In 1961, developer William Zeckendorf and ALCOA bought about 180 acres from 20th Century Fox after the studio had suffered a string of expensive flops, culminating in the box-office disaster Cleopatra. The new owners conceived Century City as “a city within a city” with the arc-shaped, 19-story, 750-room Minoru Yamasaki-designed Century Plaza as the centerpiece of the new city. Designed and marketed as the “World’s Most Beautiful Hotel”, the Century Plaza was known for many modern and high-tech features such as being the first hotel to have color televisions
in all of its rooms.
The Century Plaza Hotel opened on June 1, 1966 in the Century City neighborhood of Los Angeles on the former back lot of 20th Century Fox Studios. Fox still has its lot in the neighborhood, as well as its headquarters, Fox Plaza. Century City, known as the City of the Century (20th), was dominated for much of its early history by the Century Plaza Hotel, as it was the highest building on the hill, where the Presidential Suite looked all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
cutting edge luxury
When the hotel first opened it had cutting-edge technology that was advanced for its time such as: central air and heating, electric blankets, built-in vanities, ice machines, radios in the nightstands, and was the first hotel to have color television; a decade before it reached most American homes.
Dinner of the century
On the evening of August 13, 1969, President and Mrs. Nixon hosted the first and only Presidential state dinner outside of the White House, also known as the Dinner of the Century at the Century Plaza, to honor the safe return of the Apollo 11 astronauts. Over 50 members of
Congress, representatives from 83 foreign nations and 14 members of the President’s Cabinet
attended the star-studded gala, often recognized as one of the greatest – if not the greatest –
state dinners held outside of Washington. One thousand four hundred and forty people attended this glamorous occasion, including the astronauts’ families, space and aviation pioneers, space-related committees, and the greatest stars of Hollywood. All in one room, one could find Mrs. Walt Disney, Ed and Don Nixon, Justice Warren Burger, Buddy Rodgers, and the widows of the astronauts of Apollo 1.
Century Plaza has always been popular with U.S. Presidents; in fact every president since Ford has
stayed at Century Plaza or visited in some capacity. However, the hotel is perhaps most closely
associated with Former President Ronald Reagan who often stayed and hosted many of his fundraisers
and inaugural celebrations in our storied ballroom. During this time, the hotel was frequently referred to
as the “Western White House.” Its heavy use by national and world leaders has made Century Plaza a
popular destination for political activism.
The 19th Primetime Emmy Awards were handed out at the hotel on June 4, 1967. Lucille Ball of “The Lucy Show” won Oustanding Actress in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series.
The 12th Annual Grammy Awards were held on March 11, 1970 at the hotel. Johnny Cash won Best Country Vocal Performance, Male, for “A Boy Named Sue.” Interestingly, the Man in Black wasn’t just honored for his vocal performance, but his literary performance as well, as he received the Best Album Notes award for his contributions to his friend Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline.
sonny & Cher
The iconic duo Sonny & Cher used to perform nightly at the hotel and also recorded their first live album here in 1971. Over the years many musicians and icons have performed at the hotel.
return to the century
Return To The Century was a solo show that Elton John performed at the hotel in 1978. It was a private show for industry executives and featured Elton John at his most uninhibited in his commentary between songs.
Cream was inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 by ZZ Top, calling them one of the most important bands in rock history. Music-industry executives, artists and rock fans stood on seats in the hotel ballroom and craned to see the group. Others honored at this ceremony were Ruth Brown, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Doors, Etta James, Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers, Van Morrison, Sly & The Family Stone, Dick Clark, Milt Gabler and Dinah Washington.
open hearts, clear minds
Paul McCartney was joined for the 2nd annual landmine benefit concert by the legendary Brian Wilson, who opened up the show at the Century Plaza before handing over to McCartney. Towards the end of his set, Wilson joined his friend for a rousing rendition of the Beatles’ classic ‘Let It Be’.
star studded affairs
Century Plaza has hosted countless star-studded galas, charity functions and important entertainment industry events over the course of its distinguished history, such as: Director’s Guild Awards, Emmys, Grammys, British American Film & Television Awards and Writer’s Guild Awards. From stately to intimate affairs Century Plaza has conducted it all and continues to be the center for technology, music and entertainment.