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The Legendary Chateau Marmont, Part II

May 15, 2019

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If you missed the Marmont blog, Part I and want to read it for the first time or to refresh your memory CLICK HERE.

Now, let’s take a close look at what is one of the most important features of the Marmont. The short answer is: PRIVACY. The hotel never publicly discusses its famous guests or reveals the names of those currently staying there. In other words: zippered lips are stage center.

The castle and the pool: A dip in the moonlight anyone?

HOW DOES ONE ENTER THE HOTEL?

One enters the Marmont through the garage – you drive in, drop off the car, go up a couple of steps and make a right if you’re going to one of the bungalows or a left if you’re headed into the main building. The elevator goes all the way up, so there’s no need to pass through the lobby, no need to stop at the front desk. This means if you want to be alone, you can be alone.

“I felt very safe there,” notes Lorne Michaels, who celebrated his 30th birthday at the Marmont years before moving (virtually the entire original cast) of Saturday Night Live out to LA.

Everyone loves to dine outdoors – photos courtesy of Chateau Marmont

NEW YORKERS WHO STAYED THERE

The Marmont has been Hollywood headquarters for so many New Yorkers over the years that it was once dubbed, “Sardi’s with beds.” The majority of New Yorkers were from the theatre. Among them were Montgomery Clift, Rod Steiger, Claire Bloom and Kim Stanley.

Sardi’s, the landmark restaurant in New York City’s theatre district – home to one of the most famous portrait galleries in the world – really caricatures with exaggerated features

Photo: Courtesy of Town & Country, January/February 2019

HIJINKS AT THE CHATEAU MARMONT

William Holden and Glenn Ford were a great worry to Harry Cohn, the head of Columbia Pictures. “He really worried about Bill and me,” says Ford. He put us under contract at roughly the same time and we were constantly getting into trouble. So one day he sent for us and said, ‘If you MUST get into trouble, go to the Marmont.’ He made it clear that he had rented the small penthouse there just for us, to protect us.”

DEATH IN A MARMONT BUNGALOW

On March 5, 1982, comic and movie star John Belushi died at the hotel and it hit the media like a thunderbolt. But, throughout all the turmoil afterwards, the names of the other guests were never known. Tony Randall was living next door to Belushi, in an adjoining bungalow and no one ever found out.

GRETA GARBO CAME FOR A VISIT

She arrived on an overcast day and signed the guest register as “Harriet Brown.” She liked to go to nearby Schwab’s Pharmacy and always came in 10 minutes before midnight when the near-empty store closed. But one night an actress was inside when Garbo entered and when she looked up and saw this famous face – she passed out. FULL DISCLOSURE: I saw Garbo on a snowy night way over on East 52nd Street. She was walking in the middle of a man and woman that she was talking to and I heard her speak. “My God,” I thought. “She sounds exactly the way she sounds in the movies!” It was possibly the dumbest and most nonsensical thought I ever had in my life.

PHONE CHAT THAT VAPORIZES

One Manhattan wag reports that on his last visit to the hotel a phone call he received from a well-known LA agent kept fading out. Finally he apologized and said, “I’m on a plane.” This is a LA thing he remembered. A former girlfriend once said, “I’m on a horse.” Other variations from people who wanted to remain incommunicado included: I’m scuba diving OR I’m on a ski lift OR I’m in a wine cellar OR I’m in despair – the list is endless.

LOTS OF ACTION ON OSCAR NIGHT

For 50-plus years, the Marmont has played host to scores of Academy Award winners, nominees and presenters. By late afternoon of the big event, Marmont Lane is lined with long, black limousines. It’s not unusual to find a procession of sleek, chauffeured vehicles stretching all the way down to Sunset Boulevard.

Books I read for these two blogs include: (1) Life at the Marmont by Raymond Sarlot and Fred E. Basten, (2) Chateau Marmont – Hollywood Handbook by André Balazs and Richard Pandiscio, (3) Los Angeles: People, Places and the Castle on the Hill by A.M. Homes.

Shaun Nelson-Henrick



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