Happy Hundredth Birthday Beverly Hills Hotel

The Beverly Hills Hotel is blowing out one hundred candles on its birthday cake and everyone is reminiscing about stars like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor who lounged poolside while producers like Robert Evans closed big picture deals in the Polo Lounge.

All that Hollywood talent might have remained right there in Hollywood if not for men like Burton Green, Max Whittier and Charles Canfield. These guys developed the Rodeo Land and Water Company to create a residential community. Green thought the name Beverly Farms fitting. His wife one-upped him and suggested Beverly Hills.

Back then, with unstrung phone poles, dirt roads and empty lots, it was a far cry from today’s glitz. The 1907 recession didn’t help Green, Whittier and Canfield sell lots so they  brainstormed The Beverly Hills Hotel. It worked. Easterners flocked to it for the weather. Hollywood types with a little dough took to its rural setting. And in 1963, Dr. and Mrs. Laurence Kaplan, a dentist and dental hygienist looking for a good public school for my brother and me, settled there.

To most of the world, the hotel stood for glamour. Growing up, to my friends and me, it stood for Bar Mitzvah central.

The first time I saw the place I had on black patent-leather party shoes and a yellow chiffon dress so I could celebrate my brother’s Bar Mitzvah in style.

A live band played I’ll Never Stop Loving You for the Mother-Son, Father-Daughter dance. The rest of the night a rock-a-thon played with girls in mini-skirts and boys with long hair. At some point, the photographer shoved my brother and me together where we did our version of the Box Step, which we called the Oil Pump, and pretended to draw oil from the floor. My best friend Lizzie and I plucked olives off the crudités tray and deposited one into every glass of ice water until an irate waiter grabbed us and told us to scram. We danced in and out of the guests, giggling at the low-cut dresses and pretending we were royalty.

Shazam! A decade or so later, Lizzie and I were back, only this time it was for Wedding Central.  The tall ceilings, shimmering chandeliers and sprawling dance floor still took the cake. As one of Lizzy’s bridesmaids, I couldn’t help getting misty-eyed thinking about the shenanigans we took part in decades earlier.

Flip the memory book. Shazam! My eldest son graduated from Middle School and then partied at the pink palace. This time EZ Beatz DJ Kirk had the place rocking – it was hot in there; kids dancing, sipping sodas and laughing like crazy.







Flip the memory book again. Shazam! For my fortieth, my bff Renee treats me to lunch at the Polo Lounge.

The real stars behind the Beverly Hills Hotel will always be Green, Whittier and Canfield who saw past the dusty roads and fields and conjured up a pink adobe landmark, which still holds its head up high a century later.

Author Description

Cynthia Baseman

Cynthia Baseman is the author of 'Love, Mom: A Mother's Journey from Loss to Hope.' She writes about motherhood, the environment and education.

There are 9 comments. Add yours

  1. 19th September 2012 | Dorothea Shefer-Vanson says: Reply
    Hi there, Cynthia, Congratulations on another great post. You make what seems like Never-Never-Land from here seem almost homey. Great writing and what's best -- lively and real. Keep up the good work!
    • 19th September 2012 | Cynthia Baseman says: Reply
      Dorothea, Thanks for taking the time to hear one of my childhood tales of growing up here. It's only through the prism of memory that you can truly appreciate these moments from our past, right?
  2. 13th September 2012 | Susan Kolko says: Reply
    You write so well you should run for town historian !
  3. 29th May 2012 | George Vreeland Hill says: Reply
    I love your blog. Beverly Hills is a wonderful place to live. In fact, we are second to none in quality of living. It is hard to believe that BH is about to turn 100. The memories here are amazing. George Vreeland Hill
    • 29th May 2012 | Cynthia Baseman says: Reply
      Thank you for the kind words; this certainly is a one-of-a-kind town.
  4. 25th May 2012 | Debbie Naiman says: Reply
    Danced my first slow dance--or stepped all over some 8th grade boy's toes in my Corky Shoes--at a Bar Mitzvah in this hotel. Still think of it when I hear "Stairway To Heaven." Wonderful city; great memories.
  5. 24th May 2012 | Holly Freedman says: Reply
    This is such a cozy blog! I love you, BH Mom. For those of us who have been fortunate enough to have grown up in Beverly Hills as our "home town", this entry was particularly evocative. HOW many bar and bat mitzvahs did I attend in the Crystal Room? Memories, memories, and all of them dear. xoxoxox
  6. 24th May 2012 | Ellen says: Reply
    good good memories

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