Have you ever wondered how the Palms Springs, California became a magnet for so many celebrities?
Here’s the story…
Bing Crosby was one of the founding members of the area’s first tennis club in the 1930’s.
Photo from fanpix.netCelebrity residents
The area has been a magnet for Hollywood stars since the 1930s when Bing Crosby, Charles Farrell and Ralph Bellamy founded the area’s first tennis club in Palm Springs. Crosby would go on to found the Blue Skies Trailer Park in Rancho Mirage, unique for its expensive trailer homes each with its own individual theme. Other 1930s/1940s celebrities known to stop by Palm Springs included Humphrey Bogart, John Barrymore, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Mary Pickford and Judy Garland.
Farrell, after whom a street in Palm Springs is named, would later be elected mayor. Farrell Drive is built on the path of the Palmdale Railroad, a narrow-gauge horse-drawn railroad right-of-way originally built to serve the proposed town of Palmdale. The town was never built and the railroad was abandoned after a few short years of operation. The ties were used to build one of the area’s earliest residences and the Cornelia White House still stands today in downtown Palm Springs.
Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Captain William McGonagle was a graduate of Coachella High School and made the valley his home after his retirement. Mitchell Paige was another Congressional Medal of Honor veteran who lived in Palm Desert and has a newly opened middle school in La Quinta named after him. Jacqueline Cochran, founder and director of the Women Airforce Service Pilots lived her last years in Indio. In 2005, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates reportedly bought and owns a home in The Vintage Club Country Club in Indian Wells.
Elvis Presley honeymooned in Palm Springs in 1967 and was a frequent visitor as well. Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Dinah Shore were residents of the valley and were instrumental in the creation of three major golf tournaments, the Frank Sinatra Celebrity Golf Tournament, Bob Hope Chrysler Classic (now hosted by comedian and golf aficionado George Lopez) and the Nabisco LPGA respectively. All three have streets named in their honor as does President Gerald Ford, a longtime Rancho Mirage resident and benefactor of the substance abuse center that bears his wife’s name, the Betty Ford Center on the campus of the Eisenhower Medical Center, named for general, U.S. president and part-time resident Dwight Eisenhower. The medical center expanded in size by the new Walter Annenberg building named for the valley resident, billionaire, friend of celebrities and philanthropist. Sinatra and his friends, including Dean Martin, Perry Como, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Rosemary Clooney and Connie Francis were frequent visitors in the close-knit celebrity community of the Coachella Valley in the 1950s and 1960s.
The main road into Palm Springs International Airport, named simply “Airport Road”, was renamed Kirk Douglas Way on October 17, 2004. Douglas, a major area benefactor, lived in the valley for more than fifty years and currently resides in Montecito. He is credited with spearheading the drive to modernize the area over those ensuing five decades. His son Michael Douglas, also an actor, is said to own a residence in Palm Springs with his actress wife Catherine Zeta-Jones.
 More famous names
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were instrumental in forming the exclusive Thunderbird Heights tract in Rancho Mirage, once the home of President Gerald Ford and his wife Betty. According to Palm Springs Life magazine, that same tract would loan its name to a new car in late 1954, the Ford Thunderbird. The magazine also cites that a favorite vacation spot for General Motors executives, Palm Desert’s Eldorado Country Club, loaned its name to Cadillac’s top model the year before. Local automotive history also states that designer Raymond Loewy penned the Studebaker Avanti in his Palm Springs home. Especially since the 1950s, Palm Springs and nearby golf clubs are hailed as the “playground of celebrities”, but in lesser numbers celebrities don’t travel or reside in the Palm Springs area as much they used to, but the area’s “star power” made a comeback in the 2000s.
Ball and Arnaz helped finance construction of the Indian Wells Country Club. Founded in 1956 with their winter residence on famous DesiLu Court, Indian Wells became a major factor in “down valley” growth in the 1970s and 1980s. A mostly gated community, Indian Wells has one of the highest per capita income of any small town in the United States, while nearby Coachella, a short distance southeast on State Route 111 is the third poorest city of the 10,000-50,000 population range in the nation, though that is rapidly changing as the area develops. A memorial to Eisenhower can be found on the front lawn of Indian Wells City Hall, also features the local veterans memorial plaque to represent the community’s 800 veterans, a high number of war veterans per ratio of its’ predominantly senior citizen population. Coachella has the Vietnam War veterans’ memorial to represent their community’s high representation of armed forces volunteers, a large percentage had Spanish surnames since the city’s population are over 90 percent Latino.
Many other celebrities, past and present, have called the area home such as actor Paul Burke. Among those who grew up in the area:
* Vanessa Marcil is a La Quinta native and attended Indio High School.
* Suzanne Somers spent a part of her childhood in Cathedral City and attended Palm Springs High School.
* Billy Steinberg grew up in Palm Springs and worked at the Dave Freedman Grape Farm in Thermal.
* Alison Lohman is a native of Palm Springs and grew up in Palm Desert.
* Tyler Hilton is also a native of Palm Springs and graduated from La Quinta High School. Hilton performed a concert in the school theatre in 2006.
* Cameron Crowe grew up in a rural home near Indio.
* Rich Newey grew up in Bermuda Dunes.
* Alan O’Day grew up in Coachella.
* Aubrey O’Day was a 2001 graduate of La Quinta High School.
* Josh Homme attended Palm Desert High School.
* Tony Reagins, manager of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, is an Indio native and attended Indio High school.
* Edward White, football player of the San Diego Chargers and Minnesota Vikings is an Indio native and attended Indio High school.
 Other historic figures
* President John F. Kennedy was a frequent guest of Frank Sinatra, and a plaque in one of the pews of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Palm Desert marks the spot where Kennedy would usually sit during Mass. That same area in Palm Desert once served as a training ground for General George Patton’s Third Army troops and tank battalions; today, the site is home to the very upscale El Paseo shopping district. Patton also trained in a huge plot of desert stretching from Chiriaco Summit just off the eastern end of the valley northward almost to Amboy along U.S. Route 66 in the Mojave Desert. Tank tracks from those maneuvers are still visible today in the open desert and a museum dedicated to Patton is located in Chiriaco Summit. Patton was also a frequent guest at the Whittier Ranch House in Indio, a grand adobe structure which had faced the possibility of demolition as the ranch lands surrounding it were being developed. A grass roots organization had petitioned the city to preserve the structure for use as a VFW post; it has instead been restored and retained as the clubhouse for the new Whittier Ranch housing development. It is also now a California state historic site.
* Sonny Bono ran a restaurant in downtown Palm Springs. Frustrated by the lack of cooperation he faced from the city council over a new sign for the restaurant, the entertainer took matters into his own hands and ran for mayor. He retained local conservative talk radio host Marshall Gilbert (heard regularly on KNWQ) as his campaign manager in a successful bid that not only put Bono back in the public eye, but fueled his later campaign for a seat on the United States Congress, a position he held until his death in a skiing accident in 1998. His widow, Mary, filled the vacancy left by her husband and later campaigned successfully on her own. Both he and Frank Sinatra are buried at Desert Memorial Park (now the Forest Lawn Mortuary) in Cathedral City.
* The La Quinta Resort and Club, a series of bungalows built in 1926 in what was then known as Marshall’s Cove is the oldest resort in the valley. Frank Capra wrote the script for Lost Horizon poolside at the La Quinta. Capra is buried in nearby Coachella.
* So fond was Walt Disney of his property at the Smoke Tree Ranch in Palm Springs that he had the ranch’s brand embroidered on all of his neckties. Disney reluctantly sold the property to help finance the construction of Disneyland. The Partners, bronze sculptures of Disney standing next to Mickey Mouse in each of the Disney theme parks clearly show the brand on Disney’s tie.
* Clint Eastwood formerly owned a restaurant called the Hog’s Breath Inn in Old Town La Quinta. The restaurant is currently owned by the Kaiser Restaurant Group, but maintains the Clint Eastwood inspired motif.
The above was taken from a Wikipedia flie. Click the blow link to see the entire posting…
All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2010
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