CIRCA 1980





About “STARS”… they say:


PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: “Thank you for the warmly inscribed copy of STARS which you presented to Bob Hope that he brought to me. Your story of the Ambassador and Grove brings back many fond memories and I’m delighted to have your work for my library. With my deep appreciation for your kindness. With all best wishes, Sincerely, Ronald Reagan.



“This is just a note to tell you how much Mrs. Nixon and I are enjoying ARE THE STARS OUT TONIGHT?. It brought back many memories of our visits to the Cocoanut Grove…”


BOB HOPE: “Thanks for the memories… many happy times I’ve had in the Grove… even the Academy Awards which I MC’d but never won!”



JACK SMITH COLUMNIST (January 15, 1981):

The Grove… Ambassador of Good Will

“Margaret Burk for years the Ambassador Hotel’s resident Public Relations executive has written and published an informal history of the Ambassador Hotel and its famous Cocoanut Grove. I can’t think of any other place that would evoke so much nostalgia for me. I have never spent a night in the hotel and in the heyday of the Grove when it was full of fake palms, stuffed monkeys and loaded movie stars, I couldn’t afford to pay my way in but I have always thought of the Ambassador as mine. As central to my experience of Los Angeles: and I managed to enjoy it for years without signing its register or paying for anything that cost more than twenty-five cents. Mrs. Burk’s book abounds with pictures and anecdotes of that gaudy era and the preceding decade, when Barrymore was in residence with his monkey Clementine; William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies kept a floor in the west wing. Valentino paid “nocturnal visits” to Pola Negri and Norma Talmadge (on the same night, one wonders?); Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald arrived on top of a taxicab, singing and drinking champagne; Joan Crawford danced the Charleston with Mike Cudahy, the packing-house heir; Phil Harris, Freddy Martin, Rudy Vallee, Gus Arnheim and most of the other big band names took their turns in the Grove, and a likeable youth named Bing was one of the Rhythm Boys featured in the electric sign out front.” (more)


JACK SMITH COLUMNIST (January 22, 1981):

The Kids Who Got Into The Grove

“My reminiscence about The Ambassador and Cocoanut Grove stirred by Margaret Burk’s affectionate book has brought romantic echoes from others who knew the hotel between the two world wars. Mona Colman wrote: My memories are very vivid, I was fortunate to have a steady Saturday night Grove date and how glamorous I felt slowly dancing by the bandstand whispering to Bing Crosby to play ‘It Must Be True’. We danced next to Maurice Chevalier, and Jean Harlow and I combed our hair together in the ladies room. Pres Howard  recalls jumping a hotel fence to land 20 feet from one of the Ambassador bungalows. “Clearly I saw a lady who had just bathed and was toweling her hair in the door and stood naked staring at me, it was Pola Negri.”


JACK SMITH COLUMNIST (January 28, 1981):

Dancing With Fears In Their Eyes

“I had not expected to sink any deeper into nostalgia for the Ambassador and Cocoanut Grove (incidentally I lived in the neighborhood) but I received a letter from Ray Bradbury on the subject, and when I present myself at St. Peter’s gate for the final accounting, I do not want it to be noted that I ever kept anything Ray Bradbury wrote from getting into print. In this article Jack quotes Ray’s and many other letters that he received.” (more)



LOS ANGELES TIMES: “The critics commend ARE THE STARS OUT TONIGHT?, Margaret Tante Burk’s pictorial history of Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel and the guests that made it colorful.”



“Celebrating L.A.’s Bicentennial”. 1981

ARE THE STARS OUT TONIGHT? The story of the famous Ambassador and Cocoanut Grove by Margaret Burk.


LOS ANGELES TIMES COLUMNIST CHRISTY FOX:“Happy happy birthday to The Grove from all its devoted admirers. All the fantastic balls, charities and personal parties that are held there are the epitome of Los Angeles and its warmest and greatest. And who can remember the famous Rhythm Boys of Grove fame? Harry Barris, Art Rinker and Uh… Oh yes, Bing Crosby.”


REVIEWER DOROTHY REINHART: “Margaret Burk says STARS is her most pleasant accomplishment. This is a quietly modest statement but it is one that finds its echo in the gratitude of tens of thousands of film buffs and lovers of Old Hollywood lore… from them… and from this writer, comes a warm and heartfelt sentiment. Thank you, Margaret Burk for a most rewarding backward look into the magic world of yesterday.”


HARRY BERZ, COLLECTOR: “Of my library of 10,000 cinema and art books, STARS is the best cinema book I have read.”


HARRY BRAND, CHIEF OF PUBLICITY TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX: “STARS is a superb job; cover to cover, Well done, well written, tells the Hollywood story. Should be a film.”


ACTOR/AUTHOR KEN MURRAY: “I’m a collector myself… and I think STARS is the best Hollywood book in existence. It is beautiful and very informative.”


HANK GRANT – THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: “No surprise Margaret Burk’s splendid history of the Ambassador and Cocoanut Grove has been cleaned outta the book stores and she’s going into a second edition pronto. More than worth the price. So rich with true anecdotes. Me thinks a dramatized teleseries would not be out of order…”


HANCOCK PARK HISTORICAL SOCIETY: “The Ambassador was the popular meeting place of the movie colony society and business for many years. The clever book title ARE THE STARS OUT TONIGHT, rummages through old photos, chronicles, clippings, delightful anecdotes and gets it all together. Our benefit celebrating Freddy Martins anniversary with Buddy Rodgers, Buddy Ebsen and Meridith Willson entertaining was a one-time thrill.”


WALTER WINCHELL: “For half of every year the Ambassador was my home away from home in Hollywood; my kind of town. I wrote my column from there. I had lots of ammunition!”


GLORIA SWANSON: “I lived at the Ambassador for years and loved it. It is a glowing history of Hollywood and the stars. Exciting times. Especially when my husband built The Brown Derby across the street”


THE SAN DIEGO UNION: “They all came to enjoy themselves at one time or another at the Ambassador, the Stars and everybody else. Even OSCAR made his debut there.”


GINGER ROGERS: “The premiere of the Muppets movie “In Hollywood” was a de-ja-vu for me. How many times I danced and romanced at the Grove, with Howard Hughes and many other beaus.”


GRAND PARENTING MAGAZINE: “Margaret Burk: A comet among the many Stars.” Young enough to be a grandparent and old enough to reminisce about glamorous Hollywood, its Hotel and Stars.


LOS ANGELES VARIETY, ARMY ARCHERD: “The history of Hollywood and the Ambassador have been intertwined for more than half a century. It is a repository of film history.”


JOURNALIST BERNIE ZAUGH: “STARS caught the personality and atmosphere of the Ambassador which few hotels posses. The book is pure magic, and I will treasure it always.”


STEVE GODDARD, PRODUCER COLSTAR MOTION PICTURE CO. LTD.: “On my return to London a number of my colleagues indicated they wish to buy copies of STARS. Also, I am sure that the British Film Industry will find your book as absorbing as I. Forward additional copies post haste.”


BETTY YOUNG (MRS. “DR. WELBY”): “Robert and I keep swiping the book back and forth from each other. We love it and the Ambassador is home away from home to us. We spent our honeymoon there and every anniversary since.”


BOB SCHARF: “If  happiness could be weighed by the pound, STARS gives us several million tons of happiness.”


BOOK PUBLICIST CLUB FOUNDER IRWIN ZUCKER: “STARS is pure gold… great inside stuff… like a visit with an old friend.”


COLLEEN MOORE: “STARS is marvelous! I am enjoying every word about the great Hollywood days and I was a delighted participant.”


MADAME SYLVIA WU: “Beautiful. I am thrilled with all the photographs.”


WEST COAST REVIEW OF BOOKS: “STARS truly captures the glamour when the Hollywood stars stayed and played at the Ambassador. Nostalgia buffs will love the book. Ah, The Golden Age of Motion Pictures. To be a Star then! The photos are the thing here although Mrs. Burk text is fine you just can’t hold a candle to the photos, no matter how good of a writer you happen to be.”


ROBERT OSBORN PRODUCER, WRITER, TV FILM HOST: “STARS has pictures, scores of them and you need only to look up your favorite subject in the index of photos to find the page with… well, you name them and there they are; laughing, smiling, serious, swimming, playing tennis, receiving awards, romancing, dancing.”


 SYBIL BRAND: (At this writing 2003, Sybil is now 103 years old and still a major personage in Los Angeles.)

“My first experience with the Cocoanut Grove was the opening of the greatly anticipated new night club. I was escorted by three young swains. I was wearing my prettiest frock and three orchid corsages. Music, champagne and dancing was a star-filled thrilling adventure for me. Many years later I assisted Margaret in a charitable cancer benefit “A Night of Nostalgia” on the occasion of The Ambassadors 50th anniversary. Dozens of stars were in attendance. For me, another one of hundreds of thrilling nights at The Cocoanut Grove.”


EVENING OUTLOOK REPORTER: “I had been in California for less than 48 hours and already I had seen more tuxedos and movie stars than I had ever seen before in my entire existence. Since then I have been in and out of the Ambassador Hotel so often the doorman thought I was living there. That grand old hostelry springs eternal as a vibrant and continuous part of life in Los Angeles. Everybody in town has a little personal story about the hotel. Margaret Burk has the best stories and she tells them all in STARS, she even has relevant Walter Winchell anecdotes. The Ambassador just might consider Ms. Burk’s picture in their lobby just as Eloise’s mischievous visage graces the Plaza. For surely nobody ever so enjoyed life at the Ambassador and managed to so effectively communicate that enjoyment.”


LOS ANGELES PRESS CLUB: “Margaret Burk, speaking on her book at The Press Club, ARE THE STARS OUT TONIGHT? tells of the glittery history of the Ambassador Hotel. For several years the Ambassador was The Press Club’s home. We had great fun there, Frank Sinatra, Marylin Monroe and so many reporters and Stars”


FREDDY MARTIN: “STARS tells it all. My band played The Grove for over 20 years. And so did every other great band and star performer. No room in America had greater stature.”


JOHN WAYNE: “The “glory” days of Hollywood. I attended many award parties… the Academy and Foreign Press Awards. STARS covers ‘em all.”


FIL PERELL – ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR HICKS-DEAL NEWSPAPER CHAIN: “With STARS the shiny gold cover is not the only thing that sparkles. I doubt if any public relations person has ever met and hob-knobbed with more celebrities and notables than our titian haired Margaret. She has a way with words and takes us on a nostalgic tour of the past with its glamour and excitement, plus its side roads leading to despair and yes, even murder.”


CLEVE HERMAN’S AT LARGE IN L.A.: “The greatest Hollywood book. I treasure it in my vast library. Burk’s efforts have brought the Ambassador back to life following the Kennedy tragedy.”


GOLDEN TYMES: “Years ago we attended the weddings of actress Mae Murray and Prince David Mdivani where Valentino served as Best Man and Pola Negri Maid Of Honor. We also attended the wedding of Jean Harlow and Paul Bern. Bern spent the afternoon at the Ambassador before that evening when he committed suicide.”


WILSHIRE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: “We are proud to be part of STARS. It focuses on the Wilshire Corridor and the Ambassador’s role in the development of the city of Los Angeles.”


SID ADAIR: Joan Crawford was visiting the Ambassador Hotel several years ago. On her way to the Cocoanut Grove to receive a Golden Globe award to be presented by John Wayne, she took the arm of Margaret Burk and said “What memories I have of this place, somebody should write a book about it”.


J. EDGAR HOOVER: “Annually, for many years, my sojourn to the Ambassador offered me rest, peacefulness, great service and entertainment. Mother Nature contributed wonderful weather.”


JIM BACON, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: “I have known Margaret for many years. During most of our friendship she was the publicist for the Ambassador Hotel and it fabulous Cocoanut Grove, Hollywood, the nations most glamorous night club. I knew she was privy to many secrets of the stars and her books prove it.”



“The story of the great Ambassador Hotel had to be told. For it was and is a vital cog, a veritable, chronological moving part and motivation in the wheels of Los Angeles and Hollywood then and now. A Los Angeles that keeps exploding with its newness and uniqueness, and a Hollywood that is legend second only to Camelot itself… A kingdom like Oz, a glory such as Greece, and grandeur not unlike Rome. The hotel‘s famous and beauteous people’s astonishing stories have never been recorded for posterity. Would that I could have had this warehouse of plots when I was writing stories for films and magazines. It’s safe to say that millions of features, articles and columns have been written but no honest-to-god book. Dramatic and historical data yes, but so voluminous with its thousands of characters and events, that no one dared tackle it until she came face to face, ear to ear, and eye to eye with it.  Margaret has known and been loved by many famous Stars of every walk of Hollywood life. So now we have ARE THE STARS OUT TONIGHT. Happy, nostalgic reading.”


TOURIST: ”I’ve finally been able to get to America. Hollywood is the first place I wanted to visit, and I’m checked into the famous beautiful Ambassador. I can’t believe that my first experience is watching “Pretty Woman” being filmed! I am reading the Ambassador book… what history and excitement. A wonderland. I don’t want to leave.”



FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR OF THE WWII WASPS: Jacqueline operated the hotel beauty salon. When asked for her comments,

she replied “Read my book.”


MR. BLACKWELL, FAMOUS DESIGNER: ”The Ambassador was awesome. The glitz and glamour of those days gone by must be revisited by reading Margaret Burk’s incredible ‘STARS’.”



Too numerous to include are letters from around the world. Thanks all. Margaret Burk




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