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Florentine Gardens Photos

Hollywood Nightclub

Among Hollywood's hotspots, one of the biggest and flashiest was the Florentine Gardens, located at 5955 Hollywood Blvd.

Bruce Torrence began collecting Florentine Gardens photos in the early 1970s.  In the 2000s, He established a website called hollywoodphotographs.com,which has more than 8000 historic Hollywood photos.

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Even in a community never noted for modest standards, it was colossal. Not highly popular with most movies celebrities who preferred the exclusive intimacy of such places as Ciro’s, the Café Trocadero and the Mocambo, the noisy bar like club went in for quantity rather than quality. It managed to pack its 500 seats almost nightly. The inducement was a floor show that was a mixture of excitement, sex, and audience participation. Nils Thor Granlund staged the shows. In a large measure, the success of the gardens was due to the fact that people will pay well for the privilege of watching tall, handsome showgirls parade around in various stages of dress. Aside from the beautiful girls, a variety of acts entertained the customers. The Flying Herzogs was a trapeze act which held Florentine Gardens audiences in suspense when they performed high above the stage floor.

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Grand Opening

In 1938, Guido Bracchini organize the Florentine Gardens which had its opening on December 28, 1938 with Al Norton as master of ceremonies and Emil Baffa and his orchestra. For $2.50, the participants were given dinner and could dance. The club was not very successful, so by 1941, the management of the club changed hands to Mr. Frank Bruni who initiated a variety of floor shows which included various acts plus scantily clothed girls.

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Popular Shows

He then arranged for big-name entertainers to appear at the club. Such personalities included Paul Whitman and his orchestra, Sophie Tucker, Harry Richman and his orchestra, Willie Howard, the Mills Brothers and Yvonne deCarlo. Nils Thor Granlund was the dynamic master of ceremonies who encouraged audience participation. During the war, servicemen were admitted without charge and were seated in a special reserved section to watch the show.  Also during the war, Granlund would send several of his dancers to the Hollywood Canteen, where they would entertain the visiting servicemen.  The Florentine Gardens filed bankruptcy in 1948, however under new management, it continued as a restaurant using the same name, Florentine Gardens, until it finally went out of business in 1954.

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Competition in the nightclub field was very intense but the Florentine Gardens was quite different than its competitors.  The shows at the Florentine Gardens were much more risque than nightclubs like Ciro's, Mocambo and the Cocoanut Grove.  Many of the entertaining ladies wore pretty skimpy clothes which made many of the males in the audience quite happy.

Some of the finest photos of the Florentine Gardens can be viewed and purchased on the hollywoodphotographs.com website.

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