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Old Hollywood Nightclubs

Hollywood's Playground of the Stars

Some of the world's most popular and famous nightclubs, during the 1930s 40s and 50s were located in Hollywood, with many of them on Sunset Boulevard, also known as the Sunset strip.

During the 1930s, the nation saw the repeal of prohibition and a sharp rise in the number of nightclubs. By 1935 the country was beginning to recover from the Great Depression and the public was flocking to both the movies and nightclubs to forget its worries. Hollywood was certainly no exception. Aside from a phenomenal increase in number, some of Hollywood's nightclubs were considered by many to be the finest in the world several of these famed nightclubs were located on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, between Hollywood and Beverly Hills. It was also commonly known as the Sunset strip because this area was in the County of Los Angeles territory, not the city of Los Angeles. However, because of its proximity to the entertainment capital of the world, the Sunset strip was always considered and referred to as part of has hundreds of Hollywood Nighclub photos.


Popular Nightclubs

In the 1930s, the strip became the playground of Hollywood stars. Stutz Bearcats and Duesenbergs scooted up and down its length. Nationally syndicated columnist scribbled endless copy on the doings of its citizens. The focal points of activity were the famous nightclubs, where food, dancing and entertainment with the finest to be found. The best-known of these were the Mocambo, Ciro’s, and the Café Trocadero.


The Mocambo, located at 8588 Sunset Boulevard, was founded in 1939 by Charles “Charlie” Morrison. With a capacity of 150 275 persons, the world renowned club became one of the favorite haunts of members of the movie colony. Stars such as Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Douglas Fairbanks Junior, Norma Shearer, Judy Garland, Henry Fonda, James Stewart, Rita Hayworth, and Errol Flynn were regular patrons who gathered there to enjoy the company of other personalities. Dancing was provided by the clubs own orchestra, which at times, was conducted by Paul Herbert 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 guest, 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, Billy Daniels and Lena Horne, entertain the Who's Who of the entertainment world.

Sunday evening was talent night. Marilyn Morrison, Charlie's daughter, interviewed the talent during the day and selected those who would perform that evening. The Mocambo continue 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, 1958.


Café Trocadero

Almost motioned him over to the Mocambo was another famous nightclub, the Café Trocadero. Opened on September 15, 1934 by its founder W.R., the club took over the former La Boheme restaurant at 8610 Sunset Blvd. As with the Mocambo, “the Troc”, as it was commonly called, had dinner dancing and entertainment. Judy Garland, Mary Martin, Martha Raye, Deanna Durbin, and Tony Martin were but a few of the many famous entertainers who performed to a standing room only crowd. A fire in 1936, which completely gutted the interior, forced the club to close. After months of completely rebuilding a larger facility, the nightclub reopened in 1937 under new ownership. The “Troc” continued to be you one of Hollywood's most celebrated nightspots until it closed in 1946.



Two blocks east of the Mocambo and Trocadero, was one of the most famous nightclubs in the world – – Ciro's. Originally founded by WR Wilkerson, in 1940, it was located at 8433 Sunset Boulevard. After three years of unsuccessful operation the club was closed. Shortly thereafter, the building was leased to entrepreneur Herman Hover, who engaged in an extensive remodeling and decorating campaign. The finished product was one of the largest and most lavished nightclubs in Los Angeles. He booked such notable entertainers as Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, Sophie Tucker, Sammy Davis Jr., Peggy Lee, and Liberace. A popular Hollywood nightspot had its own band, however, occasionally a new name band such as Xavier Cugat would entertain. Patronized by both theatrical and non-theatrical audiences, there seldom was a night when there wasn't a packed house.

Beginning in 1945 and continuing for three years, Hover devoted every other Sunday to having wounded war veterans as his guests, without charge, at the club. This became known as “Heros At Ciro’s” and many of Hollywood's top entertainers volunteered to perform, also without charge.

With the increasing popularity of the Las Vegas shows, Hollywood's nightclubs found it impossible to compete with the enormous salaries paid entertainers by the gambling capital of the world. After more than 15 years of entertaining Hollywood's “Who’s Who”, Ciro's went out of business in the late 1950s.

Vintage photographs of Hollywood's famous and glamorous nightclubs can be found on the website. In addition to these photographs, there are more than 8000 photos covering more than 90 subjects.

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