A glass of wine and a good movie, could there be a better plan? Wine and cinema are two arts that often go hand in hand and have the magical quality of making us travel the world without leaving home or packing. However, this goes even further in Jean Leon case.
It is a fact that our wineries founder life was like a movie. After going into exile to France during the postwar period and living for a time in Paris, Jean Leon stowed away on a ship to New York and ended up in Los Angeles. It was at this time that he established a relationship with Hollywood and with many of its stars.
In this city, Jean Leon got a job as a waiter at Villa Capri, one of the most luxurious restaurants in Hollywood, owned by Frank Sinatra and Joe di Maggio, where he began to meet famous people from the cinema world.
Jean Leon & James Dean
Although he was intimate with many Hollywood stars, the friendship that stood out the most was the one he had with the actor James Dean, with whom he came to devise his first business: opening the most prestigious restaurant in Hollywood.
However, on September 30, 1955, James Dean lost his life in a car accident. The tragic and sudden death of this actor affected Jean Leon a lot, since the actor was even going to be his son’s godfather. Finally, Jean Leon went ahead with the project. On April 1, 1956, La Scala restaurant was inaugurated.
The relationship with Marilyn Monroe
Another special friendship was with the actress Marilyn Monroe. Shortly after opening La Scala, the place became the usual place where celebrities of the moment, including Monroe, met.
Jean Leon maintained a close friendship with Marilyn Monroe, whom he had known from his time as a waiter at Villa Capri. This actress was such a recurring customer in her restaurant to such an extent that Jean Leon dedicated her a dish from the menu, the ‘MarilynFetuccini’, for being one of his favorite dishes.
In addition, life also wanted Jean Leon to be one of the last people to see Marylin Monroe alive. On the night of August 4, 1962, Marylin called him on the phone. She told him that she was feeling unwell and asked her to bring her something to eat at her Brentwood home. A few hours later the actress passed away.
Hollywood y el vino Jean Leon
It was in his restaurant La Scala where Jean Leon decided to travel all over Europe to find a winery that would allow him to create a perfect wine for his kitchen. And the ideal land that he found for his vineyards was in Spain, specifically in the Penedés.
To the surprise of the wine growers in the area, Jean Leon replaced the local vines with grafts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay vines from prestigious French wineries. An unusual decision that led to the production of the first Cabernet Sauvignon wines from Spain.
Did you find Jean Leon’s relationship with Hollywood interesting?
If you want to discover more details about his life, you can read the novel La fuerza de un destino by Martí Gironell, where he tells the exciting story of Jean Leon life.