Palm Springs, or Hollywood-in-the-Desert, is a sun-soaked monument to man's incredible ingenuity 105 miles east of Los Angeles. "The Village," as it is known to the 7,000 locals and the visiting cognoscenti who swell the population from October until June, nestles in a sheltering cove of the San Jacinto Mountains, which tower 10,000 feet above the gray-sand and sagebrush floor of the once inhospitable Colorado Desert.
There is no lack of hospitality now. The resort accommodates 25,000 visitors a week at the top of the season in trailer camps, hotels, motels, private clubs and lavish desert homes. It offers 856 swimming pools (the largest number per capita in the world), 20 stables to satisfy the would-be cowboy, and, as a prospect for the near future, the Mt. San Jacinto Tramway, the world's longest—8,640 feet up from desert floor, a 25-minute ride from sand to snow.
Even so visionary a lady as the late Mrs. Nellie Coffman, who started it all, would be amazed by the upward and outward mushrooming of this cloudless community. When Nellie came to Palm Springs in 1909 to open a boarding house, there was nothing there but a run-down hotel, 11 dilapidated houses and a handful of settlers. "Nellie's Boarding House" is now the swank Desert Inn, a million-dollar-a-year product of imagination and the boom that has accelerated since the war. To it and to the pink-stucco El Mirador, to Charlie Farrell's Hollywood Oasis, the Racquet Club, and to quietly exclusive Smoke Tree Ranch, to the golfing paradise that is Thunderbird and the expensive playground that is the Shadow Mountain Club and to hundreds of no less imaginative, if less well-known, establishments the sun-seekers come.
They come for golf and tennis—and Palm Springs considers itself winter capital of both worlds. They come for the night life, an annex of the Sunset Strip, and for the desert riding. But mostly they come for the sun. It is the village's most salable commodity, as witness the blurb of a real-estate development: "One-half hour more of sunlight"—because the place is located out of the shadow of Mt. San Jacinto, which cuts off the sun in midafternoon in most of Palm Springs, leaving a desert chill over the egg-shaped swimming pools.
March 21, 1955
Those who come soon find themselves victims of a pleasant desert madness, caused no doubt by the tingling arid air, the incandescent desert night, made more so by spotlighted palm trees and flashing neon, and by the magical spectrum of the desert at dawn and sunset. They manifest this madness chiefly in the way they dress. A grandmotherly lady in sensible shoes recently returned to the El Mirador from a first day's browsing among the shops—branches of Los Angeles' finest stores—that line Palm Canyon Drive and reported to her husband, "Well, I bought the uniform." When asked what the heck that was, she produced from a shopping bag a pair of pink linen shorts—brief ones—and a dyed-to-match bejeweled cashmere sweater.
Actress Sara Shane (Mrs. William Hoilingsworth) wears a new Palm Springs favorite, a little-boy suit in sand poplin.
Golden west colors worn by Mrs. Florence Horn glow against the oasis greenery around the Tennis Club pool. Skirt of zinnia linen is Pellon-lined. Polka-dot camisole has new batteau neckline. Both skirt and blouse are designed by Rudi Gernreich.
Bright plumaged golfers at Thunderbird: Fred Karlen in Hawaiian shirt; Bob Littler in cream flannel slacks, red alpaca pullover; Milt Hicks in red linen slacks, blue cashmere; club President Johnny Dawson in white alpaca cardigan; baseball's Ralph Kiner in cashmere shirt, gold slacks; Dick Snideman in alpaca cardigan.
Fringe-topped golfmobile is popular conveyance at Thunderbird Golf Course. Hoagy Carmichael, who has a home there, wears checked jacket, white ascot, cashadene slacks.
Palm springs hat is a straw ten-gallon, fancily decorated with flowers and ribbons. Decorated hats were first worn at an annual Desert Circus Week several years ago. Now they are traditional western riding toppers, as worn here by Zetta Castle, wife of a desert apartment-hotel 'owner. Also native: cactus and citrus.
Traditional white is still favored for tennis, even in color-happy Palm Springs, where the Racquet and Tennis Clubs are strongholds of the game. Yvonne Hellyer at Castle's Red Barn paddle-tennis court wears pleated, wrapped white Dacron tennis dress by Horgan of California. The dress is worn over matching shorts.
In the pink at the Racquet Club is Mousie Powell, wife of actor William Powell. Her dyed-to-match tennis racket is enclosed in a rhinestone-studded press. George Ripley, a director of Southern California LTA, wears English wool jersey tennis shirt and cream flannel shorts.