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W/. R. Billy Wilkerson

The Reporter

W. R. (Billy) Wilkerson published the first issue of the Hollywood Reporter on September 3, 1930. This periodical reported on movies, studios and celebrities. Billy Wilkerson became one of the town's most colorful and controversial figures. He began each issue with an editorial entitled "Tradeviews," which exposed corrupt studio practices. It went on to become one of the most widely read daily columns in the industry. The publisher also used hard-ball tactics to solicit advertising. Studios were being blackmailed into giving their support. If they refused, he ordered a editorial blackouts on all their material.  This included press releases to film reviews. The corporate moguls eventually banded together to deal with The Reporter. They stopped all  advertising support and deprived him of news from their studios.  After a while, the studios and Wilkerson buried the hatchet. His first venture onto the Sunset Strip was the Vendome.

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Café Trocadero

In the early 1930’s the La Boheme restaurant, on the Sunset Strip, went out of business.  Billy Wilkerson, who was the publisher of the Hollywood Reporter, bought the building and stored his liquor supply in the basement.  Someone suggested that he open a nightclub/restaurant and he decided to do so. After performing a significant remodel job on the building the Café Trocadero was ready to open.

The official opening of the Trocadero was held on September 17, 1934, to a much anticipating crowd. Among the opening night revelers were Joe Schenck, Peggy Fears, the Gene Markleys (Joan Bennett) Carl Laemmle Jr., Ida Lupino, George Raft, Virginia Hill, Pat DiCicco, Sally Blanc, the Daryl Zanucks and and a lot more.

In late 1936, Cafe Trocadero was completely remodeled to the delight of its many patrons. Apparently, for some reason, Wilkerson wanted to sell the Troc but as of August 1937, there were no buyers. Finally, he found a buyer in the late 1930s.

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Ciro’s

After selling the Cafe Trocadero, Billy Wilkerson went down the Sunset Strip and opened the Ciro’s nightclub in late 1940..  Because of his following, at the Café Trocadero, Ciros’s became an immediate success with the Hollywood elite. Post premiere parties, benefits and birthday parties were all celebrated there. Every celebrity wanted to be seen there and it was a treasure trove for Hollywood gossip and writings. The latest nightclub naturally was became the source for leading columnist, and Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons camped out many an evening to inform the public of Veronica Lake's alcoholic bouts, who Judy Garland was palling around with, and the clothes worn by Hollywood's finest.  After a few years, Wilkerson sold the nightclub and opened a new restaurant called LaRue.

The largest collection of Hollywood nightclubs is on the hollywoodphotographs.com web site.

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