Starlight Roof, Waldorf Astoria, New York 1949
The Waldorf Astoria Hotel was an icon of glamour and luxury when it was completed in 1931 and became a famous Art Deco landmark in midtown Manhattan.
This vintage artwork shows a glamorous lady warrior with a bow and arrow, accompanied by a unicorn, floating through the sky.
It was the front cover of the menu at the hotel’s elite Starlight Roof supper-club where performers such as Xavier Cugat, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Glenn Miller performed over many decades.
Located on the 19th floor, the roof of the nightclub could retract on warm summer evenings, allowing the elegantly dressed socialites who dined there to view the stars – and possibly, a unicorn and its owner. Guess it depended on how many martinis you had.
The Waldorf Astoria, a byword in luxury and sophistication, attracted so many high-profile guests that author Ward Morehouse III described it as ‘a kind of vertical Beverly Hills.’
Marilyn Monroe and her husband Arthur Miller lived at the hotel in the 1950s while the actress was filming The Seven Year Itch. Composer and songwriter Cole Porter had a six bedroom apartment there until his death in 1954 – his piano remains at the hotel. Frank Sinatra paid nearly $1 million a year to keep a suite at the hotel from 1979 till 1988.
In the 1930s, gangster Bugsy Siegel also owned an apartment at the Waldorf and other stars such as Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Judy Garland and Muhammad Ali were regular guests.
The legendary hotel closed its doors for a whopping $1 billion of renovations in 2017 and was due to be back this year with 375 hotel rooms and 375 luxury condos. The pandemic has put a break on those plans.
The retracting Starlight Roof no longer exists and it's not clear what the new owners have done with the former supper-club space. However, the grand ballroom which houses the Waldorf’s famous four- faced clock, which dates to 1893, will be fully restored.
This menu is dated July 5, 1949 when another glamorous evening unfolded at The Starlight Roof.
Courtesy Private Collection.
Each print is accompanied by a copy of the interior menu.