On September 12, 2012, the Beverly Hills Hotel became Beverly Hill’s very first historical landmark. The hotel kicked off the anniversary with a celebration of its 100 years in the city, and a retrospective of its guests throughout the years. As you can imagine, the people that have walked its hallways have all been part of the rich, famous and powerful, but even these folks are not exempt from drama and controversy. Therefore, I’ve taken the opportunity to highlight some of the more interesting anecdotes to occur behind the walls of the Beverly Hills Hotel and its infamous bungalows.
Paul McCartney & Linda Eastman’s First Love Tryst
It’s no secret that Paul and Linda McCartney had one of the greatest romances of all time, but did you know that it all started in a Beverly Hills Hotel bungalow? In May of 1968, amidst relationship woes with his then fiancée, Jane Asher, Paul escaped to a press junket in New York with fellow Beatle, John Lennon. Though Paul had met Linda previously (at a bar in London) it was during this trip that he spent more time with her and made a much stronger connection. She was photographing a reception at the Americana Hotel when she saw Paul and went over to say hello. Though he was on his way to the airport, he asked her to ride with him in his limo; after the ride she left him with her number, scrawled on the back of one of her checks. Flash forward to later that year when Paul had to fly out to L.A. for a Capitol Records sales conference. Before leaving, he left Linda a message on her machine letting her know he was renting a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and she was invited. The trip was as much pleasure as business, evidenced by the drinking, partying, and women sauntering in and out of the bungalow. Even then unknown actress Peggy Lipton was lurking around the hotel grounds for a chance to run into Paul again. This debauchery came to a halt when Linda Eastman came knocking at the door, unannounced. Paul was happy to see her; the two locked themselves in a room and didn’t come out for a while. They spent an entire day together on a luxurious yacht, and they were inseparable for the rest of the trip. Though they didn’t immediately become a couple after this trip, one might say the seeds of romance were planted.
Howard Hughes’ Suffers a Serious Mental Breakdown
In the summer of 1958, Howard Hughes moved into Bungalow 4 at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and proceeded to have one of his most damaging mental breakdowns. His obsessive-compulsive behavior had worsened; he spent all day sitting naked on a white leather chair, obsessing over germs and rituals, as his body remained unwashed and his nails grew grotesquely long. He had even shut women out of his life, including then wife Jean Peters. His staff had to follow strict rules and instructions so that they attended to his needs in exactly the way he wanted. His employees constantly received memorandums on mundane tasks like washing cans or bringing him food. If any of his staff got sick, they were put in isolation and asked to work from home to avoid contaminating Hughes. The phone became Hughes’ lifeline and only connection with friends and colleagues, as he was terrified of their germs. Rather than tell Hughes he needed help, everyone around him indulged him in his delusions and he dove deeper into his compulsions. It was during this period that, after fifteen years of owning TWA, he lost controlling interest in the airline after failing to acquire the financing he needed. It was one of the darker moments in Hughes’ life.
Marilyn Monroe Preps for the Golden Globes
There is no shortage of stories about Marilyn Monroe and the Beverly Hills Hotel. She was a staple at the hotel; a variety of fancy Hollywood dinners, meetings and visits while filming kept her on the premises constantly. However, the story that I found most interesting took place the night of the Golden Globe Awards in 1960. Photographer Sam Shaw had been summoned to Marilyn’s bungalow in the Beverly Hills Hotel. When he walked into the bungalow’s living room, he encountered three silent people, including Marilyn’s then husband Arthur Miller. Shaw describes the awkwardness and tension in the room. Miller had been in the middle of finishing a new draft of The Misfits so he seemed distracted and distant as he sat there and ate his dinner. Finally, Shaw heard Marilyn’s voice call to him from her bathroom. When he entered, he found her in a waterless tub completely filled with ice cubes. Marilyn explained that the ice was to keep her body, “up and firm” for the big night. Shaw recounts the most unforgettable image of the evening being Arthur Miller, the great playwright, carrying the train of Marilyn’s gown as she walked out to the car. That night she would win the Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy, for her role in Some Like it Hot.
Orson Welles and Gary Graver’s First Meeting
You might not know the name Gary Graver, but you’ve most certainly heard of Orson Welles. Graver was Welles’ cinematographer for several years, but did you know it all started as a result of a cold call put through to Welles’ bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel? The scene, as retold by Graver himself, sounds almost comical and unreal, but it was the beginning of one of the greatest friendships and working relationships in cinematic history. On July 4th, 1970, Graver called the Beverly Hills Hotel reception desk, asked for Orson Welles, and got patched through! At first, Graver thought he was getting the brush-off when Welles asked for his name and number and told him he’d call him back, but then he called him back later that same day! He asked Graver to come down to his bungalow immediately, and when Graver arrived, Welles was in a robe. They had begun discussing his latest project when Welles spontaneously grabbed Graver by the shoulders and threw him down to the floor. Apparently, actress Ruth Gordon was peeking through the window and Welles was trying to avoid her so he could continue speaking with Graver. After hiding out for a bit, Graver and Welles got back to business and came to an arrangement. From then on, Graver became a regular visitor to the bungalow. He would go on to work on several shows and movies with Welles including, The Other Side of the Wind and, The Orson Welles Show.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Elba Flamenco loves everything about the city. She’s a YouTube junkie, reader, writer and foodie. What she loves most about L.A. is that every outing, even for the most mundane of tasks, can result in learning something new about the city. It’s just fucking cool here.