On a recent trip to Palm Springs (my first, and may I say the airport there is quite delightful) we visited the Dinah Shore Golf course. Now no one under forty will likely know who she was but she was a very talented lady who could sing and act and had her own TV show beginning in the 50’s and ending in the 70’s though it changed names throughout. Founded in 1972 by Dinah Shore, the first major tournament of the year on the LPGA Tour is played on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club. Only the PGA Tour’s Masters at Augusta National has had a longer continuous run of any major tournament at a single venue on either the men’s or women’s professional golf tours.
Palm Springs has roads named after the first celebrities that had their winter homes there – Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Gene Autry, Dinah Shore, Bing Crosby, Jack Benny, George Burns and Gracie Allen, among others – google them if you’d like to find out their contributions to TV, the theatre and show business at large. All these people have crossed to the great beyond but have left a legacy of film and TV credits behind along with the odd Emmy and Oscar thrown in.
Though now considered dinosaurs of the industry when Palm Springs first sprang from the desert, they were the elite or creme de creme of “Hollywood Stars” at the pinnacle of their success. Their homes were made to accommodate an indoor-outdoor lifestyle and there’s a seamlessness in the way one moves from inside the house to a large backyard and pool.
The two things that struck me most on my visit – it has the retro mad men look to it with a lot of the homes built with a space age feel to them – and the fact that a lot of the golfers had golf carts which reflected their status in the community or the type of car they drove as shown below
I just found this so extravagant and flagrant one-up-manship! It reminded me of the gold chains a lot of the sports superstars wear around their neck – it’s just such a cock on the walk kind of thing. My brother told me they probably cost about $14,000 each. For a golf cart for heaven’s sake!
The other thing that surprised me was that Bob Hope (whom I’ve always considered a kind of conservative guy for his day) had the most stunning home imaginable. Very modern and futuristic and one I would never have associated with the down to earth love-able persona I’d seen on screen.
Looking more like a bandshell in a park somewhere or a flying saucer that just landed it could be viewed more as cold and impersonal because of all the cement but I found it quite fascinating as I could not match the man to the house. I think perhaps his wife had more of the design influence than he but I don’t know for sure. The architect was John Lautner who also designed the Elrod House prominently featured in the James Bond film “Diamonds are Forever” among several other modernistic structures in Palm Springs.
All in all we quite enjoyed our stay in Palm Springs as the weather was gorgeous every day; the food was delicious, and the drinks by the pool most life-affirming! If you should find yourself in Palm Springs be sure to take a tour on Dinah Shore Drive or Bob Hope Drive and if there on a Thursday night check out the Villagefest street fair from 6-10 pm. Park at the one end, stroll through the vendors and have a margarita (or dinner) at the Blue Coyote at the other end. You’ll be able to walk off any calories going back to the car.