Written By: Ben Cosgrove

Access is a big word in media–as in access to stars and celebrities.In its prime, LIFE magazine almost alone among the  popular culture publications of its day enjoyed the sort of access to A-list stars (as well as to lesser lights) that today’s tabloids only dream about.

Here, a fond look back at some of the 20th century’s biggest, brightest entertainers, in the friendly confines of their own homes.

Marilyn Monroe Reads at Home. She is wearing a black shirt and white capri pants in 1953.

Marilyn Monroe at her Hollywood home in 1953.

Alfred Elsenstaedt; Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Steve McQueen and his first wife, TV actress Neile Adams, dress for a warm day at their Hollywood home in 1963.

Steve McQueen and his first wife, TV actress Neile Adams, dress for a warm day at their Hollywood home in 1963.

John Dominis; Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Jayne Mansfield combs her hair while bathing in the pink carpeted bathroom of her home, known as "The Pink Palace," in Los Angeles, 1960.

Jayne Mansfield combed her hair while bathing in the pink carpeted bathroom of her home, known as “The Pink Palace,” in Los Angeles, 1960.

Allan Grant; Life Pictures/Shutterstock

The Jacksons (clockwise left to right: Jackie, Marlon, Tito, Jermaine, and Michael) join parents Joe and Katherine in their backyard in Encino, California in 1970. Everyone is on a bike beside their pool.

The Jacksons (clockwise left to right: Jackie, Marlon, Tito, Jermaine, and Michael) join parents Joe and Katherine in their backyard in Encino, California in 1970.

John Olson; Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Vivien Leigh takes home her Gone With the Wind Oscar

Vivien Leigh at home with her Oscar for Gone With the Wind, 1940.

Peter Stackpole; Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Paul Newman and Anthony Perkins cook eggs in Newman's kitchen in 1958 in Hollywood.

Paul Newman cooked eggs for Anthony Perkins in Newman’s kitchen in 1958 in Hollywood.

Leonard McComb; Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman, whose marriage would last 50 years (until his death in 2008), share a laugh as they get dressed in their Hollywood home in 1959.

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman, whose marriage would last 50 years (until his death in 2008), shared a laugh as they dressed in their Hollywood home in 1959.

Gordon Parks; Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Sophia Loren picks flowers at her Italian villa she shared with producer Carlo Ponti in 1964.

Sophia Loren picked flowers at the Italian villa she shared with producer Carlo Ponti in 1964.

Alfred Elsenstaedt; Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Bette Davis' Chauffeur Wheels Her Around in the Backyard in Beverly Hills in 1939.

Bette Davis and her Pekingese, Popeye the Magnificent, at home in Beverly Hills in 1939.

Alfred Elsenstaedt; Life Pictures/Shutterstock

The Irish-born actress Maureen O'Hara relaxes at home in Los Angeles in 1946.

Actress Maureen O’Hara relaxed at home in Los Angeles in 1946.

Peter Stackpole; Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Liberace dances on top of the keys of his piano shaped pool in California in 1954.

Liberace danced on top of the keys of his piano-shaped pool in California in 1954.

Loomis Dean; Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Oscar-winning actress Claudette Colbert poses in a two-piece evening dress in front of the fireplace in her home in Los Angeles' posh Holmby Hills neighborhood in 1939.

Oscar-winning actress Claudette Colbert posed in a two-piece evening dress in front of the fireplace in her home in Los Angeles’ posh Holmby Hills neighborhood in 1939.

Alfred Elsenstaedt; Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Ricky Nelson sits in shadow on the diving board of his family's pool in Hollywood in 1958.

Ricky Nelson sat on the diving board of his family’s pool in Hollywood in 1958.

Hank Walker; Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Greer Garson sits her living room at home in Los Angeles’ exclusive Bel Air neighborhood, picking out records to play in April 1943, a month after her Best Actress Oscar victory for Mrs. Miniver.

Peter Stackpole; Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland share a family moment as they look out over Beverly Hills from Fontaine's home in 1942.

Sisters and frequent rivals Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland shared a family moment as they looked out over Beverly Hills from Fontaine’s home in 1942.

Bob Landry; Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Carole Lombard drinks a cup of coffee and talks on the telephone while lounging on the floor of her Hollywood home in October 1939.

Carole Lombard drank a cup of coffee and talked on the telephone at her Hollywood home in October 1939.

Alfred Elsenstaedt; Life Pictures/Shutterstock

More Like This

arts & entertainment

Peanuts: The World’s Greatest Comic Strip

arts & entertainment

Before Harley Quinn, This Harlequin Made the Cover of LIFE

arts & entertainment

A Baseball Photographer With a Wandering Eye

arts & entertainment

The Champ, The Beatles and a Tearful Girl: The Photography of Bob Gomel

arts & entertainment

The Titanic: The True and Tragic Story and the Movie Remembered

arts & entertainment

Disney Theme Parks: The History and the Magic