The recipient was legendary actor Tony Curtis. In the inscription attached to the key's plaque, Hedgecock referenced Curtis' cross-dressing role in Some Like It Hot, which was filmed in Coronado. It reads:
"WITH FOND MEMORIES OF JOSEPHINE'S IRREVERENT ROMP AT THE HOTEL DEL."
Good thing it isn't an actual key to the city. Almost three decades later, the key is now on eBay.
The asking price: $9,600.
Los Angeles-based antiques and collectibles dealer Bob Hakim says that he's selling the item on behalf of an anonymous collector who recently obtained many, many items from Curtis' estate at a recent auction in Las Vegas. San Diego's key isn't the only one up for grabs. Nor is it the most valuable.
Yes, Curtis, who passed away in 2010, was quite the collector of city keys. In the ranking of Cities Whose Keys Were Given to Tony Curtis and are Now For Sale on eBay, San Diego comes third.
City of Las Vegas, Nev. - $12,000
City of San Francisco, Calif. - $12,000
City of San Diego, Calif. - $9,600
City of Taormina, Italy (key and Roman bust set) - $7,500
City of Henderson, Nev. - $6,800
City of Acapulco, Mexico - $6,800
City of Naperville, Ill. - $2,800
Add it up, that's $57,500. Not a bad chunk of change for a little bit of a municipal generosity.
The city of San Diego has two different models of keys that it bestows upon its honorees, according to Alex Roth, a spokesperson for Mayor Jerry Sanders' office. There's the small key to the city, which costs $24 and is usually given to mayors from other cities, and then the larger one for $75, which is reserved for ambassadors and other international dignitaries such as the Dalai Lama.
Since 2009, the mayor's office has spent $1,068 on 19 keys to the city. We asked for the names of every recipient, but Roth would only provide the last three years' worth.* That's how long ago the current staffer who handles the keys was hired and began keeping a list.
"It's simply not practical for a city employee to spend countless hours digging through tens of thousands of invoices and other documents trying to figure out how many keys to the city we've handed out over the past few decades," Roth says. "It would be like searching for needles in a haystack and there are far more important public-records issues for our staff to handle with their limited resources."
Again, it's a good thing they aren't actually keys to the city.
Here’s the list since February 2009: