Seeing Stars: The Hotels of the Stars..



9876 Wilshire Boulevard,
Beverly Hills, CA. / (310) 274-7777 or (800) HILTONS.



This large hotel on Wilshire Boulevard opened on August 12, 1955. It was built by Conrad Hilton, former husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor. (According to the Hollywood Reporter, Zsa Zsa still got to stay at Hilton hotels for half price, even after her divorce.)

For years, the Beverly Hilton was owned by entertainer
Merv Griffin, the former talk-show host and singer, who made a vast fortune producing such popular TV shows as "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune."

The Beverly Hilton is the site of the annual Golden Globe Awards show each January (which brings out every major star in Hollywood, from Mel Gibson to Jerry Seinfeld); and it hosted the very first Grammy Awards night.

JFKThe hotel served as the Western White House when President John F. Kennedy was in town.

And in March of 2009, during his first post-election visit to L.A. (when he appeared on "The Tonight Show"), President Barack Obama Whitney Houstonstayed at the Beverly Hilton, taking over the top two floors. His advisers spent the evening at the Trader Vic's lounge. He returned in August 2010 during a pre-election fundraiser.

On the afternoon of February 11, 2012, singing legend Whitney Houston was found dead in her fourth floor room at the Beverly Hilton.

A month later, the cause of death was reported to be accidental drowning in a hotel bathtub, the result of cocaine use and heart disease.


Two weeks before Academy Award night, the Hilton hosts the annual dinner for the Oscar nominees, an event which attracts some of the biggest names in Tinseltown.

   

Each year, the hotel also hosts the Moving Picture Ball, the Cinematheque’s major annual fund-raiser, attracting more than 1,000 guests annually and generating roughly $1 million to support its programs In 1999, the 14th annual Ball was held on Saturday, October 9th, and featured Jody Foster as the guest of honor. Previous Moving Picture Balls have brought out stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Robin Williams, John Travolta, Jay Leno, Olivia Newton-John, Dustin Hoffman, Sean Penn, Kelly Preston, and others. (Tickets to the Ball are available, at a price; see the page about American Cinematheque.)

Other stars spotted at the hotel recently include Johnny Mathis, Carol Channing, Martin Scorsese, and Madonna.

The hotel contains "The Stardust" (formerly known as "L'Escoffier"), a dressy, three-star restaurant on the eighth floor with a wonderful view of nearby Century City. (Rumor has it that Merv bought the hotel to be sure that he always had his favorite table at "L'Escoffier".)

Another popular restaurant at the Hilton was the camp Polynesian "Trader Vic's". In 2000, for instance, Trader Vic's after-parties saw such celebs as Kevin Spacey, Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise, Matt Damon, Claudia Schiffer, Harrison Ford, Jodie Foster and Russell Crowe. Nancy Sinatra had said that that Trader Vic's was one of her favorite hangouts - she loved their eggrolls. According to actor George Hamilton, "The bar is a place where, in an evening, you'll invariably see five or six major stars hide their girlfriends. It's so dark, and there are two entrances, so you can exit without having people see you."

But in 2007, the hotel quietly closed Trader Vic's, and opened a much smaller "Trader Vic's Lounge", a poolside cafe offering the same tropical drinks. Things are about to change at the intersection of Wilshire and Santa Monica.

Current plans call for the addition of the West Coast's first Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on the Hilton property.  The new hotel offer 120 rooms, while the old Beverly Hilton itself (which has over 400 rooms) recently underwent an $80 million renovation, and plans call for the addition of new gardens and open space. Each of the two hotels will have its own entrance, but will both be run by the same company.

And right next door to the Hilton (to the west), plans call for the construction of two huge condo towers to replace the old Robinsons-May building on Wilshire.

The hotel boasts 581 deluxe guest rooms, 90 suites, a large marble lobby, and an international ballroom that can accommodate up to 1,400 guests. Rooms (and suites) are $255 to $660, plus a Presidential Suite which rents for $4,000 a night.

In 1998, owner Merv Griffin opened the Coconut Club, a recreation of a posh Old Hollywood nightclub, complete with Big Band music and swing dancing, which has its own celebrity following.

Yet another reason to stop by the Beverly Hilton is the annual Oscar contenders’ luncheon. Held each year, two weeks before the Oscar night, the luncheon is organized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences to honor all Oscar nominees, hand out certificates of nomination, and shoot a "class photo" of this year's group. And virtually all of the nominees show up for the free lunch, as well as technical nominees such as scriptwriters and movie set designers.

Other celebs seen at the hotel's former Coconut Club included Tom Cruise, Melaine Griffith, Antonio Banderas, Jack Lemmon, Neve Campbell, Michael Jackson, Robert Duval, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Olivia Newton-John, John Voight, Leslie Ann Warren, Tori Spelling, Jerry Lewis, Penny Marshall, Tony Danza, Regis & Joy Philbin, Angela Bassett, Armand Assante, Shirley Jones, Mark Wahlberg,Don Knotts, Vanna White, Mel Brooks & Anne Bancroft, Martin Landau, Gabriel Byrne, James Coburn, Jackie Collins, Jon Lovitz, Lou Rawls, Ted Danson & Mary Steenbergen, Edward James Olmos, Angie Dickenson, Barbara EdenRobert Vaughn, Faith Ford & Hugh Hefner.

Getting there: The hotel is located at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard. To reach the Beverly Hilton from Rodeo Drive, go south on Rodeo to Wilshire Boulevard. Turn right (west) on Wilshire, and go about a half mile west to Santa Monica Boulevard. The hotel will be on your left (south) side.


[For more information on the hotel, you can access the Beverly Hilton's official website at: http://www.hilton.com/hotels/LAXBHHH

[For more information about the Coconut Club, see Merv's own website at: http://mervgriffin.com.]







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Copyright  2014-Gary Wayne
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