Schwab's Pharmacy


Schwab's Pharmacy was a drug store located at 8024 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California, and was a popular hangout for movie actors and movie industry dealmakers from the 1930s through the 1950s.[1] Like many drug stores in the United States throughout the mid-twentieth century, Schwab's sold medicines and had a counter serving ice cream dishes and light meals. Everyone knew about Schwab's, from China to Australia, From Paris to New York, the small pharmacy/soda fountain/cafe in Hollywood. It became one of the legends of Hollywood that still lives today in the minds and hearts of people interested in Hollywood's best years. History was made when widowed Leana Schwab opened a pharmacy, in downtown Los Angeles, in the early 1920s to support her four sons ( Jack, Leon, Bernard and Martin) and two daughters. It was Jack Schwab who found the location on Sunset Boulevard and opened up one morning with neither fanfare nor cashier. Leon Schwab, after earning a pharmacy degree from USC, took over the location, after the death of his brother, Jack. Leon understood the potential of the pharmacy, which was close to some motion picture studios, and began making phone calls, setting up charge accounts, and even went so far as running tabs for out-of-work actors. Soon after the store opened at 8024 Sunset Boulevard 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 Drug Store became known for the stars that woud appear there, and attracted the attention of locals and tourists alike. 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 could have been further from the truth. Lana Turner was discovered at Tops Cafe which was located diagonally across the street from Hollywood High School, where she was attending. It was said that Orson Wells used to sit at the soda fountain, unaware 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 liostick and nail polish. Marilyn Monroe would leave messages there for her friend, Photoplay gossip columnist, Sidney Skolsky, under the name "Miss Caswell." The most popular spot was the soda fountain with its most famous treat, "The Chocolate Ice Cream Soda." Some stars were allowed behind the soda fountain to make their own sodas. Elvis Presley would come in with his entourage whenever he was in town. Jack Nicholson, then an unknown, spent many hours in the coffee shop. 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 to parties. Certainly, one of the most popular "regulars" was Hollywood Columnist, Sidney Skolsky. Sidney, 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 Skolsky penned many of his daily gossip and used 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. Charlie Chaplin and his son were regulars,. Many celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and Judy Garland had their prescriptions filled at Schwab's. Many of these celebrities had there hand and footprints placed Grauman's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd.Over time, Schwab's expanded to seven store in the Hollywood and Beverly Hills area. All six of Leana Schwab's children worked at one or more of the seven locations. Schwab's became further etched in the pantheon of popular culture when it was featured in the Paramount Studios film "Sunset Boulevard", starring Gloria Swanson and William Holden. In one of the film's scenes, Joe (played by Holden) is sent into Schwab's to buy cigarettes for Norma Desmond (played by Swanson), who is sits waiting outside in her chauffeured limousine. The audience sees the Schwab's sign lit in all its neon splendor. This scene helped make Schwab's world famous and a destination for tourist from all over the world. Later in the film, there is a scene where Holden uses a pay phone inside Schwab's. These two scenes were filmed on a Paramount soundstage where Schwab's was painstakingly recreated. In 1956, the Garden of Allah Hotel/Apartment (located in the block next to Schwab's) was torn down, severing an important link with Hollywood's past. It had been the home to many of the early Schwab's customers, and signaled the first erosion of Schwab's customer base. By the 1960s, the drug scene and hippy culture took over the Sunset Strip. The once glamourous restaurant and nightclub scene gave way to the younger, music oriented club scene dominated by the likes of the Whisky-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 it just wasn't the same place anymore. In February, 1982, , Schwab's held its 50th anniversary at the Sunset Boulevard location. It was a major press event. But as the press was reporting on Schwab's illustrious past, Leon was struggling to keep the business afloat. Less than two years later, Schwab's closed it Sunset Boulevard location. Five years later, in October, 1988, Schwab's fell to the wrecking ball. All of the furniture and fixtures were auctioned off, including the large letter "S" from the sign that sat on top of the building.


The largest collection of Schwab's Pharmacy photos is the hollywoodphotographs.com website.  With more than fifty photos, the website has photos of Sidney Skolsky, Angela Landsbury, Jess Barker and Evelyn Keyes.

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Schwab's
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SCHWAB'S DRUG STORE
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Edward Dmytryk reads the
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Schwab's Drug Store. Singer Dick Haymes has his ands of Sidney Skolsky's shoulders (cinter of photo)
Schwab's PharmacySchwab's
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1944
Schwab's PharmacySCHWAB'S DRUG STORE
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1947
Schwab's PharmacyEdward Dmytryk reads the "Hollywood Reporter" in front of Schwab's Pharmacy
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1952
Schwab's PharmacySchwab's Drug Store. Singer Dick Haymes has his ands of Sidney Skolsky's shoulders (cinter of photo)
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1945
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Sidney Skolsky and Herman Hover (owner of Ciro's) )at the counter in the center) eat at Schwab's Pharmacy
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Party at SCHWAB'S DRUG STORE
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Dick Haymes (left) chats with Janet Blair and Sidney Skolsky at Schwab's Pharmacy
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Dick Haymes behind the counter at Schwab's Drugstore
Schwab's PharmacySidney Skolsky and Herman Hover (owner of Ciro's) )at the counter in the center) eat at Schwab's Pharmacy
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1945
Schwab's PharmacyParty at SCHWAB'S DRUG STORE
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1946
Schwab's PharmacyDick Haymes (left) chats with Janet Blair and Sidney Skolsky at Schwab's Pharmacy
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1945
Schwab's PharmacyDick Haymes behind the counter at Schwab's Drugstore
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1945
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Jack Mulcahy, Alan Gordon and Lowell Erlech wait while Siodney Skolsky is on the phone at Schwab's Pharmacy
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Ellen Drew (at right) at a party at Schwab's Pharmacy
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Sidney Skolsky chats with movie fans at Schwab's Drugstore
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Sidney Skolsky at Schwab's Drugstore
Schwab's PharmacyJack Mulcahy, Alan Gordon and Lowell Erlech wait while Siodney Skolsky is on the phone at Schwab's Pharmacy
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1945
Schwab's PharmacyEllen Drew (at right) at a party at Schwab's Pharmacy
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9/12/1946
Schwab's PharmacySidney Skolsky chats with movie fans at Schwab's Drugstore
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1945
Schwab's PharmacySidney Skolsky at Schwab's Drugstore
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1944