When colleagues, fans and nosy reporters ask actor and writer Chazz Palminteri how he came to live in 9,500 square feet of stone and marble, gables and sky-high ceilings, columns and archways and yards of Schumacher fabric on six acres in Westchester County, the author of “A Bronx Tale” tells a Bedford tale.
“When I was young and we lived in a fifth-floor walk-up in the Bronx, we would often get in the car and drive north,” said Mr. Palminteri, 65, who played the guy you definitely didn’t want to get in a car with in movies like “Analyze This,” “A Bronx Tale,” “Diabolique” and “Bullets Over Broadway” (a role that earned him an Oscar nomination). “And one time we got off at Bedford. I remember this distinctly. We saw all these houses there, these big houses.”
Mr. Palminteri continued: “We were kids from the Bronx, you know? And I thought, ‘Who are these people in these mansions? What do they do for a living?’ And I said, ‘I’m going to live here one day. One day, I’m going to live here.’”
Follow-through is an article of faith for Mr. Palminteri. He carries around a fat stack of cards printed with the words “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent” and hands them out to friends and strangers in need of encouragement.
A saying he often heard from his father, it galvanized Mr. Palminteri, at a very low moment in his own life, to write “A Bronx Tale,” a semiautobiographical one-man-show-turned-movie-starring-Robert-De-Niro-turned-hit-Broadway-musical.
Success in show business has begotten success in the hospitality business. A year and a half ago, Mr. Palminteri partnered with a New York liquor company to introduce his own line of Sicilian vodka, BiVi. By the strangest coincidence, it is available at Chazz Palminteri Italian Restaurant, which recently moved from the east side of Manhattan to the theater district.
That Mr. Palminteri’s boyhood dream became a reality — an expansive residence with a fountain out front, a pool out back, a gym and wine cellar in the basement and a Jackson Pollock on the wall leading to the second floor — should come as a surprise to no one.
Actually, the Pollock is a remarkably good copy, a cherished housewarming gift to Mr. Palminteri and his wife, Gianna, from their friend Peter Brant, an executive producer of the movie “Pollock,” who educated them about modern art.
Eighteen years ago, after the Palminteris settled on the right parcel of land in Bedford (one near an easy route to New York City), “we walked through the lot to decide which trees were going to go,” recalled Ms. Palminteri, an actor and producer. “But I did not like cutting trees down. I saw all the birds and squirrels and I said, ‘We are destroying nature to build a house.’”
She added: “And Chazz was like, ‘This is good. We need the land. The squirrels can move to the next tree.’” Spoken like a true son of Belmont Avenue.
The house that displaced the resident fauna is Georgian on the outside, thanks to Mr. Palminteri, who, for the record, was very particular about the quantity of stones (more, more) and the masonry. It looks like a Tuscan villa inside, thanks to Ms. Palminteri.
“I have a very Mediterranean sense of style,” she said, nodding at the arched doorways, the walls that were faux-finished to resemble aged plaster, and the limestone and rough-hewn marble floor in the double-height foyer.
For his part, Mr. Palminteri has a very uxorious sense of style: He said “yes, dear” a lot. “But,” he added, “Gianna has good taste, so I went along with it.”
In any case, she has created a comfortable place for her husband and children (Dante, 22, and Gabriella, 16), and for the parade of friends who come by for a drink or a meal. They sit on the Directoire chairs that ring the walnut dining table and that bear the scratches of abundant use. And they gather in the living room, whose look — animal prints on the ottoman, the wing chairs and throw pillows — speaks to Ms. Palminteri’s fondness for African design.
Ralph Lauren was the taming influence in the lair Mr. Palminteri calls his own. The paneled walls are a dignified hunter green, the carpet burgundy, the ceiling beams mahogany, the desk perfect for a lawyer or banker. “I think it’s so classy to have my office look like this,” he said.
The zero-gravity chair (where Mr. Palminteri does some of his best writing and takes some of his best naps) and the mini-trampoline, known as a rebounder (where he does five minutes of bouncing every hour or so), may not quite fit with the genteel décor, but so what.
Here, Mr. Palminteri is surrounded by framed posters of his movies (“The Usual Suspects,” “Mulholland Falls,” “Analyze This,” “A Bronx Tale”), photos of buddies like Al Pacino and Mr. De Niro, a duplicate of the Chazz Palminteri caricature that hangs in Sardi’s and a framed document certifying that a card with Mr. Palminteri’s signature observation about wasted talent is floating in space. For that, he thanks the former astronaut Mike Massimino, who, it so happens, is a big fan of “A Bronx Tale.”
In a corner sits an angel sculpture, one of several in the house.
“I have a thing for them,” Mr. Palminteri said. “I’m very spiritual, and they give me a feeling of being watched over.” The feeling seems justified.
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