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The St. Regis Hotel

Oct 12th, 2009 | By | Category: Marilyn Monroe Locations

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Last year while visiting Manhattan, I dragged my boyfriend out to the posh St. Regis New York hotel on 55th Street.  I had wanted to see the St. Regis not so much because it is an oft-used filming location, but because my girl Marilyn Monroe stayed there back in 1954 while on location in New York filming favorite movie The Seven Year Itch.  I found this spot thanks to favorite Manhattan stalking book New York: The Movie Lover’s Guide, which claimed that the hotel was the site of a monumental fight between Marilyn and her then-husband Joe DiMaggio.  According to the book, and just about everything else ever written about The Seven Year Itch, Joe and Marilyn’s relationship was not in a good place at the time of the filming.  Things came to a head on September 15, 1954 – the night Marilyn filmed the famous subway grate scene.   Joe was on hand for the shoot that night and became absolutely irate at the fact that 5,000 spectators had showed up to catch a glimpse of his wife’s unmentionables.  Legend has it that the fight between Marilyn and Joe started out on the 52nd street set and continued all the way back to their suite at the St. Regis Hotel, where their screaming awakened the entire floor!  Now, I’m not sure if the story about the St. Regis brawl is true or not, but I just had to stalk the hotel regardless.  :)

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The St. Regis New York was built in 1904 by millionaire businessman John Jacob Astor IV and at the time was considered to be the finest hotel in all of Manhattan.  Today it is considered to be one of the finest hotels in all of the world.  Astor’s goal was to build a hotel where guests would not only experience the utmost in luxurious accommodations, but at the same feel as if they were staying in a private home.  To give his hotel that “home away from home” feel, each of the St. Regis’ 229 rooms (164 regular rooms and 65 suites) featured a doorbell.  :)  At the time of its opening each room also boasted such state-of-the-art amenities as personal thermostats, fire alarms, central air conditioning, telephones, Steinway pianos (yes, each room had its own Steinway piano!!!!), and – my personal favorite – a centralized vacuum system.   Rather than lugging around vacuum cleaners all day long to each and every room, the housekeeping staff had only to attach a small hose to sockets that were located in the hotel walls and the dirt would simply be sucked away.  My former boss had a centralized vacuum system in his house and, let me tell you, it’s just about the COOLEST THING EVER!  The fact that the St. Regis had one back in 1904 is mind-boggling to me!  In today’s world, the St. Regis name has become synonymous with luxury, splendor, and the utmost in hospitality.  The amenities of 2009 include a spa, a fitness center, a business center, and twenty-four hour butler service!!  The St. Regis New York has won countless awards over the years, including most recently “Top 75 Hotels in the United States” by Conde Nast Traveler, “World’s Best” by Travel & Leisure Magazine, the “Five-Star Award” by the Mobil Travel Guide, and – for the past fourteen years in a row – the “Five Diamond Award” by AAA!  The above photographs were taken during last year’s New York vacation in a sitting room located just off of the St. Regis lobby.  As you can see, the hotel is absolutely BEAUTIFUL inside and I just love visiting it.   I would also LOVE to stay there sometime, but being that rates start at around $600 per night, there is no way in heck the Grim Cheaper would ever go for that!

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The exclusive St. Regis has long been a celebrity haven.  Besides Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio, past guests of the hotel include Humphrey Bogart, Salvador Dali, Russian Prince Colonel Serge Obelensky, Marlene Dietrich, Rex Harrison, Alfred Hitchcock, Ernest Hemingway, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, John Huston, Joseph Pulitzer, William Paley, and Gertrude Lawrence, just to name a few.  In more recent years Demi Moore, Nathan Lane, Pierce Brosnan, Sean Penn, Victor Garber, Scarlett Johansson, Tara Reid, Thora Birch, Courteney Cox, and Martin Short have all been spotted at the hotel.

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And, of course, the St. Regis is also a filming location!  :)  The hotel’s King Cole Bar showed up in fave movie The First Wives Club, as the location where Goldie Hawn lamented over being asked to play the character of “Monique’s mother” – instead of “Monique” – in her next movie.  The King Cole is famous in and of itself thanks to the massive Maxfield Parrish mural of Old King Cole and his knights flanking the bar.    In 1906, John Jacob Astor IV paid $5,000 for the commission of the eight foot by thirty foot mural and first hung it in another of his hotel properties, the Knickerbocker.  When the Knickerbocker closed its doors in 1932, the mural was brought over to the St. Regis and hung above the bar, where legends about it abound – two in particular.  The first story states that the face of King Cole in the painting is actually that of the hotel’s owner, John Jacob Astor IV.  Legend also has it that the reason behind the King’s mischievous expression in the mural is that he  has just passed gas.  I’m not kidding!  LOL   And yet another legend asserts that the King Cole Bar is where the first ever Bloody Mary was served on U.S. soil. :)

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The King Cole Bar was also featured very briefly in the movie The Devil Wears Prada as the location where my love Simon Baker gave Anne Hathaway the unpublished manuscript for the 7th “Harry Potter” book.  I so LOVED The Devil Wears Prada, by the way.  The movie is worth seeing just for Anne Hathaway’s wardrobe alone!  :)

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The St. Regis also popped up in the 1976 movie Taxi Driver as the location where Cybil Shepherd caught a ride with cabbie Robert De Niro.

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In 2000’s Miss Congeniality, Michael Caine and Sandra Bullock dined at the St. Regis’ now-defunct Lespinasse Restaurant.

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Joe Jackson’s (not MJ’s father) music video for his 1982 song ‘Steppin’ Out’ was also filmed at the hotel.  And Woody Allen has shot no less than THREE movies on location at the St. Regis – Anything Else, Hannah and Her Sisters (the hotel was the site of Michael Caine and Barbara Hershey’s illicit affair), and Radio Days (Mia Farrow was a cigarette girl in the King Cole Bar).

I honestly can’t recommend stalking the St. Regis New York enough.  It is a truly beautiful, truly unique hotel.  And I’d also recommend stalking the King Cole Bar – if you can get a seat, that is.  My fiancé and I have tried to grab a cocktail there countless times on each of our numerous trips to New York, but have never been able to get a seat in the popular bar.  :(

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  :)

Stalk It: The St. Regis New York hotel is located at 2 East 55th Street, at Fifth Avenue, in Manhattan.  You can visit their website here.

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