It Was as Simple as Asking the Question
By Tom Morrow
In April 1964, I was vice president for communication and historical archives at the Hotel del Coronado. The venerable ol’ girl had been the site of dozens of Hollywood films, but none more popular and memorable as Billy Wilder’s comedy, “Some Like It Hot.”
The hotel’s owner, Larry Lawrence, was rather insistent I come up with some sort of stunt that would “upstage” the grand opening of the Inter-Continental Hotel, which was to open in that month. It took me about two hours to hit upon what I thought would be “boffo.” That month marked the 25th anniversary of the comedy’s release. It starred Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Marilyn Monroe. Why not hold a big bash celebrating the movie’s birthday.
The result was a weekend of celebrities in attendance, including Wilder, Lemmon, and Curtis, plus other featured actors like Mike Mazurka. Understandably, Miss Monroe, George Raft, and Joe E. Brown missed it due to a higher calling. The event lured all three TV networks, along with one from Australia and Wilder’s native Austria. More than a dozen newspapers sent reporters.
Part of the celebration was a 10-minute video interview by KGTV’s Jack White of Lemmon and Wilder. To put the icing on the affair, Jack said he would play the interview at that evening’s banquet as part of the entertainment.
But, I wanted to take more advantage of these historic interviews. If I could find a copy of the movie, maybe I could get one of the local TV stations to run it the week of the event. (This was before the advent of home videos). At that time XETV, Channel 6 ran a weekly “Night at the Movies.” And, as it turned out, they had a copy of the film. Station Manager Raf Algren agreed to run it on their show the week of my event, but with the proviso they could run the Channel 10 interview Jack White had put together for his rival KGTV. The deal was made. Channel 6 ran it on Thursday night before the big weekend. It turned out to be the opening for a memorable three-day event.
This was the perfect example of what can be done by simply asking the question. Those who were in attendance that weekend will never forget it – I know I won’t. Every so often, Jack and I get together to reminisce. Don’t know where Raf is these days, but if he’s reading this, know we remember and well appreciated his kindly cooperation.
GREAT QUOTES: “There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full. – Henry Kissenger
SCAG SEZ: “Flattery is something you say to somebody to their face that you would never say behind their back. — Cecil Scaglione, www.maturelifefeatures.com
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