Fate and the Fontainebleau

The Fontainebleau Hotel is the place to be in Miami Beach.   The glamour and glitz are still over the top–even in the midst of an economic meltdown.Heidix Renovating the resort cost a billion dollars and featured Heidi Klum modeling lingerie for Victoria’s Secret.  Somewhere Ben Novak is smiling.  The Fontainebleau is back.

In its heyday, it wasn’t just the playground for the rich and famous.  For Miami Beach kids like me who lived in its shadow, the hotel was our playground, too.  The best place to swim, best place to ice skate, best place to meet boys vacationing with their parents over Christmas vacation.

Years after I went to the Fontainebleau for bar mitzvahs, I went there as a Miami TV newscaster to cover a press conference.  Sophia Loren, Sylvester Stallone,  and Mel Brooks were attending the National Organization of Theater Owners meeting at the hotel.  My station had also arranged a private interview for me with Mel Brooks.

After the interview, the guy with Mel handed me his card and asked me to send a videocassette copy to him in Los Angeles.  I assumed he was Mel’s publicist.  As a young woman in TV news, I was used to guys like this.  I figured either he wanted to represent me, or he was hitting on me.  Pretty soon I had my answer.  And somehow I found myself agreeing to meet him back at the Fontainebleau for a drink, after I finished the late news.

“I couldn’t think of a fast excuse,” I told my producer when I got back to the station from the interview.  “I’m not gonna show up.”

“You should go, ” my producer urged me.  “Maybe Mel will be there, too.”

I didn’t care. I met plenty of celebrities on the job, the Fontainebleau was a half hour from the TV station, and this Hollywood guy wasn’t even my type.

But he called to confirm the date, and caught me off guard as I was heading for the studio to do the 11 p.m. news.  Now I couldn’t stand him up.  So after the news, I headed back to the Fontainebleau.

The Hollywood guy was waiting outside the hotel, and he climbed into my car.  He had already made plans to go to a popular nightspot a half hour away.  In the car, I found out he was Mel’s personal manager.  And that Mel had invited himself on our date.  My producer was right.

Me and mel Mel arrived at the club soon after we did and held court for several hours, completely charming me and everyone else in the room.  He was hilarious, witty, and everything you’d expect Mel Brooks to be.  Mr. Hollywood and I barely had a chance to say two words to each other once Mel showed up.

When we finally got up to leave, it turned out that Mel had dismissed his car and driver.  So at 3 a.m. we headed back to the Fontainebleau in my car–with Mel in the back seat continuing his patter as I drove towards Miami Beach.

Suddenly Mel leaned forward, and stuck his head between the two front seats.  “So.  You got a boyfriend?”  It was the Jewish inquisition.

I hesitated.  “Um.  Kind of.”

Mel was in Jewish father mode.  “You don’t sound very excited.  Why don’t you dump this boyfriend, marry my manager, and move to California.”

4 months later, I did.



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  1. Mark Geduldig-Yatrofsky says

    Wow, talk about suggestible! What was that quote from Obi Wan Kenobi about the Force having great effect on certain personality types? But, no, Obi Wan wasn’t describing your your type. Either “H” used the Dark Side, or you really craved a change (or some combination of the two). Funny, the paths our lives take. Thanks for another update to the roadmap of yours.

  2. Ron says

    I too spent wonderful days and nights at the Fontainebleau. I had a couple of friends who had cabanas there every summer and thus was a hotsh_t by way of osmosis. Thinking back, it was truly a wonder: Ice rink, bowling alleys, hot tourist women, lunch on the beach. And if I’m not mistaken, I believe we either had our Senior Prom in the LaRonde Room or the Poodle Lounge or else we went there after prom for Black Russians. Anyhow, thank you for bringing back those memories but, for me, the new Fountainebleau will never be able to touch “our” Fountainebleau.

  3. says

    You were obviously way cooler than me in high school. Growing up on Miami Beach, I never entered a lounge at the Fontainebleau except with my parents–to see Frank Sinatra. Just one of many Fontainebleau memories. And just one of the reasons I feel so lucky that I grew up back in those days on Miami Beach. I haven’t seen the “new” Fontainebleau yet but you’re right–like most remakes, nothing could ever match the original.

  4. says

    I was a young teen in the 70s when I visited the Fountainbleau with my family. It was pretty shabby by then, but you could see signs of past glory. What I remember most was that it was where I wore my first (and last) bikini. If only I had appreciated my body back then — but no, I already thought I was fat. It was a fabulous trip full of fabulous 70s fashions — hot pants, halter tops, wrap around maxi-skirts and platform sandals. I also seem to remember a big floppy hat and a huge pink purse with my name on it.

  5. Riki (Mayer) Alexander says

    I too was taken to the Fontainebleau by my parents to see Frank Sinatra … twice!! Some of my favorite childhood memories!

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