Howard Manor, Palm Springs 1960s
In 1936 Al Wertheimer, a reputed mobster and former member of the infamous Detroit-based Purple Gang of bootleggers and hijackers, opened the Colonial House hotel in Palm Springs, CA.
The Purple Gang had run riot in Detroit in the 1920s - also committing an estimated 500 murders - all while running the city’s Colony Club, where the gang hid its stashes of guns and ammunition.
The Spanish Colonial-style hotel on N Indian Canyon Drive soon proved a hit with Wertheimer’s gambling pals who appreciated the sun-drenched weather in Palm Springs and the underground speakeasy and brothel concealed in the basement.
Werthheimer also had financial interests in the lavishly decorated The Dunes nightclub in Cathedral City where illicit gambling took place.
After WWII, the hotel came under new ownership and was re-named Howard Manor.
The new owners were Robert Howard, son of Charles Howard who owned Seabiscuit, the undersized and temperamental thoroughbred whose unlikely success in racing proved a diversion to many Americans during the Great Depression, and his actress wife Andrea Leeds Howard.
Leeds Howard had been nominated in 1937 for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in Stage Door starring Katherine Hepburn and the following year lost out to Olivia De Havilland for the role of Melanie in Gone with the Wind.
In the ensuing decades, the glamorous couple turned the Howard Manor and its Academy Room supper club into a desert hot spot. Among the guests were boxing champion Jack Dempsey, locals Mary Pickford and Frank Sinatra, and future president Ronald Reagan.
The hotel changed hands again in 1956 and was run by Annie and Dave Margolis. Later, it was leased to fitness pioneer Sheila Cluff and her husband Don, who changed the name to The Palms.
Today the three-acre property is the four-star Colony Palms Hotel, owned by hotelier and designer Steve Hermann, and is one of Palm Spring’s most luxurious and sought-after hotels.
Each order includes a print of the interior menu.
All printed in USA.