william powell palm springs

Life Among the Stars

In the 1960s, Palm Springs was like a version of Hollywood East featuring movie stars like William Powell, the infamous "Thin Man".

Renee Brown Current Digital, History

william powell palm springs

Ginger Rogers, William Powell, and "Mousie" Powell take a break from playing tennis at the Racquet Club in 1964.

In the 1960s, Palm Springs was predominately a “movie colony” and visitors were able to grasp that idea simply by driving around town. The city’s population was comprised of people from every walk of life and they came from everywhere.

William Powell, the suave detective who starred in the 1934 movie The Thin Man, when asked why he rarely returned to New York City said, “Why should I? Everyone I know comes here sooner or later.”

Powell and his wife, Dianna Lewis, who he referred to as “Mousie” because of her small stature, lived in the Old Las Palmas neighborhood and played tennis at the Racquet Club. An exclusive private tennis club, the Racquet Club was owned by actors Ralph Bellamy and Charlie Farrell.

The club attracted many of those who lived and worked in Hollywood, but wanted a place where they could kick up their heels on the dance floor as well as on the tennis courts. Many of those who came to play stayed and became part of the business community.
Hollywood stars were connected with many local businesses.

Just driving around the city and the surrounding areas you could see Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch (now the Parker Palm Springs) Desi Arnaz’s Indian Wells Hotel, and Bonita Granville’s L’ Horizon. Even though William Holden did not put his name on the marquee, he owned half of El Mirador Hotel (now Desert Regional Hospital) along with promoter extraordinaire, Ray Ryan.

Even Bing Crosby, Jack Benny, Danny Kaye, Claudette Colbert, Phil Harris, Bill Goetz and Bill Perlberg owned Blue Skies Village, a trailer park in Rancho Mirage. Now if you needed to buy anything from a carpet tack to a chandelier, Alan Ladd’s Hardware located on S. Palm Canyon Dr. was the place to go.

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There is a multitude of ways to learn more about Palm Springs, which turned 83 in 2021. One of the more intriguing methods is by exploring the city’s history.

The Palm Springs Historical Society will share a story whose time and place corresponds with today.

For more information, visit pshistoricalsociety.org, or visit their location at 221 S. Palm Canyon Drive.

• READ NEXT: Discover More Interesting Historical Facts About Greater Palm Springs.