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10:07 PM, May. 12, 2012 |
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. Stand on the Beverly Hills Hotel's red carpet, leading into its chandeliered lobby, and you can't help but visualize a century's worth of celebrities, royalty, politicians, musicians and actors who have stayed there, from Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor to Madonna, Reese Witherspoon and Katy Perry.
The luxury hotel, at 9641 Sunset Blvd., marks 100 years since it opened in May 1912, two years before the city of Beverly Hills itself was built around it. It remains one of the swankiest destinations in Southern California, home to Oscar and Grammy parties and star-filled lunches.
Its breezy, old Hollywood air comes from an incomparable list of superstar guests that has ranged over the decades from Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant and Clark Gable, to John Lennon and Jack Nicholson, to the androgynously elegant Marlene Dietrich, who convinced the hotel's Polo Lounge restaurant to change its "no slacks for women" dress code in the 1940s.
In his new book "The Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows The First 100 Years," Robert S. Anderson, the hotel's official historian and great-grandson of its founder, tells the hotel's story, from its beginnings amid acres of bean fields, to the present day, when celebs such as director Sofia Coppola think nothing of stopping by the coffee shop for a bite with friends.
Anderson's great-grandmother Margaret Anderson who managed a hotel on the site of what's now the Hollywood & Highland Center, where the Academy Awards are held built the Beverly Hills Hotel for $500,000 with architect Elmer Grey.
Making its famous guests feel at home and giving them privacy have always been part of the hotel's mission, beginning with silent film-era stars such as Chaplin and Buster Keaton, who shot movies at the hotel. The 1920s Hollywood power couple Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks met at the hotel, then renovated a palatial house above the property.
The hotel remains a place where celebrities can let down their hair, attracting the East Coast elite as well as Hollywood locals. But paparazzi, beware.
"Stars felt safe here, as they do today," said Anderson. "For example, even getting through the front door. If you're wielding a heavy-duty camera, they ask you what the hell you're doing."
A celebration of the centennial is planned for June 15-17 to benefit the Motion Picture Television Fund, with a filmmaker panel, an evening party hosted by director Brett Ratner and a Polo Lounge brunch hosted by Warren Beatty and DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.
In a new film timed to the anniversary celebration, directed by Chuck Workman, Michael Douglas mused about the hotel's nostalgic appeal to both celebs and those without Hollywood ties.
"I've been going to the Beverly Hills Hotel for over half of its life. You feel timeless," said the actor.
Travel: Beverly Hills Hotel marks 100 star-studded years
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. Stand on the Beverly Hills Hotel's red carpet, leading into its chandeliered lobby, and you can't help but visualize a century's worth of celebrities, royalty, politicians,
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