It was once one of the largest and grandest homes in Westport. Today — in a town of McMansions — 175 Long Lots Road merits barely a second glance.
But what history lies within its walls!
In 1957 Liz Taylor — married to film and theater producer Mike Todd, the 3rd of her 7 husbands — was pregnant. Her mother lived in Ridgefield, and Liz wanted to be near her. Westport was filled with actors and movie producers, so Liz and Mike came here to house-hunt.
Their realtor called Nat Greenberg — a long-time Westport real estate developer — in a panic. He had no houses to show Liz Taylor, he said. They’ve driven all the way up here in a Rolls-Royce — can I show them yours?!
“So in walked Liz Taylor and Mike Todd,” Nat’s widow Lee Greenberg recalled this afternoon. “They loved the house” — it included a swimming pool and tennis court — “and asked if we’d consider renting it for a year. My first reaction was, ‘Of course not!'”
But Nat told Liz and Mike he’d be in touch. The Greenbergs talked, and Lee said, “If we can do something unusual as a family for a year, let’s do it.”
She quickly came up with that “unusual” idea: Switzerland. The Greenbergs were skiers, and their 4 young children could have an intriguing year in a Swiss school.
Nat called Mike. “He was deliriously happy,” Lee said. “In fact, he offered to pay — besides the year rental — for all 6 of us to go to Switzerland. And for our chalet.”
Did the Greenbergs accept the offer?
“Of course!” she said. “Wouldn’t you?”
Several months later Lee was on a tram, going up a Swiss mountain. She was just learning French, but she knew enough to translate the huge newspaper headline: “Mike Todd est mort.”
The producer and 3 other men had been killed in the crash of an overloaded private plane, in an ice storm, near Grants, New Mexico.
The date was March 22, 1958.
Fifty-three years — and 1 day — later, Liz Taylor too is dead.
Post-script: Liz Taylor and Mike Todd were not the only famous residents of 175 Long Lots Road. Lee and Nat Greenberg sold their home to Harry Reasoner in 1968 — the same year the TV newscaster teamed up with Mike Wallace to begin CBS News’ “60 Minutes.”
Harry Reasoner retired in 1991. Three months later he died — from complications of a fall at his Westport home.