The Hollywood Roosevelt

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Discover the Hollywood Roosevelt, the luxurious Los Angeles hotel that hosted the very first Academy Awards.

The Hollywood Roosevelt, a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2016, dates back to 1927.

One of the most celebrated structures along Hollywood Boulevard, the Hollywood Roosevelt has been one of Los Angeles’ most luxurious holiday destinations for more than a century. This fantastic historic hotel was the brainchild of several prominent film industry professionals active in Hollywood at the height of the Roaring Twenties: actor Douglas Fairbanks and his second wife, movie star Mary Pickford; legendary movie producer Louis B. Mayer; and the owner of the famed TCL Chinese Theater, Sid Grauman. The group selected a lot directly across from the TCL Chinese Theatre as the site of their nascent hotel. Costing some $2.5 million to construct, the building took nearly a year to complete. When it did finally debut, the hotel showcased some of the finest Spanish Colonial Revival-style architecture in the entire city. The group decided to name their new hotel “The Hollywood Roosevelt,” in honor of former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.

The Hollywood Roosevelt quickly endeared itself among the city’s many movies stars, as dozens wound up staying at the location as soon as it opened. Clarke Gable and Carole Lombard often frequented a penthouse on the hotel’s 12th floor, spending an average of five dollars a night—roughly $90 dollars today. Their meetings were kept completely private, since Gable was still married to actress Rhea Langham. Shirley Temple also took her first tap-dancing lessons with the great Bill “Bojangles” Robinsons at The Hollywood Roosevelt. The two were reportedly practicing along the Spanish-titled steps just beyond the lobby’s front door. Marylin Monroe even lived at the hotel for some time during the 1940s, when various Hollywood executives contracted with her to star in various movies. Her room overlooking the Tropicana Pool on the 2nd floor is commemorated today as the “Marilyn Suite.” Yet, the hotel’s greatest connection to Hollywood was its role in hosting the very first Academy Award ceremony in 1929.

The hotel fell on hard times during the 1950s, though, with various owners concealing much of the original architecture over the course of various renovations. Radisson Hotels then acquired the site in 1985 and began an extensive refurbishment of the entire hotel that sought to restore it to its former glory. The company spent close to $35 million dollars to reinvigorate the original Spanish Colonial Revival design aesthetics that had become stagnant. The Hollywood Roosevelt is now fully owned and operated once again as an independent hotel. Today, the building is among the most recognizable landmarks in downtown Hollywood. Guests today can still glimpse some of Hollywood’s elite slip in-and-out of the hotel’s various suites. The City of Los Angeles even designated the hotel as a “Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument” for its close historic connection to Hollywood’s vaunted history. The U.S. Department of the Interior has also identified it as a major contributing structure in the Hollywood Boulevard Commercial and Entertainment District.

  • About the Location +

    Located across from the famous TCL Chinese Theatre, The Hollywood Roosevelt resides in the heart of downtown Hollywood. It specifically sits near the world-famous Hollywood Boulevard and its celebrated Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Hollywood Boulevard itself was originally called “Prospect Avenue,” until real estate developer Charles E. Toberman decided to transform it into a vibrant theatre district during the 1920s. Working alongside Sid Grauman, Toberman developed several theaters and concert halls, including the TCL Chinese Theatre, the Egyptian Theatre, and the El Captain Theatre. Toberman also played a role in constructing a number of other structures, too, such as the Hollywood Masonic Temple and the Max Factor Building. Hollywood Boulevard quickly became the center of the neighborhood, with countless movie stars frequenting its shops and restaurants. To commemorate the thoroughfare’s symbolic association to the Los Angeles film industry, E.M. Stuart of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce spearheaded an effort to create a special monument in its honor in 1953. Stuart and his fellow chamber members worked closely with the Anesco Construction Company to create what they called the “Hollywood Walk of Fame,” which would consist of installing shiny brass stars along the boulevard’s sidewalk. Each star would feature the name of a prominent person affiliated with the local film industry. Today, the Hollywood Walk of Fame extends for some 15 blocks and contains over 2,600 stars. The entire area is protected as a National Register of Historic Places District by the U.S. Department of the Interior.


  • About the Architecture +

    When the group of Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pitchford, Louis B. Mayer, and Sid Grauman decided to construct a luxurious boutique hotel in downtown Hollywood, they wanted it to be the best. For the project, they hired the architectural firm Fisher, Lake & Traver. The architects developed the building based on the principles of Spanish Colonial Revival-style architecture. They designed the hotel with an asymmetrical T-shaped layout that extended 12 stories up into the air. Build with concrete, the building displayed such beautiful architectural features, such as wrought iron balconies, pierced gills, arched windows separated by columnettes. It also contained Churrigueresque ornamentations throughout the façade. Fisher, Lake & Traver topped the building off with a gorgeous red roof. In all, it took nearly a year and some $2.5 million to complete. When the hotel was finally ready to open in May of 1927, the group chose to name it “The Hollywood Roosevelt” after former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.

    Yet, the architectural beauty of The Hollywood Roosevelt declined significantly in the 1950s, when various owners attempted to “modernize” the hotel. In their haste to make the building more palatable to contemporary travelers, they concealed its most distinguishing architectural features. Owners around this time even coated the entire façade in a paint of seafoam green. Fortunately, salvation arrived in the form of Radisson Hotels in 1985, which invested $35 million in restoring The Hollywood Roosevelt back to its original appearance. Using the blueprints drafted by Fisher, Lake & Traver, Radisson managed to salvage the ornate Spanish Colonial Revival design aesthetics. Much of its work focused specifically on restoring the guestrooms, as well as the interior lobby. Radisson Hotels also hired the renowned British painter David Hockney to create a magnificent mural inside the hotel Tropicana Pool. The Hollywood Roosevelt has since undergone several other renovations in 2005 and 2015.


  • Famous Historic Events +

    First Academy Awards Ceremony (1929): Known more commonly as “The Oscars,” the Academy Awards have been a fixture in American pop culture for nearly a century. People across the nation watch every year to see their favorite actors and actresses recognized for their wonderful talents. This prestigious award ceremony originally began back in 1929, when the very first Academy Award ceremony was held at The Hollywood Roosevelt. Yet, the very idea of such an event was born two years prior, when Louis B. Mayer established the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (otherwise known as the AMPAS). A prominent movie producer and co-founder of MGM studios, Mayer had long wished to find a way to unite the different branches of the film industry together. He decided that the best strategy was to create a luxurious annual award ceremony that would collectively celebrate their work. According to Mayer himself: “I found that the best way to handle filmmakers was to hang medals all over them…If I got them cups and awards, they'd kill them to produce what I wanted. That's why the Academy Award was created.” He subsequently tasked the art director at MGM—Cedric Gibbons—to design the trophy that the various winners would receive, eventually creating the famous Oscar Statuette. Selections for the First Academy Awards began in early February, with the selection process taking several months to complete.

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences chose the Hollywood Roosevelt to serve as the venue for the award ceremony. The event itself consisted of an exquisite banquet attended by 270 people. Tickets cost five dollars a person, roughly equivalent to $75 in today’s money. Hollywood’s most celebrated stars arrived in all sorts of luxurious cars and were greeted by swarms of adoring fans as they made their way inside the hotel. Yet, the ceremony was not broadcasted live either on radio or television. Instead, the president of the AMPAS—actor Douglas Fairbanks—announced all of the award-winners during a brief 15-minute ceremony. In total, 12 different awards were given out for the following categories: Outstanding Picture, Best Unique and Artistic Picture, Best Directing (Comedy Picture), Best Directing (Dramatic Picture), Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Writing (Original Story); Best Writing (Adaptation); Best Art Director; Best Cinematography; Best Engineering Effects; Best Writing (Title Writing). Emil Jannings won Best Actor for his role as General Dolgorucki in the film, The Last Command, while Janet Ganynor received Best Actress for her work in three separate movies—7th Heaven, Street Angel, and Sunrise. The recipient of the Outstanding Picture—the predecessor to today’s Best Picture award—was the movie Wings, starring Clara Bow, Charles “Buddy” Rogers, and Richard Allen.


  • Famous Historic Guests +

    Carole Lombard, actress known for her roles in My Man Godfrey, Nothing Sacred, and To Be or Not to Be.

    Charlie Chaplin, actor known for his silent roles in The Kid and A Woman of Paris.

    Clark Gable, actor known for his roles in It Happened One Night, Mutiny on the Bounty, Gone with the Wind.

    Douglas Fairbanks, actor known for his roles in The Thief of Baghdad, Robin Hood, and The Mark of Zorro.

    Elizabeth Patterson, actress best remembered for her role as Mrs. Trumbull on the hit television show, I Love Lucy.

    Errol Flynn, actor known for such roles in Captain Blood, The Charge of the Light Brigade, and The Adventures of Robin Hood.

    Frances Farmer, actress known for her roles in Come and Get It, Rhythm on the Range, and Son of Fury: The Story of Benjamin Blake.

    Gloria Swanson, actress known for her roles in such movies as Sunset Boulevard, Sadie Thompson, and Queen Kelly.

    Greta Garbo, renowned actress known for her roles in Grand Hotel, Romance, and Anna Christie.

    Lew Ayres, actor best remember for playing Paul Bäumer in All Quiet on the Western Front.

    Marilyn Monroe, actress known for her roles in Bus Stop and Some Like It Hot.

    Mary Martin, actress remembered for her roles in South Pacific and The Sound of Music.

    Mary Pickford, renowned actress known for her role in the silent film Coquette.

    Montgomery Clift, actor known for his roles in such movies like I Confess, Red River, and A Place in the Sun.

    Shirley Temple, child actress known for her role in Bright Eyes and The Little Princess.

    Will Rogers, actor known for his roles in such films like Judge Priest, In Old Kentucky, and Steamboat Round the Bend.

    Ernest Hemingway, author known for writing such books like A Farwell to Arms and The Old Man and the Sea.

    F. Scott Fitzgerald, author known best for writing The Great Gatsby.

    Max Baer Sr., World Heavyweight Champion in boxing from 1934 to 1935.


  • Film, TV and Media Connections +

    Hollywood Story (1951)

    I Love Lucy (1955)

    Burke’s Law: Who Killed the Richest Man in the World? (1964)

    The Rockford Files: Say Goodbye to Jennifer (1975)

    Hardcore (1979)

    Angel (1984)

    Knots Landing: All Over but the Shooting (1986)

    Moonlighting: Blonde on Blonde (1987)

    Hunter: Requiem for Sergeant McCall (1987)

    Beverly Hill Cop II (1987)

    Sunset (1988)

    Knots Landing: A Weekend Getaway (1988)

    She’s Out of Control (1989)

    Shotgun (1989)

    The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)

    Internal Affairs (1990)

    Murder, She Wrote: Day of the Dead (1992)

    Melrose Place: Peanut Butter and Jealousy (1993)

    Boiling Point (1993)

    Melrose Place: Another Perfect Day in Hell (1995)

    Beverly Hills 90210: Toil and Trouble (1997)

    Mighty Joe Young (1998)

    Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999)

    Murder, She Wrote: A Story to Die For (2000)

    Almost Famous (2000)

    Crossroads (2002)

    Catch Me If You Can (2002)

    Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003)

    Hancock (2008)

    Entourage: Lose Yourself (2010)

    Entourage: Out with a Bang (2011)

    Entourage: One Last Shot (2011)

    Entourage: Whiz Kid (2011)

    Entourage: Second to Last (2011)

    Entourage: The End (2011)

    The People v. O.J. Simpson: An American Crime Story: Conspiracy Theories (2016)


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