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The Plaza Hotel – New York’s Most Exciting Hotel Experience?

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One New York building that I have long been wanting to stalk is the famed Plaza Hotel – a location that was referred to in Home Alone 2: Lost In New York as “New York’s most exciting hotel experience”.  During my first trip to the Big Apple, in December of 2005, the Plaza was one of the very first locations I dragged my boyfriend to. And I was absolutely dismayed to discover that the famed hotel had been closed.  How could a New York institution like the Plaza be closed??   I mean, it’s the Plaza  for Pete’s sake!  But in April of 2005 the Plaza did indeed close its gilded gold doors as it underwent a $400 million, three year restoration. And, every December since then, while on my annual winter pilgrimage to New York, I would sadly walk by the boarded up hotel wondering when I would get the chance to take a peek inside.  Well, that chance came just a few weeks ago.  And, sadly, it was not the Plaza experience I had been hoping for all these years. 

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The Plaza was built in 1907 by famed New York architect Harry J. Hardenbergh, who also built the Dakota apartment building and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.  The Plaza’s name has long been synonymous with the utmost in luxury, elegance, and wealth, and to me it symbolized the City of New York.  The magnificent French Chateau style building once housed 805 hotel rooms and has been owned by a slew of wealthy tycoons, including Donald Trump who paid $407.5 million for it in 1988.  Of the pricey purchase he said, “I haven’t purchased a building, I have purchased a masterpiece – the Mona Lisa.”  Sadly, though, today that masterpiece looks more like a cheap imitation.  😦  In 2004 the Plaza was purchased by real estate development company El Ad Properties.  It was closed down shortly thereafter for the massive rennovation project.  The Plaza had actually been long overdue for a face-lift – much of the furniture was worn and outdated and most rooms lacked central air conditioning.   El Ad masterminded the renovation project and decided to convert the famous hotel into a luxury condominium building.  Due to public uproar and conservationists’ protests, El Al ended up keeping 130 of the Plaza’s rooms to be used as hotel rooms and consolidated the rest into 152 condominium rental units and 181 privately owned spaces.  Much of the hotel’s public areas were also completely remodeled and renovated, as well.

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Sadly, the interior of the hotel is almost unrecognizable from before the renovation.  While I had never seen the interior of the Plaza before this past New York trip, I have watched Home Alone 2  about a hundred times.  And I am sad to say that nothing from the movie looked familiar in person.  😦  And, amazingly, neither the concierges nor our cocktail server could tell us much about the hotel’s history or what movies had been filmed there.  When I asked about the filming of Home Alone 2, one of the concierges actually said to me “Home Alone 2 was filmed here?”  I mean, COME ON!  REALLY???   Kevin’s mom couldn’t have been more on point when in Home Alone 2she asked Tim Curry, “What kind of idiots do you have working here?”  LOL

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My parents stayed at the Plaza for a few nights on their way to Europe over 25 years ago and had an absolutely magical time.  My mom, who was able to tell me more about the changes in the hotel layout than the Plaza staff, said that the lobby had been moved to another area of the hotel entirely.  The former lobby and check in area (the one that was featured in Home Alone 2) is now the residence entrance and is closed off to hotel guests.  It also looks quite different from how it appeared in the movie, as you can see from the above pics that I managed to snap through the closed off  residence entrance doors.

In Home Alone Kevin stayed in Room 411, one of the Plaza’s Central Park Suites, and, yes, filming did take place in an actual Plaza hotel room.  But the massive suite that Kevin and his family stayed in at the end of the movie can’t actually be found at the Plaza. As a a matter of fact, it can’t be found in New York at all.  According to The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations, that suite is the $5,000 per night Conrad Hilton Suite at the Hilton Chicago.  Duncan’s Toy Chest, the supposed New York toy store that Kevin visits in the movie that causes him to say “This is the greatest mistake of my life!” is also located in Chicago.  Go figure!

But Home Alone 2  is hardly the only production to have filmed at the Plaza.  In fact, the Plaza is one of New York’s most oft filmed locations. Just a brief list of productions that have filmed there – Crocodile Dundee, It Could Happen to You, Plaza Suite, Barefoot in the Park, North By Northwest, Almost Famous, Brewster’s Millions, The Cotton Club, Hollywood Ending, Network, The Great Gatsby, Annie Hall, Scent of a Woman, and Arthur.  It will also be featured in the upcoming Bride Wars, in which best friends Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson both book their wedding at the Plaza on the same day.  The Plaza is no stranger to television, either.  The hotel made an appearance in the Season 5 episode of The Sopranos  entitled “The Test Dream”.  

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And it also showed up quite a few times during Sex and the City’s second season.  The Plaza’s Terrace Room was the location of Miranda’s interior decorator’s whirlwind wedding in “The Chicken Dance”, 

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the Presidential Suite stood in for Samantha’s 72-year old boyfriend’s home in “The Man, The Myth, The Viagra”,

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and Carrie, emulating the final scene from The Way We Were, said (what she thought was) a final good-bye to Big outside of the Plaza in “Ex and the City”.  (Both scenes are pictured above.)

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The Plaza is no stranger to the literary world either.  In Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic Ties the Knot, main character Becky Bloomwood’s nuptials take place at the Plaza – well, sort of.  You’ll have to read the book to hear the story behind that one.  🙂  Eloise, the main character in Kay Thompson’s series of children’s books, lives at the Plaza hotel – and this was long before the rooms were turned into condominiums.  In real life, the weddings for both Katherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas, and President Nixon’s daughter were held at the famed hotel.  And Leo and Kate were just spotted lunching in the hotel’s famous Oak Room.

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 While we were stalking the Plaza, we decided to grab a few drinks in the lobby’s Champagne Bar (pictured above), hoping to relive some of the magic my parents had experienced during their stay there in 1980.  Unfortunately, a magical time was not had by any of us.  For one thing, the prices are outrageous.  Which I actually don’t mind, as long as the service and ambiance match up to those prices.  Sadly, neither did.  Our waiter brought us our check and came back several times hoping to collect it before the cheese plate appetizer we ordered had even arrived.  To make matters worse, part of the champagne bar had been closed off for a private party, which would not have mattered had techno music from the party not been blaring throughout the entire lobby during our cocktail hour.  The “quiet elegance” of the Plaza wasn’t so quiet after all.  And to top it all off, the part of the bar that was closed for the party also happened to be the only part of the lobby with a bathroom.  So, to use the only restroom available to bar patrons, I had to take a good five minute walk, down a very long and dark hallway, down two very dark and empty stairswells to what seemed to be the basement of the hotel.  Not the Plaza experience I had hoped for, to say the least.  Even with all of the problems, though, it was still very cool to be sitting in the Plaza sipping champagne.  I just don’t think it is something we’d ever do again.  😦  I, of course, still recommend stalking the Plaza, as I think everyone should see it at least once in their lives.  It truly is a spectacular building.  But be prepared to be disappointed – it’s not the hotel it once was.  And apparently, I’m not the only one who feels that way

Until next time, Happy Stalking! 🙂

Stalk It: The Plaza is located at 750 Fifth Avenue in New York.  Rooms start (yes, START) at $600 per night!  You can visit their website here.  The Hilton Chicago Hotel is located at 720 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago.  You can visit their website here.  Duncan’s Toy Chest from Home Alone 2  is located at 209 South La Salle Street in Chicago.

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“And Your 40s Are To Pay For the Drinks!”

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Another day, another SATC  location.  🙂  One of the must-see locales of my NYC stalking vacation was the bar where Carrie Bradshaw and her personal assistant, Louise, drank Bellini’s and commiserated over their broken hearts in Sex and the City: The Movie.  The bar used in the film is called Bemelman’s and it is located inside the famed Carlyle Hotel on New York’s Upper East Side.  According to fave book Sex and the City: The Movie, the SJP flick was the very first production ever allowed to film inside the legendary bar.    It is at Bemelman’s that Carrie gives Louise this sage piece of advice: “Enjoy yourself – that’s what your 20s are for.  Your 30s are to learn the lessons.  And your 40s are to pay for the drinks!”  🙂  Love it!  🙂

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Bemelman’s is named after the creator, illustrator, and author of the popular Madeline children’s book series, Ludwig Bemelman, whose murals adorn the bar’s many walls.  Over fifty years ago, the Carlyle Hotel commisioned Bemelman to paint large scenes of animals frolicking in Central Park on the walls of their lobby bar.  Instead of being paid for this feat, Bemelman and his family were given free room and board at the luxury hotel for a year and a half.   Not a bad deal!  🙂 Bemelman’s Bar has long been a favorite of both celebrities and native New Yorkers alike.   In fact, SJP is a longtime fan of the Carlyle in general.   She spent many an evening at Cafe Carlyle, the hotel’s cabaret restaurant, while dating then-boyfriend Matthew Broderick.  In fact, the two even spent their honeymoon at the Carlyle.  🙂  Currently Bemelman’s is a favorite stomping ground of Suri Cruise, who regularly attends the Saturday children’s tea with her famous mom. 

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Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to grab a cocktail in Bemelman’s during this New York vacay – so many places to stalk, so little time.  😦  But I did pop my head in for a little looksie.  The cocktail waitress even let me take some pics at the bar area, even though photographs are typically not allowed.  From what I saw in the few minutes I was there, Bemelman’s looks like a very cool place to grab a drink and it’s easy to see why producers chose it for a little SATC  filming.  The bar is dark, intimate, cozy, and so very New York.  It even features a 24-carat gold leaf ceiling – I’m not kidding!   And to commemorate the filming that took place there in late 2007, Bemelman’s even named a drink after SATC’s  leading lady.  “The Bradshaw” is a mixture of Don Julio Blanco tequila, lime juice, cane sugar simple syrup, and X-Rated Passion Fruit Liquor.  The drink is, of course, pink and  is served in a martini glass dusted with pink sugar.  Love it!

Until next time, Happy Stalking! 🙂

Stalk It: Bemelman’s Bar is located at 35 East 76th Street, inside the famed Carlyle Hotel.

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The Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa

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While stalking in Pasadena a few weeks ago I stopped into the Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa to snap some pics.  The Langham has long been a Pasadena institution and it is an absolutely gorgeous place to spend an afternoon or grab an evening cocktail.  It is also an oft-used Pasadena filming location and celeb hang out.  🙂

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The Langham Hotel was originally built in 1907 and was known as the Wentworth.  Never gaining much popularity under its original ownership, the property was sold to Henry E. Huntington in 1911, who hired renowned L.A. area architect Myron Hunt to renovate, expand, and improve the hotel. Three years later, in 1914, the Wentworth was reopened under its new name – the Huntington Hotel.   Architect Myron Hunt is also known for designing the Rose Bowl, Occidental College, the California Institute of Technology, and Henry Huntington’s private home, which later became the museum known as the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens.  After Myron’s renovations, the Huntington Hotel became an overnight success and it remained that way for more than seven decades.   But in 1985, while under the ownership of the Sheraton Corporation, the Huntington had to be closed due to earthquake code violations.  In 1987, the Ritz-Carlton Corporation purchased the property and, with a $100 million upgrade, brought it up to code.  In 1990, the new Huntington Ritz-Carlton Hotel & Spa opened its doors to the public.  Just this year, the hotel was sold yet again – this time to Great Eagle Holdings who renamed it the Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa.  Even with all of the ownership changes, the Huntington remains the finest hotel in the Pasadena area.  It also remains a favorite of both celebrities and location scouts alike.  

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The interior of the Langham stood in for the Stratford Hotel in the 1998 Lindsay Lohan remake of The Parent Trap.  The exterior of the Stratford, however, was a different location altogether.  For that producers used the Administration Building on Treasure Island in Northern California, located a few hundred miles away from the Langham.  The Langham also appeared in Beverly Hills Ninja  where it stood in for the Beverly Hills Hotel.  The hotel was also featured in Seabsicut, America’s Next Top Model, Charlie Wilson’s War, and Brothers and Sisters.  And just a brief list of the hotel’s past celebrity guests: Teddy Roosevelt, Bill Clinton (shortly after winning the ’92 election), Albert Einstein, the Dalai Lama, Prince Philip of England, musician Pete Townsend, Salyma Hayek, Bachelorette Trista Rehn, and Judd Hirsch.  Marcia Cross’ wedding reception was held there, as was the wedding for Taboo from The Black-Eyed Peas.  Shannen Doherty is a reported frequent guest of the hotel, and especially loves their premiere restaurant, The Grill, and their piano bar.  I actually saw Shannen once during one of my many visits the to the Langham.  She was doing some press for her former reality show Breaking-Up With Shannen Doherty.  Shannen was super tiny in person and seemed very sweet, although I did not go up to her. 

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The Langham is an absolutely beautiful resort, with sprawling lawns, meandering pathways, koi ponds, a dark wood paneled bar, and excellent food.  I had the pleasure of staying at the hotel a while back, when it was still owned by the Ritz-Carlton.  The service at the time was impeccable.  One night at the bar I ordered my fave soda, Dr. Pepper.  The bartender told me that while Dr. Pepper isn’t served at the hotel, he thought there might be a vending machine in the employee break room that had some.  Despite my protests, he ran downstairs to the breakroom and returned a few minutes later – Dr. Pepper in hand!  I also attended the Ritz-Carlton employee Christmas party a few years ago with a friend who used to work for the hotel and it was one of the best parties I’ve ever been to! 

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I highly recommend stalking the Ritz and grabbing a nightcap in their piano bar.  Time and time again it is mentioned as one of the most romantic places in Pasadena. 

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: The Langham is located at 1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue in Pasadena.  You can visit their website here.  Rooms start at $269 per night.

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The Ambassador Hotel

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Katharine Hepburn once said, “I have many regrets and I’m sure everyone does.  The stupid things you do, you regret . . . if you have any sense.”  Katharine was right.   One of my biggest regrets in life is that I never got to see the Ambassador Hotel in person before it was torn down in 2005.  I lived in L.A. for a good five years before demolition began on the legendary hotel and am literally kicking myself now for never taking the opportunity to see the hotel with my own two eyes.  And now it is too late.  Today the hotel is completely gone.  It absolutely sickens me that this rare piece of Los Angeles history has vanished from our skyline.  😦   I asked Mike, from MovieShotsLA, if he had ever visited the Ambassador while it was still standing, which of course, he had, and he sent me the above photos.

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Today, the 23.7 acre property that once held one of L.A.’s finest hotels is nothing more than a construction site – the future location of three new public schools for the Los Angeles Unified School District.   

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The only pieces of the hotel that remain are the circular entrance,

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and one wall of the legendary Cocoanut Grove nightclub – both of which are said to be incorporated into the building of the new schools.

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The Ambassador opened it doors on New Year’s Day 1921. From opening day up until the late 1960s, the 500 room hotel was a home away from home for movie stars, world leaders, U.S. Presidents, and other V.I.P.’s.  Such famous names as Howard Hughes, Lana Turner, Clark Gable, Carey Grant, Katharine Hepburn, President Kennedy, President Hoover, and Bob Hope all frequented the hotel at one time or another.  The hotel’s Cocoanut Grove nightclub was the place to see and be seen once upon a time.  Such legendary performers as Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Liza Minelli, Bing Crosby and Richard Pryor all performed on the Grove’s hallowed stage and the Academy Awards were held there six times.  One of the Ambassador’s main claims to fame (or at least my favorite) is that it is the place where Marilyn Monroe first got her start.  In 1944, the then unknown Norma Jean Baker signed with Miss Emmaline Snively’s Blue Book Modeling Agency, which was located inside the hotel.  Perhap’s the Ambassador’s more well known, and much more tragic, claim to fame is that it was the location where Robert Kennedy was shot and killed in the early morning hours of June 5, 1968.  Kennedy had just won California’s primary nomination for the presidency and was giving his victory speech in the hotel’s Embassy Ballroom.  After the speech, he was wisked through the hotel’s kitchen on his way to the press area.  Sadly, he never made it.  He was instead shot to death near the kitchen’s pantry by Palestinian radical Sirhan Sirhan. 

At the time of RFK’s assasination, the area surrounding the Ambassador had become infested with gangs, drugs, and crime, causing the once grand hotel to fall into a steady economic decline.  Sadly, once the hotel began its slump, it was never revived.  😦   The Ambassador’s doors were closed to the public in 1989 and the hotel was sold to Donald Trump for $64 million.   The Donald, and many others, had plans to completely rennovate the hotel and restore it to its former grandeur, but sadly, that was not to be.  The Ambassador sat empty for the next 16 years while its fate was decided.  The Los Angeles Unified School District, in need of property to build new schools, obtained rights to the land based on imminent domain.  This plan tied up the property for years, while L.A.U.S.D. fought developers, conservationists, and even lawyers for Sirhan Sirhan, who argued that the hotel’s kitchen must be kept intact so further evidence could be gathered to exonerate their client.  Sadly, the developers and the conservationists lost the battle and in September of 2005, L.A.U.S.D. began its demolition of the Ambassador.  The last remaining piece of the Ambassador was knocked down on January 16, 2006 – almost 85 years to the day of the hotel’s grand opening.  It sickens me that this was allowed to happen.  

During the years when the Ambassador was closed and a battle was being fought over her future, Hollywood moved in and started filming!  The 500 room hotel provided producers with the perfect locale to shoot movies – a vacant, already-built hotel set with plenty of parking for film trucks.  The Ambassador has been featured in so many movies that it is virtually impossible to even try to mention them all.  A short list of examples: That Thing You Do (where it played itself), Crossroads (where it stood in for all of the hotel room scenes), The Graduate (it was the hotel where Dustin Hoffman carried on his illicit affair with Anne Bancroft), Catch Me If You Can, The Mask (where it stood in for the Coco Bongo Nightclub), Bobby, The Fabulous Baker Boys, Pretty Woman (the main ballroom was used for the scene where Hector Alizondo teaches Julia Roberts about table manners and the scene where Richard Gere plays the piano), Forest Gump (it was featured as the bar where Jenny plays the guitar naked onstage), Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion (it was the reunion locale), Apollo 13 (two hotel rooms stood in for Gary Sinese and Kevin Bacon’s apartments), L.A. Story (it stood in for the fictional L’Idiot restaurant), and The Wedding Singer – among literally countless others!  So even though the Ambassador is now gone, she will be forever preserved on the silver screen thanks to the magic of the movies.

Here is a great website devoted to the hotel.  Here is a great article written by one of the last men to ever photograph the hotel, Whit Wagner.  I absolutely love the title.  🙂  And here is a link to some of the photographs he took that dayHere are some more great photos of the interior.  And finally, here is a great blog about the hotel’s demolition.

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

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Stalk It: The site where the Ambassador Hotel once stood is located at 3400 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.

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Halloween 2008

For Halloween this year, I desperately wanted my boyfriend and I to dress up like Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio.  I know, total shocker.  🙂  It all ended up coming together quite perfectly, too, as earlier this summer I found a white dress a la Marilyn’s subway grate ensemble, that was super inexpensive.  I also happened to have an appointment to get my hair cut on Halloween morning, so I asked my amazing hair stylist, Martina, if she could do me up Marilyn style.  She happily obliged and even offered to do my make-up for me.  Without even looking at a picture of the starlet for reference, she was able to whip my hair into a full-on Marilyn ‘do and apply my make-up perfectly!  I was shocked!  When I asked her how she did it without using a photo, she said “Honey, that’s what I do!”  LOL  I actually think the effect may have been too good, though, because I had FIVE people stop me and say “Has anyone ever told you that you look EXACTLY like Marilyn Monroe.”  Even though it was Halloween, no one seemed to realize I was wearing a costume – they thought I just looked like Marilyn naturally.  LOL  That actually might be good news, though – as maybe someday I’ll get to play MM in a big screen biopic of the star.  🙂  

Anyway, since we couldn’t find anything to do in L.A. for Halloween (we were literally all dressed up with no place to go!), I dragged my boyfriend to Downtown Palm Springs.  We spent the evening walking around Downtown, barhopping, hanging out, and watching all the other people in costumes.  We had a blast!  And I even got stopped by a Japanese tourist who wanted her photo taken with me.  🙂 

We ended up spending most of our evening at the Palm Springs Riviera Resort & Spa – a legendary Palm Springs hot spot from back in the 50s and 60s.  The resort recently underwent a complete rennovation and has been closed down for the past year.  It only just reopened two weeks ago and it is a very cool, very hip spot to hang out.  The hotel has a 50s-modern style vibe to it, made complete with a large picture of Marilyn made out of Guatemalan coins hanging in the lobby, so, of course, I had to snap a photo of it. 🙂   And the Riviera is even a filming location!   It was featured as the hotel where Connie Stevens stayed in the 1963 flick Palm Springs Weekend.

 

The poolside Bikini Bar, where we hung out all night, is fabulous with its large firepits and ultra-comfy lounge chairs.   While there we ran into 90s actor Jeff Prettyman, who is currently retired and living in Palm Springs.  Jeff acted in the movies Young Guns  and Cheerleader Camp, so of course I had to take a pic with him.  🙂

The following morning, I was reading a Palm Springs magazine in our hotel room and I happened to spot a photograph of Marilyn Monroe posing at the Racquet Club of Palm Springs (pictured above), a place I had never heard of.  So, of course, on our way out of town I had to drag my boyfriend to stalk it.

 But unfortunately, when we arrived there wasn’t much to see as the area is currently a large constuction zone.  The once legendary resort and Hollywood playground is currently closed and undergoing a $50 million rennovation with the surrounding land being turned into luxury condominiums and lofts.  That was the plan, anyway.  In 2004, architect Van Scott Jones and financial handler Michael Mueller purchased the land with big plans to restore the resort to its former grandeur.  However, just a few days ago the property went into forclosure and the fate of the Racquet Club is now left up in the air.  I truly hope someone comes in to rescue this piece of Hollywood and Palm Springs history.  Oddly enough, for some reason the construction area was not entirely fenced in, and since there weren’t any “no trespassing” signs posted, my boyfriend and I ventured in for a little looksie. 

It was very, very cool to be walking around a piece of property that holds so much history.  While there, I could just imagine the screen legends of the day lounging poolside under the desert sun.  You can see the now empty pool behind me in the above photograph.     

The Palm Springs Racquet Club was opened up on Christmas Day of 1933 by actors Ralph Bellamy and Charlie Farrell, who wanted a place in the desert where they could play tennis.  The resort became enormously popular with the celebs of the day – a playground to the stars, compete with tennis courts, a large swimming pool and a legendary bar named the Bamboo Lounge.  The bloody mary cocktail was actually first concocted in that lounge.  Apparently, Racquet Club guests needed a little “hair of the dog” each morning to cure their budding hangovers, so the Lounge chefs mixed together a few ingredients and, voila, the bloody mary was born.  The owners of a New York bar named the 21 Club often stayed at the Racquet Club and fell in love with the new cocktail.  They ended up bringing the drink back to their New York bar and the rest, as they say, is history.  The Racquet Club didn’t fare quite as well as the cocktail created there, though, and due to dwindling profits, it was sold several times and quickly fell into dilapidation and disarray.  

Among the stars who hung out at the Racquet Club in its heyday – Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Jane Russell, Bob Hope, Jayne Mansfield, Gregory Peck, Errol Flynn, John Kennedy, Bing Crosby, Lana Turner, Frank Sinatra, Spencer Tracy, Audrey Hepburn, Doris Day, Ronald Regan, and, of course, my girl Marilyn Monroe, who spent New Years of 1948 there with her agent Johnny Hyde (pictured above).  Rumor has it that Marilyn was actually discovered by photographer Bruno Bernard while lounging poolside at the Club, but I am not sure how true that story is. 

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: The Raquet Club of Palm Springs is located at 2743 North Indian Canyon Drive in Palm Springs.  The Palm Springs Riviera Resort & Spa is located at 1600 North Indian Canyon Drive, also in Palm Springs.  If you need your hair styled like Marilyn – or if you just need a new ‘do in general – you can visit Martina Maina at T-Birds Salon, located at 1808 West Olive Avenue in Burbank.  You can visit T-Birds website here.  T-Birds is located right across the street from an oft used filming location – the Safari Inn – which was featured in True Romance  and Apollo 13 .

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Brenda and Dylan’s First Kiss

I think the new 90210  has been making me nostalgic for the original series, because lately I have found myself re-watching old episodes of the 90s show.   The other night, while watching one of my fave episodes from the first season, the episode where Brenda and Dylan first get together, I noticed a filming location that I had yet to stalk.  In the episode, entitled “Isn’t It Romantic”, Dylan has moved out of his suite at the BelAge Hotel and into what looks like a ritzy apartment building.  After a date at the former Fox Studio City Theatre, Dylan brings Brenda back to that apartment building only to find his father waiting for him inside – and, of course, drama ensues.   

        

While watching the episode, I happened to notice the word “L’Ermitage” spelled out on the side of the apartment building’s entrance (pictured in the above screen capture).

      

     

So I got to Googling and quickly discovered that there used to be a “members only” hotel called the L’Ermitage located in Bevelry Hills once upon a time.  Sadly, the L’Ermitage was purchased by the Raffles hotel chain in October of 2000 and was completely renovated, remodeled, and renamed.  The new hotel, called the Raffles L’Ermitage, does not look very much like Dylan’s former apartment building.  Even the front entrance of the hotel, which was the site of Brenda and Dylan’s dramatic first kiss, was gutted and changed.   But while the L’Ermitage does look very different than it did during the 90210  days, something about it is still vaguely reminiscent.  Especially familiar is the sidewalk in front of the hotel where Brenda runs after Dylan’s meltdown where he throws a potted plant on the ground.  Gotta love it!!  🙂  Standing there brought back such fond memories for me and I highly recommend stalking the L’Ermitage if you were at all a fan of Brenda and Dylan.  🙂 

The L’Ermitage is an absolutely beautiful place and I cannot wait to drag my boyfriend back there on a Friday or Saturday night to grab a drink in one of the hotel’s many bars.  The hotel’s rooftop terrace has been ranked one of the top three rooftop bars in the country.  The hotel’s Writer’s Bar, where the walls are decorated with screenplays and scripts, is also supposed to be a fabulous place to grab a drink.  The exclusive hotel is also a big time celeb hotspot – so if you visit be sure to keep your eyes peeled!  Julia Roberts, Georgio Armani, Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Keira Knightley, Penelope Cruz, and Angelina Jolie have all stayed at the L’Ermitage in the past.  While stalking the L’Ermitage yesterday, I saw James Woods, who was hanging out in front of the hotel.  I absolutely LOVE me some James Woods and the TV show Shark, so I was floored to see him in person.  I would have asked him to take a pic with me, but he was busy talking on his cell phone and then his friend drove up, so I didn’t want to bother him.  I did snap a pic of him from far away, though.  He is in the above photo leaning against the Porsche.  SO COOL!  🙂

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It:  Raffles L’Ermitage is located at 9291 Burton Way in Beverly Hills, not far from Rodeo Drive.

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The Standard Hotel

     

My friend Stephanie, who is even more obsessed with Sex and the City  than I am, has a birthday coming up this Friday, so I decided to do a little post today in her honor.  In Stephanie’s favorite SATC  episodes, entitled “Escape from New York” and “Sex in Another City”, Carrie and the Girls take a little vacay to the West Coast.  While there, they stay at the uber-trendy Standard Hotel on the Sunset Strip, and it is that location that I set out to stalk yesterday.  So Steffi – this one’s for you!  🙂  

         

         

The Standard Hotel was featured prominently in both of the L.A. episodes of SATC.   The Standard’s rooftop pool shows up in several scenes – most memorably it is the location where Carrie discusses a rather painful bikini wax.

        

 The lobby area – complete with its live performance art – is also shown several times. 

         

But most memorable for me is the scene that takes place at the hotel’s front entrance – when Carrie is reprimanded for smoking. 

The Standard Hotel is an ultra-trendy, ultra-modern hot spot, with a huge celebrity following.  Originally opened in 1999, with celeb investors such as Cameron Diaz and Leonardo DiCaprio (sigh!), the hotel was considered a less expensive alternative to the many other pricey West Hollywood hotels.  The Standard is a truly unique hotel – it’s sort of like a W Hotel, only amplified to the power of a hundred.  The Standard features ghost chairs and floor-to-wall-to-ceiling shag carpeting in the lobby, blue astro-turfed patios, live nude performance art showcased in a glass case behind the front desk, a roof-top pool/dessert bar, DJ’s spinning tunes nightly in the lobby, and, most famous of all, upside-down signage.  The whole thing is not really my cup of tea, but if you are into modern decor and the avant-garde, I highly recommend stalking the place.  Today there are four hotels in the Standard chain, with branches in Downtown L.A., Miami Beach and New York.  The Downtown L.A. Standard was featured repeatedly in the 2005 movie Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.  

BIG THANK YOU to Mike, over at MovieShotsLA, for sending me the above screen captures!!

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: The Standard Hotel is located at 8300 Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood.  You can visit the hotel’s website here.   A room there will run you $240 and up per night.

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