Tag: 8221 Sunset Blvd.

Seen on the Sunset Strip: Liberace and the 40 Foot Vegas Showgirl

Pianist Liberace, hoisted by crane above Sahara Hotel billboard on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, Calif., 1966

From the Los Angeles Times, June 23, 1966:

LIGHT TOUCH-Pianist Liberace uses a Tiki torch to symbolically light a 4-foot-high replica of his trademark candelabra, held by the rotating female statue atop the Sahara Hotel billboard on the Sunset Strip. Liberace was hoisted 60 feet for the stunt, designed to publicize his new two-year, $500,000 contract with the Las Vegas hotel.

The showgirl billboard stood at the Hollywood end of the Strip, adjacent to the Chateau Marmont Hotel.

Montgomery Clift Recuperates at the Chateau Marmont after Disfiguring Accident during Filming of ‘Raintree County’

The car Montgomery Clift was driving when he drove off a hill on Tower Road

Clift, circa 1956

In 1956, Montgomery Clift checked into the Chateau Marmont to recuperate from a near-fatal automobile accident that occurred while he was in production on “Raintree County.” The accident occurred as he was leaving a dinner party at the home of his co-star and close friend, Elizabeth Taylor, at the top of Tower Road in Beverly Hills. He apparently missed a turn in the winding street and drove his car over a steep embankment. Taylor and her party arrived on the scene before the ambulance got there, and Taylor herself scrambled down the hill to the car. She found that Clift was unable to breath and stuck her fingers down his throat to remove the obstruction, which turned out to be his broken teeth. After several plastic surgeries and months of recuperation, Clift completed “Raintree County,” which was, unfortunately, a flop.

How Did Chateau Marmont Get Its Name?

Chateau Marmont today, inset: Percy Marmont

The architecture of the Chateau Marmont Hotel is said to have been based on a chateau in the Loire Valley, and although the hotel’s name may sound French, it was named “Chateau Marmont” because it was built on Marmont Lane.

How Marmont Lane got its name is another story. It was named for a popular Silent-era film star, Percy Marmont, a Brit who worked in Hollywood for a while. Here’s a snippet about him from his bio at Silents Are Golden:

The six foot tall, good looking Percy Marmont got into films at just the right time, I would guess, because his career seems to have rocketed after his first appearance at 32 years old. By the time he left Hollywood in 1928, he had done around 50 films and had a Hollywood street named after him, Marmont Lane, forking off Sunset Boulevard and leading to the infamous Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood. The Marmont opened on February 1, 1929, at 8221 Sunset Boulevard and was built to resemble a Gothic chateau … The opening date for the Chateau precludes our Percy having stayed there on a permanent basis, although I have no doubt he did on occasion, if only to reflect on how well things were going for him.

What’s oblique now is who decided to name the street after Percy Marmont and, particularly, why. If anyone knows, please share.

Marmont continued to act after he moved back to England. In the video above, he plays Colonel Burgoyne in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1937 film “Young and Innocent.” Marmont would have been about 54 years old at the time.

His Wikipedia bio says he was born in 1883, died in 1977, and that “He appeared in over 80 films between 1916 and 1968. He is best remembered today for playing the title character in Lord Jim (1925) the first film version of Joseph Conrad’s novel, and for playing one of Clara Bow’s love interests in the Paramount Pictures film Mantrap (1926).”

Originally published on SunsetStript.com.

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