The hotel that served as inspiration for the hit film “Dirty Dancing,” was destroyed by a fire Tuesday evening.
Grossinger’s resort in the Catskills of New York was popular after World War II, drawing hundreds of thousands of guests a year to its 27-hole golf course, indoor and outdoor pools, a nightclub and two kosher kitchens that served a predominantly Jewish clientele in a 1,500-seat dining room, The Associated Press reported.
The region was popular among Jewish travelers and was known as the borscht belt when Jewish people were not welcomed at other resorts, golf clubs and even some universities, The New York Times reported.
The resort has been called the inspiration for the 1987 film starring Patrick Swayze but has sat vacant for years.
“Dirty Dancing” screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein said her childhood vacations to Grossinger’s had an impact on the story, including when she learned to enjoy dancing while her parents were off enjoying the resort’s other offerings, the Times reported.
“My parents would hit the golf course and I would just go to the dance studio as a little girl,” she said in 2021. “On Thursday night champagne hour I would come out and do all these mambos and things.”
Flames erupted in a three-and-a-half-story building on the property. Firefighters were not sure what the building was in its heyday. The resort’s main building had been torn down about four years ago, Sullivan County Fire Coordinator John Hauschild said, according to the AP.
Smoke could be seen for miles, The New York Times reported.
Firefighters had difficulty getting to the fire as a gate blocking their way had to be cut. There was also overgrowth and barriers blocking them from easily gaining access to the blaze.
An excavator knocked down what was left after the fire was extinguished and the fire’s cause is under investigation.
Several other structures — at one point, the property boasted up to 36 buildings spread across 1,200 acres — had been demolished over the years, the Times reported.
In addition to being the inspiration for the film, the Grossinger found fame in its own right.
Eddie Fisher made his debut at the resort and married Debbie Reynolds there in 1955.
Joel Grey, the father of “Dirty Dancing” star Jennifer Grey, also performed there, as did Leslie Uggams. Jack Dempsey and Rocky Marciano made appearances there.
The resort was in business for almost 70 years but closed in 1986 after the Catskills lost its mystique. Despite attempts to redevelop the property, it fell into disrepair, the AP reported.
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