I wonder how many people walk into the old Warwick Hotel on Sixth Avenue, clap eyes on the gold metal letters reading "M. Davies" on a wall near that entrance, and known what they're looking at.
The Warwick has an interesting distinction among old Manhattan hotels. It was built by a tycoon specifically as a playpen for his mistress. The tycoon was publishing baron Williams Randolph Hearst and the mistress, of course, was film actress Marion Davies—little "M. Davies."
Hearst, as history tells, would do anything for his blonde Venus, so what's $5 million in construction costs in 1927 America? Davies has her own floor in the 36-story building. And rumor has it that a secret tunnel ran underground from the Hearst Building on Eighth Avenue to the hotel.
At one point, the Ziegfeld Theater was right across the street, making the hotel very popular with stars such as James Dean, Cary Grant (who lived there for 12 years), Jane Russell and Elizabeth Taylor. Elvis Presley and The Beatles assured that the Warwick has a place in musical history.
The Warwick hardly gives off a salacious air today. The hotel is sweet, but rather fusty and square. The cocktail lounge Randolph's is tame and touristy and, if you don't watch out, they'll serve you your Negroni on the rocks. Catching that now-forgotten name cast in gold on the wall, however, can draw one's mind back to snazzier times.