Wendy Dager, Special to the Star
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Home Tour (video)
Celebrated voice-over actor Jim J. Cummings recently invited the Star on a tour of his million-dollar home near Agoura Hills.Man of Many Voices (video)
You may not know his face, but just about everyone has heard his voices. His name is Jim J. Cummings and he is one of the most notable voice actors in the entertainment industry.
It’s not quite the House at Pooh Corner, but Winnie does live there. As does his bouncy friend Tigger, along with a number of other cartoon characters, thanks to the award-winning voice talents of Jim Cummings.
Cummings, 55, is a legend in the voice-over world, becoming Winnie the Pooh after the passing of actor Sterling Holloway, and then Tigger to replace famed ventriloquist Paul Winchell. He also lends his melodious pipes for commercials, movie trailers, video games, and numerous animated films, including “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “The Legend of Tarzan,” and Disney’s “The Lion King.”
On a recent sunny morning in beautiful Agoura Hills, just off scenic Kanan Road, the salt-and-pepper-haired, silver-tongued celebrity warmly greeted a visitor at his Mediterranean-style Malibu View Estates home.
He enthusiastically shared the story of a heavy alloy wall plaque that is fastened to the outside of the approximately 8,659 square foot home.
Back in 1973, he said, he was hitchhiking in New Orleans and saw the commemorative plaque as it was hanging quite loosely from a bridge. The plaque, bearing the names of some long-ago Louisiana government officials — as well as graffiti and what looked to be old chewing gum — intrigued the creative Cummings, who, at that time worked odd jobs, including a stint as an assembler of Mardi Gras floats.
He vowed that, should he ever come back that way — with his own car — he’d take the plaque home.
And that he did. The plaque is now a treasured reminder of his past life, although the actor/singer, originally from Youngstown, Ohio, does occasionally venture to his adopted hometown of New Orleans to visit friends and attend the jazz festival.
For sentimental reasons, the plaque is not included in the purchase of his exquisite home, currently for sale and featuring many elements of Cummings’ beloved New Orleans.
Listing agent Teri Pacitto of Rodeo Realty said that much of the elegant estate’s detail can be credited to Cummings’ wife, Stevie, who has done an impressive job of selecting the perfect combination of furnishings, designer accents and custom-designed cabinetry throughout.
Upon arriving at the gated community, visitors can take in the unspoiled hillside views that surround the exclusive Malibu View Estates enclave.
Once outside the home, the expansive driveway showcases the curves and arches of the exterior of the house, along with the sweeping architecture that includes a Spanish-style tile roof and wrought iron-enclosed balconies.
Entering the house, the breathtaking view of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy is immediately seen through the huge picture windows of the stunning living room.
“One of the signs of an estate property is walking in from the front door and immediately having a view of the grounds in the back,” Pacitto said.
The backyard reveals even more of the surrounding mountains, along with an enormous tiered oasis that includes a rolling lawn, mature foliage, stone and wrought iron fencing. Two fanciful metal giraffes appear to roam below the first-level patio area.
The patio also includes a custom-built barbecue with granite countertop, whimsical canvas awnings, a separate outdoor sink, planter with twin seating and wrought iron fencing.
Inside, the breakfast room beckons, with tastefully appointed hand-selected wallpaper and travertine flooring. The gourmet kitchen has stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, antique-finished wood cabinetry, stacked tile backsplash, auto-closing drawers, custom lighting and many more details that give it interest, dimension and warmth. There’s a huge center island, large pantry and also a separate butler’s pantry.
The kitchen leads out into the formal dining room, which features finely-crafted built-in wood cabinets that are true to classically vintage New Orleans elegance, with Baroque accents, including dramatic use of lighting and circular detailing, such as ornate ceiling medallions. The dining room segues into the living room and entry for a “great room” feeling.
The living room then leads into the family room, with its attractive wood floors, built-in surround-sound, and fireplace. Next to that is the library, which, like many of the home’s rooms, features custom-built cabinetry.
There are two bedrooms on the lower floor; one a maid’s quarters or guest suite with full bathroom, and the other currently in use as Cumming’s studio, also with a full bathroom. Another half-bathroom is opulent, with the focal point an incredible imported black natural stone countertop that has accents of fluorescent blue that appear and disappear depending on the viewing angle.
On the first floor, there is also an interior laundry room and a door leading to the four-car garage.
Up the structurally magnificent floating staircase is the second floor, which holds a grand home theatre, featuring a projection screen, remarkable black silhouette wallpaper, soft leopard-print carpeting and extra-comfortable seats with sub-woofers for the best in sound quality. There’s also a granite-topped wet bar with copper sink, and a Romeo-and-Juliet balcony that looks out over the first floor.
There are two bedrooms, each with large closets and their own full bathroom. A third room upstairs, which the family currently enjoys as a game room, can easily be used as another bedroom.
The master bedroom is enormous, with more fabulous wood built-ins and a coffee bar with microwave, copper sink and green granite countertop. There are several sitting areas; doors leading to the veranda; a fireplace; and the ever-present touches of a homeowner with impeccable taste.
The master bathroom has two sinks, jetted bathtub, huge rain and steam shower with mosaic accent, his-and-her commodes in separate rooms, and the same fine tile, stone and paint that make the home a showplace throughout. There’s also a massive walk-in closet that features windows with valances and a large dresser in the center.
The home’s other amenities include an alarm system, fire sprinklers, and added recessed lighting, although the many windows allow for the maximum natural light.