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Paul Laszlo’s Schiff House

Doctor to the stars Hans Schiff built a shining example of International Style in Whitley Heights—by architect and interior designer Paul Laszlo.

6624 Whitley Terrace was photographed by Julius Shulman for the February 1940 edition of The Architectural Forum (J. Paul Getty Trust)

In 1939, a decade after the neighborhood’s Mediterranean restriction ended, German-born Schiff hired the Hungarian émigré to design his family’s modern home at 6624 Whitley Terrace, characterized by glass brick and a “moat of air” separating the residence from the street.

The 3,000 square feet is split between two floors: garage and three bedrooms at street level, with the maid’s quarters, kitchen, dining room, living room, playroom, and study below. Capitalizing on the city view of Hollywood, all important rooms face south—and Laszlo added a cantilevered terrace for indoor-outdoor living.

Schiff, an internist and cardiologist at Cedars of Lebanon hospital, was the personal physician to some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including Hedy LaMarr, Eddie Fisher, and Johnny Mathis.

Filmmakers were also high-profile patients: Schiff assisted on studio boss Jack L. Warner’s successful 1948 gallbladder surgery and officially declared the deaths of Jesse Lasky (1952) and Cecil B. DeMille (1959), two pioneers who made the first feature film, 1914’s The Squaw Man.


When actress Anne Sterling spiraled into mushroom-induced hysteria in 1954, she called Dr. Schiff. So did Wynn Rocamora, agent to Gloria Swanson and Maureen O’Sullivan, who overdosed on pills at his Outpost Estates home—and left a note for Schiff to rule his suicide a heart attack.


The doctor made house calls, but also opened his own doors: In 1943, the Whitley Heights residence was the wedding venue for Marlene Dietrich’s go-to director Josef von Sternberg and his 21-year-old secretary Jean Annette McBride.


In his spare time, Schiff practiced the healing arts as chief percussionist for the LA Doctors Symphony Orchestra. After he passed in 1962, while on vacation with his wife Alice—the head of pediatrics at Mount Sinai—his legacy continued through USC’s Dr. Hans Schiff Memorial Chamber Music Scholarship Fund.

Dr. Hans Schiff, performing with the Los Angeles Doctors Symphony Orchestra (USC)

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