• Our History 5

Of Legends and Icons

Set on the former backlot of 20th Century Fox Studios, it’s no surprise that major moments in history have taken place in the storied ballroom of the Fairmont Century Plaza, from the Emmys to the Grammys to presidential state dinners. Originally deemed “The Hotel of the Future,” Century Plaza has a long history as a cultural epicenter, a home to industry disruptors, beloved Hollywood stars, American presidents, cultural trendsetters, and anyone looking to bask in the energy of it all. Here’s a look at our iconic place in history.

Our History 10

1961 Development

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 at the time for its many modern features.

Our History 1

1966 Grand Opening

The Century Plaza Hotel opened on June 1, 1966, in the Century City neighborhood of Los Angeles, on the former backlot of 20th Century Fox Studios. Fox still has its lot in the area, as well as its headquarters, Fox Plaza. As the highest building on the hill, where the Presidential Suite looked all the way to the Pacific Ocean, the Century Plaza Hotel dominated Century City, known as the City of the Century (20th).

Our History

1966 Cutting Edge Luxury

When the hotel first opened it offered cutting-edge technology that was advanced for its time, features such as central air and heating, electric blankets, built-in vanities, ice machines, and radios in the nightstands. It was even the first hotel to have color televisions in all of its rooms, a decade before reaching most American homes.

Our History 3

1969 Dinner of the Century

On the evening of August 13, 1969, President and Mrs. Nixon hosted the first Presidential state dinner outside of the White House, arguably the greatest state dinner held outside of Washington. Also known as the Dinner of the Century at the Century Plaza, the evening honored the safe return of the Apollo 11 astronauts. One thousand four hundred and forty people attended the star-studded gala., including more than 50 members of Congress, representatives from 83 foreign nations, and 14 members of the President’s Cabinet as well as the astronauts’ families, space and aviation pioneers, space-related committees, and the greatest stars of Hollywood. Gathering the likes of Mrs. Walt Disney, Ed and Don Nixon, Justice Warren Burger, Buddy Rodgers, and the widows of the astronauts of Apollo 1, all in one room.

Our History 9

1960-–2008 Presidential Celebrations

Century Plaza has always been popular with U.S. Presidents. And while every president since Ford has stayed at Century Plaza or visited in some capacity, 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.

Our History 7

1967 Emmy Awards

The 19th Primetime Emmy Awards were handed out at the hotel on June 4, 1967, with Lucille Ball of “The Lucy Show” winning Outstanding Actress in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series.

Our History 8

1970 Grammy Awards

The hotel hosted the 12th Annual Grammy Awards on March 11, 1970. 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, also receiving the Best Album Notes award for his contributions to his friend Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline.

Our History 11

1970 Sonny & Cher

Over the years many musicians and icons have performed at the hotel, but iconic duo Sonny & Cher used to perform nightly at the hotel and also recorded their first live album here in 1971.

Our History 12

1978 Return To The Century

Elton John performed his solo show Return To The Century at the hotel in 1978. A private show for industry executives, the show featured Elton John at his most uninhibited in his commentary between songs.

Our History 6

1993 Cream

Cream was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 by ZZ Top, who called the group 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.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 were also honored at this ceremony.

Our History 4

2002 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. Towards the end of his set, Wilson joined his friend for a rousing rendition of the Beatles’ classic ‘Let It Be’.

Our History 2

Present 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. Director’s Guild Awards, Emmys, Grammys, British American Film & Television Awards, Writer’s Guild Awards. From stately events to intimate affairs, Century Plaza has hosted it all, and continues to be the center for technology, music and entertainment.