LIFE AT THE MARMONT by Raymond Sarlot


The Inside Story of Hollywood's Legendary Hotel of the Stars—Chateau Marmont
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A loving but lighter-than-air biography of the hotel that has loomed over Hollywood since the 1920s.

Co-authors Sarlot (who owned the Marmont, 1975-91) and Basten (author of numerous books about Hollywood, including Max Factor’s Hollywood: Glamour, Movies, Make-up, 1995) begin with a glimpse of the place in 1975, then whisk us back to 1926 to watch Fred Horowitz finding the spot where he wanted to build his new hotel. Thus commences a dance through the decades. We learn what was going on in Hollywood in general, who was running the hotel (from management to the garage), and, of course, who was staying there—and what they were doing. It seems that just about everyone notable stopped there (sometimes for years), and the authors often organize subsections of chapters by names (always prefixed with a polite “Mr.,” “Miss,” or “Mrs.” (No “Ms.” at the Marmont!) In the 1920s and ’30s, folks like Jean Harlow and Clark Gable were there. And Billy Wilder, Joan Blondell and other performers. Writers liked to hang there, too—including Thornton Wilder, Ben Hecht and Dorothy Parker. Howard Hughes stayed awhile, as did Grace Kelley (hotly pursued by High Noon co-star Gary Cooper). We learn a bit about the swimming pool, too (installed in 1947), and who liked to splash in scant suits. Some of the most shimmering stars were there at times, Garbo and Monroe among them.  And some footage for Myra Breckenridge came from the Marmont. The rock era brought wild times, with some rowdy groups trashing their rooms. And, of course, John Belushi died there in 1982. Most chapters feature paragraphs that are little more than lists of names, and there is precious little analysis or reflection—probably superfluous in such a volume.

Frivolous and superficial—but as entertaining as an old B movie on a dreary Saturday afternoon.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-14-312311-8
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Penguin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2013


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