Brand building through storytelling

When Keaton and Pacino were my neighbours and in love

When you visit open houses for sport, as I do, you learn the strangest things about your fellow humans. Quite a few have chosen to adorn their powder room with a huge and hideously elaborate mirror positioned so that guests know exactly how they look while pulling up their pants. Many more appear to own no books (if these folks read at all, it’s the catalog from Restoration Hardware).

Then there are the houses that reveal their occupants by suggestion, with the slant of light through their windows or the generous proportions of their rooms. They are houses for people who value a space for how it feels, not what it holds or what it says about their position. In such a house Diane Keaton briefly lived with Al Pacino while the two were shooting in Toronto more than 20 years ago.

Unlike most other stars who alight in my city for a shoot, Keaton and Pacino had not sequestered themselves in the sort of posh enclave where every winding driveway boasts a BMW or three and no one but the help would dream of taking public transit. They set up housekeeping on Rusholme Road, within striking distance of a gas station, a plumbing supply store and my own modest semi-detached around the corner. On Rusholme the lots were deeper, the leaded windows and third-floor gables more expansive. Rusholme had my idea of class, the slightly faded kind that doesn’t give itself any airs. At least five times a week I walked down Rusholme on my way to work out at the West End Y.

The stars had already decamped—and parted—when I spotted the Open House sign and learned from the agent that they had been my temporary neighbours. I lingered in every room, smitten by the high ceilings and meticulously tended hardwood floors. I could picture one of Diane Keaton’s Annie Hall hats on a table, her necktie slung over the back of a chair. The kitchen had no fashionable Sub-Zero fridge but the layout was so perfect for cooking that I figured Diane and Al must have been moved to whip up the odd pasta dinner on its broad, sunlit counters—one chopping copious quantities of garlic while the other peeled Roma tomatoes. I could practically smell the fresh basil. Compared to other Toronto houses with wide halls and many ample bedrooms, this house was a steal. But my husband and I could as soon make it ours as charter a yacht in Monaco.

When the Sold sign went up I told myself, “At least someone’s going to love the place.” Instead someone knocked it down and put up a monstrosity.

Since then I must have toured hundreds of homes for reasons both frivolous and pressing (lately we’ve been moving more than anyone we know). As for Diane Keaton and Al Pacino, who knows how many lovers they’ve had? I thought of them the other day, and their fleeting presence on the edges of my life, when Liz Smith speculated online about a question Pacino had begun to answer and then clumsily ducked in an interview with Katie Couric. What was the biggest mistake of his life?The gossip maven thought she knew what Pacino, at 70, had been struggling to say. Losing Diane Keaton.

As I told you, it’s just speculation. But I always did like the notion of those two as a couple. And although it’s been eons since I last walked down Rusholme Road, I still kind of miss that house.

I’ve often written about the emotions that surround the buying and selling of homes. For instance, this favourite post on letting go of my dream home.




Posted by Rona

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