Since the genesis of Arizona tourism more than three quarters of a century ago, Hollywood celebrities have played a significant part in furthering it. The famed and acclaimed are still at it in Scottsdale today, helping give the city a reputation for being a hip-andhappening destination.
A week and a half ago in this space, I criticized the City Council for applying outdated Hollywood standards of what the Old West was like to the architecture of downtown Scottsdale. Today, I’m praising the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau for applying updated Hollywood standards of what being cool and, well, hot is like to visiting downtown Scottsdale — and the rest of the city, for that matter.
The architecture is based on 1940s Westerns. The cool attitude is based on celebrities, which have always been an integral, evolving part of Scottsdale’s allure. The difference is that old Westerns remain old Westerns. The celebrities are always the latest.
Movie stars of different eras — Clark Gable and Carole Lombard (1930s), and Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood (1950s) — were married at Scottsdale-area resorts. A young John F. Kennedy took a winter respite from college life here in the 1930s. News and entertainment notables of the decades since, including Dick Van Dyke, Hugh Downs, Amanda Blake, Lynda Carter, Alice Cooper, Stevie Nicks, Steven Spielberg and David Spade, grew up here or made their homes here.
Celebrities once came to the Valley to escape the limelight and fawning they received at home; locals by and large left them alone as they ate out or shopped here. Today the 24-hour news cycle and a latter-day insatiable desire for all things glamorous is why, as the Tribune’s Shanna Hogan reported Friday, the Convention and Visitors Bureau has added to its Web site information on celebrity sightings in Scottsdale.
Now, if you’re one of those new Arizonans who, by virtue of the months you’ve lived here, feels you’ve got the right to criticize all those Californians who are moving in, it might be appropriate to remember that Scottsdale owes most of its image to Hollywood. Today’s celebrities are showing up here more often than ever. Our city is their latest new playground that is close to Los Angeles, a tradition that once stretched from Palm Springs to Las Vegas.
As long as there are people who want to hang out somewhere where Jennifer Aniston just did — and as long as there are people back in Indiana who will want to hear the tale with a hint of jealousy as well as a desire to travel here themselves — celebrities will be a lure to new tourism and new tourist dollars.
Call us residents of the West’s Most Further West Town.
Hooray for Hollywood.