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Schwab's Pharmacy

           ** Click Here To View Photos **

Photographs of the Famous Schwab’s Pharmacy are quite rare but you can see scores of them at hollywoodphotographs.com.

Schwab's Pharmacy opened at 8024 Sunset Boulevard in 1932, and was run by brothers Bernard, Leon, Jack and Martin Schwab. It was a typical drugstore of its time--goods and sundries available for purchase, prescriptions filled, and a soda fountain with counter service

What made Schwab's unlike other drug stores was the fact that it became a gathering place for actors. Not just celebrities, mind you--although they were among the clientele but mostly working, or hoping-to-be-working, actors, who called the place “home” and who spent hours at the counter chatting with each other and perusing the trade rags. 

It was unique among local hot spots in that it welcomed business from all rungs of the film industry ladder, and everyone was treated with equal deference. In the '30s and '40s you could spot Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Edward Dmytryk, Ida Lupino, the Marx and Ritz Brothers, Marilyn Monroe, and Ronald Reagan rubbing shoulders with the ‘non-stars” here. It was a favorite trysting place for F. Scott Fitzgerald and his lover Sheilah Graham. Schwab's was particularly solicitous of Tinseltown's 'underemployed'; credit was guaranteed, and struggling young performers could always drop in for a free meal. Stories like this are a dime a dozen when it comes to Schwab's, and in fact, many tales of the 'it happened at Schwab's' variety became Hollywood lore.

Probably the best known Schwab's story is that actress Lana Turner was 'discovered' here while sitting at the soda fountain counter. Nothing could be further from the truth.  Lana Turner was discovered, by Billy Wilkerson,  at Tops Cafe which was located diagonally across the street from Hollywood High School, where she was attending. 

Other tales were told about author F. Scott Fitzgerald, who hung around there in his screenwriting days, who had a heart attack there in 1940 while buying a pack of cigarettes. It's also said that composer Harold Arlen wrote 'Over the Rainbow' for The Wizard of Oz after dropping in to use the counter space to jot down a tune that came to him. Hollywood has a tendency to make the ephemeral into legend.

Other regulars included singer, Dick Haynes, Angela Landsbury, Larry Parks, Evelyn Keyes and Jess Barker

The informality of Schwab's made it a good place to get work done. During the lunch hour, agents and managers packed the phone booths; talent scouts discussed their latest finds; and real estate and stock tips were traded. Hollywood observer Sidney Skolsky, who was a real fixture at the famous pharmacy,  wrote his “celebrity” column here. Schwab's also figured prominently in another classic, Billy Wilder's 1950 “Sunset Boulevard” , where it served as 'headquarters' for out-of-work screenwriter Joe Gillis, played by William Holden. 

In the '70s, Schwab's was frequented by many singers like Cher and Linda Ronstadt. Ronstadt was usually accompanied by her then-boyfriend, California Governor Jerry Brown, and she always picked up the check. 

But soon after, things came to an end for Schwab's. After five decades of service on Sunset Blvd., the store closed down, and somewhat suddenly in late October, 1983.  Five years later, the famous drugstore fell to the wrecking ball.

Browse through the scores of Schwab’s Pharmacy photos on Hollywoodphotographs.com.  This web site has more Schwab’s Pharmacy images than any collection in the world.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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