Hotels of Death
The Famous Checked In But Never Checked Out
by Gordon Kerr
Hotels of Death
The Famous Checked In But Never Checked Out — Oscar Wilde, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, John Belushi, Nancy Spungen, Whitney Houston, Martin Luther King, R Kennedy, HH Holmes, Reles
Hotel Murders and Assassinations : H.H. Holmes: The World’s Fair Hotel, aka ‘The Castle’, Chicago; Abe ‘Kid Twist’ Reles: Half Moon Hotel, Coney Island, New York; Albert Anastasia: Park Sheraton Hotel, New York City; Martin Luther King Jr. Lorraine Motel, Memphis; Robert Kennedy: Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles
Hotel Celebrity Deaths : Oscar Wilde: Hotel d’Alsace, Paris; Fatty Arbuckle and the Death of Virginia Rappe: St. Francis Hotel, San Francisco; Jimi Hendrix: Samarkand Hotel, London; Janis Joplin: Landmark Motel, Los Angeles; Nancy Spungen: Chelsea Hotel, New York; John Belushi: Chateau Marmont, Los Angeles; Anna Nicole Smith: Seminole Hard Rock Hotel, and Casino, Hollywood, Florida; Whitney Houston: Beverley Hilton Hotel
Hotel Terrorism : King David Hotel Bombing: Jerusalem; Brighton Bombing: Grand Hotel, Brighton; 2008 Mumbai Attacks: Taj Mahal Hotel and Oberoi Trident, Mumbai
Hotels. We stay in them for a variety of reasons – for business, for pleasure or, perhaps, as we are passing through a town or city on our way to somewhere else. They provide a brief respite in such a journey or a place to retreat from the cares of a busy day. For some unlucky souls, however, they are the end of the line, the last place where they will ever lay their heads.
The notable and notorious have made a habit of taking their last curtain call in hotels. Some, of course, have had no choice – in 1957 mob leader Albert ‘Mad Hatter’ Anastasia was blasted at almost point-blank range by three gunmen as he dozed in the chair of the Park Sheraton Hotel, Manhattan. Meanwhile Murder, Inc’s most feared hit man, Abel ‘Kid Twist’ Reles, mysteriously ‘fell’ from a window of the Half Moon Hotel on Coney Island in 1941, despite being guarded by half a dozen armed police officers.
Great men, too, have met their ends in hotels, dispatched by assassins. Presidential hopeful Bobby Kennedy was killed in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles in 1968 after victory in the California primary and, in the same dreadful year, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, as he relaxed on the balcony of Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel, Memphis.
Hotels of Death examines 16 instances of hotel tragedy. It even makes room for the man who created his own hotel purely to murder innocent women arriving in Chicago for the 1893 World’s Fair – H.H. Holmes, America’s first serial killer. Visitors to his hotel were like most of the others in this book…
…they checked in, but they didn’t check out.
Gordon Kerr was born in the Scottish new town of East Kilbride and worked in the wine trade and then bookselling and publishing before becoming a full-time writer. He is the author of numerous books in a variety of genres, including art, history, true crime, travel and humour. He has a wife and two children and lives in Hampshire and – when he can – South West France.
- RW Press, January 2013
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