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Loraine Colonello and Diane Keaton

Ambassador Hotel

Actresses Diane Keaton and Jamie Luner, Ken Bernstein (Los Angeles Conservancy Director of Preservation Issues), Andrew Meieran (The Liquid Trust), and others, shared fond memories and tears as they bid farewell to old Hollywood landmark, The Ambassador Hotel at the Gaylord Apartments and HMS Bounty.

Long-time hotel resident Carlyn Frank Benjamin appeared solemn as she gazed upon the remains of what was once the glitz and glamour hotspot frequented by former presidents Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon and celebrities Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Barbara Streisand.

“My childhood is gone,” Benjamin said with melancholy. “It just disappeared. I'm seeing the whole first 17 years of my life pass in front of me.”

Well-known for American celebration (Oscars®) and tragedy (The Robert F. Kennedy assassination), The Ambassador Hotel closed its illustrious doors in 1989. Since then, the Mid-Wilshire icon has become a major backdrop in television, music videos, and movies, including Academy Award-winning films Beaches and The Graduate.

The future of the Hollywood gem sparked a heated debate in 2004 between the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), late attorney Lawrence Teeter, and the Los Angeles Conservancy. While LAUSD wished to convert the former celebrity playground into a new school, Teeter, counsel for convicted RFK assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, wanted to conduct additional testing in the pantry where Kennedy was shot. Preservationists, however, hoped to incorporate the hotel’s history into the construction plans for the new school. Following year-long litigation, the parties agreed to include the famed Cocoanut Grove Nightclub on the grounds of the new school.
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