Let’s Make A Deal- Chateau Marmont And Other Iconic Locations

After decades of serving as the scene for making and breaking Hollywood dreams, some iconic Los Angeles locations are still going strong

When we first meet Albert Ruddy circa 1965 in the new Paramount Plus streaming series, The Offer, he’s an analyst at the Rand Corporation by day, but by night, he’s wheeling and dealing his way through the Los Angeles party circuit to launch a new career as a Hollywood producer.

During that era, a chance encounter at Chasen’s or a late-night drink at Musso & Frank could mean the difference between a green light for a budding project or a detour into development hell.

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For Ruddy, the hub of his power play for Hollywood glory became the Chateau Marmont, where he dated the then-owner of the iconic hotel, Françoise Glazer, and made the connections that would eventually land him the role of producer for one of the all-time greatest movies in Hollywood history, The Godfather.

Flash forward more than fifty years to 2022 to the opening scenes of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, and we see a thinly veiled fictional version of Nicolas Cage pulling up to the Chateau Marmont to meet real-life director David Gordon Green for a pitch meeting not so different from the ones that Ruddy held at the Chateau decades before.

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During its 90-plus year history on the Sunset Strip, the Chateau Marmont has served as a popular spot for artists and dealmakers alike. Legendary director Billy Wilder always credited his stay at the Chateau Marmont as the inspiration for the idea that would become his Oscar-winning screenplay for Sunset Boulevard. The entire cast of Rebel Without a Cause would meet at director Nicholas Ray’s bungalow at the Chateau Marmont for pre-production rehearsals and became so comfortable with the surroundings that Ray requested the set designer to recreate the bungalow as the home of James Dean’s character in the film. Then, in a callback to the Chateau Marmont’s role in the making of The Godfather 40 years earlier, Sofia Coppola, filmmaker and daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, rented out the entire fifth floor for three weeks in 2009 to feature the hotel as the setting of her movie, Somewhere.

The Chateau Marmont is among the few iconic locations of Los Angeles lore that has withstood the test of time. Here’s a look at the famous dealmaking places of classic Hollywood that are still standing or have been demolished into the dustbin of moviemaking history. 


The Brown Derby

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Often confused with its earlier counterpart on Wilshire Boulevard, the second Brown Derby near Hollywood and Vine became the place to do deals because of its proximity to the movie studios.

Legend has it that Clark Gable proposed to Carole Lombard at the Derby, and rival gossip columnists, Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper, were regulars to keep track of A-list celebrities and studio heads.

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The Brown Derby reached its peak of pop culture awareness when an episode of I Love Lucy was shot in the dining room with the cast of the hit show and a cameo by movie star William Holden.

As with so many Hollywood hotspots before and since, the Brown Derby eventually lost its luster and closed its doors for the final time in 1985 before being demolished after the 1994 Northridge earthquake.


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Chasen’s opened a few years after the original Brown Derby, but its run as a Hollywood hotspot extended all the way through the 80’s and 90’s. Located on Beverly Boulevard on the border of West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, Chasen’s was the place to be seen for nearly 60 years.

Bill Grady, the top casting director of the 1930’s who had his own table at Chasen’s, once said, “I did more business there, and I signed more actors there than anywhere else.”

Dave Chasen originally launched the restaurant as a barbecue stand, but as its reputation and square footage grew over the years, it was the chili recipe that made Chasen’s world famous after one of the restaurant’s regulars, Elizabeth Taylor, ordered 10 pounds to be delivered to her movie set in Rome in 1962 while filming Cleopatra.


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The old building is now a Bristol Farms, but the new owners have preserved some of the Chasen’s history with a special dining area featuring the original booths from the restaurant’s heyday.

The Cocoanut Grove

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A decade before the Chateau Marmont became a fixture on what would later be called the Sunset Strip, the Ambassador Hotel attracted the stars and studio heads who lived closer to its Wilshire Boulevard location in nearby Hancock Park with a new nightclub concept called The Cocoanut Grove.

Converted from a large ballroom, the décor mixed together elements from all over the world and seated a 1000 people. The Academy Awards were held there five times, and scenes from two different versions of A Star is Born were filmed in the space.

The nightclub transitioned to more of a live music venue in the Fifties and Sixties before falling into disrepair in the Seventies. After closing permanently in 1989, it became a popular film location until it and the entire Ambassador Hotel were demolished in 2006.


Dan Tana’s

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Conveniently located around the corner from the former home of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Dan Tana’s was one of the first West Hollywood restaurants to keep its kitchen open past Midnight, and the movers and shakers of Hollywood took notice.

Army Archerd consistently name-dropped Dan Tana’s in his Variety column, and the establishment received the ultimate endorsement when Johnny Carson told a national audience on The Tonight Show that it was his favorite restaurant in L.A. 

Unlike Chasen’s and The Brown Derby, Dan Tana’s has been able to stand the test of time and changing tastes in Hollywood. A longtime agent who has made deals at the restaurant for all of the Big Three talent agencies over the years says he has clients who have “fond memories of going to Dan Tana’s with their parents and sometimes their grandparents.”

Formosa Cafe

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The Formosa Cafe first opened in its current location at the intersection of Santa Monica and Formosa in 1939. Except for a six-year period when it was undergoing renovations, it has remained a haven for stars and studio heads, whose faces from years past still line the walls of the modern-day dining room.

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When it first opened, The Formosa Cafe was unique among Hollywood hotspots for its Asian influences in both its décor and its menu, and that theme has been enhanced in the recent remodel with more attention paid to the role of Chinese Americans in the early days of Hollywood including Lem Quon, whose family owned and managed the restaurant for generations.

When a planned expansion of the Warner Brothers lot in 1991 threatened to turn The Formosa Cafe into a parking lot, longtime patrons and preservationists rallied to save the restaurant. When asked about why The Formosa Cafe deserved to be spared from the wrecking ball, director John Waters told the New York Times, “I always thought this is exactly what Hollywood should look like.”

Musso & Frank

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One of the only iconic Hollywood hotspots that has outlasted the Chateau Marmont is Musso & Frank, which opened at its original location in 1919, when Charlie Chaplin would arrive on horseback and keep an eye on the animal from his booth with a view.

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With the exception of a few added ingredients, the menu has barely changed at Musso & Frank during its 100-year-history, and neither has its famous martini, which has been named one of the best martinis in America for decades.

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In Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, set in 1969, a Hollywood agent played by Al Pacino meets Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, an aging TV star named Rick Dalton, at Musso & Frank to offer him a chance to be a movie star. More than a century after its opening, Musso & Frank remains as a place where Hollywood dreams can come true.

The Polo Lounge

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While iconic spots like Musso & Frank and Dan Tana’s are more associated with the nightlife, The Polo Lounge has been a breakfast and lunch favorite of the stars and their agents since it opened in 1941 at the Beverly Hills Hotel. From the heyday of Errol Flynn to the rise of Marilyn Monroe, there’s no telling how many legendary deals have been made over the restaurant’s famous Dutch apple pancakes.

Before the cell phone era, being paged at the Polo Lounge was a sort of only-in-Hollywood status symbol, but perhaps the most famous phone call ever taken at one of the tables happened on the day that one of President Nixon’s aides learned of the Watergate burglary from G. Gordon Liddy over breakfast.

The novelist and writer Dominick Dunne once told the Los Angeles Times that the Polo Lounge was a “magical place. I’m kind of a voyeur in life, and I always love to watch the big deals that are going on there.”


Pacific Dining Car

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Since its early days in the Roaring Twenties, the Pacific Dining Car was one of the few Hollywood hotspots that was actually located in downtown Los Angeles. The motif of the modified dining car, which mimicked the railway experience, was the original draw for patrons, but it was the cut of the steaks that brought famous customers back.

From movie gangsters like George Raft to real-life gangsters like Micky Cohen, celebrities of all types made the trip to the heart of the city, where Hollywood columnist Louella Parsons would snag a table to keep tabs on the famous clientele.

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You can spot interior scenes from the Pacific Dining Car in memorable movies like Chinatown and Training Day, but the restaurant’s fate is in limbo after the owners auctioned off most of its assets when it closed during the pandemic. Today, the Pacific Dining Car offers its famous steaks via online sales, but there is no timetable for the restaurant to reopen its doors.