Golden Globes hotel has a dramatic past

Pink-painted elephants, bathing suit beauties and -- Richard Nixon? It's the sort of combination you can find only in Hollywood. All three were present at the opening of the Beverly Hilton Hotel in 1955. Since then this Beverly Hills landmark has hosted Hollywood's and Washington's elite -- and its drama.

"No grand hotel is a grand hotel without a touch of sleaze," quips Stephen Galloway of The Hollywood Reporter. "And the Hilton has delivered." From former Sen. John Edwards, who was discovered there with his mistress, to Heidi Fleiss, the so-called Hollywood madam whose alleged prostitutes were caught in an undercover sting at the hotel, many public figures have stories that haunt the Hilton's halls.

But there's a shiny side to the hotel as well. The Beverly Hilton boasts more than 100 red carpet events each year, including the People Magazine Awards, the Daytime Emmy Awards, the Oscar nominees luncheon and the Golden Globes.

"For a tourist coming in, it's the buzz of that red carpet," said hotel manager Michael Robertson. "You don't get to see that anywhere else." Of course, the drama and glitter are often connected. It was before music mogul Clive Davis' pre-Grammy party in 2012 that Whitney Houston was found dead in her room at the Hilton. "In today's world, when a lot of people think of the Beverly Hilton, they think of Whitney Houston," Galloway said. "It has become a defining thing for (the hotel)."

Management stays away from discussing the hotel's Hollywood travails. But like it or not, the Beverly Hilton Hotel has hosted high drama for decades. "John F. Kennedy was rumored to have had liaisons there," Galloway notes. "Who knows how many were true and how many were false?"

(There's more evidence Kennedy conducted normal presidential business there. In fact, a photo of Kennedy at the Hilton is hanging on the hotel wall. The President frequently arrived by helicopter, which a hotel spokesperson says landed on the roof of the hotel's parking garage.)

Fellow politician Richard Nixon also delivered his famed "last press conference" at the hotel, after losing the race for California governor in 1962. With his political future in doubt, he told the press "you won't have Nixon to kick around anymore."

Nixon went on to become president, but "this turning point in (his) life -- and it could have been the end of his political career -- happened at the Hilton," Galloway says.

The Beverly Hilton hasn't always been a hip spot in Hollywood. When Nixon, then vice president, helped open the Beverly Hilton, he declared it "magical." But the luster and intrigue of the hotel had begun to wane by the time Merv Griffin bought the property in 1987.

The former producer and talk show host poured money, and himself, into the hotel. With his Hollywood influence, the facade once again shined.

"He made a big impact on the hotel with the entertainment world," said Robertson. "He had his table by the pool; he was out there every day and you never knew who was going to come have lunch with him." Today at the same pool, just days before the 72nd annual Golden Globes, tourists wander around, hoping for a glimpse of a star. On this day it's not meant to be; only stagehands buzz around, readying the International Ballroom for the awards telecast.

But no one seems to mind because they're staying at the Beverly Hilton. And when there are no actors around, the hotel itself -- and all its history -- easily plays the starring role. "Hollywood is a world most people don't live in," Robertson notes. "If only for a moment, this is their chance to experience it."


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