Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – 1952 Chris-Craft Portholes


I have three of these insanely beautiful vintage portholes off of a 1952 Chris-Craft boat. I found them in three separate eBay auctions a few years apart.



I love all portholes but especially these with the chrome fins across the glass.


My studio is a classic Streamline Moderne boat looking structure built as the MGM party house in 1937 and although there were no portholes when I moved in it was screaming, no BEGGING, for me to pop a few in.


As much as I love these they’re not my favorite porthole around here. That honor is reserved for my $11 used-to-be-a-flimsy-brass-mirror porthole that I sunk into the floor and now serves as my laundry chute.


My laundry chute porthole was featured in the Los Angeles Times twice last year alone. When I get completely frustrated writing, painting, making films, curating and everything else I fill my time with I always think I could go into the business of selling porthole laundry chutes.

Studio photo: Maryanne Bilham

Categories: Accessories, Architecture, Creativity, House, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day

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  • Beesus says:

    Allee, in the immortal words of Liz Lemon, staring at your studio, I may have quietly murmured, “I want to go to there.” You now have me scouring the web googling “portholes” which let me tell you, is not endeavor to be embarked upon lightly.

    • Allee says:

      I’m glad I inspired a porthole search! They are so completely beautiful. The prices on them vary rampantly so make sure and look before you leap.

  • Georgia Wise says:

    On the subject of portholes: I adore staying at the Maritime Hotel in Chelsea when I make my annual jaunt to NYC (so I can remember my roots….nevermind the Silver Spoon choking me to death childhood in the Magnolia Jungle). All the room windows are huge portholes that look out over the Hudson River. I justify the cost by telling myself I’m on a cruise AND in New York. Works like a charm every time!

    • Allee says:

      I stayed at the Maritime throughout the five years of writing The Color Purple and it opening on Broadway whenever we were in New York! Other than a few times my room was 1010. We also turned Penthouse C. into a recording studio. Have you ever been in Penthouse A with the outdoor shower? I would die if we were there at the same time and never knew it… My last trip though was in 2008.

  • StoryTroy says:

    I love that your laundry chute has had more press than I have in my entire ten year career. Gives a man pause to reflect… perhaps in a porthole-inspired mirror that he can later convert into his own press magnet.

    That aside, the portholes are the perfect acoutrement to the custom ocean-inspired flooring near their habitat… you sure do know how to pull a room together.

  • margaret y. says:

    I never even considered a laundry chute and now I want a porthole one. Allee, all the fun stuff on your blog can do that to a person.

  • Allee says:

    Thank you, all. May portholes and laundry chutes be in all your futures!

  • Genius laundry chute idea!! I may replace the laundry chute door I have in my wall right now with a porthole…just another of many wonderfully creative ideas I am discovering here! :)

    • Allee says:

      I love portholes and use them whenever I can. Really makes a great chute.. Glad my blog inspires you. Me too!

  • Mimi says:

    This is what I want for my house!! Great idea – thanks for sharing!

  • Pop says:

    My cousin and I were just reminiscing about our grandparents’ maritime-themed basement, complete with portholes!

  • sara says:

    thats amazing!! the laundry shoot is such a great idea! :)

  • Bob says:

    Hi I have a fairly nice porthole similar to yours. 20″ diameter. I want to sell it but don’t have much of an idea what it’s worth. there are a couple of ugly ones out there for 2-300$. Mine is here:

    • Allee says:

      That came off of a 1950s Chris-Craft boat. 1952 I think. I have several of them around my house. But it looks like you onl;y have part of it. That metal screws into a rounded wooden base that serves as the front face arund the metal. So I’m pretty sure that what you have is incomplete, at least comparing it to the four that I have here. 2-$300 is what you would pay for a one of these with all of its parts. I could be wrong but for what you have it wouldn’t fetch as much uness someone who already had the wood base needed the middle metal section.

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