The Famous & Infamous
Fame comes in a variety of forms. And The Roosevelt has seen virtually every kind during its more than 100-year history. In the process, the hotel has achieved its own celebrity. From every spectrum of society, The Roosevelt has attracted names that fill volumes of “Who’s Who in American History,” “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” and the “Social Register.”
Sonny and Cher, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe – all have dined, been wined or hosted at this iconic destination. Marlene Dietrich was among the cavalcade of performers appearing at the Blue Room – in her case, near the end of a lengthy career in 1975 and requesting oxygen between songs. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Audrey Hepburn, Ginger Rogers and Bob Hope were here. And style and beauty – what other words better describe Grace Kelly?
From politics, public service and royalty, the hotel has greeted many U.S. Presidents, including Calvin Coolidge, Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton; Gaganvihari Lallubhai Mehta, India’s ambassador to the United States; Her Royal Highness Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg; even U.S. Sen. Robert LaFollette of Wisconsin, who campaigned against the United Nations but ended up losing his seat to Joseph McCarthy.
And, of course, Huey Long, who had his own suite at the hotel. Long was so enamored of the hotel that he reportedly built Airline Highway from Baton Rouge to a location near the hotel to shorten his drive. The recreated “deduct box” located in the lobby pays tribute to the original, into which it was said government workers deposited “donations” to fund Long’s political aspirations. General Manager Seymour Weiss continued to serve as Long’s financial adviser until Long’s death by an assassin in 1935.
In New Orleans, few events generate the glamour and extravagance of Mardi Gras. Playing a key role in the festivities has been The Roosevelt as it hosted supper dances and grand marches for Carnival organizations such as Rex, Comus, the Knights of Babylon and others.
Dignitaries, too, have created their own kind of sparkle at The Roosevelt, including M.J. Rathbone, president of Standard Oil of New Jersey; Upton Close, the fabled war correspondent; even Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan, pilot of the sensational wrongway flight to Ireland instead of the California-bound trip he intended; and others equally as fascinating.
Throughout history, The Roosevelt has seen it all.