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“Palm Springs Weekend” still SWINGS !

palm springs weekend

A Palm Springs weekend in the 1960s

There was no local television and little local radio in the Coachella Valley. In the early 1960s, visitors and residents went out for entertainment.

Stars and well-to-do guests stayed at Charlie Farrell’s legendary Palm Springs Racquet Club, but they also stayed at newer hotels such as the Riviera, the Spa and Gene Autry’s Holiday Inn, sometimes for months at a time.

Palm Springs doubled in size in the early ’60s, which then-mayor Frank Bogert credited to the development of condominiums and mid-century modern houses built by the father-and-son team of George and Robert Alexander.

Most people still went to the old-school supper clubs, like the Chi Chi, Romanoff’s and the intimate Ruby’s Dunes restaurant, where local residents Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby cut their teeth.

But young people also were drawn to Palm Springs.

Autry brought his expansion Los Angeles Angels to Palm Springs for spring training in 1961 and, by ’63, young players such as pitchers Bo Belinsky and Dean Chance were giving Palm Springs a reputation as a party town. Belinsky dated Ann-Margaret, Connie Stevens and Mamie Van Doren and married Playboy centerfold Jo Collins.

Spring break had been attracting college kids to Palm Springs since the 1950s and, by the early ’60s, local kids were enjoying rock ‘n’ roll. They’d buy records at Patty’s Record Shop on Palm Canyon Drive and R&B discs at Butch Diamond Music on North Indian Avenue.

The Howard Manor, now the Colony Palms Hotel on North Indian Canyon Drive, had long attracted young Hollywood. Elvis dropped by as early as December 1961, often to see ’50s rockabilly star Jody Reynolds.
But loud, raucous rock was generally restricted to the outskirts of town, such as the old Farmhouse restaurant in Cathedral City.

Adult contemporary music, reminiscent of the sounds featured in “Palm Springs Weekend,” has pretty much dominated the tourist-driven music scene since the big band era.

“This town has been so influenced by the music of one man, Frank Sinatra, that when (tourists) come down here, they want to hear the music of the Great American Songbook because that is Palm Springs,” said local keyboard artist Marty Steele. “All the snowbirds, they want to hear Sinatra, they want to hear Louis Prima, they want to hear Dean Martin.”

WHERE IT WAS SHOT:

The truth is, most of “Palm Springs Weekend” was shot on a sound stage in Hollywood.

The on-location shooting centered around the Riviera Resort, which was Palm Springs’ ritziest hotel.

When the spoiled rich kid played by Robert Conrad tells Connie Stevens’ character he’s staying at the Riv, she coos, “The Riviera!”

Stevens was staying at a rustic hotel amid a date palm grove, which was probably the complex behind Boomers amusement park in Cathedral City.

If you check out the DVD at a video store or the Palm Springs Library, or order it online, you also may recognize North Indian Avenue off Interstate 10 as the site for the chase scene involving Conrad, Troy Donahue and Ty Hardin.


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