The Omni La Costa Resort and Spa, located in the coastal city of Carlsbad in North San Diego County, is well known for hosting high-profile sporting events and the 4th Annual La Costa Film Festival, but what many don’t know is its history ties to Hollywood’s elite. From the Rat Pack to Jackie-O, to Mafia connections, the stories still live on.
Dating back to the 60s and 70s, it was not unusual to see Johnny Carson playing tennis on the resort’s courts, or Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Bob Hope playing rounds of golf at the resort. La Costa went on to attract big name athletes like Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus in addition to political figures like Jackie Kennedy and Richard Nixon.
La Costa became known as a lavish getaway for the rich and famous and some would even say, the infamous. In 1975, Penthouse Magazine published an article about the La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, which led to one of the biggest libel lawsuits in U.S. history. The article reported that two of the resorts founders, Merv Adelson and Irwin Molasky, had connections to organized crime (i.e., the Mafia). The La Costa entrepreneurs hit back with a $522 million libel lawsuit against the adult magazine. In 1982, a jury absolved the magazine and reporters from liability, but the judge threw out the verdict and ordered a new trial. In December 1985, the two sides settled on the eve of the second trial. Penthouse went on to publicly apologize to Adelson and Molasky.
Decades later, in the March 2013 issue of Vanity Fair, Adelson (once married to TV journalist Barbara Walters) admitted to taking money from the Mafia to build real estate but later regretted it, stating that the money and gangster ties tarnished his reputation. Adelson later went on to become a co-founder of Lorimar Television, creating successful shows like “The Waltons,” “Knots Landing,” and “Dallas.”
The days of the Rat Pack and the Mafioso are long gone at the resort, but the folklore about old Hollywood stars and gangsters still give the lush 400-acre resort some of its unique charm. The La Costa Film Festival is honored to continue the resort’s Hollywood legacy, by hosting famous actors like Ed Harris and Andy Garcia to the festivals exclusive after-parties held at the resort. Which Hollywood royalty will grace the Omni Resort during this years film festival (Oct 13-16, 2016)? Stay tuned to find out!