The Brice and Stark relationship was cemented in 1939 when Brice’s older sister, Frances (Fran) Brice, married Ray Stark (who would become one of Hollywood’s legendary agents and producers). The Stark newlyweds moved into Fanny Brice’s Holmby Hills home with her, Brice, and eventually with Brice’s wife, Shirley (who Brice married in 1942). Stark was well aware of Fanny’s interest in the arts and aware of Brice’s total dedication to his own art. They all lived together through WWII. Fanny called Stark “The Rabbit,” a nickname she conferred upon him due to his quick mind, his short but broad shouldered, narrow waisted stature, and his boundless energy. Brice affectionately used this nickname as a term of endearment in his many cartooned Christmas and birthday cards to Stark.
Despite their opposite natures, the two men struck up a deep, lifelong friendship that went well beyond the kinship of brother-in-laws and beyond Brice’s closeness with his sister. Their shared intelligence, mutual admiration, trust, and great sense of humor were the bridges to their differences. As young men in Fanny’s home, they played endless practical jokes on each other. One ended with Stark rolling up his Ford’s driver’s window on Brice’s arm as Brice reached into the car to grab Stark, who had slipped on Brice’s favorite suit, which was many sizes too big for Stark as Brice was nearly a foot taller at six foot six. Stark started his engine and drove down Sunset Boulevard with Brice, his arm stuck in the driver’s window, forced to trot alongside. Throughout their lives, Brice and Stark remained each other’s closest confidants.
WILLIAM BRICE, CURATORIAL ADVISOR TO THE FRAN AND RAY STARK ART COLLECTION
Brice worked with Stark on the formation and the siting of the Stark painting and sculpture collection at the Starks’ Holmby Hills home and at their Santa Ynez Valley ranch. After Stark’s death, the majority of his and his wife’s sculpture collection was donated to the Getty Museum. Brice continued to represent the Starks posthumously as their Trust’s advisor to the Getty during the four years of work to site and design the settings for the Fran and Ray Stark 20th Century Sculpture Collection at the Getty Center. (For more on Fran and Ray Stark and their collection, please see: Library/Links/Stark Sculpture Garden/Getty Museum, as well as Library/Articles/ “1963 NY Post/Sons of…famous”)