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The Quick 10: The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

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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?

Have a good Q10 suggestion for me? Send me a Tweet!

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Pop Culture
The Sweet Surprise Reunion Mr. Rogers Never Saw Coming
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Family Communications Inc./Getty Images

For more than 30 years, legendary children’s show host Fred Rogers used his PBS series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood to educate his young viewers on concepts like empathy, sharing, and grief. As a result, he won just about every television award he was eligible for, some of them many times over.

Rogers was gracious in accepting each, but according to those who were close to the host, one honor in particular stood out. It was March 11, 1999, and Rogers was being inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame, an offshoot of the Emmy Awards. Just before being called to the stage, out came a surprise.

The man responsible for the elation on Rogers’s face was Jeff Erlanger, a 29-year-old from Madison, Wisconsin who became a quadriplegic at a young age after undergoing spinal surgery to remove a tumor. Rogers was surprised because Erlanger had appeared on his show nearly 20 years prior in 1980 to help kids understand how people with physical challenges adapt to life’s challenges. Here's his first encounter with the host:

Reunited on stage after two decades, Erlanger referred to the song, “It’s You I Like,” which the two sang during their initial meeting. “On behalf of millions of children and grown-ups,” Erlanger said, “it’s you I like.” The audience, including a visibly moved Candice Bergen, rose to their feet to give both men a standing ovation.

Following Erlanger’s death in 2007, Hedda Sharapan, an employee with Rogers’s production company, called their poignant scene “authentic” and “unscripted,” and that Rogers often pointed to it as his favorite moment from the series.

Near the end of the original segment in 1980, as Erlanger drives his wheelchair off-camera, Rogers waves goodbye and offers a departing message: “I hope you’ll come back to visit again.”

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20 Things You Might Not Have Known About Firefly
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© 2002 Twentieth Century Fox

As any diehard fan will be quick to tell you, Firefly's run was far, far too short. Despite its truncated run, the show still offers a wealth of fun facts and hidden Easter eggs. On the 15th anniversary of the series' premiere, we're looking back at the sci-fi series that kickstarted a Browncoat revolution.

1. A CIVIL WAR NOVEL INSPIRED THE FIREFLY UNIVERSE.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Killer Angels from author Michael Shaara was Joss Whedon’s inspiration for creating Firefly. It follows Union and Confederate soldiers during four days at the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. Whedon modeled the series and world on the Reconstruction Era, but set in the future.

2. ORIGINALLY, THE SERENITY CREW INCLUDED JUST FIVE MEMBERS.

When Whedon first developed Firefly, he wanted Serenity to only have five crew members. However, throughout development and casting, Whedon increased the cast from five to nine.

3. REBECCA GAYHEART WAS ORIGINALLY CAST TO PLAY INARA.

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Before Morena Baccarin was cast as Inara Serra, Rebecca Gayheart landed the role—but she was fired after one day of shooting because she lacked chemistry with the rest of the cast. Baccarin was cast two days later and started shooting that day.

4. NEIL PATRICK HARRIS WAS ALMOST DR. SIMON TAM.

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Before it went to Sean Maher, Neil Patrick Harris auditioned for the role of Dr. Simon Tam.

5. JOSS WHEDON WROTE THE THEME SONG.

Whedon wrote the lyrics and music for Firefly’s opening theme song, “The Ballad of Serenity.”

6. STAR WARS SPACECRAFT APPEAR IN FIREFLY.

Star Wars was a big influence on Whedon. Captain Malcolm Reynolds somewhat resembles Han Solo, while Whedon used the Millennium Falcon as inspiration to create Serenity. In fact, you can spot a few spacecraft from George Lucas's magnum opus on the show.

When Inara’s shuttle docks with Serenity in the pilot episode, an Imperial Shuttle can be found flying in the background. In the episode “Shindig,” you can see a Starlight Intruder as the crew lands on the planet Persephone.

7. HAN SOLO FROZEN IN CARBONITE POPS UP THROUGHOUT FIREFLY.

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Nathan Fillion is a big Han Solo fan, so the Firefly prop department made a 12-inch replica of Han Solo encased in Carbonite for the Canadian-born actor. You can see the prop in the background in a number of scenes.

8. ALIEN'S WEYLAND-YUTANI CORPORATION MADE AN APPEARANCE.

In Firefly’s pilot episode, the opening scene features the legendary Battle of Serenity Valley between the Browncoats and The Union of Allied Planets. Captain Malcolm Reynolds takes control of a cannon with a Weyland-Yutani logo inside of its display. Weyland-Yutani is the large conglomerate corporation in the Alien film franchise. (Whedon wrote Alien: Resurrection in 1997.)

9. ZAC EFRON'S ACTING DEBUT WAS ON FIREFLY.

A 13-year-old Zac Efron made his acting debut in the episode “Safe” in 2002. He played Young Simon in a flashback.

10. CAPTAIN MALCOLM REYNOLDS'S HORSE IS A WESTERN TROPE.

At its core, Firefly is a sci-fi western—and Malcolm Reynolds rides the same horse on every planet (it's named Fred).

11. FOX AIRED FIREFLY'S EPISODES OUT OF ORDER.

Fox didn’t feel Firefly’s two-hour pilot episode was strong enough to air as its first episode. Instead, “The Train Job” was broadcast first because it featured more action and excitement. The network continued to cherry-pick episodes based on broad appeal rather than story consistency, and eventually aired the pilot as the show’s final episode.

12. THE ALLIANCE'S ORIGINS ARE AMERICAN AND CHINESE.

The full name of The Alliance is The Anglo-Sino Alliance. Whedon envisioned The Alliance as a merger of American and Chinese government and corporate superpowers. The Union of Allied Planets’ flag is a blending of the American and Chinese national flags.

13. THE SERENITY LOUNGE SERVED AS AN ACTUAL LOUNGE.

Between set-ups and shots, the cast would hang out in the lounge on the Serenity set rather than trailers or green rooms.

14. INARA SERRA'S NAME IS MESOPOTAMIAN.

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Inara Serra is named after the Mesopotamian Hittite goddess, the protector of all wild animals.

15. THE CHARACTERS SWORE (JUST NOT IN ENGLISH).

The Firefly universe is a mixture of American and Chinese culture, which made it easy for writers to get around censors by having characters swear in Chinese.

16. THE UNIFORMS ARE RECYCLED FROM STARSHIP TROOPERS.

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The uniforms for Alliance officers and soldiers were the costumes from the 1997 science fiction film Starship Troopers. The same costumes were repurposed again for the Starship Troopers sequel.

17. "SUMMER!" MEANS SOMEONE MESSED UP.

Every time a cast member flubbed one of his or her lines, they would yell Summer Glau’s name. This was a running gag among the cast after Glau forgot her lines in the episode “Objects In Space.”

18. THE SERENITY SPACESHIP WAS BUILT TO SCALE.

The interior of Serenity was built entirely to scale; rooms and sections were completely contiguous. The ship’s interior was split into two stages, one for the upper deck and one for the lower. Whedon showed off the Firefly set in one long take to open the Serenity movie.

19. "THE MESSAGE" SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE SHOW'S FAREWELL.

Although “The Message” was the twelfth episode, it was the last episode filmed during Firefly’s short run. Composer Greg Edmonson wrote a piece of music for a funeral scene in the episode, which served as a final farewell to the show. Sadly, it was one of three episodes (the other two were “Trash” and “Heart of Gold”) that didn’t air during Firefly’s original broadcast run on Fox.

20. FIREFLY AND SERENITY WERE SENT TO THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION.

American Astronaut Steven Ray Swanson is a big fan of Firefly, so when he was sent to the International Space Station for his first mission (STS-117) in 2007, he brought DVD copies of Firefly and its feature film Serenity aboard with him. The DVDs are now a permanent part of the space station’s library.

This post originally appeared in 2014.

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