Celebrating 50 years with a fab new face-lift, the Sunset Marquis remains a rock ‘n’ roll legend. In an exclusive excerpt from their new book, “If These Walls Could Rock,” Mark A. Rosenthal and Craig A. Williams explain why the hotel is still the coolest spot in LA.
In the summer of 1961, real estate developer George Rosenthal sat in the living room of Chicago’s Playboy mansion with Hugh Hefner trying to decide whether or not they should take a $12 million loan from Jimmy Hoffa.
On the upside, it was the amount of money Rosenthal needed to build a new Playboy Club and hotel in the heart of West Hollywood’s legendary Sunset Strip. The downside was that getting into business with Jimmy Hoffa presented the very real potential of being hazardous to your health. And it didn’t help that Robert Kennedy, the newly appointed US attorney general, had an almost singular determination to bring Hoffa down. To take money from the Teamsters union boss was also to draw the attention, if not the ire, of the new attorney general. Hefner, who was already scrambling to stay a step ahead of the postmaster general, the House Un-American Activities Committee, and the religious right for “the smut and pornography” he was peddling, simply didn’t need the additional attention.
you’re gonna get back to your office in LA and you know who’s going to pop out of the bottom drawer of your desk?”
Hefner asked. “Who?”
Marquis stalwart Jeff Beck says. “And when you wanted to get away from groupies, you had to get away. They couldn’t conceive that everybody moved down the street to the Marquis.”
Photo – Ross Halfin
that if there was some way in which I could emulate the Garden of Allah’s ambiance, I wanted to do that,”