old Ozzie and Harriet reruns when I was a kid, and I’ve seen “Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation,” so I know what you mean about that beach house! I have written about “Gone With the Wind.” You can see that post here:

http://hookedonhouses.net/2009/03/22/gone-with-the-wind-tara-twelve-oaks-aunt-pittypats-house/

Nice to hear from you–thanks, Dennis! :)

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