Singer Pia Zadora might have a swanky room named for her at one of Las Vegas’ most revered hot spots, “Pia’s Place” at Piero’s Italian Cuisine, but the place she really holds dear is her home in The Ridges of Summerlin.
The star of stage and screen welcomed Real Estate Millions into her 7,000-square-foot, five-bedroom home to talk about her Las Vegas history; the challenges of raising a special-needs son; and the many interesting legends she has met along the way.
While Zadora says she “loves everything Christmas,” the twinkling, colorful Christmas lights that adorn the outside of her contemporary desert house are the antithesis of her interior decorating style. Inside the home is cool and dark, like a cave. She prefers keeping the temperature low while lighting the fireplaces for warmth. And her sound system station of choice is the nature channel, so the effect is almost like walking through a forest retreat.
On a 2015 episode of “Celebrity Wife Swap,” Zadora and veteran actress Cloris Leachman temporarily, and unknowingly, camped in each other’s houses. Leachman reacted to the ambiance of Zadora’s house with “Don’t they have any sunshine in Las Vegas? Maybe they’re vampires.”
Entering the open living room/kitchen/dining room, only ambient light comes from the fireplace, Christmas tree and kitchen. Around the front door and in all the clerestory bedroom windows, the clear glass has been replaced with black glass. Blackout curtains cover the folding patio doors from the master bedroom and great rooms.
“I guess I have ‘reverse seasonal affective disorder’ or something,” Zadora said jokingly. “I just want to be completely in the dark.”
Zadora lives with her third husband, Michael Jeffries; her 20-year-old son from her second marriage, Jordan Kaufer; and two dogs, Snowflake and Merle. They bought the house in 2010 from the builder, and the finishes used are so high quality that they haven’t done much to it since except paint the walls a dark teal and replace the hardwood floor after an accidental flood.
The kitchen cabinets are tiger wood, the counters made of acid-washed granite. The floors are travertine mixed with a sustainable hardwood and plush carpet in the master bedroom. A wire railing surrounds the stairway leading to the home’s basement.
They chose Summerlin, Zadora said, because “it’s far removed from the Strip. It’s quiet, residential. I don’t want to say it’s like you’re not in Vegas, but you’re not in the whole tourist area … when you live here, you have to have a certain amount of peace and quiet. So I can see the Strip from my window, and it’s beautiful, but I can be here in the hills.”
Before buying this home, they were living in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles. Long before that, Zadora and her first husband, Meshulam Riklis, bought the Beverly Hills estate Pickfair, so named because it was the home of silent film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. They built a new mansion on the site, and she lived there with their two children, Kady and Kristofer, after their divorce in 1993 and until the property’s sale in 2006.
Riklis was an owner of the Riviera Hotel for a time, and Zadora was often the opening act for Don Rickles and Frank Sinatra at the hotel and on the road.
Zadora recalled an incident where she was in a Bob Mackie gown, with Sinatra in his tuxedo, on their way to the stage. “Frank and I did one New Year’s Eve where we played upstairs and downstairs and we got stuck in the elevator,” she giggles, remembering “And Jilly (Sinatra’s assistant) was with us. He was always with Frank, and he was puffing away (on a cigar) going: ‘What if we get stuck; what if we starve.’ I mean it was like 30 seconds and he’s already thinking ‘cannibal,’ ” she remembered.
Except for a framed black-and-white photo of the era, Zadora has no Riviera memorabilia in the house.
“That place was so much a part of my history, and my life had changed so much after that, and I didn’t really wanna take any baggage with me.”
Tucked away in her office, visitors find a framed photo of one of her first modeling jobs, an ad for Dubonnet wine, which at the time she looked barely old enough to drink. There is also her 1985 Grammy nomination (for “Best Female Rock Performance”) and the Golden Globe Award for Best Female New Star of the Year, which she won in 1982.
More recently she was awarded the Silver State Awards Entertainment Pioneer Award as well as the Grant a Gift Autism Foundation’s Ambassador for Autism Award.
Zadora got involved with the cause to help her son (who she says is not autistic, but he’s on the spectrum) become more independent. “I’m so proud of him because he’s come such a long way for kids with his issues, learning disabilities.”
Kaufer is a basketball fan whose picks for the Westgate’s Hoops Central Celebrity Bracket Challenge won the $5,000 grand prize this past March. He also appears as Santa Claus in his mother’s show this month.
The house is filled with original contemporary art. In the living room, above the obsidian-clad linear fireplace is a silhouette of a nude, reclining female. But the real showstopper is the painting of Zadora done by Andy Warhol in the mid-1980s hanging above the bar (a copy hangs in Piero’s).
“Andy was a big, big fan of mine,” she recalled. “He came to all my concerts. You come in with no makeup and red lipstick, and he takes a Polaroid, and then he sends you a picture,” she remembered of the painting’s process.
She was mentioned twice in Warhol’s famous diaries.
She’s also a favorite of filmmaker John Waters, who included a chapter on her in his book “Crackpot” and cast her in “Hairspray.”
The home’s basement includes a large guest suite, exercise room, home theater (which they added) and a rehearsal room for Zadora to practice complete with mirror wall and a rosewood grand piano, which belongs to her daughter.
“It used to be at Piero’s when Vinny Falcone played there. It’s a collector’s piano. My ex bought it for her. She’s a singer and plays guitar, too.”
Although her first husband was Jewish, Zadora’s children with him celebrate Christmas, she said. “Both were baptized at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. And every Christmas, it would be midnight Mass (and) all that stuff,” including an annual family viewing of their mother’s first movie, “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians,” made when she was 8.
“It was probably the worst movie ever … not really. It was just so bad that it was good.”
In fact, the movie was rediscovered in the 1990s thanks to the cable network, Comedy Central.
“And every year at Christmas it plays on TV and in theaters, and I get residuals,” Zadora exclaimed. “It was my first hit record, ‘Hooray for Santa Claus.’ ” She breaks into a chorus of “Here we go, Santy Claus. Yay, Yay for Santa Claus,” from the movie. There was even a local stage production of it done a few years ago, which Zadora attended as guest of honor.
As much as Las Vegas seems to have embraced her, Zadora also believes the move from Southern California was a positive one.
“I love this town. It changed my life,” she said. “I would have been miserable … cause I don’t want to say I’m only happy when I’m working, but it brought me back to life in a work sense, an artistic, fulfilling sense,” she said.
Her show at Piero’s is every Friday and Saturday nights with her backup band, the Joe Lano Trio.
“I’m lucky enough to have the same guys I worked with 35 years ago. Joe Lano is a major guitarist we used with Ella, (Fitzgerald) Lena (Horne), with Frank, and we’ve been together for 35 years.”
Besides the Piero’s residency, Zadora makes guest appearances in visiting artist’s shows like Deana Martin, and she has a new CD coming out in 2018.