Hollywood, Chateau Marmon, John Belushi discussed on Weekend Edition Saturday
I'm Scott Simon. What happens at the Chateau Marmon stays at the Chateau mom until Shawn Levy's, new book, the castle on sunset life death. Love art and scandal at Hollywood Chateau Mont rolls out the history of Hollywood, most hideaway the scene of innumerable assignations binges debauchery and Volve in some of the film industry's most famous names, Jean Harlow, Howard Hughes, Marilyn Monroe, Jim Morrison, Johnny Depp, Lindsay, Lohan, PJ Liederman, who writes our theme music. And I'm just getting started Shawn Levy, an accomplished by film critic, joins us Now, Sean, thanks so much for being with us. Thank you. How does the Chateau books fit in to and stand above the Hollywood landscape? Well physically it actually stands above the sunset strip. It's right on the eastern edge of the strip on a rise, and it's situated a curve. So if you come toward it from the east from Hollywood into West Hollywood, it kind of disappears. The road takes. Hawaii from it before you quite register it spiritually, it's been sort of a hideaway was built as an apartment house. So for decades it didn't have the amenities and public spaces of a hotel and each unit was very self enclosed with a kitchen in your own private entrance in some cases. So it's been sort of an open secret. It's right there in plain sight. But yet, it's very private locale, let me ask you about one of the names from the early days to nNcholas Ray the film director. I have always thought of him as kind of aloof in moody, almost prohibitively cerebral. But he was a party animal, isn't it? He lived a Chatto month for six years, and during that time he made a lot of films. And he also entertained a lot of guests. He threw a regular Sunday afternoon Suare that began at the swimming pool and ended in his bungalow with you Bongos and refer it being the mid fifties. And during that time he wrote cast rehearsed and directed rebel without a cause and much of his cast came around to his hotel. He was sexually involved with his stars Natalie wood and sell many, oh, both of whom were underage, and what's amazing to me in this day and age is that people knew what was going on in nineteen fifty four and nobody's sorta blinked at it. Tab hunter Anthony Perkins met by the pool in the days when it would have been dangerous for both of their careers to meet almost anywhere. Yeah. The swimming pool was built in nineteen forty eight and was the only public place at the hotel again. It didn't have a restaurant or bar, and it became sort of a party spot for gay Hollywood. The hotel had this reputation for discretion. So when Tony Perkins was staying there. He was introduced to tab hunter and they began a two year relationship, they double dated they had starlets on their arms, but they were sitting next to each other at all these events. And this kind of a bittersweet romance, I think tab was really in love and Tony was kind of a career guy and one role came up that they both wanted, Tony took it and ran. The sad story of John Belushi, I think, is essential to the legend of this hotel and raise some sharp questions for me. He checked into the hotel gathered last February nineteen eighty two. He wanted to work on the film, but was kind of coming apart, wasn't he? He was using cocaine at he had started using heroin because he was in his words researching the role as a punk rocker and wanted to do the method thing, I don't know if he was enabled by people, but the people who were best able to control, or, or at least protect him more back east and they were trying to get him back east, but he was working on at least two film projects, and he was sort of running amuck. He was not shaving or bathing. He wasn't eating properly people like Robert deniro, Robin Williams. Harry dean, Stanton were in and out of his bungalow using drugs with him. And he was administered by a woman who pled guilty to the crime fatal dose of heroin and cocaine. And this raises questions to me about the what happens at the Chateau Marmon stays at the Chateau Mont. Because famous names were coming and going. Everyone knew that John Belushi was doing hard drugs and his bungalow, by the way, those are legal as well as self destructive is the report when leaving guests to their own business becomes negligent. The hotel was not charged with negligence and the LA district attorney was certainly out for scalps at the time, we don't even know what happens when someone is over served in a bar and goes out and Rex their car, we're still not holding bartenders responsible. I think it's similar case and in the hospitality business. If you're seeing to be monitoring the activities of your guests, you might wind up bankrupt because people won't stay there. Ironically. Or, or incongruously is it Baluchis death? That fixed the shadows reputation in the firmament of Hollywood misbehavior. Absolutely. When Belushi died suddenly people who had driven passed it every day for their whole lives and not quite known what it was new exactly what it was. And some people requested to stay in Baluchis bungalow the artist Joe Michel Basquiat who himself died of an overdose. Rick James who was always seemingly in trouble with drugs and alcohol. So for the to the chagrin of ownership and yet to their financial security because the hotel was kind of wobbly in its finances at that time it wound up cemented, the place in the public consciousness and business Goond relatively few rooms at the Chateau marmot. What's it like to stay there? If say you're a proctology from Springfield, Illinois. There are sixty three rooms and they start at about six hundred bucks a night so successful. Illinois and the six hundred dollar room is barely big enough for the bed and the legs. Thank you need to walk around it. They've done a wonderful job of suggesting luxurious passed from the nineteen forties or fifties. That actually never existed, back in those days, it was a cheap hotel today. It's a luxury hotel screenwriters used to stay there for months at a time. No screenwriter could afford to do that today. I need is quite opulent, very beautiful, and any reason to think could be J, Liederman wrote, our theme music has ever been a guest there. I can't see why not it's for the creatives as well as the Neons. Shawn Levy, his book, the castle on sunset life death. Love art and scandal at Hollywood Chateau mama. Thanks so much for being with us. Thank you before television before the ater net. There were radio soap operas from the nineteen thirties, the nineteen fifties, Cuba, exported, more radio serials than any other nation in the Spanish, speaking world. Even Fidel Castro was a fan after his revolution Cuban immigration, Miami began to make their own original Spanish language radio soap operas better known as radio novellas now to lane. University is digitizing large collection of those programs. Gwen Tompkins has more on these Cold War. Soups. The Latin American library at two lane has some of the earliest written materials ever circulated in the western hemisphere. They've got a letter dated fifteen twenty one and signed by the Spanish conquistadors, and our non Cortes. But some of the oldest stories in the world are here on reel.