Knickerbocker Hotel (Los Angeles)
The Hollywood Knickerbocker Apartments, formerly the Knickerbocker Hotel, is a retirement home located at 1714 Ivar Avenue in Los Angeles, California. Designed by architect E.M. Frasier in Spanish Colonial Revival style, the historic hotel opened in June 1929. It catered to the region's nascent film industry, and is the site for some of Hollywood’s most famous dramatic moments. On Halloween 1936, Harry Houdini's widow held her tenth séance to contact the magician on the roof of the hotel. On January 13, 1943, Frances Farmer was arrested in her room at the hotel after failing to visit her probation officer when scheduled. On July 23, 1948, filmmaker D. W. Griffith died of a cerebral hemorrhage on the way to a Hollywood hospital, after being discovered unconscious in the lobby of the hotel. In 1968, Graham Nash was living there the night Cass Elliot picked him up to go to a party where he met Stephen Stills and David Crosby.
The hotel retained its glamor through the 1950s. Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio often met in the hotel bar. Elvis Presley stayed at the hotel (Room 1016) while making his first film, Love Me Tender (1956). For many years, it was the residence of actor William Frawley. Laurel and Hardy stayed in room 205. Graham Nash lived there in 1968.
On December 1, 1954, a camera crew from the NBC program "This is Your Life" surprised retired comedy legends Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy in room 205 of the hotel. The duo was relaxing there with a couple of friends who were in on the gag. While both comedians were polite throughout the show, Stan Laurel was apparently privately somewhat displeased to be put on television without his consent or prior notice.
On March 3, 1966, veteran character actor William Frawley was strolling down Hollywood Boulevard after seeing a film when he suffered a major heart attack. His nurse dragged him to the hotel where he died in the lobby. Contrary to popular belief, Frawley did not live in the hotel at the time. Although Frawley had spent nearly 30 years living in a suite upstairs, he had moved to the nearby El Royale Apartments several months before.
Also contrary to popular belief, Rudolf Valentino was not a regular at the bar, as the hotel opened after his death in 1926.
By the late 1960s, the neighborhood had deteriorated, and the hotel became a residence primarily for drug addicts and prostitutes. In 1970, a renovation project converted the hotel into housing for senior citizens; it continues in this capacity today. In 1999, a plaque honoring Griffith was placed in the lobby.
- Festivities to Mark Opening of Apartments. Los Angeles Times, June 16, 1929.
- Lord, Rosemary (2003). Hollywood Then and Now. San Diego: Thunder Bay Press. p. 87. ISBN 1-59223-104-7.
- Frances Farmer Resists Arrest. Los Angeles Times January 14, 1943.
- Pioneer Film Man D.W. Griffith Dies. Los Angeles Times, July 24, 1948.
- Source: Graham Nash interview with Anthony deCurtis on YouTube
- This is Your Life - December 1, 1954 Laurel & Hardy episode
- Rasmussen, Cecilia (26 July 1998). "Hotel Was Historic Host to Hollywood Headliners". Retrieved 13 September 2018 – via LA Times.
Four years later, William Frawley, best known as Fred Mertz on TV's "I Love Lucy," walked out of the hotel's bar--where he always ordered a walnut with his drink--and dropped dead on the sidewalk. By 1966, when Frawley died, the Knickerbocker had become something of a dump.