Hollywood in the Desert

by Bob Sparrow

Charlie Farrell and Dinah Shore

I spent last week in the desert . . . whining & dining, the whining mostly took place on the golf course.  Even though it was our 32nd year visiting our timeshare at Marriott Desert Springs in Palm Desert, I’ve found, unlike me, it never gets old.  But you won’t be hearing about my golf game (Thank God!) or the next great place to eat in the desert.  I have something even more mundane than that to discuss this week.

On our way out to the desert on Highway 10, as went by the road sign that read Bob Hope Drive, and it got me thinking about all the streets in this area that are named after celebrities, like Frank Sinatra, Burns & Allen, Bing Crosby, Barbara Stanwyck, Danny Kaye, Ginger Rogers, Dean Martin, Jack Benny, Liberace and many more.

And I wondered, who started all this?  Well, a little research revealed that it was Charlie Farrell, the tennis playing movie star turned hotelier turned mayor and owner of the glamorous Racket Club in Palm Springs.  He saw value in recognizing celebrities, so he and fellow actor, Ralph Bellamy, realized that many actors took advantage of Hollywood’s ‘two-hour clause’ in their contracts, which stated, in the event a ‘re-shoot’ was needed, actors had to stay within two hours of Hollywood – Palm Springs is just under two-hours away.  For those old enough to remember the old television series, My Little Margie, Charlie played Margie’s father.  And yes, of course, there is a Ferrell Drive in Palm Springs.

Other notable ‘street stories’ . . .

Which door does Monty Hall live behind?

Monty Hall Street in 2000 former Let’s Make a Deal host Monty Hall had a street in Palm Springs named after him. Tourists were encouraged to guess which house he lived in. They were asked, “Does Monty live behind door No. 1, door No. 2, or door No. 3?

Fred Waring Drive – Another interesting resident of the desert was Fred Waring, an American musician, bandleader and radio and television personality.  Many of you, who have blended a Margarita, may have used a Waring Blender, and while he didn’t invent it, his name is on it because he was the money and marketing behind the product.

Gene Autry Trail – The “Singing Cowboy”, was a movie and TV star of the ‘40s and ‘50s and a Palm Springs entrepreneur.  He bought his first Palm Springs home in 1940, and a Palm Springs Holiday Inn in 1961, which he turned into the Gene Autry Hotel; his mid-century residence on the hotel grounds is an elegant guest suite.

Kirk Douglas Way – movie star Kirk Douglas, who passed away just four years ago at the ripe old age of 103, was a resident of Palm Springs for more than 40 years.  His house backed up to Dinah Shore’s house in the celebrity-packed Las Palmas neighborhood.

The ‘Singing Cowboy’

Dinah Shore Drive – the vivacious ‘40s, ‘50s, ‘60s singer, TV personality and avid golfer, put the LPGA on the map in 1972 when she founded the Colgate-Dinah Shore golf tournament at Mission Hills County Club (Now know as the Chevron Championship and it has moved to Houston).  Her Palm Springs house is now owned by Leonardo DiCaprio.  So look for a DiCaprio Drive soon!

As I thought about all these stars of the past, I thought that my kids would be somewhat familiar with most of the above names, but their kids will have no idea why these streets are named after these random people.  For me, it was an interesting trip down another street, Memory Lane; I hope it was for you too.




The Blog I Never Thought I’d Write

by Bob Sparrow

Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony – known in ‘the industry’ as EGOT!

I like a good story well told, but I’ve never been a big fan of Hollywood types, so I don’t look forward to this time of year when our entertainers/celebrities practically break their arms patting themselves on the back while red carpet hosts comment on ‘who’ they are wearing.  Yes, it’s ‘Awards Season’ and here are a few you’re probably familiar with, but believe me, there’s lots more:  Screen Actors Guild Awards, Critics Choice Award, GLAAD, NAACP Image Award, People’s Choice, Golden Globes, Emmy, Tony, Grammy and Oscar.

But, instead of taking the ‘easy pot shots’ at this group of thespians for being self-centered snobs, which many of them are, I thought I’d look for the smart, the charitable and the less self-centered of the group.  And surprise, I found some..

I first looked for actors/actresses who are on the high end of the intelligence scale; so first, just in case you’re like me and not on the genius side of IQs, here’s the general rankings:

120 -140 – Very Superior intelligence                                                                                                                                            110 -120 – Superior intelligence                                                                                                                                                        90 – 110 – Normal, or average intelligence                                                                                                                                      80 – 90 – Dullness, rarely classifiable as feeble-minded   (typically where our politicians fall)

So, here’s what I found . . .

Natalie Portman graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Psychology.  She speaks five languages fluently and has co-authored 2 technical research papers in neuroscience, which were published in reputable journals

Natalie Portman

Sharon Stone is reputed to have an IQ of around 150. Sharon was considered academically gifted as a child and entered the 2nd grade when she was five years old.  She was admitted to University of Pennsylvania on a creative writing scholarship at age 15.

Cindy Crawford has an IQ of about 150; studied chemical engineering on scholarship at Northwestern University.

OK, let’s let some guys into this club . . .

David Duchovny has an IQ around 150 and a degree in English literature from Princeton University and an M.A. in English literature from Yale University

Ashton Kutcher has an IQ of 160 and was offered a scholarship to attend MIT, but didn’t.  He once said, “The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart.”

James Wood has an IQ of somewhere between 160 – 180; he dropped out of MIT one semester short of graduating.  He was going to be a surgeon before acting got in the way.

Ken Jeong

Ken Jeong was pre-med at Duke University before getting into acting, and then completed his medical degree at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1995.

Conan O’Brian has an IQ of 160; he graduated from high school as valedictorian.  He went to Harvard where he graduated magna cum laude in History & Literature.

Not an actor, but a rock star, who typically have similar personalities, Brian May, lead guitarist for the rock band  Queen, has an IQ of around 170 and has a PhD in astrophysics.

OK, so there are some smart entertainers, actually a lot more than I thought, but who’s doing some good with their celebrity?

Top of the list has to go to Taylor Swift; it’s hard to pin down all that she donates, as it’s $100,000 here and $1,000,000 there, and amounts she doesn’t disclose for causes she believes in that need financial help.  Class act!!!

Taylor Swift

Oprah Winfrey, another noted ‘giver’ who has donated more than 40 million dollars through her Oprah Winfrey Foundation, to help women and children with education and health care around the world.

Mel Gibson has given 10 million dollars to reimburse hospitals for health care given to children, as well as his contributions to Holy Family Catholic Church in the sum of over 15 million dollars.

George Clooney is known for donating generously to charity. He has given away millions of dollars to various causes, most notably to the Not On Our Watch charity, which works to prevent and stop genocide. He has given a total of more than $14 million to the organization.

Of course, there’s more, actually lots more, but I came away from this ‘research project’ with a little different attitude; yes there are still lots of egotistical, selfish entertainers, but as noted here, there are some really good and smart ones too.