REVIEW by Willard Manus
in question is the Chateau Marmont, the funky Hollywood hotel which became
notorious when John Belushi died there of an overdose in 1982.
That wasn't the first scandal to have taken place at the Chateau, whose
history goes back a hundred years. Standing on a hillside overlooking
Sunset Boulevard, the Chateau, as author Shawn Levy said, "has appeared,
from the day it opened, as if it came from another world entirely."
Architecture critic Edgardo Contini added, "The Chateau is a fluke,
a marvelous fluke. In the midst of endless low-rise, it is a striking
high-rise, like a cathedral in a medieval town."
In its early years, The Chateau "didn't get nearly the attention
from Hollywood as did other Los Angeles-area hotels. The Beverly Hills
Hotel, the Beverly Wilshire, the Ambassador, and the Roosevelt all enjoyed
more prominent names--not to mention more deluxe accommodations and amenities,"
writes Levy. "The Chateau was still chiefly a haven for Southern
California aristocracy. Even the gossip coming out of the place had less
to do with film people than with blue bloods."
in the 1930s when such luminaries as Jean Harlow, Lloyd Bacon, Gregg Toland
and Billy Wilder moved into The Chateau. Soon the hotel became something
of a Hollywood haven, "a place where conventional moral judgement
held little or no sway, where guests' proclivities for sex or booze or
drugs or unusual work habits weren't merely abided, as they might be at
a decorous hotel, but actually accepted, where queer guests and guests
with adventurous lifestyles and guests who banged on pianos or typewriters
at odd hours and guests who cavorted more than they worked were considered
not troublesome invaders but welcome kin."
Over the years The Chateau became more and more infamous. It was where
Harlow took lovers during her third honeymoon, Nicholas Ray slept with
16-year-old Natalie Wood, Anthony Perkins and Tab Hunter met pool-side
and began a secret affair, and where Jim Morrison hung by his fingertips
from a balcony.
You can find all of these stories within the confines of this juicy, gossipy,
bawdy book. It's no surprise that it has become a best-seller.