Faces, Films, & Moments

NORTH BY NORTHWEST
1959

Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller North By Northwest marks the first time The Plaza was prominently featured on the big screen. (By the year 2000, The Plaza had become New York’s most popular film site.) One of North By Northwest’s memorable scenes takes place in the Oak Bar, where Cary Grant gets kidnapped, but then quickly escapes through the fifty-ninth street entrance.

THE WAY WE WERE
1973

The 1973 romantic comedy starring Robert Redford and Barbara Streisand ranked number six on AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Passions survey of the greatest love stories in American cinema. In a famous scene, Barbara Streisand (Katie) meets Robert Redford (Hubbell) by chance at the Fifth Avenue entrance of The Plaza.

THE FRONT
1976

The 1976 comedy about the Hollywood blacklist stars Woody Allen and Zero Mostel. The blacklist made many actors, writers and directors unemployable if they were accused of being in support of Communism. The Front takes place in the early 1950’s in New York City, and one of the scenes takes place in a suite at The Plaza .

HOME ALONE 2
1992

The Plaza was prominently featured in the 1992 blockbuster Home Alone 2. Macaulay Culkin (Kevin), stays at The Plaza un-chaperoned while he is lost in New York, and hijinks ensue.

SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE
1993

In this classic romantic comedy, starring Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan and Bill Pullman The Plaza is featured when Pullman (Walter) stays at the hotel after arriving in New York. In a famous scene, he reunites with his fiance Meg Ryan (Annie) in front of the Fifth Avenue entrance.

BRIDE WARS
2009

Final scene with Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson filmed at The Palm Court. The movies was set at The Plaza, yet filmed mostly in Boston at The Plaza’s sister property, the Fairmont Copley Plaza since The Plaza was still undergoing renovations.

THE GREAT GATSBY
2013

The film that was based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel of the same name has it’s climactic scene set at The Plaza. The film was written and directed by Baz Luhrman and starred Leonardo Dicaprio as Jay Gatsby, and also included Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan.

TRUMAN CAPOTE

The famed novelist hosted “The Black and White Ball” in 1966 in The Grand Ballroom in celebration of In Cold Blood. He had just finished writing his masterpiece when he planned what is often referred to as the “party of the century.”

GRETA GARBO

The Swedish film actress took part in a series of pictures, later known as the “passport photos,” with British designer Cecil Beaton in 1946. The two were close friends and many revisionist biographers claim that the pair conducted a four-month long love affair in Cecil Beaton’s suite

JOHN LENNON

The legendary musician stayed at The Plaza when The Beatles first visited America. In the 1970’s, he also frequented The Oyster Bar while he was living in New York.

JACKIE ONASSIS

In 1969, the Onassises were the most famous couple in the world. Mrs. Aristotle Onassis and her husband frequented The Plaza and Trader Vic’s throughout their years in New York.

ELIZABETH TAYLOR

In 1968, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were the most famous couple in the world. In February of that year they held a press conference to promote their latest film, Doctor Faustus.

DONALD TRUMP

The Donald purchased The Plaza in July 1988 for $390 million. In 1993 he married his second wife Marla Maples at the legendary hotel.

MARLENE DIETRICH

The legendary German-American actress took up residency at The Plaza in the spring of 1948. She stayed in suite 317-325, which was decorated by famed interior decorator Lady Mendl.

CONRAD HILTON

The American hotelier and founder of Hilton Hotels bought The Plaza in 1943. Known as “the King of Innkeepers,” Conrad Hilton bought the legendary hotel for the bargain sum of $7.5 million. He soon installed The Oak Bar, which quickly became one of the hotel’s most popular spaces.

LIZA MINNELLI

For forty-one years, The Persian Room at The Plaza showcased a wide array of talented performers. Liza Minnelli was frequently showcased there in her early years as a performer.

YOKO ONO

In the 1970’s, the multi-media artist, singer, and peace activist made numerous visits to The Plaza’s Oyster Bar with John Lennon.

KAY THOMPSON

Miss Kay Thompson began her career in the music industry as a singer and vocal arranger, but she is best known for being the creator of the legendary Eloise children’s books.

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT

The world-famous architect arrived in New York in early 1953 to oversee the construction of the Guggenheim Museum. For the following six years he lived in suite 223-225 at The Plaza.

ALFRED GWYNNE VANDERBILT IS THE FIRST GUEST
October 1, 1907

After two years of construction The Plaza opens to the public on October 1st, 1907. Just as the The Plaza first opened its doors at 9:00 AM, a carriage pulled up carrying the new hotel’s first guest- Alfred Gwyne Vanderbilt, the young millionaire sportsman and member of the famous Vanderbilt family.

MRS. PATRICK CAMPBELL LIGHTS A CIGARETTE
November 15, 1907

The British star known to her fans as “Mrs. Pat” sparked controversy while staying at The Plaza. After ordering dinner she lit up a perfumed Egyptian cigarette and proceeded to smoke it. This occurred in an age when such a thing was unheard-of, and soon the headwaiter appeared and insisted Mrs. Campbell put out the cigarette. She replied, “My good man, I understand this is a free country. I shall do nothing to change it.” The press got wind of the story and a debate started over the ills of smoking. Soon smoking was banned in New York City subways, a law which was said to have come about as a result of this incident.

THE DUKE OF WINDSOR CELEBRATES AN ANNIVERSARY
December 11, 1946

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor frequented The Plaza during their time in New York. In 1946, the Duke and Duchess attended the December Ball, a benefit for disabled veterans. It was a particularly special night because the day of the Ball coincided with the tenth anniversary of the duke’s abdication of the throne of England.

PATRICIA KENNEDY WEDS PETER LAWFORD
April 24, 1954

Over the years there have been the many famous weddings at The Plaza, but one of the most notable ones occurred when Patricia Kennedy, daughter of Joseph and Rose Kennedy, married British film star Peter Lawford. The lavish wedding reception at The Plaza’s Ballroom included Jack, Bobby, and Teddy Kennedy.

MARILYN MONROE’S BROKEN SHOULDER STRAP
February 9th, 1956

Marilyn Monroe arrived at the Terrace Room on February 9th, 1956 to promote her latest film, The Prince and the Showgirl. Marilyn was wearing a revealing black velvet dress with thin straps, and during the conference when the actress leaned forward one of the shoulder straps broke. The broken strap incident made the front pages across the country, however the event was hardly an incident. According to the designer of the dress, the strap breaking was arranged to break in advance!

NORTH BY NORTHWEST
August, 1958

Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller North By Northwest marked the first time The Plaza was prominently featured on the big screen. (By the year 2000, The Plaza became New York’s most popular film site.) One of North By Northwest’s memorable scenes took place in the Oak Bar, where Cary Grant got kidnapped, but then quickly escaped through the Fifty-ninth Street entrance.

JOHN AND JACKIE KENNEDY
December 8th, 1959

Politicians have frequented the legendary hotel throughout the years, and every U.S. president since William Taft has made an appearance at The Plaza. On December 8th, 1959, Senator and Mrs. John F. Kennedy arrived in The Plaza’s Ballroom for the Wild West Ball benefitting a pet charity.

THE BEATLES ARRIVE
February 7th, 1964

In 1964, The Beatles conquered America. They spent five days living at The Plaza during which time they played two shows at Carnegie Hall and appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. On February 10th, 1964, The Beatles held a press conference in the Baroque Room where they were presented with gold records for their single “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and their album “Meet The Beatles.”

THE BLACK AND WHITE BALL
November 28th, 1966

The guest list of Truman Capote’s fabled party featured a who’s who of the era: Frank Sinatra, Norman Mailer, Rose Kennedy, and Andy Warhol, were some of the famous faces seen at what is considered by many to be the Party of the Century. All guests were required to wear masks, as Truman thought this would allow the guests to be more uninhibited. At midnight they removed the masks and the party continued!

JULIE NIXON WEDS DAVID EISENHOWER
December 22nd, 1968

First Daughter-elect Julie Nixon’s wedding to David Dwight Eisenhower II was one of the most notable weddings at The Plaza. He was the grandson of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, who unfortunately could not attend the event as he was being hospitalized at the time. Julie Nixon’s father Richard Nixon was able to attend his daughter’s big day, and so were other renowned politicians such as Spiro Agnew and Thomas Dewey.

NOW STAGES A PROTEST
February 12th, 1969

Protesting the Oak Room’s men-only policy at lunch, the National Organization for Women (more commonly known as NOW) staged a sit-in at The Plaza. The protest began at the Fifth Avenue entrance, and proceeded into the Oak Room where they sat down during lunch and waited to be served. After waiting for four hours and not being served, the group departed. The protest garnered significant press, and the incident proved to not be in vain, as four months later the Oak Room’s lunchtime men’s only policy was rescinded.

THE PLAZA GETS LIGHTED UP
August, 1995

The first ever Victoria’s Secret fashion show was held at The Plaza in August 1995. To promote the show, The Plaza was completely illuminated in violet light. At once, the Victoria’s Secret fashion show was one of the hottest tickets in town, and quickly became the most well known fashion show in the world.