When ‘The Bionic Woman’ Visited David Lee Roth’s House
In 1977, keen-eyed Van Halen fans caught an unexpected glimpse of David Lee Roth’s family home during an episode of The Bionic Woman.
In “Jaimie and the King,” heroine Jamie Sommers - played by Lindsay Wagner - was sent to Monte Carlo to protect a Persian prince and his father from assassination. Rather than sending the TV show’s cast and crew to the exotic locale, producers found a site much closer to home which could serve as the royal estate: Rothwood.
Located in Pasadena, Calif., the property was owned by Diamond Dave’s father, Dr. Nathan Roth. The family patriarch was a highly successful eye surgeon, who had also dabbled in acting. Rothwood was his impressive slice of the glamorous life - a 14,000 square foot mansion, complete with 10 bedrooms, a marble foyer, study, swimming pool, tennis court, and sprawling gardens. In short, it was a palace fit for a king.
“I like old homes and old property. That’s all I’ve ever really invested or put money in. And that’s turned out well,” Nathan explained during a feature on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.
The majority of “Jaimie and the King” was shot outside, and within, Rothwood. The episode’s opening scene featured King Ali Ben Gazim (played by Robert Loggia) on horseback in the home’s backyard. Later, Sommers and teen Prince Ishmail would engage in study lessons within the property’s library. Later, the Bionic Woman jumped over the estate’s ivy covered fences and raced inside to save the royal family from certain death.
Greg Renoff, author of Van Halen Rising, noted via Twitter that the band "rehearsed in the basement" of the home at the same time the episode was being filmed.
For Nathan, the 1977 Bionic Woman episode offered more than just a showcase for his gorgeous estate - it also provided a part. The elder Roth made a cameo in “Jaimie and the King,” playing the role of 1st Guard.
Fans can stream the entire episode online for free via NBC.com.
After Van Halen’s wild accent to fame, Rothwood would again be thrust into the spotlight. The property was used for a 1979 photo shoot with famed photographer Helmut Newton. While the images were intended for the band’s 1980 LP Women and Children First, circumstances surrounding the shoot - namely disagreements between David Lee Roth and Van Halen brothers - resulted in the pictures being shelved. Only two of Newton’s photos from the session have ever seen the light of day.