American Popular Culture Home American Popular Culture Home
American Popular Culture Home About Americana Contact Americana American Popular Culture Archive
Emerging Pop Culture
Magazine Home
Become a member!
Receive our
Venues: Places in American Popular Culture Visit the Venues Archive

Oh, to mingle with the stars of eras past. To hear the tales of decadence and glory, of pain and pleasures. To hear Garbo ordering breakfast at three pm, Salvadore Dali discussing the relevance of his art and dismissing its scrutiny, Brando, well, just one glimpse of Brando. Just one glimpse.

Although those experiences may not be possible, in the sensual heat of Palm Springs, they slide just a little bit closer. Here we found a little known oasis, the Ingleside Inn, which was and still is host to many celebrities who sought and still seek sanctuary in the healing, peaceful desert.

Rita Hayworth, Gary Cooper, and Spencer Tracy are said to have frequented the Ingleside to recuperate after grueling months spent shooting films. John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn were often spotted here sipping cocktails while Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell have been seen by the pool. The inn is also a well-known haven for recovering from a unique Southern California hobby, cosmetic surgery.

Once a dramatic estate built by the owners of the Pierce Arrow automobile company, the Humphrey Birge family, this elegant hideaway at the foot of the San Jacinto Mountains was bought by Ruth Hardy in 1935 and converted into an exclusive inn. Patrons could not even call for a reservation; they had to be invited. After Hardy passed away, the inn fell into disrepair, but, in 1975, it was bought and renovated by Mel Haber and is now considered an official Palm Springs Historic Landmark.

And what a landmark it is. The Ingleside has only thirty rooms, no two of which are alike, and here time appears suspended. Amenities once thought long gone, like complimentary champagne and genuine antiques, adorn each room where a night spent in bed beckons thoughts of the famous and their forbidden love, of romance in a time when sex was still a secret.

Most rooms boast steam baths and whirlpool tubs, private courtyards and wood burning fireplaces. Melvyn's, Palm Springs' "most romantic restaurant," lives within the walls of this inn, and a piano bar aptly named the Casablanca Room, nightly emanates the sounds of jazz and ice clicking in tumblers. Wait, I know that voice, I'm sure it's Clark Gable. And that over there must be Sinatra. Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn in an argument…

Why do we fall in love with landmarks like these? Because the walls, the carpets, the champagne glasses and the real silver silverware hold within them the echoes, the reverberations of our culture, our history, our heritage, and we hope that if we sit in that chair or sleep in that bed, we might just learn something of our past and thus something of our future.

Can it be so? Can the walls of the Ingleside Inn tell us the stories they have witnessed, the loves they have shared, the passions they have embraced? Or are those all secrets they must protect?

Do I see Howard Hughes sipping a martini over there? Or is it only a mirage?

March 2001

[back to top]

Home | About Us | Contact | Archive

All materials on this site © 2001 Americana: The Institute for the Study of American Popular Culture
Website Created by Cave Painting