Fairmont In Film: Meet Our Leading Ladies
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Fairmont has a long history with the silver screen, playing backdrop in nearly 300 films such as Little Women (The Fairmont Empress), Doctor Zhivago (The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise), and The Great Gatsby (The Plaza), just to name a few. Hollywood loves Fairmont, and the feeling is mutual. Here we focus in on a few properties that steal the show with particularly shiny film resumes:
First Hotel to be “On Location” with Hollywood
Cary Grant & Alfred Hitchcock were onsite at New York’s Grand Dame, The Plaza, to film key parts of the 1959 classic North by Northwest – the first time a crew, director and cast assembled on site to make a picture. Before then, movies were shot almost entirely on Hollywood soundstages and rarely on location. The Plaza has provided the location for other motion pictures as well, including Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961); Barefoot In The Park (1967); Funny Girl (1968); The Great Gatsby (1971); Plaza Suite (1971); The Way We Were (1973); Home Alone 2 (1992); Scent Of A Woman (1992); Sleepless in Seattle (1993); Almost Famous (2000); The Great Gatsby (2013), and more.
Hotel with the Longest Silver Screen Resume
Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York hotel might not be the headliner, but she has certainly had more than her fair share of Hollywood credits. Playing stunt double for other cities and hotels around the world - notably standing in for Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park in the film RED when Helen Mirren needed a kitchen for a shoot out – Toronto’s landmark hotel has had roles in countless movies and TV shows. A sampling from her diverse casting sheet includes: The Killing Fields (1984); Serendipity (2000); Brian's Song (2001); The Tuxedo (2001); New York Minute (2004); Cinderella Man (2005); Where the Truth Lies (2005); Hollywood Land (2006); Take the Lead (2006); Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (2007); Max Payne (2008); Amelia (2009); Grey Gardens (2009); Chloe (2009); and many, many more.
Best Hotel for Discovering Bombshell Starlets
The Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica has served as an exclusive playground for Hollywood celebrities since 1921, and its bungalows, pool and lounges have been known to house bombshell divas both famous and waiting to be discovered. Scandinavian beauty Greta Garbo was one of the first celebrity residents and stayed for more than four years. Jay Whidden's big band music was broadcast live to the Southland from the Miramar Lounge, and Betty Grable - poster girl for a generation of young G.I.'s during World War II - was his featured vocalist in 1932 before being discovered by MGM. Screen legend Gloria Swanson was such a fan of Jay Whidden that she had a standing reservation during the months he played at the Miramar. Sultry blonde Jean Harlow rented one of the Miramar's bungalows in the early 1930s, and years later another famous blonde, Marilyn Monroe, frequently retreated to the Miramar. Other celebrity guests [that can be divulged] include Lana Turner, Claudette Colbert, Faye Dunaway, Debra Winger, Barbara Streisand and Anjelica Houston.
Best Hotel for Schmoozing with the Stars
The United Kingdom has a reputation for minting topnotch acting talent, so it’s no surprise that London has been awash with silver screen royalty since the early days of film. It’s also no surprise that society favorite The Savoy has always been at the center of the action. It’s where Vivien Leigh met future husband Laurence Olivier, where Elizabeth Taylor spent her honeymoon with Nicky Hilton, and where Charlie Chaplin returned on one of his first stops back in Britain after leaving to make his fortune in Hollywood. From America have come Hollywood greats such as Al Jolson, Errol Flynn and Katharine Hepburn and from France, Josephine Baker and Coco Chanel have made appearances. It was where Marilyn Monroe gave a press conference wearing a scandalously revealing dress with Laurence Oliver, and has also been a favorite filming spot for movies such as The Big Sleep (1978) and Notting Hill (1999). What’s more, the hotel is also known to see the comings and goings of stars attending the annual British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards. In 2012 The Savoy was home to Style Suites where actors and presenters were coiffed before their big walk down the red carpet.
Best Place to Retreat Like Hollywood Royalty
Originally the retreat of movie star William Holden, Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club has been an exclusive getaway for the rich and famous for decades. Situated on the slopes of Mt Kenya, Holden stayed at the Club in 1959 with friends, who all ended up succumbing to the resort's charm. They bought the property and turned it into one of the most exclusive Clubs in the world. William Holden's favorite project, a 1,000-acre game reserve stocked with more than 800 wild animals, became the William Holden Foundation following his death, and honors his legacy to this day. The list of members who joined after the Club opened in 1959 includes Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and a bevy of celebrities have visited the resort over the years, including John Travolta, David Hasselhoff, Robert De Niro, Brooke Shields, Charlie Chaplain, Michael Caine, Robert Redford, Sean Connery, Charlton Heston, James Stewart and many more.
Best Hotel for Chinese Cinema Lovers
Shanghai has been a hotbed for drama, glamour and culture of every stripe since the Roaring 20s, and Fairmont Peace Hotel has been in the middle of the action on The Bund since the beginning. Chinese directors have been taking advantage of this iconic hotel since 1937, when Street Angel (马路天使) filmed at the hotel. Many famous stars have appeared at the hotel over the years, with Maggie Cheung portraying the doomed silent film actress Ruan Lingyu in Center Stage (阮玲玉) in 1985, and Gong Li appearing in Shanghai Triad (摇啊摇，摇到外婆桥) in 1995. More recently, in 2012 Zhou Xun was on site for the film The Silent War (听风者), which also filmed at the landmark hotel. Other famous Chinese films that shot at Fairmont Peace Hotel include 1957’s City Without Night (不夜城) with Daolin Sun, 2008’s Forever Enthralled (梅兰芳) starring Zhang Ziyi and Leon Lee, and 2004’s Leaving Me, Love You (大城小事) with famed singer Faye Wong. Western movies and stars that have filmed at the hotel include Marlene Dietrich in 1932’s Shanghai Romance, 1987’s Empire of the Sun and 2005’s White Countess.
Most Impressive Setting for a Film Fest
The world’s largest open air cinema was on display at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr for the Abu Dhabi Film Festival in 2012, and left an impression on everyone who saw it. Built by Swiss OpenAir, the screen was six stories high, covered 4,000 square feet and was supported by 32-speaker digital surround sound. Screened movies included The Ides of March, Footloose, Moneyball and more. The theater was so popular, the hotel kept it up after the festival had ended to screen even more films for the movie-loving emirate.