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After The Bob Hope Show ended in 1978, Kaufman moved back to New York. He could’ve stayed in Los Angeles and worked his way up the ladder in the studio system, until finally given permission to direct a film — or he could move back to New York, learn everything possible about the film business, and finance a film on his own.

He landed a temporary job in New York doing “sound” on a small independent film. “I knew that part of the reason I stuttered had to do with my hearing. And even though my hearing was technically not quite right, I had to take the job and make it work.”

He also took a job assisting an agent who sold rights to American films all over the world. The agent brought Kaufman to the main venue at the time, Cannes Film Festival, where distributors screen films, then make offers to buy the rights for certain territories.

Cannes Film Festival was where Kaufman learned the sales part of the industry. His gregarious personality and ability to be funny served him well. “I focused on getting to know the people who bought the films abroad.” Kaufman raises his eyebrows. “I remember one screening, my boss hired 25 Parisian prostitutes to sit in every other seat in the theater during the showing. This way, the agent knew that when the lights in the theater went down, the buyers would be ‘distracted.’ This got more buyers into his screenings and many more offers to buy his films. I didn’t want to have to employ the seedier part of selling, so I made friendships.”

Kaufman took everything he’d learned in graduate school, working behind the scenes and selling films abroad, and put together an idea for his first film. He wanted to start with a low-budget “B” film. “They didn’t require big actors or millions of dollars. They were typically genre exploitation films with low budgets, short shooting schedules, short running times, and minimal post-production efforts.”

He crafted a storyboard of a horror film and “carried it around to everyone I knew,” to raise enough cash to make his film. He even pitched it to his dad, who at first scoffed at the idea.

“After I raised a majority of the money on my own, my father was impressed. My dad thought that if I was this passionate and determined about the project, then he was going to help. He had the money. Although he knew it wasn’t Oscar material, he would finally support me.” Kaufman began production; he even offered his dad a small part. His dad accepted, and thereafter acted in every film Kaufman made.

This was the 1970s. B films, especially horror movies, were raking it in at the box office. Exploitation films developed devout followers, and theaters and distribution companies were snapping them up. Halloween had just grossed over $80 million worldwide; it was made for $320,000.

To Kaufman’s delight and “quite frankly, amazement,” Mona, the first film he wrote and directed, was made for $15,000 and sold for $250,000. With this initial success as a writer/director, Kaufman “wanted to buy a vacation home in the Adirondacks.”

He sought advice from his father, who “was a very smart guy, with good street sense.” His dad said, “Use the money you earned to [film] what you want. That money will buy your freedom. Make it last. It will extend the length of time where you can work for yourself. It will support you.”

Kaufman didn’t buy the vacation home. He took his father’s advice and used his profit to make more films. Once the films were “in the can,” he would get them into theaters, sell them to other venues, and make enough money for the next project.

When The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween made big profits, the major studios took notice. They made their own B films, with bigger and better budgets and storylines.

“The smaller filmmakers couldn’t keep up,” Kaufman says. The studios “monopolized the low-budget genre industry, and little guys like me began to struggle.” Kaufman’s films, along with those of many other independent film companies, were locked out, market after market.

His wife Dori wasn’t all that disappointed. Kaufman’s films left “something to be desired,” she says. Kaufman knew this. His movies were funny yet gruesome. “I made the wise decision not to let Dori see any of my films until after we were married. She was über-intelligent, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UC Berkeley, and working for a school for the blind. I didn’t want to scare her away.”

Dori and Kaufman met in 1988. Kaufman was 39, Dori was 38. Kaufman had been the fifth wheel on too many bowling double-dates when a friend told him about Dori. Perhaps there could be six players? She slipped him Dori’s phone number. Kaufman called.

They had several long conversations before meeting face-to-face. Dori ignored Kaufman’s stutter and laughed at all of his jokes. “She was the only girl who wanted to see my full face without a mustache. That should tell you something.”

Dori remembers: “We discovered we grew up within six miles of each other in New York. Once we began talking, I felt like I had known him my whole life.”

After six months of dating, they got engaged. Three months later, they married at their engagement party at the Plaza in New York. Both had headstrong mothers who intended to have their way with how, where, and what type of wedding Dori and Kaufman should have. The young couple had their own ideas.

The party was in a ballroom at the Plaza. The families met for the first time. Both sides attended en masse, or, as Kaufman jokes, “en mess.”

After awhile, people began to notice that Dori had disappeared. Kaufman quieted the party. He addressed them as seriously as he was able. “I have an announcement. As you all can see, Dori has left the party. You’re ‘family,’ and I have to be honest with you — this engagement thing just isn’t working out.”

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Comments

bohemianopus July 4, 2012 @ 11:37 a.m.

I loved this story almost as much as I love the biscottis I buy at Sprouts that come from Bread & Cie. They are the closest thing to the ones my Italian family used to make from scratch.

Now, every time I dunk one of those Bread & Cie biscottis into a strong cup of coffee and savor the taste, I will remember the story behind how they got here.

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dwbat July 5, 2012 @ 6:07 p.m.

Good article. Who knew there was such a story there. I just have one correction. Bob Hope didn't live in Burbank. He lived for many decades (until he died) at his house at 10346 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake.

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SurfPuppy619 July 5, 2012 @ 7:15 p.m.

dw I knew Hope lived in Toluca Lake-but how did you gtehis address!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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tomjohnston July 6, 2012 @ 11:13 a.m.

Dude, seriously? You just need to do a search under "Bob Hope House". You'll be surprised at how many different sites there are. Besides that, up here it's pretty well known in the area. I think he bought the place back in the late 1930's. The intersection of Lankershim and Moorpark was recently named for him and his wife. They got married in the Catholic church on the corner and that's where his private funeral was. It's a pretty popular church with celebrities who live in the area. BTW, I'm not surprised that someone may have confused the area with Burbank. The Hope Estate is pretty big. It's like a block long and is only about 3 blocks from the Toluca/Burbank city limits. The oldest Bob's Big Boy is only like 5 or 6 blocks away, in Burbank, but people still refer to it as being in Toluca, so I guess it's just too confusing for some people.

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SurfPuppy619 July 6, 2012 @ 1:32 p.m.

That Hope estate is probably on more acreage than any other high end home in metro LA area, even bigger than Spellings pad, acreage wise. He has what looks like a full golf hole complete with sand trap on the property. Awesome pad. I knew he lived in Toluca Lake but not the pinpoint address-the only time I have heard Toluca lake mentioned in media is in the movie Pulp Fiction...........

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tomjohnston July 6, 2012 @ 6:21 p.m.

I'm not sure that it is bigger the house that Aaron built which is on about 5 acres. Just from looking at it, I would guess the Hope estate is around 4 acres or so give or take a little. The golf hole you see isn't a full golf hole, it's more like a little pitch and put area. Plus you can tell by comparing it to the pool. There are quite a few estates over 5 acres especially over on the west side around Brentwood and in the Beverly Hill Post Office area there at least a couple over ten acres. One of them was for sale a month or so ago for only $39 million.

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SurfPuppy619 July 6, 2012 @ 8:12 p.m.

There are a few over 5 acres, I am sure that Hopes pad is over 4 acres-thinking it over I think the Beverly Hill Billies house at 750 Bel Air in Bel Air is 8 acres and I have never seen anything that big in acreage-I think there are a few homes near the 750 Bel Air home that are 5-6 acres. I think the Playboy Mansion on Cairncross is 5 acres and that is pretty big-bought that home in 1971 for $1 million!......I have not seen a 10 acre estate in a high end area, do you have the address???? The old Harold Lloyd estate Greenacres was like 20 acres when he built it in the 1920's, and probably the biggest estate ever-but after he died the heirs subdivided that property to probably 2-3 acres. Same with PicFair-that estate was originally on many acres but was subdivided down.

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tomjohnston July 7, 2012 @ 10:10 a.m.

I'm pretty sure that the 750 Bel Air Road property is 6 acres, not 8. I don't have the address but if you search BHPO properties, I'm sure that there aren't too many listed at $39 million. There's also David Geffen's 10 acre estate in Beverly Hills. I'm sure you remember when he bought it in1990 for $47 million, at the time it was the highest price ever paid for a private residence. There's also a 10 acre lot for sale in BHPO, but I doubt anyone is going to pay the price and build a single home on it so it will most likely get subdivided, if it ever sells. I believe a property in Holmby Hills that Sonny and Cher owned in the 60's is around 10 acres. They bought it from Tony Curtis for about $750k, from what I've read. It backs up to LA Country Club. Of course, then there's the late actor Robert Taylor's ranch in Brentwood. It's been on the market for for several months for around $20 million. Sounds like a lot, but considering it's over 100 acres, sounds like a bargain. I know it's not really metro LA, but there are also a lot of 5+ acre estates out in Malibu also. Greenacres was 15 or 16 acres, depending on what you read. Lloyd's heirs sold it to a middle eastern businessman. He sold the mansion on 4 or 5 acre parcel and split the rest off into 15 parcels that were mostly under an acre, but he was still able to get $1-2 million for them. Not many people know that Mary Pickford and Buddy Rogers actually tried to give Pickfair away. They wanted it maintained after they were gone. But nobody would take it because of the cost of upkeep. We went there a couple of times. You could see the house pretty clearly from the front gate. Very cool and pretty good views, too.

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tomjohnston July 7, 2012 @ 5:06 p.m.

Actually, it turns out we both were wrong, though you were closer to being right. Rather than write a bunch of stuff, here's a link to an old interview with Hope: http://articles.latimes.com/1985-09-16/local/me-21837_1_bob-hope

BTW, the former Crosby Estate, at 10500 Camarillo St. just sold again around Christmas time fore just over $4 million.

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SurfPuppy619 July 10, 2012 @ 1:46 a.m.

What I have noticed is that there are MANY homes priced in the tens of millions, but few actually sell that high. I remember the OCR listed all the beach houses in OC and there were tons that were over $10 million listed but not one had sold at that price.........that one big Holmby Hills pad, the french one FINALLY sold, I forgot the name and price, but it took like 3-5 years to build and was hideous. here it is...argggg.. http://www.luxist.com/2008/12/29/fleur-de-lys-named-worlds-most-expensive-estate/

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tomjohnston July 10, 2012 @ 12:19 p.m.

Actually, that place hasn't sold yet. According to MLS, (#11-540771) it's still active and still listed at $125 million. I don't know about hideous. An even bigger place, the site of Walt Disney's former house, is right across the street it's not a whole lot better. I don't know about selling price vs. asking price, but a friend of ours who sells high end real estate told us there have been probably 75 properties at least in LA that have sold for over $10 million in the last 3 yrs or so and probably 8-10 that have sold for over $20 million. I think it's probably been a year at least since I read of a place sold in OC for at least $10 million. The last one I remember was in Laguna.

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SurfPuppy619 July 11, 2012 @ 12:57 a.m.

I thought it sold.......but it is UGLY IMO, the back portion is nice, but the front-YIKES!!! It is no where near as nice as the BH home at 750 Bel Air, now that pad is beautiful......I know the spelling manison was listed at $150 million butI think Candy Spelling closed escrow at half that- $88 million- I think is the price it sold for..........I would prefer Malibu or coastal OC over Bel Air/Holmby Hills/Beverly Hills area.

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tomjohnston July 11, 2012 @ 8:54 a.m.

I believe it was $85 million. It was purchased by Bernie Ecclestone's daughter Petra. She also bought a place in Chelsea for about $90 million. I know her father is a billionaire, but omfg!! Nice payday for the 3 agents that handled the sale, though. The problem with coastal OC, and I assume you mean south coast, is that it's too congested. When we sold our condo in SD a couple of years ago, we used part of the money to buy a place in Dana Point. Nothing spectacular, just a little 2br place a couple of blocks from DP harbor. We've spent a decent amount of time there over the years and there's really just no large estates there to speak of, at least close to the coast. Yeah, if you have $10-20 million, you can find a huge house in Newport Coast or CDM, but almost all of them on on small lots, usually about 1/2 acre. I think think the most expensive place on the market right now in South OC is in Crystal Cove. It's only .85 acres, 2 lots combined, about 18K sq ft and last time I looked it was listed at $35 million. If I have that kind of money, I'm living in Malibu. Probably dozens of places, on the beach, in the colony, above PCH, small lots, multi acre parcels, you name it. The variety is so much greater in Malibu than south OC, and as contradictory as it may seem, I think you get more for your money.

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dwbat July 7, 2012 @ 11:45 a.m.

I Googled. And here's a photo courtesy of Google Maps.

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SurfPuppy619 July 10, 2012 @ 1:41 a.m.

Yes, MASSIVE awesome homestead........beautiful........thanks dw!!!!!!!!

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jeannedunn July 9, 2012 @ 2:02 p.m.

Jeanne Dunn Heaven is here & now, at Bread & Cie. I like your interview/history of Bread & Cie, which continues to reign as the best, most authentic cafe in the region, with its delectable bread and equally sublime pastries and sandwiches - -all served in a cosmopolitan atmosphere. It is interesting that other readers in the comments above are all caught up in Bob Hope's several nests and don't's see the delightful trees because they are looking at one element of the forest (there's a metaphor for you). Charles and Dori Kaufman are each hard-working dynamos, and have both done great things for the people in San Diego. In your article it's great to conclude that the film industry, through Charles Kaufman, spawned a kind of people's theater that goes on naturally at Bread & Cie on a daily, hourly basis. And here you can eat what you see.

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violadace July 12, 2012 @ 4:29 p.m.

There is no one more professional-- or a nicer guy-- in the San Diego food world than Charles Kaufman. Thank you, Reader and writer, for offering a happy story for a change and for profiling someone in our community who deserves to be celebrated. Splashy joints may come and go, but quality lasts. Thank God for Charles, his staff, and Bread and Cie.

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