Long Beach’s Hollywood Icon: The Queen Mary
The Queen Mary is a Southern California icon and Hollywood superstar. From its long history serving as one of the largest ocean liners in the 1930s, to transporting thousands of soldiers during World War II, the Queen Mary’s art deco serves as an iconic backdrop for popular films.
Commodore Everette Hoard has worked on the Queen Mary for the past 37 years entertaining VIPs and sharing the ship’s history.
“Hollywood is magic when there’s a giant production going on,” he said. “The grips are everywhere, the hairdressers, the flurry of activity, even if our guests can’t come in and see a certain room, most people from other parts of the world are just happy to be here when something is being filmed.”
Two of the most popular rooms used to film are the Observation Bar and Queen’s Salon, which were once apart of the first class area when the ship was at sea. Both boast the most exquisite artwork and architecture.
It’s apparent when you walk into the Queen’s Salon that something magical once took place. The room’s high ceilings, extravagant art pieces and ornate wood reflects the grandeur of a room built for a queen, quite literally. There’s also a stage in the room, which was the center of entertainment for passengers then and now. In fact, the entire room was themed after music.
“The real magic took place in this room when the ship was at sea,” the commodore said. “This was the first class lounge, so it was a social gathering place for the most important people in the world. From 1936 until 1967 you can be sure that every notable person probably alive was in this room.”
Queen’s Salon was used for many films, including the “Parent Trap,” “Pearl Harbor,” and “Aviator.”
“Pearl Harbor” (2001) shows clips of the Queen’s Salon in its tale of war and romance at a turning point in history.
In one scene, Rafe (Ben Affleck) and Evelyn (Kate Beckinsale) are out in a small boat at night portraying the New York Harbor. In actuality, they were floating past the Queen Mary in Long Beach.
Rafe can also be seen attempting to raise the boat up the side of the Queen Mary for Evelyn, who has always wondered what it would be like to be on board. Ironically, the scene before that night, when Rafe and Evelyn dance to a band in a New York nightclub, was actually shot in the Queen’s Salon.
“Where they were filming over the side... I snuck up around on the Sun Deck and looked down on them while they were filming,” the commodore said.
“Aviator” (2004) tells the story of legendary director and aviator Howard Hughes’ career from the late 1920s to mid 1940s. Leonardo DiCaprio stars in this movie as Hughes, alongside famous co-stars Cate Blanchett and Kate Beckinsale.
The Queen’s Salon was transformed into the Cocoanut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles and is also used in the scene when Hughes announces his plans to build the biggest seaplane ever. This is a testament to how the Queen Mary’s timeless art deco interior can portray magnificent places and at times, different eras.
The commodore also recalls Leonardo DiCaprio always getting milkshakes while filming the “Aviator.”
“We had a gourmet milkshake shop on board at the time, and we sent Leonardo DiCaprio gourmet shakes,” he said. “And he autographed a picture to us and sent it back so we could display it in there.”
The Queen’s Salon’s co-star, a beautiful art deco lounge that was once apart of the first class area too is called the Observation Bar. This perfect place to grab a cocktail is located at the bow of the ship, and its windows curve around with doors leading to the deck. One movie that shot solely in the Observation Bar was “He’s Just Not That Into You” (2009).
“He’s Just Not That Into You” is a star-studded movie set in Baltimore that follows the lives of nine different people and their relationship issues. The cast includes Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connelly, Kevin Connolly, Bradley Cooper, Ginnifer Goodwin, Scarlett Johansson, and Justin Long.
The scene where Scarlett Johansson’s character sings at the end of the romantic comedy was filmed in the corner of the Observation Bar!
“Aviator” also shot a well-known seen in the Observation Bar: the “Hell’s Angels” wrap party.
About It All
The Queen Mary is a historic national treasure that’s lovingly visited by people from all around the world. It’s a place that holds near and dear for many of its visitors. They fall in love with the architecture, history and artwork. There’s a heart and sole in the Queen Mary that can’t be replicated and after visiting the Queen Mary once, it is evident why people return time and time again.
The commodore recalls, “The very last day that the Queen Mary spent in New York in 1967 as she was being retired...a very special lady came in the [Queen’s Salon]. It was Estee Lauder. And she said ‘I couldn’t let the ship go out of service without coming and saying goodbye because sitting in here was always like having teas in a castle.’”