(A recollection by Dr. Angie McCartney)
I have just spent a few days at The Ingleside Inn in Palm Springs. My first visit since Mel Haber left us for that great cocktail bar in the sky.
It was an emotional time, going into the Restaurant and seeing his picture above his corner table, where we had spent so many happy hours of laughter and yarn swapping. Somehow, it seemed like he was still there.
Armida, Hal, Karen, Brian, Matt, and all the lovely staff members who we have known for so many years – they all greeted us with hugs and commiserations for our joint loss of “the boss.”
To have known Mel is to have loved him. He was more than a client, but a dear and trusted friend. We at McCartney Multimedia had been taking care of his websites for The Ingleside Inn and Melvyn’s Restaurant for around 20 years, and this was the man who, when he knew we were going through tough financial times, told us that there was always “room at the Inn” for Ruth, Martin and I if the going got too tough to carry on.
I will always remember how kind and generous he was when Martin Directed a pilot there for a show called “Early Bird Special.” He made it an affair to remember. And when Ruth interviewed him for her “Legends” series, he was just so encouraging, affable, warm, and an absolute mine of funny stories.
My dear friend, Marshall Terrill, worked with Mel on one of his books, documenting many of the stories of his experiences over the years, many of which showed that he was not afraid of documenting some of the times he had been taken for a ride by unscrupulous guests, and yet he was always able to make the story end with a smile.
And although we will miss him, it would only be selfish to wish him back here if he was not able to be the independent host that he had always been. Mercifully, he left us pretty quickly, with Stephanie and Autumn by his side.
I am re-reading Palm Springs a la Carte which he wrote with Marshall Terrill, and from which I will treasure his dedication: “To Angie, a remarkable woman with a young soul. It’s a pleasure to know you.” And then I will re-visit his earlier book “Bedtime Stories of the Legendary Ingleside Inn” which has a special dedication by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Both books have a wonderful selection of celebrity photographs of people who have graced (and sometimes disgraced) the Inn.
I wrote a chapter about him in “My Long and Winding Road” and when I gave him a copy, he was so pleased to accept it from me.
Bottoms up Mel!
Dr. Angie McCartney