Harbor Court concierge tends celebrities' whims Be Her Guest


Dorothy Moran's duties over the years read like bits from a Liz Smith column. Map out David Letterman's jogging route. Carry Itzhak Perlman's Stradivarius. Find Holly Hunter a humidifier. And, perhaps her favorite, buy kitty litter for Robert Goulet's cat.

umbrella. Room 624 wants Advil.

These, though, are no-brainers compared to trying to find Sharon Stone a Sunday Los Angeles Times in Baltimore. The actress was staying at the hotel with her boyfriend Bob Wagner, who worked on the production crew of the Jodie Foster movie, "Home for the Holidays." At the same time, she was in the market for a new home in California and insisted on having the paper that day.

Ms. Moran made arrangements with a Baltimore newsstand, but the paper never arrived. By 1 p.m., Ms. Stone was clearly disappointed.

After calling around, Ms. Moran found a spot in Washington that had the paper. Although it was her day off, she drove to Penn Station, caught a train to Washington, hailed a cab to Georgetown and made it back by 3 p.m.

"If I had to go to New York, she was going to have that paper," she says.

A woman of action more than self-analysis, Ms. Moran isn't particularly interested in exploring what motivates her to tend to the whims of a rich and sometimes-fickle public.

It's not money. Derived from the Latin word "conservus" for fellow slave, a concierge routinely makes between $15,000 and $40,000 before tips, which aren't always given.

"You have to like people -- demanding people, crazy people," says Harbor Court's managing director, Werner Kunz. "We have them all. Dorothy is very kind and warm with this big smile and a tremendous knowledge of Baltimore. And she never looks tired."

The president of the Baltimore Area Concierge Association for the last two years, Ms. Moran has been dubbed "Mother Dorothy" by colleagues there.

"She's like the mother everyone would love to have," says Sherlonda Harris, 23, a concierge at the Marriott Inner Harbor Hotel. "She's nurturing. If you have a problem and you come to her, she listens. And she gives good advice."

Two years ago, Danny Glover came to her with a problem -- a big problem. The actor, in fact, raced to the front desk one morning angrily waving a pair of his trousers.

"He practically threw them over the front desk and said, 'I do not want creases. I told you before I do not want creases,' " she says.

"I was even louder. I said, 'I know! We will get rid of them!' For half a second, I felt like Mel Gibson. It was wonderful."

She took them to Housekeeping, watched the manager press them, and hand-delivered them to Mr. Glover.

Other requests have come closer to stumping her. A CEO of a Fortune 500 company recently requested a preserved ostrich egg for an awards banquet. After four hours of calling zoos, agricultural departments and museums, she finally found one at an interior design shop.

"That was one of the most difficult challenges," she says. "I remember sitting down thinking, 'Where does one begin?' "

Her present job isn't the first time Ms. Moran has rubbed elbows with the rich and famous. Growing up in Manhattan, she worked as an "usherette" on Broadway in the 1950s. She seated theatergoers for such classics as "The King and I," "South Pacific" and "Picnic" and met stars including Yul Brynner, Susan Hayward and Mary Martin.

She moved to Baltimore in 1960 and had three daughters with her now ex-husband, Baltimore labor attorney, Cosimo Abato, to whom she was married for 27 years. In her free time, Ms. Moran, who lives in Cross Keys, follows her own advice -- shopping at Octavia, attending the BSO and dining at the Prime Rib.

She got this job almost by accident after accompanying her youngest daughter to an employment agency. Ms. Moran, who had worked for the Baltimore Convention Center and American Heart Association, was unemployed at the time and mentioned to the recruiter: "If you come up with anything that looks really great, give me a call."

Three weeks later, she was asked to sell condominiums at Harbor Court. In 1988, she became the hotel concierge.

Initially, she wasn't sure she was going to feel comfortable solving other people's problems. But three weeks after being hired, she was put to the test when the catering manager came to her in a panic: A Jewish wedding was about to begin, and the hotel didn't have any yarmulkes.

She phoned Sol Levinson Funeral Home on Reisterstown Road. They agreed to loan out theirs. She jumped in her car, picked them up herself and returned in less than 30 minutes.

"That's my New York survival instinct," she says. "I figured if I could come up with those, I could do the job."

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