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Lavish Photo Book Celebrates Miami Fontainebleau Hotel History—and Vegas Future

Hotelier Ben Novack (pictured on the left in the undated photo above, with his wife, Bernice, to the right) wanted his Fontainebleau, built on the former Miami Beach property of rubber tire magnate Harvey Firestone, to be a “magnificent beacon, radiating a seductive modern glamour that harmonized with Hollywood, popular music, consumer culture, and the vitality of postwar America,” Wallis writes. 

Celebrities of the ’50s and ’60s certainly heeded the call, with stars such as Joan Crawford (pictured above, in the center of course), Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, and John F. Kennedy all checking in at various times. The latter pair were rumored to book adjoining suites. 

Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack cronies were regulars. In 1960, Sinatra, who often headlined at the hotel’s La Ronde supper club, taped a TV performance with Elvis Presley in the Fontainebleau’s grand ballroom. Talk about checking all the postwar pop-culture boxes. 

Among the hotel’s onscreen credits: three Sinatra movies; Scarface (1983); TV’s Miami Vice (inevitably); The Bodyguard (1992); and the 1964 James Bond outing Goldfinger, in which Shirley Eaton’s character is memorably discovered in 007’s hotel room, having become, as Wallis puts it, “a victim of death by gilding.”