The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel: The History & Scandals | Storied Hotels (2022)

Hollywood,with its historic glitz and glamour, is the quintessential home of the stars.It’s a place known for its intrigue, scandals, and the spot to be seen for therich and the famous. So, it would only make sense that during thebeginning ofHollywood’s Golden Age in the mid-1920s, to also take advantage of Los Angeles’Golden Era of architecture…by building a hotel fit for Hollywood royalty. Andthat’s exactly what Louis B. Mayer, Mary, Pickford, DouglasFairbanks, and SidGrauman, all power-players in the Hollywood industry, decided to do. Thus, The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel was born.

Named afterPresident Theodore Roosevelt, and located on the famously bustling HollywoodBoulevard right along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel openedfor business in May of 1927 and was designed to be aluxurious place to stayfor actors and actresses coming to Los Angeles from other parts of the countryto shoot their films.

As theoldest continually operating hotel in Los Angeles, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel hasdefinitely seen its share of history and scandals. From providing a place for aleading man’s extramarital affairs to being the starting point for a futureblonde bombshell’s illustrious career, there are plenty of stories to be toldfrom the walls of this historic hotel in the heart of Hollywood.

Birthplaceof the Academy Awards

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The 1929 Academy Awards. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Two yearsafter the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel opened, its opulent Blossom Ballroom hosted the veryfirst Academy Awards in 1929. It was a time when Hollywood was moving fromsilent films into “talkies,” or films with sound as well as goingfrom blackand white to Technicolor. Despite the move to a more progressive movieexperience, only silent films were allowed to be nominated, as the Academydeemed it was unfair for a movie with sound to compete with a silentpicture.

Theinaugural Academy Awards ceremony was nothing like the extravagant show put ontoday. In fact, the ceremony lasted only fifteen minutes, and it was the onlyAcademy Awards ceremony that wasn’t able to be heard on the radioor seen ontelevision. That changed the following year when a radio broadcast of theawards program was introduced in 1930. And what film garnered the very firstbest picture prize as well as being the only silent film to ever win anAcademyAward? That would be “Wings,” a film set during the first World War, which atthe time was the most expensive film ever made, with a budget of two milliondollars!

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel: Home toHollywood’s Most Famous Blonde

There’s noquestion the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel has seen its fair share of Hollywood stars. And itdoesn’t get any more famous than Hollywood’s “blonde bombshell,” MarilynMonroe. She called the Roosevelt hotel home for two years,staying in asecond-floor room with a balcony overlooking the pool. And it was at that verypool where Marilyn snagged her first professional photo shoot. Of course, shelater went on to become one of the most famous actresses ofall time, but itcan be said that she stayed at the Roosevelt before she hit it big. Guests whoare big fans of Marilyn can stay in her suite. Room #229, or the Marilyn Suiteas it’s called, will definitely give fans a feel of Monroe’s earlycareer.

Suite Fitfor a Hollywood Affair

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Clark Gable and Carole Lombard The Roosevelt

Forget TomCruise and Brad Pitt, one of Hollywood’s original heartthrobs was Clark Gable.Sometimes referred to as the “King of Hollywood,” Gable was probably best knownfor his roles as Rhett Butler in “Gone with the Wind” andPeter Warne in “ItHappened One Night,” with the latter role earning him his first and only AcademyAward for best actor.

CaroleLombard was a Hollywood star in her own right. In fact, she was the highestpaid actress of her time when she and Gable met on the set of 1932’s “No Man ofHer Own.” Both actors had a strictly professional workingrelationship on set,and both were married. It wasn’t until four years later when the twore-connected at Hollywood’s annual Mayfair Ball, that they began their affair(Gable was still married at the time).

So wherewould two of Hollywood’s elite carry out their hidden romance…at theRoosevelt Hotel, of course! In fact, the twelfth-floor room today is currentlyknown as the Gable-Lombard suite. However, be prepared to spend quite aconsiderable bit more than the five dollars per night rate Gable had to payback in the 30s. He and Lombard continued their affair for many years untilGable finalized their divorce and the pair later got married.

Tap-Dancinginto History

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There havebeen many iconic pairings throughout Hollywood’s history. And in the 30s, whocould forget the famous pair of the adorable Shirley Temple and the incrediblytalented Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.While the two starred infour films together, it’s 1935’s “The LittleColonel” that has ties to the Roosevelt Hotel.Rumor has it that Robinson taught Shirley Temple the steps to the famous“staircase dance” sequence on the hotel’s stairs leading up to thelobby to theMezzanine level.Whether there’s truthto the rumor or not, it’s still pretty cool realizing that such a talented pairmay have perfected one of their routines on the steps of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

Ghosts ofHollywood Past

Like allhistoric hotels, stories of ghosts and hauntings are very frequent when itcomes to stays at the Roosevelt Hotel. And that may be a good or badthing…depending on how big of a fan of the paranormal one is. Don’t be afraidthough, most have stayed at the Roosevelt without running into any of itsrumored ghosts. But for those in search of a ghostly encounter, it may be the perfecthotel choice.

Chances areif a celebrity has stayed at the Hollywood Roosevelt, their ghost has been seen at somepoint by those staying there. However, there are a few who tend to make morerepeated appearances. Actor Montgomery Clift, who stayedat the Roosevelt forthree months while filming the acclaimed film “From Here to Eternity,” wasknown to roam the halls rehearsing his lines and practicing his bugle for therole. And apparently, his ghost does the same thing. It’s saidthat his room(room #928) is haunted by the actor as well as the hallways of the ninth flooroutside of his room.

Of course,since Marylin Monroe spent so much time at the Roosevelt, her ghost has beenreported hanging around the hotel as well. Her ghost has been reported numeroustimes in and around her hotel suite, especially around thepool where she shother first modeling gig. There’s also reports of a full-length mirror that usedto be in her suite reflecting the image of Monroe back to unsuspecting guests.

ActressCarole Lombard’s life ended tragically in a plane crash a while after she andClark Gable got married. So, it might make sense that her ghost has also beenspotted on the twelfth floor of the Roosevelt since that’s where sheand Gablecarried out their secret romance.

The famousBlossom Ballroom has also had its fair share of creepy and unsettling sightingsand occurrences. Some have said they’ve seen a man dressed in a tuxedo roamingaround the ballroom. Though the identity of the man isunknown, it’s been saidthat he may have been nominated for an Academy Award and is still looking forhis lost golden statue. Other unexplained happenings include the feel ofchilled air in certain spots around the room.

A Poolwith Prized Artwork

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TheRoosevelt has undergone many renovations during its long existence on HollywoodBoulevard. And one of those renovations turned the hotel’s famed pool into awork of art. In 1988, British pop artist David Hockney wascommissioned topaint the Roosevelt’s pool bottom. So, he covered it with blue “squiggles” thatseem to come to life and dance whenever someone dives in or splashed around thepool. And now this piece of art at the bottom of ahotel’s pool is valued atover one million dollars!

Standingthe Test of Time

The Hollywood Roosevelt may be Los Angeles’ oldest continually running hotel, but there was apoint where it may have never been able to claim that title. The hotel changedownership many times over the years, with it eventually falling intodisrepair.By the 80s, the Spanish Colonial tiles in the main lobby had been blanketed bycarpet and original paintings on the ceiling had been covered. But thankfullythe hotel was saved from being demolished and when RadissonHotels purchasedthe Roosevelt in 1985, they worked from original blueprints and historicphotos to renovate the hotel back to its Spanish Colonial architecturalorigins.

In 1991, thecity of Los Angeles deemed the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel a Los Angeles Historic-CulturalMonument, permanently saving it from the threats of demolition. The hotel hadhad several more owners and renovations over the years,with the latest onebeing in 2015 with updated and more modernized rooms. But even with itsmodernization, the history-rich Roosevelt will always have its tales ofHollywood to tell.

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Stephanie Meyer

Stephanie is a freelance travel and content writer with a background in screenwriting. She’s written numerous travel-based articles, travel guides, and web content for travel-related sites. When she’s not busy with her writing, she’s seeking out her next travel adventure. So far, those adventures have taken her to South Africa, Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong, and The Philippines...where she currently resides amidst the coconut palms, typhoons, and her many dogs.

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