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Most people have to pay to stay at the Regent Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills; Vivian Ward earned a cool $3,000 for her time at the "Reg Bev Wil."

Vivian, of course, was Julia Roberts' star-making, Oscar-nominated role in 'Pretty Woman,' the 1990 romantic comedy classic that was set, largely, at the Regent Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills, right across from Tiffany & Co. and at the foot of super-swanky Rodeo Drive.
Most people have to pay to stay at the Regent Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills; Vivian Ward earned a cool $3,000 for her time at the "Reg Bev Wil."

Vivian, of course, was Julia Roberts' star-making, Oscar-nominated role in 'Pretty Woman,' the 1990 romantic comedy classic that was set, largely, at the Regent Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills, right across from Tiffany & Co. and at the foot of super-swanky Rodeo Drive.

Vivian was a, ahem, "friend" (hence the $3,000 payday) of wealthy hotel guest Edward Lewis (Richard Gere), who ended up falling in love with the made-over Vivian, a la 'Pygmalion' and a very Disney-fied spin on the hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold storyline. And the glamorous Reg Bev Wil -- as Vivian's BFF and fellow hooker Kit (Laura San Giacomo) so memorably called it when she scribbled the name of the joint, in lipstick, on a chair -- played a big role in the now 20-year-old movie, as it served for the backdrop not only for Vivian's makeover, but for her dreamy nights with corporate takeover king Edward.

Location as Character: New Yorker Edward picks Vivian up when he gets lost, driving in a borrowed sports car, back to his hotel: the Regent Beverly Wilshire. When he pulls the car over -- on Hollywood Boulevard -- to ask for directions, Vivian offers to help him ... for a fee. He asks her to get in and drive the car (trivia: a Lotus Esprit) to the hotel (he's a rich dude, and not used to driving himself), and after an awkward entrance in which Edward's overcoat doesn't exactly hide Vivian's skimpy outfit, the duo retires to Edward's suite, where Vivian watches 'I Love Lucy,' shares with Edward her "buffet of safety" (a rainbow-colored assortment of condoms) and noshes on strawberries and cream. Oh, and they have sex -- many times over the course of the next week (for which Vivian is paid the aforementioned three grand), while sharing stories about their childhoods, Edward's fear of heights and Vivian's love of Prince.

It's also the hotel's uptight manager, Barnard Thompson (Hector Elizondo), who helps Vivian with her glam style makeover and who teaches her proper dinner etiquette for Edward's big business dinner with the Morses, whose company he's trying to raid.

Footnote: Though the Regent Beverly Wilshire was used for exteriors and interior shooting (including the elevator scene in which Vivian declares, "Color me happy, there's a sofa in here for two!"), the hotel suite that served as Edward's home away from home was actually a set constructed on a sound stage.


Historical Significance: The hotel opened in 1928, and is known for its unique E-shaped structure and Italian Renaissance architecture design. Now a Four Seasons property, the official name of the hotel is the Beverly Wilshire (sans the "Regent"), though the bright half-circle awnings -- and the hotel's tradition of blinging out the whole building with lights at Christmastime -- remains.

Since 1987, the Beverly Wilshire has been on the National Register of Historic Places.

Fun Fact: Both Warren Beatty and Elvis Presley lived at the Regent Beverly Wilshire, each for several years. And in the 1970s, when John Lennon was separated from wife Yoko Ono, he briefly lived at the hotel, because he'd heard that Elvis had.

The hotel is also, reportedly, where Dashiell Hammett wrote 'The Thin Man,' and the Regent Wilshire's Wolfgang Puck steakhouse, CUT, is a regular celebrity hangout.

Directions: The Beverly Wilshire is located at 9500 Wilshire Boulevard, on the east side of South Rodeo Drive, in Beverly Hills. The zip code: 9021 ... 2.

Visitor Info: While a stay at the former Regent Beverly Wilshire will set you back at least a few hundred dollars (standard rates for a Moderate Room ring in at $395/night), even non-famous guests get access to some celeb-worthy perks. Among the amenities that come gratis with any room reservation: car service within a three-mile radius; AM coffee, tea and mini pastries in the lobby; and chilled towels and frozen fruit at the hotel pool, as well as complimentary "sunglass-cleaning service."