The Quick 10: The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

When I travel, I usually stay at pretty commonplace hotels: Ramadas, Hampton Inns, places like that. I'm not the kind of person who spends much time at the hotel when I'm on vacation, so it doesn't really matter to me how luxurious it is when I'm mostly just there to sleep.

However, I just booked the Hollywood Roosevelt for my trip in May and I'm pretty dang excited about it. It may be considered overrated these days thanks to people like Lindsay Lohan taking up residence there (not currently, thank God), but it's also steeped in history. And it's so deliciously Tower of Terror (I know, I know: Tower of Terror is actually deliciously Hollywood Roosevelt). Anyway, to fuel my fire, I thought I'd share a few Roosevelt Hotel facts with you today.

roosevelt1. The Roosevelt opened its luxurious doors on May 15, 1927 and was financed by an illustrious group including Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and Louis B. Mayer.
2. The first-ever Academy Awards were held at the Roosevelt in the Blossom Room. Tickets cost $5, about 250 people attended and the whole ceremony lasted about 15 minutes"¦ quite a far cry from today's three-hour affair. Not surprisingly, one of the hosts of the event was Douglas Fairbanks.

3. It's rumored that Errol Flynn drummed up his famous recipe for bootleg gin in a big tub in the hotel's barber shop.

monroe4. Marilyn Monroe lived at the hotel when she was trying to break into the business. How do all of these starving artists afford to stay at a hotel like that for so long?! Anyway, Marilyn posed for her first real magazine shoot (she had some amateur photo shoots when she was still Norma Jeane).
5. If you believe in that sort of thing (I do), there are lots of ghosts lurking about the Roosevelt, and management definitely knows how to keep that buzz alive (even if the perpetrating celebs no longer are). Apparently there's a full-length mirror hanging in the basement that used to belong to Marilyn Monroe, so the Roosevelt has cleverly put a picture of Marilyn on the wall nearby so her face is reflected in the glass. Spooky. Montgomery Clift lived at the Roosevelt while filming From Here to Eternity and must have formed an attachment to the place, because nearly 43 years after his death, you can still spot him there. Or at least hear him. He is said to haunt his old room, 928, and if you stay there you can sometimes catch snippets of him reciting lines to himself and practicing his bugle. I wonder if I can request that room"¦ Other ghosts may include Carmen Miranda and Humphrey Bogart.

hockney6. Pop artist David Hockney is responsible for the underwater mural at the hotel's pool. He painted it in 1989; the pool was then promptly closed by overzealous officials who argued that the squiggles would be confusing to lifeguards. The hotel owners either had friends in high places or the state legislature realized how silly the whole thing was, because they stepped in and allowed guests back in the water.

7. There's a suite on the top floor known as the Gable-Lombard suite; it's where Clark and Carole used to have weekend dalliances while Clark was going through his divorce. It used to cost $1200, but the word is that the owner has taken up residence there and no longer rents it out.

8. David Niven has said that when he was first trying to make it as an actor, one of the desk clerks felt sorry for him and gave him a tiny little room between the elevator and the air conditioning unit and charged him practically nothing. So that explains how one actor could afford the Roosevelt; what about the rest?

9. Movies or T.V. shows with scenes filmed at the Roosevelt include Beverly Hills Cop II, Catch Me If You Can, Curb Your Enthusiasm and I Love Lucy.

strike10. The hotel played a small part in the Disney Studio Strike of 1941. A meeting at the Roosevelt was scheduled for employees to discuss the possibility of unionizing; when Walt heard this he asked them to delay the meeting so he could speak to them first. The group acquiesced and allowed Disney to have his say, but his argument ended up being unconvincing and condescending. Despite warnings that those in attendance would be severely reprimanded or fired, the rally at the Roosevelt went on as planned. It included rousing speeches from the likes of Donald Ogden Stewart and Dorothy Parker, who cleverly said, "Mr. Disney is going to have to decide if he is a man or a mouse!"

Can you tell I've got a bit of wanderlust right now? If you've been to the Roosevelt, share your experiences in the comments and let me know the dos and don'ts. Will I regret my splurge? Or is it totally worth the extra bucks?

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How Do You Stress the Word: THANKSgiving or ThanksGIVing?

Here’s something else to stress about for Thanksgiving: where to put the stress in the word Thanksgiving.

If you’re from California, Iowa, or Delaware, you probably say ThanksGIVing, with the primary stress on the second syllable. If you’re from Georgia, Tennessee, or the Texas Panhandle, you probably say THANKSgiving, with the primary stress on the first syllable.

This north-south divide on syllable stress is found for other words like umbrella, guitar, insurance, and pecan. However, those words are borrowed from other languages (Italian, Spanish, French). Sometimes, in the borrowing process, competing stress patterns settle into regional differences. Just as some borrowed words get first syllable stress in the South and second syllable stress in the North, French words like garage and ballet get first syllable stress in the UK and second syllable stress in the U.S.

Thanksgiving, however, is an English word through and through. And if it behaved like a normal English word, it would have stress on the first syllable. Consider other words with the same noun-gerund structure just like it: SEAfaring, BAbysitting, HANDwriting, BULLfighting, BIRDwatching, HOMEcoming, ALMSgiving. The stress is always up front, on the noun. Why, in Thanksgiving alone, would stress shift to the GIVE?

The shift to the ThanksGIVing pronunciation is a bit of a mystery. Linguist John McWhorter has suggested that the loss of the stress on thanks has to do with a change in our concept of the holiday, that we “don’t truly think about Thanksgiving as being about thankfulness anymore.” This kind of thing can happen when a word takes on a new, more abstract sense. When we use outgoing for mail that is literally going out, we are likely to stress the OUT. When we use it as a description of someone’s personality ("She's so outgoing!"), the stress might show up on the GO. Stress can shift with meaning.

But the stress shift might not be solely connected to the entrenchment of our turkey-eating rituals. The thanksGIVing stress pattern seems to have pre-dated the institution of the American holiday, according to an analysis of the meter of English poems by Mark Liberman at Language Log. ThanksGIVing has been around at least since the 17th century. However you say it, there is precedent to back you up. And room enough to focus on both the thanks and the giving.

TAKWest, Youtube
Watch Boris Karloff's 1966 Coffee Commercial
TAKWest, Youtube
TAKWest, Youtube

Horror legend Boris Karloff is famous for playing mummies, mad scientists, and of course, Frankenstein’s creation. In 1930, Karloff cemented the modern image of the monster—with its rectangular forehead, bolted neck, and enormous boots (allegedly weighing in at 11 pounds each)—in the minds of audiences.

But the horror icon, who was born 130 years ago today, also had a sense of humor. The actor appeared in numerous comedies, and even famously played a Boris Karloff look-alike (who’s offended when he’s mistaken for Karloff) in the original Broadway production of Arsenic and Old Lace

In the ’60s, Karloff also put his comedic chops to work in a commercial for Butter-Nut Coffee. The strange commercial, set in a spooky mansion, plays out like a movie scene, in which Karloff and the viewer are co-stars. Subtitles on the bottom of the screen feed the viewer lines, and Karloff responds accordingly. 

Watch the commercial below to see the British star selling coffee—and read your lines aloud to feel like you’re “acting” alongside Karloff. 

[h/t: Retroist]


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