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Persistence Pays Off

March 8, 2011 - Phyllis Sigal
A couple of local women were lucky enough to be in the audience last Monday (Feb. 28) for Oprah's Ultimate After-Oscar Party.

Lynne Bailey and Carole Rose have been trying to get tickets to Oprah's show for 10 years! And not giving up finally paid off for them.

Before it was possible to register online, there was one Friday each month when the Oprah show would take requests for tickets by phone. "We'd call 200 times in one day," Lynne said. But to no avail.

For this particular After-Oscar show, Lynne and Carole each registered online to get two seats at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, and it was Carole's name drawn for the honor.

They found out just about a month ago, and surprisingly were able to book rooms at the famous and historic hotel, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard, just across the street from all the Oscar action. In fact the hotel's "Blossom Room" was the scene of the first Academy Awards ceremony on May 19, 1929. (It lasted just five minutes with Douglas Fairbanks and Al Jolson giving away 13 Oscars. ... more hotel tidbits later.)

However, with all the celebrities afoot, just across the street can be the same as miles away thanks to strict security efforts. Lynne and Carole didn't get to see much in the way of star power. Much is roped off and fenced off and hidden under black netting, Lynne noted, of the night of the Oscars.

They flew out on Sunday morning, and everything was blocked off around the red carpet, Lynne said, but they did see lots of limousines pulling up with their famous cargo on board.

"It was exciting, though," she said.

One policewoman told Lynne and Carole that she had been there all day and hadn't seen one celebrity up close. But she did check out one limo and came back and told them Kirsten Duntz was inside.

After watching the Oscar show on television at a nearby restaurant, they had to get up at 4 a.m. the next morning to get to the check-in point for Oprah's show. Even though they were staying directly across the street from the Kodak Theatre, the check-in point for the 3,000 invited guests was at the Hollywood Bowl, a little over three miles away.

"We took a cab over at 5:30 a.m.," Lynne said. There was already a line of a couple hundred people when they arrived. Some of those people had arrived at 4:15 a.m., she said.

"We were all talking and snacking — it was cold, though. 39 degrees."

It was around 7 a.m. by the time they got checked in, and got their wristbands that denoted where they'd be sitting when they got to the show.

By 8:30 a.m., they got on the bus (one of about 40 taking people to the theater), and they finally got to their seats — in the second balcony — by 9 a.m.

They did have a good view of the stage, however, Lynne said. And there were two big screens to get a close-up view of everyone onstage.

A motivational staff member came out while they waited for the show to begin. "She had us jumping around and doing the wave," Lynne said.

Then the taping started at 10 a.m.

"It was so exciting to look down. Gayle came out , and everyone was yelling! You could see Oprah behind the screen, and everyone was just wild," Lynne said.

During the commercials, "people came out and were fussing with her hair. I didn't see one hair out of place," Lynne said.

After the show, Lynne said Oprah was "very gracious. She thanked everyone for coming," and even noted that she knew it was confusing to get there.

"Thank heavens we didn't have to take the buses back!" They could just walk back across the street to their hotel after the show.

They did check out Grauman's Chinese Theatre and all the famous hand and footprints there. They saw the stars' stars in the pavement on Hollywood Boulevard, and noticed a wreath that had been placed on the star of actress Jane Russell, who died Feb. 28.

And they took a two-hour tour of the stars' mansions. The tour guide pointed out homes to dozens and dozens of stars, including the home Michael Jackson rented, where he died; where Danny Thomas used to live; the David and Victoria Beckham mansion; Jennifer Anniston's house; where Lucille Ball used to live; Rosemary Clooney's former estate; and others.

A visit to Madam Tussauds Hollywood allowed for a little more star-gazing, but of the wax variety.

E! broadcast from the lobby of their hotel, and Lynne said she knew that model Holly Madison was staying there as a hairdresser told them while riding in the elevator that he was on his way to do her hair.

All-in-all, it was a pretty exciting jaunt to Hollywood, and worth the time, money and effort to be where all the Oscar action was, Lynne said. Having lived in the area just out of college, Lynne loved being back in her old stomping grounds!


• The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel has a long history of catering to the show biz elite. It was founded in 1927 by a syndicate of Hollywood luminaries (which included Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Sid Grauman and Louis B. Mayer) to house east coast movie-makers who were working on the west coast. At its grand opening, superstars of the day, such as Will Rogers, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Clara Bow, Greta Garbo and Gloria Swanson, were on hand for the inaugural celebration.

• When Clark Gable and Carole Lombard stayed in the penthouse of the Roosevelt, it cost them just $5 a night — that same suite today would cost $3,500.

• During Prohibition, a young Errol Flynn prepared his famous gin recipe in the back room of the hotel's barber shop.

• An even younger Shirley Temple took her first tap-dancing lesson (from Bill "Bojangles" Robinson) on the hotel's ornate tile stairway.

• Actor Lew Ayres was discovered in the Blossom Room when he asked an actress to dance and was noticed by her agent.

• David Niven roomed in the servants' quarters when he first came to Hollywood.

• Mary Martin began her singing career performing at the hotel's nightclub, the "Cinegrill," for $35 a week.

• Marilyn Monroe posed on the diving board of the hotel's swimming pool for her first-ever ad (for suntan lotion).

• There's a rumor that the Hollywood Roosevelt is haunted - not by just one, but by two celebrity ghosts! The staff claims that the ghost of actor Montgomery Clift haunts the ninth floor (suite No. 928), where he used to pace the halls back in 1953, memorizing his lines while making "From Here to Eternity." Tales told are of loud noises coming from the empty suite, and of phones left mysteriously off the hook. The other apparition is said to be that of Marilyn Monroe, whose image is said to occasionally appear in a full-length mirror which used to hang in her poolside suite (the mirror is now next to the elevator on the lower level).

• The hotel has been featured in several films. 1988's "Sunset," starring Bruce Willis as Tom Mix and James Garner as Wyatt Earp, was set at the Roosevelt. The climatic scene had them in a showdown with bad guy Malcolm McDowell and the police in the hotel lobby. The exterior of the hotel appeared in the 1998 remake of "Mighty Joe Young." Look for it in the night time scene where the giant gorilla rampages down Hollywood Boulevard and climbs up the Chinese Theatre, with police helicopters circling over the Cinegrill sign. Other movies on location shot at the Roosevelt include "Internal Affairs" (with Richard Gere), "Beverly Hills Cop II" (with Eddie Murphy), and numerous TV shows such as "Knot's Landing" and "Moonlighting."


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