I Remember You Well At The Plaza Hotel – Old Hollywood
An INSIDERHER Blind Item
My Mom was a big shot at the Plaza Hotel in the 60s-70’s and met all the stars who stayed there.
My Mom didn’t much care for movies or movie stars.
There was no one she was awestruck by, except maybe Gregory Peck.
But, she was very much aware that her 12 year old daughter was obsessed with old movies, and permanent A+ actor & permanent A+ Actor in particular.
So, when she heard that this Permanent A list film star was staying at the Plaza, she told me. I flipped, since film star had appeared in 2 films from the 1930’s with my favorite actress!
The next thing I know, my Mother tells me, “We’re having dinner at the Plaza with…let’s call him Chick.
I cannot believe this news.
I’m a 12 year old girl from the suburbs, and I’m going to dinner with the man who danced his way through two films with my most beloved actress?
I guess we should call her Hazel.
I was freaking.
All I could think of was whether I could get through this dinner in his suite and have the courage to ask him what it was like working with Hazel?
It was the strangest dinner ever.
A dapper old movie star, my gorgeous mother-and little old me!
He wore a silk bath robe.
We’re sitting around a four seat table room service brought into the suite.
Chick is very, very elegant.
To the extreme.
Watching him really amused me, especially given his background.
I’ll never forget his dinner.
He ordered one lean baby lamb chop, a spot of peas, a spot of potatoes.
It wasn’t enough to keep a bird alive.
But hey, he was getting on, and he was looking good.
Who was I to criticize?
He didn’t want to be criticized, that was fairly obvious.
He was a rather intimidating figure, and I don’t intimidate easily.
But, I mean, the guy had worked with Bogey!
He spoke not about old Hollywood, which is of course what I wanted to hear, but about his strict dietary habits, and yar yar yar.
I was bored.
I was also hesitant to eat in front of the man.
He definitely had a thing about food and hygiene.
I think it was my indomitable mother who finally brought up the subject of my idol, Hazel, and her still more famous Permanent A+ list hubby-whom I shall call Blackie.
When the topic of Hazel was broached, Chick waxed rhapsodic.
Said he adored her.
That working with Hazel was the high point of his life.
I felt like my heart would burst hearing that.
It was as close to her as I might ever get, and it was cool.
I felt close to her through him.
And then he ruined it.
My Mom asked him about Blackie.
Chick blows his stack!
He starts raving ‘He killed her! Blackie killed her, that SOB! It was his fault she died!”
Well, I thought I’d die on the spot.
Was he accusing Blackie of somehow murdering his wife?
Chick raved on: “She knew he was screwing Permanent A list actress!
And that other broad, from Gone With the Wind.
That’s why she rushed back, because he was a lying, cheating SOB!’
Quite an earful for 12 year old ears!
That was about as much of this lovely evening at the Plaza as I could take.
I couldn’t wait to get out of this crotchety, eccentric old actor’s suite.
But-I had read the same thing from other sources.
I knew, even then, that people blamed Blackie for Hazel’s death.
And that Blackie blamed himself.
But it was another thing to have it yelled at you by a movie star who once did the rumba with Hazel!
As I got older, I read interviews where Chick says he was crazy about her, and implies that perhaps, something went on between them.
I’m sure it was the violence of her death, and the fact that he had loved Hazel himself, that made him bear this lifelong grudge against the lonely, distraught Blackie.
But at the time?
It was a bit more truth than I was prepared to admit.
It’s hardly like Chick’s background or connections were less indicting than Blackie’s!
They were far worse.
I don’t think I ever really recovered from Chick’s shattering my childhood illusions.
This was, indeed, a very bitter taste of Old Hollywood.
I’ll never forget him eating one pea at a time.
He was, without a doubt-a character!
Chick: George Raft
Hazel: Carole Lombard – died in a plane crash
Carole Lombard was an American film actress. She was particularly noted for her energetic, often off-beat roles in the screwball comedies of the 1930s. She was the highest-paid star in Hollywood in the late 1930s. Wikipedia
Blackie: Clark Gable
Cheating actress: Lana Turner
Gable first met Carole Lombard in 1925 when they were both working as extras on the set of ‘Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ’. They later starred together in ‘No Man of Her Own’ in 1932, but did not become romantically attached until 1936. They lived together for 3 years and then got married in March 1939 just 3 weeks after his divorce from Ria was finalised. Lombard, whom he called his ‘little screwball’, was lively, younger than him, foul-mouthed and irreverent. “I love Pappy,” she once said, “even though he’s not the greatest lay.”
‘Gone With the Wind’ was released near the start of their wedded life. Gable’s stock in Hollywood, already skyhigh, went stratospheric. He was immensely famous, immensely rich and it seemed he had been blessed by the Gods. For three years he lived an idyll with his wife who shared his enthusiasm for outdoor pusuits like hunting and fishing and who tolerated his philandering lifestyle which he was unwilling or unable to stop. He began an affair with Lana Turner, his co-star in 1942’s ‘Somewhere I’ll Find You’.
In January, 1942, the plane in which Carole Lombard was traveling crashed into a mountain near Las Vegas. All on board were killed, including Lombard, her mother, and her MGM staff publicist Otto Winkler.
Gable was traumatised but returned to his and Lombard’s empty house where he continued to live for the rest of his life. After a month he returned to the studio to complete ‘Somewhere I’ll Find You’. He began drinking heavily and to his friends he seemed to lose interest in life and was never the same man afterwards. – Source