If These Walls Could Talk

Marilyn certainly gave it her all.

What comings and goings at The Beverly Hills Hotel.

Marilyn Monroe preferred bungalows numbers 1 and 7 when she stayed there.  However, when she was prepping for her role in Let’s Make Love, a 1960 musical satire about a show within a show, she and her husband, Arthur Miller, resided next to her French co-star, Yves Montand, and his wife, actress Simone Signoret, in Bungalows 20 and 21.  Although the four were friends, it wasn’t a very good idea.

Monroe and Montand began an affair when Miller went to Reno to put finishing touches on his script The Misfits, to star Monroe, which would begin shooting in a few months.  Monroe, as usual, was feeling insecure and despondent.  Miller, in her mind, didn’t care, more concerned about his career than her welfare.  When he returned to Los Angeles and crossed a writer’s strike to rework scenes for Let’s Make Love, already considered a stinker, their marriage was unraveling.

Montand, for his part, was hoping to use his role, a role, by the way, turned down by such leading men as Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, Rock Hudson, James Stewart, and Yul Brynner, to break into American films.  Once production began, he soon learned what the others already knew: he was simply a foil for Marilyn.   His star would rise or fall with her performance, and he readily succumbed to her advances.

Word of their between-the-sheets activities was uncovered in the usual matter: by the press lurking and skulking about, buying inside information from hotel personnel, only too happy to earn an easy buck.   Neither Monroe nor Montand seemed at all concerned.

Neither was the studio.   Hoping a scandal would save the movie, they contributed to the gossip, sending columnist Hedda Hopper to interview Montand.  And he talked.

“I did everything I could to make things easier for her when I realized that mine was a very small part,” Montand told Hopper.  “The only thing that could stand out in my performance was my love scenes, so naturally I did everything I could to make them realistic.”

With these words, Montand might have saved his marriage, but Let’s Make Love is remembered as a flop.  Monroe, however, singing “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” was sensational.

© 2012 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved


Watch Yves Montand watching Marilyn Monroe sing “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.”


What Becomes a Legend Most?

What a history The Beverly Hills Hotel has had.  So many Hollywood legends stayed and played there it became a legend itself.

The Beverly Hills Hotel, 1925

In 1912 the hotel was built for $500,000 in the bean fields at the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains, halfway between Los Angeles and the sea.  The city of Beverly Hills developed around the property on Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Drive, incorporating two years later.

With newlyweds Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks taking up residence nearby in 1920, the Hollywood community began moving in.   Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Rudolph Valentino, and Tom Mix built fabulous homes in the area.  Gloria Swanson stayed there during a divorce, before relocating to a mansion across the street.

Movie stars took advantage of the hotel’s accommodations.  Following polo matches at Will Rogers’ ranch, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Gary Cooper, Tyrone Power, Walt Disney, and Darryl Zanuck imbibed at its bar, hence, the name the Polo Lounge.  Humphrey Bogart and the Rat Pack later followed suit.

The pool was another favorite hangout.  George Hamilton cultivated his tan, while Fred Astaire read the industry rags poolside. Faye Dunaway learned the crawl for her role in Mommy Dearest.

Others just relaxed or socialized.  A veritable who’s who in entertainment included Cary Grant, Lucille Ball, Esther Williams, Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin, and Carol Burnett.  The pool was opened late one night when the Beatles wanted to take a dip.

And then there were the famous bungalows.  Marilyn Monroe preferred numbers 1 and 7.  Howard Hughes stayed off and on for thirty years in Bungalow #4.  Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton frequently occupied Bungalow #5, with a standing order for two bottles of vodka at breakfast and two more at lunch.  That certainly juiced up the tempo.

So what becomes a legend most?  The perfect location, fun in the sun, beautiful people, and a touch of mink.

Celebrating its centennial this year, the hotel is rolling out the red carpet for all its guests.  In its promotional literature it promises “every visitor to ‘The Pink Palace’ is pampered like a celebrity.”  It’s just not likely that you’ll bump into a real celebrity.  They’ve moved on to the next hot spot.

© 2012 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved


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