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’d bet Holly paid a lot less than that to stay there in 1961!)
It has changed so much in the past 50 years that I’m not sure I would have recognized it. Let’s revisit the classic brownstone from the movie and the sets they created for it.
The Brownstone from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”
In the movie, which was based on a short novel by Truman Capote,
the building sported green and white-striped awnings and a green-painted double door.
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.
Hepburn said the worst thing she ever had to do in a movie was throw the cat out of the cab in the rain.
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 three 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 lived in an apartment on the top floor.
The listing for the “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” brownstone says:
Beautiful brownstone with elegant stoop divided into 2 duplexes located off Lexington Avenue. The upper duplex consists of a sunny living room with wood burning fireplace and sweeping staircase, powder room, dining room with a wood burning fireplace and a renovated kitchen with laundry.
Upstairs are two bedroom suites each with its own renovated bath. The garden duplex apartment with a separate entrance has a living room with a woodburning fireplace, full bath, kitchen and glass enclosed solarium with backyard perfect for entertaining.
The upper level includes a front library/office with wood burning fireplace and powder room and a rear large bedroom with wood burning fireplace and bath.
For more photos and information about 169 East 71st Street, check the listing with Corcoran.
You can see the floorplans at Curbed and read about the current owner in the NYT article.
Visit my Houses Onscreen page to see the other movies I’ve featured, listed A-Z.
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 says
This is so cool. I love that movie!
Black Eyed Susans Kitchen says
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 says
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 says
Lost of money, but also lots of charm! It would be lovely to own something like that.
Have a Blessed Week, Julia.
Luciane at HomeBunch.com
Kathleen Ellis says
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~
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
the Bath was used as a sofa!! 😀
Molly @thewaffler says
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.
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 says
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 says
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!
..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…
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.
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 says
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 says
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.
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”?
Jodi from New Jersey says
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 says
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 says
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.
Lafayette, CA March, 2012
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:
Nice to hear from you–thanks, Dennis! 🙂