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Mocambo Nightclub and Photographs

    ** Click Here To View Photos **

The Mocambo Nightclub, located at 8588 Sunset Boulevard, was founded in 1940 by Felix Young and ex-agent, Charles 'Charlie' Morrison. with a capacity of 150 to 175 persons, the world-renowned club became one of the favorite “haunts” of member of the movie colony. Stars such as Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Norma Shearer, Robert Taylor, Rita Hayworth, Barbara Stanwick, Rosalind Russell, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio, Judy Garland, Henry Fonda, James Stewart, Errol Flynn, Victor Mature, Lana Turner and Reginald Gardiner were regular patrons who gathered there to enjoy the company of other personalities.

In 1941, the premiere Los Angeles decorator, Billy Haines, asked Tony Duquette to provide the special decorations for the Mocambo. Tony provided all of the plaster figurines and other whimsical decorations that adorned the club. The glamorous Mocambo, with its black and white wallpaper and its “glitzie” decor, had an aviary of live birds that lived in ornate cages in the club. In order to show the passersby who was performing at the nightclub, Morrison installed a neon lighted marque above the front entrance on the Sunset Strip.  

Dancing was provided by the club's own orchestra, which at times, was conducted by Paul Hebert and Eddie Oliver. In addition to the regular orchestra, Harold Stein and his Strolling Violins played for the customers. Charlie Morrison, who was always at the club greeting his guests, approached the booking of entertainment with a Barnum-like flair. As a result, the club boasted of having some of the top performers, such as Edith Piaf, Eartha, Kitt, Dinah Shore, Bob Hope, Jack Benny Lisa Kirk Billy Daniels and Lena Horne, entertain the ‘Who's Who‘ of the entertainment world. According to Hollywood legend, Marilyn Monroe persuaded the owners of the all-white club to book Ella Fitzgerald in the mid1950s -- and the gig changed Fitzgerald’s career. She became the first black performer at the Mocambo. After leaving the Tommy Dorsey orchestra in 1943, Frank Sinatra made his Los Angeles debut as a solo act at the club. When Charlie Morrison first saw Earth Kitt perform, he was Ecstatic. The Gal’s wonderful,” he declared. “I’ll book her into the Mocambo any time she’s free.”  She performed there several times. 

During the 1950s, the Mocambo’s next door neighbor was the Larry Finley Restaurant, where Larry Finley broadcasted his television and radio show.

The club's main stage was replicated on the television series “I Love Lucy” as the 'Tropicana' Club. Both Lucille Ball and Dezi Arnez  were frequent guests at the Mocambo and were close friends of Charlie Morrison. Sunday evening was talent night. Marilyn Morrison, Charlie‘s daughter, interviewed the talent during the day and selected those who would perform that evening. In 1952, Marilyn married the popular crooner, Johnnie Ray, but they later divorced.

The Mocambo continued to operate for a short time after Charlie Morrison's death, but it just wasn't the same. Finally, much to the bereavement of its many notable patrons, the famous club closed its doors on June 30, 1952. 

MOCAMBO PHOTOGRAPHS 

The largest collection of Hollywood photographs is hollywoodphotographs.com. There are over 6000 photos on the web site and among those, are scores of rare and exquisite photographs of the Mocambo Nightclub.  All the photos in the collection are available for purchase.

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