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Vintage Schwab's Pharmacy Photos

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Vintage Schwab's Pharmacy Photos

Schwab's Pharmacy was, arguably, the most famous drugstore in the country. It was the hangout of some of Hollywood's most famous celebrities and civic leaders.

It all started, in 1932, when four brothers named Jack, Leon, Bernard, and Martin Schwab purchased an ailing drugstore at 8024 Sunset Blvd. in the heart of what is now West Hollywood.

Situated across the street from the famed Garden of Allah Hotel, the store was renamed Schwab's Pharmacy. Soon after the store opened, in 1932, Hollywood's famous began coming down from the hills to pick up sundries, gather to meet friends, or just relax over a soda or cup of coffee. Schwab's Pharmacy became known for the stars that would appear there, and attracted the attention of local and tourist alike.

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Lana Turner

Stories began to circulate about what happened at Schwab's. One of the most popular legends was that Lana Turner was discovered while sipping a soda at the counter. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. Lana Turner was discovered at Tops Café about a block from Hollywood High School, where she was attending. Another story was that all Orson Welles used to sit at the soda fountain, but aware that the pharmacist was on the phone to William Randolph Hearst, who would call about hangover medicine for Marion Davies. Ava Gardner dropped in regularly to pick up her favorite color lipstick and nail polish. Marilyn Monroe would leave messages therefore her friend, photoplay gossip columnist, Sydney Skolsky.

To understand the impact of Schwab's Pharmacy is vital to understand the role of the drugstore in mid century American life. Schwab's, like most drugstores of the era, housed a pharmacy, newsstand, a shoeshine and dry goods section. It was also a place where checks could be cached and mail could be received. Most importantly, it was a restaurant, featuring a soda fountain lunch counter. Because of its popularity with celebrities and studio executives, as well as magazine and newspaper reporters, Schwab’s added a role of telephones and a paging service, so that agents could reach clients at a moments notice. Schwab's quickly became a hangout for both successful and struggling actors.

Sydney Skolsky

Certainly, one of the most popular “regulars” was Hollywood columnist, Sydney Skolsky. Sydney, who in 1933 began making the pharmacy his hangout, dubbed Schwab's as the Schwabadero, after the famous Trocadero nightclub, just a mile to the west on Sunset Boulevard. It was at Schwab's that Sydney penned many of his daily gossip and use the tag line “from a stool at Schwab's”. Schwab's popularity grew with more and more rich and famous using the pharmacy and enjoying the soda fountain treats

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Famous Patrons

Charlie Chaplin and his son were regulars. Many celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and Judy Garland had their prescriptions filled at Schwab's. Elvis Presley would come in with his entourage whenever he was in town. Diane Keaton, who was a regular at the fountain, brought Woody Allen into the pharmacy to enjoy the environment with a young clientele. It was said that in the early days, Greta Garbo would come in to buy a bottle of French wine to take two parties.

Photos of Schwab's pharmacy

The website, Hollywood photographs.com, has many photos of Schwab's Pharmacy and the celebrities who visited on a regular basis. Some of these photos include images of Ellen Drew, Angela Lansbury, Jess Barker and Evelyn Keyes. There is even a photograph of William Holden, at Schwab's during the filming of the movie, Sunset Boulevard. These photos, of both the interior and exterior of Schwab's Pharmacy are quite rare, but all can be seen on the Hollywoodphotographs.com website.

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Schwab's closes its doors

In 1956, the Garden of Allah Hotel was torn down, severing an important link with Hollywood's past. By the 1960s, the drug scene and hippie culture took over the Sunset strip. The once glamorous restaurants and nightclubs gave way to the younger, music oriented club scene dominated by the likes of the Whiskey A Go-Go, about a mile to the west. Schwab's closed at midnight while many new places stayed open 24 hours. Many of Schwab's regulars felt uncomfortable on the strip because of the new element that hung out on Sunset Boulevard. In February 1982, Schwab's held its 50th anniversary at the Sunset Boulevard locate location. It was a major precedent. But as the press was reporting on Schwab's illustrious past, Leon Schwab was struggling to keep the business afloat. Less than two years later, Schwab's Pharmacy closed its doors. Five years later, in October 1988, Schwab's Pharmacy fell to the wrecker's ball.

Visit hollywoodphotographs.com to see scores of Schwab's Pharmacy photos

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