Monkees & You

Phyllis Barbour Nesmith
Info “Welcome to Villa Arnold!”

YOU—just YOU—take a magical trip to Los Angeles and enter the private lives of Mike and Phyllis Nesmith—and Micky Dolenz!

As you may have noticed, there is a slight change in the title of this department in this issue. The reason will become obvious when you begin to read what it’s like to take a magic-carpet ride into the very private lives of Mike and Phyllis Nesmith—and Micky Dolenz.

Phyllis Barbour Nesmith, Mike Nesmith
Info “Come on in. Our home is your home.”

There is a section of Los Angeles called Bel-Air. It is a private, incorporated city of nothing but gorgeous, expensive estates covering a three- to four-mile area just northwest of Hollywood. There are three main gates to the city, and the Bel-Air police inspect every car that enters and leaves.

After you—in the chauffeured limousine Mike has sent to pick you up—have received a friendly wave from the cop at gate one, you start your winding drive that seems to go straight, straight, straight up to the top of the highest hill in Bel-Air! On the crest of the hill, you see a beautiful beige-blonde girl standing by a white brick gateway.

“Hi!” calls Phyllis Nesmith, as she steps forward to welcome you. After introductions, she points to the letters on the white brick wall which read, Villa Antelo. “That,” Phyllis says, pointing to the sign, “is coming down. For some strange reason, Mike wants to name our home Villa Arnold—and he probably will!

As you walk up the sweeping driveway to the Nesmiths’ $250,000 House Of The Year award-winner, you notice that the tall bushes around the estate conceal a 12-foot-tall electric fence. As the electric gate clicks behind you, you see a TV camera facing it. Phyllis explains, “I guess you could call us super security-conscious. From several places in the house we can see, through that camera, who is at the gate. Mike even has a monitored set on the bedroom ceiling.”

Christian Nesmith, Fraak
Info “Frack” keeps a watchful eye on Christian.

You don’t say anything, but you understand. It’s just one of Mike’s many ways of showing his deep love for his wife and his son, Christian.

At the top of the driveway, you marvel at a beautiful landscaped-garden to the right of the house. It is filled with flowers and statues. Mike suddenly emerges through the front door, followed by a retriever—who you recognize instantly as his dog “Spotte”—and a large Shoetzhuntz shepherd. You are pleased with Mike’s quiet warmth. He is not a bit like the indifferent, aloof Monkee some of the press has tried to lead you to believe he is.

“This is ‘Frack’,” he says, pointing to the shepherd. “He’s our watchdog. He is specially trained to attack unwelcome intruders instantly, just by the flick of a hand signal. But don’t worry. ‘Frack’ know [sic] who my friends are—and you definitely are one.”

For a second, you look into “Frack’s” enormous, gentle, puppy-dog eyes and you couldn’t imagine him hurting even a flea!

“Let’s look around the outside of the house,” Phyllis suggests.

Christian Nesmith
Info Christian favors you with an approving look.

As you emerge from the garden, you see a low rock wall and beyond it the most beautiful view you have ever seen in your life. Mike explains that the summit on which you are standing is one of the few hills in Los Angeles that has a 360-degree view. You can look one way and see San Fernando; look another way and see Hollywood; still another and see the beach—and yet another shows you a full view of downtown L.A.

“You ought to see it at night,” Mike says. “One of these evenings, I’m gonna count all them lights and then try to figure out what it would be like to have a real Texas-style electric bill.”

The swimming pool is next on your tour of the grounds and you are amazed to see that it is half outdoors and half inside the den. As you are ushered inside, you meet Ted Conway, an interior designer who is one of Mike’s San Antonio buddies. “Ted here,” Mike explains, “is making this place a little more homey for me. I am not exactly the crystal chandelier and electric-light fountain type, you know.”

About this time, a busy little toddler comes scrambling into the room, flops at Mike’s feet and rolls around on the white carpeting.

“Well, I guess I don’t have to tell you who that is,” says Mike, pointing to Christian. And as you stoop to chat with Christian for a moment, you can’t get over how adorable he is—a perfect mixture of his mom and dad.

Now Phyllis takes you off to the kitchen, of which she is very proud. You are amazed by it. Everything is placed at waist-level, so that you don’t have to reach up or bend down. The thing that really knocks you out is Phyllis’ radar oven. It will cook a whole roast in ten minutes and a big, juicy steak can be finished in two minutes. However, today Phyllis is serving one of Mike’s favorite dishes—tuna fish salad. In no time at all a batch has been whipped up and you are all sitting around the dining table, laughing, talking and eating.

Christian Nesmith, Phyllis Barbour Nesmith
Info Family conference.

After lunch, Mike escorts you to his favorite part of the house—the garage. “My garage is like a complete service station,” he explains. “I have a grease shooter—that’s a grease gun—you know, an air compressor and a car lift, just like you see in regular service stations.”

Mike introduces you to his cars. There is a new $27,000 Mercedes limousine with black tinted windows; Mike’s old jeep; his GTO; his old Chevy; a couple of motor bikes; a new S-K inboard 18-foot motorboat; and your favorite car—the Morris Mini-Radford Cooper made for Mike in England. It seats four people, has tinted windows, stereo and air-conditioning.

Phyllis suddenly appears and says, “We are going to take you over to a friend’s house for a while. I think you are in for a pleasant surprise.” And the three of you drive off across the hills toward Laurel Canyon. Another winding road leads you to an old English-type house. As you hop out, Phyllis and Mike say, “We have a few errands to do. We will pick you up in an hour or so and then we will all have dinner together.” For a second, you stand indecisively at the gateway to the house. Then the door slowly opens and your eyes nearly pop out of your head!

Micky Dolenz
Info “Hi! Welcome to my house!”

It’s Micky Dolenz! “Come on in,” he beckons you—and like someone in a trance, you follow his call. Micky meets you halfway and introduces himself to you.

He shows you the waterfall in his garden and then takes you to the little pond it leads to. You stand on the tiny bridge that crosses the pond—alone together. Micky notices that you are shy, so he doesn’t pressure you into conversation. Everything around the house is green, green, green—and it seems like a thousand flowers are blooming in the foliage. In Micky’s driveway, you see an old, enormous red, white and blue Volkswagon [sic] bus. “That,” says Micky with a grin, “is my favorite car. When I drive it, it sounds exactly like a lawn mower.” And suddenly the ice is broken and you and Micky Dolenz are laughing together. He invites you inside and starts to show you his house.

The living room is about 60 feet long and has a beamed ceiling about 25 feet high. The beams come to a point at the top, as in a Gothic church. The furniture is big and comfortable—the kind you would see in an old farmhouse, but all of it has been especially made for Micky.

Micky Dolenz
Info Micky in a thoughtful moment.

To get to the den, which is like a big balcony overlooking the living room, you go up a flight of wooden steps. You are absolutely gassed by what you see. There is a fire burning in the gigantic fireplace and the only furniture is dozens of huge, comfortable pillows lying on the floor. The walls are decorated with tribal symbols of the various American Indian tribes. “I’m part American Indian,” Micky explains to you. “My tribal ancestors were Chickasaw Indians and I am very proud of my heritage.” The den is a room you love at once, for it is filled with serenity and peace.

“Hey,” Micky breaks the magic spell. “Come on downstairs. I wanta show you my favorite room.”

Micky Dolenz
Info The Bookworm.

Two flights down is Micky’s workshop. It is here that he makes his peace symbols and other metal and wire sculptures. You see a lathe, a saw, a buffer—and all the tools that you would find in a real craftsman’s shop. You sit down absolutely entranced as Micky proceeds to make a peace symbol just for you. On the record player in the corner he has put an LP by Hugh Masakela [sic], his favorite blues singer-trumpet player.

Suddenly, you both hear footsteps. It’s Mike and Phyllis, who have come back to collect you. “Come on,” they say. “It’ll be dinner time before you know it and you’re in for a big surprise.”

  • Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith
    Info Two scenes from next season’s Monkees series.
  • Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith

Your head and heart are still spinning when you realize that Mike has driven the Mini into the private section of the Los Angeles airport. With no explanation, you are whisked out and within a matter of moments find yourself aboard a privately chartered Lear Jet. Just before the plane takes off, Mike looks at you, grins and gives you a clue. “I sure would like a good Texas chili-burger in San Antonio tonight,” he says.

And you’re off—soaring straight up at 850 miles an hour until you are eight miles high! Then the plane levels off and, cruising at 750, in approximately two hours you are over the San Antonio airport. There is a limousine waiting for you and your party at the end of the airstrip. Soon, it is whisking you down the Austin Highway—which is a sort of miniature Sunset Strip.

“That’s the place!” Mike suddenly yells—and the Caddie pulls up in front of what looks like a rancher deluxe hamburger stand. Of course, by now you’ve caught on to it and you are super-happy as you, Micky, Mike and Phyllis sit down to enjoy a dinner of two chili-burgers (that’s a hamburger on a bun with chili sauce over it), french fries and Cokes. After dinner, Mike takes you to see the famous Alamo—where Texas first started fighting for its independence.

The trip back to L.A. is an all-time high in your life. Micky goes completely wild in the airplane-starting out by doing some of his famous imitations of anyone you can name. He does Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi, James Cagney, Bogart and W.C. Fields—to mention a few. You and Phyllis laugh so hard that you have tears in your eyes. Finally, Mike saves you from convulsions when he starts to play his guitar and sing some of his original compositions. They are all tender and moving, filled with poetry and meaning.

It is late when you and Micky are in the back seat of the Mini, being driven home. Its [sic] dark, except for the passing lights of the freeway, which occasionally silhouette Micky’s face. He reaches out and takes your hand, and gives you a little kiss on the cheek. You lean back and sigh, and in your heart you know that no matter what happens to you—this has been the greatest day of your life.

Once again I’m out of space, but the Monkees will be back in 16 next month, sharing their fantastic adventures and secret lives with you. The November issue of 16 goes on sale September 21. Be sure to reserve your copy now.

Magazine: 16
Editor: Gloria Stavers
Volume: 9
Issue: 5
Publisher: 16 Magazine, Inc.
Pages: 42, 44–45, 60–61