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Remembrances of Power Booths Past

Forget Spago, Morton’s or Maple Drive. Hollywood’s power crowd will be jockeying to get themselves invited to the final Oscar party at Chasen’s.

Miramax apparently had booked the venerable West Hollywood restaurant long before the news broke recently that Chasen’s was closing on April 1 to make way for a two-story shopping center at the corner of Beverly Boulevard and Doheny Drive.

“It’s a wonderful coincidence for us and bittersweet at the same time,” says Miramax spokeswoman Janet Hill, who booked the party three months ago. “We are happy that we are going to be part of the swan song at Chasen’s, but really sad to see the restaurant go.”

The Miramax folks are apparently not the only ones. “People want to eat here one last time,” says general manager Ralph Woodward. “We are doing real well now.”

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Hollywood is also wondering what’s going to happen to the recipes, the Rolodex of celebrities’ unlisted phone numbers and those autographed pictures of Bogie, Cagney, Groucho, Sinatra and J. Edgar Hoover.

The hobo steak, deviled beef bones and Chasen’s chili are as famous as the people who ate there for its 58 years. Jimmy Stewart’s bachelor party was at Chasen’s in 1949; Dave Chasen, who died in 1973, hired a valet to feed the star, and two midgets in diapers were served to him on a silver platter. Elizabeth Taylor was so crazy about Chasen’s chili that when she and Richard Burton were filming “Cleopatra” in Rome, she had it flown to her.

Howard Hughes, who carried a silver gadget that looked like rake, always ordered steak, mashed potatoes, peas and ice cream--and would pull out the utensil and rake aside all the scrawny peas.

At one time, Chasen’s had a sauna and a full-time barber. Errol Flynn, Bing Crosby and Humphrey Bogart would drop by for steak and stay for a steam and a haircut.

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Well, put away those checkbooks; Chasen’s memorabilia aren’t for sale at any price. Chasen’s daughter and son-in-law, Kay and Tom McKay, who have been overseeing the restaurant, won’t comment. Developer Ira Smedra, who bought the property, says the family will operate a smaller version of Chasen’s in his shopping center, which is to open in late 1996.

“We’ve already discussed it,” says Smedra, “and (the memorabilia) will be incorporated into the new project.” Some say Chasen’s widow, Maude, has more treasures in storage. No word yet if they include any of Hoover’s dresses.


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