Where did Michael Romanoff come from?
Romanoff's restaurant located at 326 North Rodeo Drive in the heart of Beverly Hills was the place to see and be seen from 1941 to 1962. The Hollywood hotspot frequented by A-list celebrities and a regular award show viewing location is shrouded in mysterious history and the dubious past of owner, actor, and con man, Michael Romanoff, or Herschel Geguzin by birth.
Michael Romanoff claimed to be a member of Russia's royal House of Romanov (sometimes spelled "Romanoff" in English). This was known to be blatantly false throughout his career but the Hollywood circle embraced the deception almost humorously. Fact has it that Romanoff came to New York at age 10 and among other things was a pants presser in Brooklyn. Along the way he began pretending he was Russian royalty and following a brief deportation to France to serve time for fraud, he perpetrated the Russian royalty fraud egregiously introducing himself as a Count and a Prince, among other titles. Hollywood embraced the fanciful fraud and Romanoff enjoyed a successful career as a Beverly Hills restaurateur and Hollywood insider until his death in 1971.
A series of four shots of film stars (left to right) Clark Gable (1901 - 1960), Van Heflin (1910 - 1971), Gary Cooper (1901 - 1961) and James Stewart (1908 - 1997) enjoying a joke at a New Year's party held at Romanoff's in Beverly Hills, 31st December 1957.
Romanoff's was the Hollywood hotspot for A-listers at the time and the image that was to become one of Aaron's most famous happened almost by accident. As Aarons recalls the evening, he was there to shoot for Town & Country Magazine and having worked with the four actors, he greeted them as friends. The couple of casual images he shot of the foursome was an afterthought of the evening and wasn't discovered until years later when it ran as a two page spread called "Slim's Guys".
An unknown guest at a New Year's Eve party held at the Romanoff Restaurant in Hollywood, Los Angeles.
Kay Spreckles, the fifth wife of actor Clark Gable, at a New Year's Eve party held at the Romanoff Restaurant in Hollywood, California.
"I had done photographs from my New York apartment at 57th and Park to help Alfred Hitchcock on the set design for Rear Window, and I'd gotten to know Jimmy Stewart"