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Beverly Hills Honors Style Maven Fred Hayman, the Father of Rodeo Drive

[IMG:L]It was a mind-boggling birthday party. In Beverly Hills on Memorial Day they closed off the street and created a posh celebration, all in the honor of one of Beverly Hills’ (and Hollywood’s, too) most influential men. You might not know his name, but Fred Hayman – who marked his 82nd birthday at the glittery evening party – has influenced much of what you have seen (and smelled) on famous faces for the last 50 years.

Hayman, who is often dubbed “the father of Rodeo Drive,” opened the chic shop Giorgio of Beverly Hills back in the ’60s, right on the corner of Rodeo and Dayton Way. That’s exactly where the party was held, as Dayton Way was transformed into a beautiful ballroom, complete with grand piano, plush couches, and yellow-rose-filled dining tables. Back then, the street was a sleepy little spot with few sophisticated stores; Hayman changed all that, as and the evening’s emcee famed TV producer George Schlatter (Laugh In) remembered.

“Giorgio’s became the place for everyone,” he recalled, “both men and women loved going there. Fred saved more Beverly Hills marriages than anyone else, especially when he put a full bar and a pool table in the middle of the store!”

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And gather they did, as the mostly older-set VIPs who dined on Ossetra caviar, lobster and truffles, and Wagyu steak washed down with Dom Perignon and Beaulieu Vineyards Dulcet Reserve Red fondly remembered.

[IMG:R]Back in the day, Frank Sinatra hung out around the pool table with other Rat Pack boys, while Elizabeth Taylor sipped on white wine and David Janssen slugged down Scotch. Liz didn’t make the party, but Hayman’s long-time pals did – an elegant assortment of the Hollywood elite from Haymen heyday including Merv Griffin, Robert Loggia, Jacqueline Bisset, Cyd Charisse, and Tony Martin did, as well as Rosemarie Stack (TV star Robert‘s widow) and Ginny Mancini (composer Henry‘s widow).

Merv Griffin admitted that he owes most of his wardrobe to Fred Hayman’s keen eye; in fact, Hayman dressed Griffin throughout his legendary singing and talk show careers, and he did the same for Vanna White and Pat Sajak for Griffin‘s show Wheel of Fortune. Hayman was also the Fashion Coordinator of the Academy Awards for 11 years, and is “the man who single-handedly put glamour back into the Oscars,” according to Gil Cates, who executive produced the lion’s share of those shows.

But Hayman is probably best known for his Giorgio of Beverly Hills fragrance and for his signature yellow-and-white-striped gift wrapping, that, as Schlatter recalled, “made us guys seem to have the biggest hearts on the street when we brought one home to our wives.” Later on, the shop changed to the Fred Hayman Beverly Hills boutique, when that replaced Giorgio on that key Rodeo corner when he sold that company to Avon for a whopping $165 million.

[IMG:L]In fact, Hayman is such an icon of style in Beverly Hills that he’s now got a street named after him, as the mayor and city council bestowed that honor upon him at the party. From now on, Fred Hayman Place will run between Dayton Way and Rodeo Drive, right at the byway where long-time power-lunching fixture The Grill on the Alley sits.

The style maven certainly has his share of famous friends outside of Hollywood, too – we spotted sculptor Robert Graham, businessman Lee Iacocca, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, chef Wolfgang Puck, and judge Malcolm Lucas in the elegant crowd.

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And when they brought out the many-tiered chocolate Valrhona birthday cake (in the shape and color of his iconic gift boxes) Hayman was surprised to see his buddy Placido Domingo arrive, leading the assembled well-wishers in singing “Happy Birthday.”

That’s a sure sign that you’re not at an average person’s birthday bash, now isn’t it?

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