Then & Now

The Royal Hawai­ian Ho­tel, aka the Pink Palace

Qantas - - Contents -

THE WORLD’S big­gest (yet small­est) movie star was at the height of her fame when she alighted from the steamship Mari­posa onto a Honolulu pier to the cheers of thou­sands of fans. It was July 29, 1935. Shirley Tem­ple, just seven years old, was rid­ing on the crest of her break­through per­for­mances in Stand

Up and Cheer! and Bright Eyes. In the space of 12 months, the girl with the sig­na­ture ringlets had be­come Hol­ly­wood’s most bank­able ac­tor.

Ac­com­pa­nied by her par­ents, Ge­orge and Gertrude Tem­ple, the star­let was tak­ing a well-de­served 18-day hol­i­day at The Royal Hawai­ian Ho­tel (ho­tel.qan­ hawai­ian) on Oahu is­land. The so-called Pink Palace of the Pa­cific, which opened in 1927, was de­signed in Span­ish-Moor­ish style with cupo­las and strik­ing bell­tow­ers (al­legedly in­flu­enced by the films of Ru­dolph Valentino). It was cat­nip to the Hol­ly­wood glit­terati, who first ar­rived by sea then by air when Pan Amer­i­can Air­ways be­gan its weekly ser­vice in 1936.

Keen to please their pop­u­lar young guest, bar­tenders served a new drink (gin­ger ale and a dash of vi­brant pink grena­dine, gar­nished with a maraschino cherry) to Tem­ple while she dined in the ho­tel’s op­u­lent Per­sian Room.

An­other fa­mous vis­i­tor drawn to the Pink Palace’s charms was Amer­i­can pres­i­dent Franklin D. Roo­sevelt, who was such a fan of the ho­tel that it was dubbed the Western White House. And you could chart the tides of pop­u­lar cul­ture via the stream of celebrity guests, from Clark Gable, Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe and Joe DiMag­gio to Natalie Wood, Robert Wag­ner, Frank Si­na­tra and The Bea­tles.

Today, you can stay in the his­toric orig­i­nal wing, where the rooms are dec­o­rated with bro­cade wall­pa­per and plush car­pets, much like they were in young Tem­ple’s day. The Per­sian Room, where the 14-piece Royal Hawai­ian Orches­tra once played be­neath crys­tal chan­de­liers, is now the Monarch Room, which hosts ban­quets, balls and cel­e­bra­tions – few more im­por­tant than the 90th birth­day of this lo­cal icon. A Shirley Tem­ple, any­one?

(From top) The ho­tel is still pretty in pink; star­let Shirley Tem­ple re­ceived a warm aloha in 1935

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