The history of the Chateau Marmont, a historic hideaway for Hollywood’s elite

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The Chateau Marmont opened in 1929 as an apartment building. Then it was converted into hotel rooms for celebrities. Photo credit: Tony Hisgett/CC BY 2.0, via Flickr

The owner of LA’s Chateau Marmont recently announced plans to turn it into a members-only property by the end of the year. It’s fallen on hard times since the pandemic took hold. In March, half of the hotel’s staff was let go with no severance pay.

It opened in 1929 as an apartment building, then was converted into hotel rooms that housed celebrities such as James Dean, Greta Garbo, John Belushi, Marilyn Monroe, and Howard Hughes.

“It became known as a place that you could be yourself. And I think that’s a really important thing to think about,” says journalist Hadley Meares. “Because especially in the post-war era in the late 40s and 50s, it was a place where gay folks felt safe. Tony Perkins and Tab Hunter started their two-year love affair when they met each other at the pool.”

She says the Chateau Marmont also became one of the first in-the-know celebrity hotels that allowed Black people, such as Duke Ellington, to stay.

Credits

Guest:
Hadley Meares - LA-based historical journalist

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Michell Eloy, Amy Ta, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski, Angie Perrin