Stargazing in Hollywood

Rohit Khare (
Sun, 21 Jul 96 16:17:54 -0400

So George Hamilton *isn't* just a figment of Zonker's imagination in Doonesbury...

RK, coming to LA August 16-18 or 9-11th


Actor George Hamilton knows all the in spots to see and be seen.

George Hamilton's world is a piece of privileged property between the Pacific
Ocean and the Hollywood Hills. The king of the suntan has held court in
Hollywood, with only brief absences, since he first arrived at age seventeen
in 1956. The star of sixty films and many television movies, Hamilton is best
known for playing himself: a Cary Grant-style lover of wine, women, song, and
sun. Now, he's gone public, opening Hamilton's, his own British-style wine bar
adjacent to the venerable Wine Merchant in Beverly Hills, where stars like
Sinatra and Stallone buy and store their magnums. Hamilton's is a maze of cozy
antiques-filled salons where live bands serenade and moguls and mogulettes
smoke cigars and sip fine wines beneath a humongous oil painting of Lord
George himself. Here's the bronzed prince of Hollywood on his land of endless

Where's the ultimate place to tan? ^Well, if you want a day at the beach,
then the smart thing to do is go straight out toward the Malibu Colony. Park
near the ocean and walk down the first free access. The beach is owned by
everyone. The houses are the most expensive property in the world, but the
beaches are free. The problem is that they've figured it out: By keeping you
confused, you can't get to the beach. You have to find a way to get in. The
best way is to go to Alice's [310-456-6646] at the beach, have a drink, and
then walk down to Carbon Beach. Carbon has every major movie star's home
there. They even have a rock called Deal Maker's Rock, where all the heads of
studios meet and walk and exercise in the morning and make their deals. It's
the cheapest entrance fee for a weekend tan on the most expensive property
that I know of.~

Where did your career begin? ^My career started in The Polo Lounge [the
storied bar in The Beverly Hills Hotel], and so did many others'. When you
didn't have a place to meet or go, you said, 'Let's have a drink at The Polo
Lounge.' It gave you a wonderful front. You could go there with no money and
have a drink and still look just as good as people who were staying there or
having a bungalow or whatever. Buying into The Beverly Hills Hotel meant
nothing more than having a drink in The Polo Lounge.~

What place never changes? ^The beach is exactly the same. Will Rogers State
Beach [near] Santa Monica is a public beach. When I wasn't working, I would be
out on State Beach playing volleyball or swimming. I've seen more stars on
that beach in my lifetime than anywhere else, strangely enough. It was a place
to hang out when there was nowhere to go. Now, they have a little place
called Patrick's Roadhouse [310-459-4544], and Schwarzenegger and those guys
go there, you know. Go on Sunday.~

Where's the ultimate Hollywood swimming pool? ^If you gave me one, it would
still be The Beverly Hills Hotel [310-276-2251]. It's got cabanas around the
rectangular pool. It's got a pool attendant, Svend, who has been there since
the beginning, and he knows it all. He's discreet enough that he would never
admit that a girl was there the day before with someone else, but at the same
time, he knows it immediately.~

What's the current hot spot? ^The newest, hottest place for kids is the Bar
Marmont [213-650-0575; adjacent to the Chateau Marmont]. The Bar Marmont has
got a sense of the brat pack. It's the misbehaving brat pack behaving at that
place. I go to Bar Marmont quite often just to check it out. It's the kind of
place where my son goes. You'll see Johnny Depp arrive, Winona Ryder ... .~

How should we dress? ^I would go to Scott Hill [310-777-1190]. It's on
Robertson, catty-corner from The Ivy [310-274-8303], and across from Chaya
Brasserie [310-859-8833]. Scott Hill has the ability to take really European
clothes, which have a bit of a conservative look, and make them look very
elegant, or he can make them look very casual, and I like the way he puts
things together. He's the only guy I've seen who can accessorize a man's
clothes so a man doesn't have to travel with a lot of things. He can get a
suit that has three different looks with it.~

What are the epicurean epicenters? ^The one that started out trendy and has
become a classic is Drai's [310-358-8585]. You can stargaze, and the food is
good. The man who runs the place, Victor Drai, I think came from either
Morocco or Algeria. He was married to Kelly Lebrock. He was a film producer,
so when he greets you at the door ... he's casting you for where your table
should be. People here take where they are seated, and when they are seated,
very seriously. The other classics are now Le Dome [310-659-6919], Eclipse
[310-724-5959], and Wolfgang Puck's restaurants [Spago, 310-652-4032; Chinois
on Main, 310-392-9025; Granita in Malibu, 310-456-0488]. Wolfgang is one of
the sweetest, most professional people I've ever met. At his restaurants,
you'll see a combination of Hollywood regulars and Lookie-Lous who try to find
them. Bernard at Eclipse has more of a volume than most, and yet still keeps
it very personal.~

Take us on a tour of your favorite restaurants. ^Sunday night at Trader Vic's
[310-276-6345] in the Beverly Hilton is as fine a restaurant as you can get.
It is a class-act operation. I'll have a vodka mai tai and the hors d'oeuvres.
I would strongly recommend anybody going there to sit in the bar, not in the
Ship Room. The bar is a place where, in an evening, you'll invariably see five
or six major stars hide their girlfriends. It's so dark, and there are two
entrances, one at the far end and one at the close end of the bar, so you can
exit without having people see you.~

What are your more casual choices? ^The Ivy, which is always a romantic
place, is a safe bet. Eat outside, preferably on the terrace. If you're a
large group, in the banquet room. If you're a small group, just two, against a
stone wall, so there's no one at your back. Otherwise, in the restaurant,
immediately to the left or in front of the fireplace. If nowhere else, to the
right, but never in the second room. The other one is Mr. Chow [310-278-9911].
It has now come back as a very hot place for the younger group. It has a sort
of art-deco decadence to it, almost a floor show when they do their noodles,
and the food is great. Strangely enough, if you said to me, 'Where would you
go for Mexican food?' I would go to almost-a-fast-food place called El Cholo
[213-734-2773]. But it's not fast food. It's really a family-owned place on
Western. It's very hard to get seated. ... You can go to the top restaurant in
this town and get in. At El Cholo, you still have to wait in line. ... It
means exactly two margaritas at the bar.~

You only have an hour, where would you go? ^I would do The Beverly Hills
Hotel. Then, I would buy two movie-star maps that are not from the same
company and lay them out and see if more than three or four homes are agreed
[upon]. Then I would ask to be driven by them. I would go to Rodeo Collection
[the European-style village of high-end shops]. I would walk down Rodeo for a
fast tour down there, and I would have a chopped salad at La Scala Boutique
[310-275-0579]. They have the best chopped salad in the world.~

Design the perfect Hollywood night. ^Okay, let me see if I can lay that on
you. I would go to Hotel Bel Air [310-472-1211] and sit on the terrace and
either have high tea or drinks. The swans are down below, and, invariably, I
see a girlfriend who's getting married. If it's a warm night, you could go to
the beach. I would go to Granita, another restaurant owned by Wolfgang. If I
wanted to sit out a little bit, I would go to The Ivy at the Shore
[310-393-3113]. It gets mixed reviews, but it's very good. When people say
they want to see [the town], what they really basically want is to see stars.
That would probably be Drai's. I would sit in the main room, first table as
you come in through the door. On Monday night, there's a band that plays
there. ... Afterward, at The House of Blues [213-650-0476], you can enjoy an
act that will knock you on your butt. If you're young, I would go to King's
Road Cafe [213-655-9044] on King's Road for breakfast in the morning. All the
kids are there.~

Where do you go to be alone? ^The Marina Del Rey Hotel [310-301-1000] is a
sweet little hotel where one can hide out from time to time. I've gone through
several breakups and a divorce down there.~

Where's a romantic spot? ^What I wanted from Hamilton's [310-278-0347] was a
bar where men could stand and have a cigar and not be rushed, and a room where
women could feel not hit upon, could sit and catch up on what's going on, and
have background music. Then, as the evening goes on, the man at the bar and
the woman who is caught up, finally enjoy the room together. There's a bonding
atmosphere in that place. It's the most amazing thing that happens. We have
different [musicians] on different nights. But it's an atmosphere that's

Where's the best place to break up with your mate? ^Mortons [310-276-5205].
Mortons is dark, and the tables are just far enough apart that [other people]
won't hear the obscenities.~

Mark Seal is a contributing editor for American Way. He lives in Dallas.

Rohit Khare -- World Wide Web Consortium -- Technical Staff
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