The Hollywood Knickerbocker Hotel – Not So Secret Obsession


The Hollywood Knickerbocker Apartments, formerly the Knickerbocker Hotel, is a senior home located at 1714 Ivar Avenue in Los Angeles, California. Built in 1925 by E.M. Frasier in Spanish Colonial Revival style, the historic hotel catered to the region’s nascent film industry, and is the site for some of Hollywood’s most famous dramatic moments. Rudolf Valentino was a regular at the bar before his death in 1926. On Halloween 1936, Harry Houdini’s widow held her tenth séance to contact the magician on the roof of the hotel. Frances Farmer was arrested in her room at the hotel in 1943, after skipping a visit with her parole officer. In 1948, studio head D. W. Griffith died of a cerebral hemorrhage on the way to a Hollywood hospital, after being discovered unconscious in his room at the Knickerbocker.

The hotel retained its glamor through the 1950s. Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio often met in the hotel bar. Elvis Presley stayed at the hotel (Room 1016) while making his first film, Love Me Tender (1956).


On December 1, 1954, a camera crew from the NBC program “This is Your Life” surprised retired comedy legends Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy in room 205 of the hotel. The duo was relaxing there with a couple of friends who were in on the gag. While both comedians were polite throughout the show, Stan Laurel was apparently privately somewhat displeased to be put on television without his consent or prior notice.

In 1962 celebrated Hollywood costume designer Irene, believed to be despondent over Gary Cooper’s death, committed suicide by jumping from her 11th floor room window.

On March 3, 1966, veteran character actor William Frawley was strolling down Hollywood Boulevard after seeing a film when he suffered a major heart attack. His male nurse dragged him to the hotel where he died in the lobby. Contrary to popular belief, Frawley did not live in the hotel at the time. Although Frawley had spent nearly 30 years living in a suite upstairs, he had moved to the nearby El Royale Apartments several months before.

By the late 1960s, the neighborhood had deteriorated, and the hotel became a residence primarily for drug addicts and prostitutes. In 1970, a renovation project converted the hotel into housing for senior citizens; it continues in this capacity today. In 1999, a plaque honoring Griffith was placed in the lobby.

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