Birthday wishes are in store for the famous Beverly Hills Hotel celebrating its centennial this year and kicking it off with a two-day affair, just ended at the famous Los Angeles landmark. With all proceeds benefitting the Motion Picture & Television Fund (which also holds a major fundraiser ahead of the Oscars called The Night Before) high-rollers were treated on Friday to comedy and jazz by the pool hosted by Bill Cosby and Saturday night to cocktails, dinner and a mini-concert by Mary J. Blige who said it was her favorite hotel, where she married the love of her life. She definitely had the Crystal room rocking.
Earlier in the evening MPTF founding Chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg welcomed guests including one of the evening’s hosts Brett Ratner, and the main attraction for many in the room, Warren Beatty who serves on the MPTF board. “Somehow or another this place is the center of the universe. There’s no one in this room who knows this hotel better than Warren Beatty. I mean no one,” he said to laughs as Beatty took the stage to lead a toast.
“This is so nice I almost turned my cell phone off,” said Beatty. “I want to congratulate (General Manager ) Ed Mady on the incredible job of preservation and restoration they have done to the hotel. It’s almost impossible to imagine the history of Hollywood without imagining the Beverly Hills Hotel. So thanks for all the things that may – or may not – have happened here. They say if walls could talk what tales they could tell. Well, I want to thank the walls for not saying anything. And I want to also thank my friend, the Polo Lounge. I don’t really know who Neil McCarthy is but I want to thank the Neil McCarthy salad too. Lift your Glass in celebration of 100 years,” he said.
Mady also spoke. “The Beverly Hills Hotel has welcomed many stars but please let me say tonight it is the Beverly Hills Hotel that is the star,” he said to big applause. With that the guests were ushered downstairs to the Crystal Ballroom where Blige sang a few of her hits and a Chuck Workman film about the Hotel’s history debuted. Among the film’s ose participantst was Lauren Bacall who made one of her films at the pool, Designing Woman in 1957. Doris Day’s Move Over, Darling (1963) and Neil Simon’s California Suite (1978) were other films that captured the ambience of this star playground in their various eras. “It’s about yesterday and today. Maybe it’s just a hotel but for many of us it is much much more. It’s a tradition worth preserving,” said Bacall. Jimmy Fallon, Michael Douglas and Beatty are also prominently featured in the short film.
Stars repping different eras attended the party including Frances Fisher, songwriter Diane Warren and Brenda Vaccaro who reminisced with newly re-elected PGA head Hawk Koch about past visits to the hotel and movies they made together including Jacqueline Susann’s Once Is Not Enough which brought her an Oscar nomination.
Ratner mentioned he once lived there for six months. “I was trying to channel Warren Beatty,” he said before praising the work of the MPTF. “My grandparents are lucky they have me. They live in my guest house. There are many people whose grandparents are not so lucky and for that we have the Fund to be very grateful for,” he said.
Oscar winning producer-director Irwin Winkler (Rocky, Raging Bull, Goodfellas) is about to leave for New York to start Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street but he told me about the first time he actually came from New York and stayed at the Beverly Hills Hotel. It was 53 years ago on his honeymoon with wife Margo. They were back celebrating together again last night.
Actress Donna Mills (Knot’s Landing) said she remembered being put up at the hotel when CBS would send her out to L.A. to do guest shots on primetime shows (she was mainly a daytime performer at the time). “Everything I knew about L.A. was really right here. So when I eventually moved to L.A. I kept driving back to the hotel to use it as a starting point. I really didn’t know how to get anywhere without first coming from the Beverly Hills Hotel,” she laughed adding that the famous parking boys were very helpful.
There was also a remarkable photo history of the Hotel’s first century on display and for those who would like to see the historical snapshots, Robert Anderson has written a massive coffee table book detailing the storied venue’s entire history, The Beverly Hills Hotel – The First 100 Years.
As a native of LA I have my own memories of this great hotel including the time when I was 6 I believed my sister and visiting cousin tried to drown me in the deep end of the pool. Fortunately I lived to tell the tale, and fortunately this symbol of stability in an unstable town has also lived to tell its own tales. As Beatty said, ‘if only those walls could talk’.
Hopefully the famous ‘pink palace’ will be around for another 100 years.