From a story about Charlie Farrell, founder of the Palm Springs Racquet Club, that ran in a 1963 issue of Sports Illustrated:
There is the (Racquet Club) story about the time some years back when a lady visitor from the East sat herself on a stool at the bar, ordered a cocktail, and asked Tex Gregg, the bartender, if there were any movie celebrities around. Tex cased the room, then turned to Clark Gable, who was also seated at the bar, and asked, “Have you seen any movie starts around?”
“Nope,” said Gable. “Haven’t seen a single one.”
Or this one: For several years Jack Benny used to have an annual skit on his weekly radio program called “Murder at the Racquet Club.” In one such, Benny, as the sheriff of Riverside, drove up to the front gate of the Racquet Club and demanded admittance so he could investigate the homicide. “Are you a member?” intoned a voice over the club’s public-address system.
“No,” answered Sheriff Benny.
“Then you can’t come in,” said the voice.
“All right, throw the body over the wall,” Benny shouted back.
Shortly after this profile of Farrell was published, the Racquet Club was sold and quickly became a pale shadow of its riotous past. His wife, Virginia, died in 1968 and Farrell, fed up with the whole scene, gave up the life of the bon vivant to stay home in his bathrobe and watch TV night and day, waiting for the end to come. Unfortunately, he had a bit of a wait; the years were unkind to Farrell who, they say, descended into senility and decrepitude.
When he died, a few months short of his 90th birthday (a lot of bio’s say he died at 88 or 89 but Farrell, like a lot of Hollywood stars, fibbed a bit about his age over the years), even the local press didn’t take notice for several weeks. Charlie Farrell, the soul of conviviality, founder of the Racquet Club, former mayor, star of the silent screen and TV, ended his life a reclusive desert rat. He was buried, without services (and with almost no mourners) twenty years ago in Welwood Murray Cemetery in Palm Springs. For years it was almost impossible to visit Farrell or other well-known celebrities buried there, like Nellie Coffman and mid-century modern architect Albert Frey, as the cemetery was locked and gated. These days it’s open daily for visitors. Charlie, who always knew how to pick his real estate, has a prime location in row 10-3, plot G. Virginia, who he always referred to as his “beautiful, long-suffering wife,” resides next door in plot F.
I have to say–I think there’s a movie here.
Tags: Palm Springs
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