Cannes: The Storied Carlton Hotel Turns 100

Carlton Hotel
Collection Traverso/Courtesy of Carlton Cannes

Brigitte Bardot was an immediate sensation when she first hit Cannes in 1953, and by 1956 — there to promote her movie Naughty Girl — she had become a regular. Remembers Gurrieri with a sigh, “Brigitte Bardot, for me, that’s a great woman.”

Celebrities from Michael Jackson to President Obama have flocked to the Croisette's picturesque palace.

This story first appeared in the May 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Like an elegant grand dame, the InterContinental Carlton Cannes Hotel has seen it all: kings, queens, a meeting of the League of Nations in 1922 and of the world's G20 leaders, including President Obama, in 2011. But it's during the Cannes Film Festival that the 343-room hotel, marking its 100th birthday this year, is at its starriest.

Surveying the crowded lobby in 1972 -- as starlets competed for attention and producers tried to nail down deals -- director John Huston told The Hollywood Reporter, "If you stand there long enough, you can see anyone who matters in the movie business walk by." And the hotel forever will be linked to Princess Grace of Monaco. It was there that she filmed Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief in 1954, then met her future husband Prince Rainier the following year.

PHOTOS: Carlton Hotel: Where It All Happened in Cannes

On May 21, as part of its centennial celebration, the hotel will host a benefit gala for The Heart Fund. Sony Pictures Classics co-president Tom Bernard, who is chairing the event, has been staying at the Carlton since 1981. "It's just a grand place," he says, recalling seeing Michael Jackson -- whom he first mistook for a Jackson impersonator -- roaming the halls one morning and another occasion when Brazilian soccer star Pele, in the midst of a press conference, jumped into the crowd and collared a pickpocket. "Even the most outrageous and incredible things seem ordinary within those walls."