Edgewater Beach Hotel Chicago: A Magnet for Hollywood Celebrities

FH030002

I have a fascination with hotels that started at a very young age. Growing up, we didn’t have the money to take expensive trips to places like Disneyland, but my sisters and I were perfectly happy going on smaller trips to places nearby. Often times we would just stay at a hotel to enjoy all its amenities, which for us kids meant mostly the swimming pool!

I grew to love staying in hotels during our trips, and my favorite hotel which we stayed at several times was the Leilani Hotel in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

Sadly it is no longer there and it’s hard to find information about it, but I did find an article that shows an illustrated picture of the hotel’s layout, which was quite unique. The article mentions that Frank Sinatra may have even entertained there at one time, which would have been cool to see.

Anyway, to this day I love staying in hotels, looking at pictures of hotels, and reading about hotels old and new. So when I read an article about the former Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago and found out it had strong ties to the classic film community, I was intrigued!

I immediately headed to eBay to see if I could find a postcard of the hotel, which I love to do on occasion when the inspiration strikes. I purchased the following postcard, which shows an actual picture of the hotel, but there were many illustrated postcards that I thought were really cool and would like to buy someday.

Edgewater Beach Hotel Chicago

In researching the history of the hotel, I discovered that it was once an extremely popular destination for classic movie stars, which I never would have guessed about a hotel in Chicago, far from the bright lights of Hollywood. The more I read about it, the more I wish I were alive when it was in its heydey, just like I do when I hear about the Copa Room in the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. Well, it did still exist for a few decades after I was born, but the exciting days of the Rat Pack performing there were over.

Here are few facts about the history of The Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago:

  • Built in 1916 and designed by famed architects Benjamin H. Marshall and Charles E. Fox, the hotel was built in the form of a Maltese Cross so that as many rooms as possible would have a view of Lake Michigan.
  • The hotel boasted a 1,200 foot private beach where guests could sunbathe during the day and dance at night. It also had its own barbershop, beauty parlor, drugstore, liquor store, photographer’s studio, and gift shop along with many other amenities. Continue reading →

Hooray for Hollywood! A Song from Hollywood Hotel

While listening to a movie related podcast the other day, I heard the popular tune “Hooray for Hollywood” and I have not been able to get it out of my head since! I didn’t know much about the song, but because I was pretty sure it held a significant place in the history of Hollywood, I felt like I should know more about it. I’ve heard the melody many times but realized that I didn’t even know any of the lyrics to the song other than the words of the title, so I thought I’d do a little research on its history.

The song “Hooray for Hollywood” was composed in the late 1930’s by Richard Whiting, who is also known for the standards “Ain’t We Got Fun” and “On the Good Ship Lollipop,” the latter made famous by Shirley Temple in the movie Bright Eyes (1934). It was first featured in the movie Hollywood Hotel (1937) starring Dick Powell, Rosemary & Lola Lane, and Ted Healy. It was sung by Johnnie Davis and Frances Langford, who were accompanied by Benny Goodman and his orchestra. Continue reading →