Monday, February 23, 2009

The Culver Hotel - Munchkinland

Culver Hotel - 9400 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA
The Culver Hotel located in downtown Culver City, near the Sony Studios (formerly MGM) and the Culver Studios, has had many famous residents over the years including Joan Crawford, Douglas Fairbanks, Greta Garbo, Frank Sinatra and Ronald Reagan. However, the most famous guests to stay at this hotel would probably be the Munchkins from the 1939 film the Wizard of Oz.
The Munchkins were apparently a rowdy bunch. According to Judy Garland, "They got smashed every night and the police had to pick them up in butterfly nets." MGM Studios producer Mervyn Leroy had his own acerbic comment about the munchkins saying, "They got into sex orgies at the hotel. We had to have police on every floor." Bert Lahr, the "cowardly lion" had this to say about the munchkins: "Many of the Munchkins were midgets who, in fact, made their living by panhandling, pimping and whoring. Assistants were ordered to watch the crew of midgets, who brandished knives and often conceived passions for other, larger Metro personnel." Most of the comments were likely untrue or exaggerated, nevertheless, they make for interesting stories.
Another legend has it that Charlie Chaplin who was once a part owner of the Culver Hotel sold the place to actor John Wayne for a dollar during a poker game. I'm not quite sure about the validity of this comment but it makes for another great tale.

Wizard of Oz (C) MGM Studios
In addition to housing visitors the Culver Hotel has also been used for filming. The hotel can be seen in old Laurel & Hardy and Our Gang Shorts and relatively more recently in The Wonder Years and 7th Heaven.
If you want to visit the hotel but don't want to stay the night there is a great bar in the lobby. Stop in to have a drink and check out some of the Wizard of Oz, Laurel & Hardy, and Our Gang memorabilia displayed in the ground floor windows.

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