My wife and I have been semi-regulars at Hollywood's Musso & Frank Grill for a decade now. 2019 has been a banner year for the restaurant: the oldest in Hollywood, Musso's turns 100 this year, and it also serves as a key location in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. On a sadder note, Musso's most famous bartender Ruben Rueda and its most famous waiter Sergio Gonzalez both passed away this spring, each after more than four decades of service. So yes, it's been an eventful time for an eatery whose clientele has included everyone from Charlie Chaplin to William Faulkner to Marilyn Monroe to Keith Richards. And celebrities still flock to the place – although, as per Musso's tradition, one is expected to leave them alone and keep the camera at bay. Here are nine stars I have seen here over the years.
- Jack Nicholson. I've seen him here twice – both times in a big booth, keeping a low profile with an older male friend. On one occasion, Nicholson gave my wife the eye as she walked past him towards the ladies' room.
- Paul Dano. The talented costar of Little Miss Sunshine and There Will Be Blood was dining with his longterm girlfriend Zoe Kazan and, unexpectedly, British comedian Stephen Merchant.
- Mila Kunis. One Saturday afternoon, we observed the actress talking very seriously with an older man (possibly her agent) – not in a private booth, but at the humble counter in Musso's "old room".
- Michael C. Hall. The Dexter star was drinking with older male friends at the "new room's" crowded bar. Later, he walked past our table in the old room. Did Hall check out my wife, or our female friend who was dining with us? No, dear reader – he stared directly into my soul. Draw from that what you will. P.S. Happy Days star Marion Ross was in the house that same night.
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt. We were sitting in the so-called "Charlie Chaplin booth" when I locked eyes with Dexter. Months later, just as the restaurant was closing for the night, Gordon-Levitt and his buddies sauntered in, took that same booth, and ordered dinner. I was informed that they stayed much later than the staff would have liked.
- Tom Selleck. This is the kind of old school star you'd expect to see at Musso's, and there he was, mustache and all.
- Sandra Oh. We had friends visiting from out of town, so we took them to Musso's one night, where Oh was out with a group. For me as an Angeleno, there's nothing more delightful that telling a guest, "Look, someone famous!"
- Christoph Waltz. The Oscar-winning actor was in a small booth, chatting amiably with director Spike Jonze. It does not appear that their dinner led to any collaborations.
- Gore Vidal. The author/bon vivant was the last of the great literary lions to frequent Musso's. (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, and Charles Bukowski, among many others, preceded him.) He was holding court at a large table when we heard one of his dinner guests, a handsome young man, loudly singing opera – not very well, I must add. But that didn't matter to Vidal: when we left, a few minutes later, I spotted Vidal placing his hand on the handsome young man's shoulder and saying, "What you do... is art!"