He also has an obsession with vintage clothing. And he collects drum sets.But for this blog post, we're going to focus on Hoag's incredible collection of relics from the now-demolished Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, CA.
His collection includes a stack of post cards, hotel restaurant menus, scads of matchbooks, ashtrays, signs, statuettes, photographs and his pet cat.
The Ambassador Hotel was built in the early 1920s. It became the Hollywood hotspot of the '20s, '30s and '40s. If you haven't heard of the Ambasador, you've surely heard of its famous nightclub, the Cocoanut Grove.
The Ambassador hosted six Academy Awards ceremonies and was Howard Hughes' personal headquarters. Robert Kennedy was assassinated in the hotel's kitchen pantry in 1968. After the hotel closed in 1989, a slew of films (That Thing You Do, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and more) were filmed there.
The Ambassador was demolished in 2005.
Hoag has collected Ambassador stuff for ten years. He visited the site many times before it was torn down. He's an expert on the subject and can rattle off the hotel's entire history off the top of his head.
Some of his rarest items include the signs from three out of four of the hotel casitas. And somehow, he snagged a heavy concrete statuette from the Ambassador's massive fountain.
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Hoag's obsession led him to drive to L.A. to pick up a live cat. This little fuzzball was a kitten of one of the many strays living in the building. It's now the Hoag family pet.
Most of Hoag's collection, however, comes from ebay.
Needless to say, Hoag has a true love affair with the Ambassador Hotel. As he showed me his favorite item (a guest folder with post cards, pens, and stationary) he actually got choked up when he read this line from the greeting letter:
"We sincerely appreciate your opinions, and hope you will often return to the Ambassador. We like having you with us."