I don't know if you would call me a restaurant, hotel, or movie groupie. In reality, I am none of the above. I am a travel groupie with an insatiable curiosity…one who likes to check out places where some of my favorite movies were filmed. Come, take a peek with me at places where I slept, ate, drank, and followed the stars.
QUEEN MARY: The Queen Mary was my raison de etre (reason for being) in Long Beach. Although I have sailed on some 140 cruises, the sight of a cruise ship still ignites concupiscent feelings in me. And, although she no longer sails, the Queen Mary still takes me away. Once the largest luxury liner afloat, the Queen Mary has been Long Beach's flagship attraction since its final voyage in 1967. Once a World War II troops ship bigger than the Titanic, the Queen Mary is now a hotel where a restaurant scene from Robert Redford's "The Natural" was shot.
QUEEN MARY--LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA
KATZ'S DELICATESSAN: "Forget the corned beef and pastrami. One need only think about eating at Katz's Deli, in New York City's Lower East Side and the first thing that comes into mind is Meg Ryan's euphoria in "When Harry Met Sally". When Director Rob Reiner cast his mother at the table across from Ryan and Billy Crystal, I doubt that even he knew that his mother's one-liner, following Meg Ryan's fake orgasm (I'll have what she's having"), would steal the show and become a classic movie line.
HOTEL DEL CORONADO: The stretch of Southern California, from Los Angeles to San Diego/Coronado, has been called the American Riviera and the Victorian-style (circa 1888) Hotel del Coronado may well be the jewel in its crown. This National Historic Landmark, a rambling white clapboard legend with red-peaked roof, crimson turrets, and lazy verandas, is said to be "one-third sun, one-third sand, one-third fairy tale". In 1958, the Del became the backdrop for the shenanigans of Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Joe E. Brown, when they filmed "Some Like It Hot" at the hotel. From my luxurious Victorian suite overlooking the Pacific Ocean, I could almost see Marilyn and Tony toasting their champagne flutes as they conned each other on Joe E. Brown's yacht.
HOTEL DEL CORONADO—CORONADO, CALIFORNIA: The stretch of Southern California, from Los Angeles to San Diego/Coronado, has been called the American Riviera and the Victorian-style (circa 1888) Hotel del Coronado may well be the jewel in its crown. This National Historic Landmark, a rambling white clapboard legend with red-peaked roof, crimson turrets, and lazy verandas, is said to be "one-third sun, one-third sand, one-third fairy tale". In 1958, the Del became the backdrop for the shenanigans of Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Joe E. Brown, when they filmed "Some Like It Hot" at the hotel. From my luxurious Victorian suite overlooking the Pacific Ocean, I could almost see Marilyn and Tony toasting their champagne flutes as they conned each other on Joe E. Brown's yacht.
HOTEL DEL CORONADO—CORONADO, CALIFORNIA
POMPILIOS: This authentic Italian restaurant, just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, is in Newport, Kentucky. It's my Italian restaurant of choice whenever I have a craving for Eggplant Parmigiana or Homemade Meat Sauce Lasagna. It is also the place in "Rain Man" where Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) and his mentally challenged brother Raymond (Dustin Hoffmann) stopped. And who can ever forget the memorable scene where the waitress drops a box of toothpicks. Raymond reveals his numerical skills by looking at the dropped toothpicks on the floor and correctly calculates that there are 246 of them scattered on the floor. FYI: It was a box of 250 toothpicks but 4 were left in the box.
PINK'S HOT DOGS: This Hollywood landmark, founded by Paul and Betty Pink in 1939 as a pushcart near the corner of La Brea and Melrose, is a Hollywood love story where a $50 loan became a Hollywood legend. The city fell in love with Pink's tasty chilidogs and friendly service, and 73 years later, Pink's has become a Hollywood landmark. Their celebrity-named hot dogs are often versions actually ordered by their namesakes. Pink's is featured in David Lynch's 2001 film, "Mulholland Drive" and in "The Golden Child", with Eddie Murphy.
PLAZA HOTEL OAK ROOM: This iconic New York Institution (that closed in 2011 but is possibly reopening in 2014) served as a backdrop for movies for over half a century. This classic richly wood-paneled restaurant was the dining spot where Charlie Simms (Chris O'Donnell) took the blind Lt. Col. Frank Slade (Al Pacino) for a last fling in "Scent of a Woman". It is also the spot where the eccentric, manic Arthur Bach (Dudley Moore) chose to dine with Times Square hooker Gloria (Anna De Salvo) in the 1981 movie "Arthur".
PLAZA HOTEL—NEW YORK CITY
RUSSIAN TEA ROOM: The Russian Tea Room, with its Russian Modernist décor, is a few doors away from Carnegie Hall. Founded in 1926 by members of the Russian Imperial Ballet, it has had it share of openings and closings. This New York icon might best be known for the scene in "Tootsie" where Dustin Hoffman, dressed as a woman, appeared for lunch with his agent. It is also the restaurant where Madonna worked as a coat check girl before she became famous. Today, The Russian Tea Room still hosts New York's elite.
GRAND HOTEL: Somewhere in time, precisely 1980, I saw a movie filmed at The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan. The movie, entitled "Somewhere In Time", starred a young actor named Christopher Reeve who played the part of a writer who finds happiness in the past. Somewhere in time, precisely nineteen years later, I found myself at that very same circa 1887 island jewel, set on a bluff above the historic Straits of Mackinaw. Rocking on one of the 88 white wicker rockers, on the same endless porch that Reeve rocked on, and riding a horse-drawn carriage like the one that clip-clopped Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour around the palatial grounds, I too was transformed somewhere in time.
GRAND HOTEL--MACKINAC ISLAND, MICHIGAN
RICK'S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN: What can I say about a famous bar that never existed until it was the watering hole in my most favorite movie of all time…"Casablanca"? Ever since the movie, Rick's Café Américain has taken on a life all its own in cities around the world. During World War II, Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), runs the café that is an upscale nightclub and gambling den.
By far, the most popular item I spotted in all of Morocco was the Humphrey Bogart tee shirt for sale at the Bogie-decorated Casablanca Bar in Casablanca. There was only one problem. The glass-showcased shirt was so in demand that it was completely sold out.
One of these days I hope to see you enjoying some of my favorite movie backdrops. To quote Bogie in Casablanca: "Here's looking at you kid!"
JANET STEINBERG is the winner of 40 national Travel Writer Awards and a Travel Consultant with The Travel Authority in Mariemont, OH.