Showing posts from September, 2009

The Aquarius Theater

Photo courtesy of Richard Wojcik

Can you imagine driving down Sunset and seeing the spellbinding psychedelic mural above? It once welcomed visitors to the Aquarius Theatre at 6230 Sunset Boulevard. The historic structure was painted for the opening ofHairin 1968. Eric Clapton, Janis Joplin, and Sal Mineo caught performances of the play during its two-and-a-half year run from 1969-1971. The theater had many lives before and after it was the Aquarius. It debuted as the Earl Carroll Theatre in 1938. Opened during the glittering Golden Age of Hollywood, it could hold 1,000 people. The extravagant supper club advertised THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRLS IN THE WORLD on a 20-foot high neon sign, and a facial portrait of entertainer Beryl Wallace—who dated the theater’s namesake, producer Earl Carroll—looked out from the theater’s facade toward Sunset. Over time, hundreds of movie stars inscribed their signatures on the building’s concrete blocks. One of the great Hollywood mysteries isthe fate of a…

Tiny Naylors on Sunset Blvd.

Tiny Naylors opened it 1958 on Sunset Blvd and was one of California's original googie-style restaurants. It was founded by W.W. Tiny Naylor. Naylor who got the nick name Tiny because he was 6'4" and weighted 320 lbs. His first restaurant was called Biff's - named after his son, in 1948. The Tiny Naylor chain started in 1957 at Wilshire and Virgil. Tiny Naylor died in 1959. The Naylor family also founded Du Par's which it still owns and operates. The architecture for Tiny Naylors was designed in 1949 by Douglas Honnold. Until it's demolition in1984, Tinys was known for it's curbside service - girls on roller skates, T-shirts, and and skimpy costumes. different for those days. Teenagers cruised here. women used to come there in carloads. It was a big place for everyone. Northwest corner of Sunset and La Brea.
Tiny Naylor's 1974

Tiny Naylor's facing demolition in 1984

Sadly today it's a El Polo Loco

Ships Coffee Shop

Oh how I miss ships and the toasters on the counters! A true Southern California Coffee Shop treasure, Ships Restaurant, epitomized all that was right about the googie age. Designed by Martin Stern Jr., Ships was famous for its Coffee Shop Modern style, from the restaurant itself to the spellbinding "space-age" marquee in front. From the busy West Los Angeles location near village Westwood to the La Cienega hotspot, Ships was a favorite hangout for both Southern California locals and passersby. This coffee shop may have been a warm-up before tackling the Vegas Strip in the 1950's. But alas, like all good things, the beloved Ships closed in the 90's. Ships is another epic teenage memory. I'll never forget taking a homeless "Wild Man Fisher" there for a pastrami sandy.

Notice the lighting fixtures, straight from the 1960's.

Coffee Dan's on Wilshire Blvd

Photo By Julius Shulman

Gazzarri's 9093 Sunset Strip

When the Twist craze took over the nation, Bill Gazzarri took notice. In 1965 Gazzarri purchased a small restaurant previously called the Comedians located at 9039 Sunset Boulevard. After some remodeling, he transformed it into the swingingest rock 'n roll dinery in the neighborhood. When Garrarri opened his twist club in May 1965 it was called Hollywood a Go-Go.

Gazzarri's was associated with Hollywood A Go Go, a local music TV show on KHJ-TV Channel. Gazzarri's on the Sunset Strip had a raised dance floor, a split level stage and an elaborate lighting system. The dance club featured live musicians on the stage with recorded music (canned) used for dancing during breaks taken my the musicians. However, it continued to served the same Italian dinners made famous by Mama Gazzarri at the original Gazzarri's on La Cienega. Bill Gazzarri would take color movies of dancers in action and then show them on screens the next day placed on either sides of the dance floor. Peop…

Wallichs Music City

Glenn Wallichs owned the biggest record store in Los Angeles. Wallichs Music City record store opened in 1940 and was located in Hollywood on the corner of Sunset and Vine across the street from the art deco NBC building. It was the premier music store in Southern California for decades. It was a special store and a place to go for tickets, sheet music, LP's and 45's, tapes (8 track and cassette). They also sold TV's and musical instruments. It It was the first music store to seal record albums in cellophane and put them in display racks for customers. It was also the first to have demonstration rooms for listening. Wallich also owned created Capitol records. My dad has been a recording artist for Capitol records since 1952. He would go into Wallichs, see his records on display and then walk upstairs to Capitol offices. The Original Capitol Records recording studio was located on Melrose next to Paramount Studios. . They eventually moved to the Capitol Tower in 1956 and th…

The Luau in Beverly Hills. Steven Crane's Tiki oasis on Rodeo Drive

The Luau, opened in 1953 on Rodeo Dr. in Beverly Hills. It was owned by Lana Turner's husband, Steven Crane and it was a popular celebrity hangout. throughout the 50’s, 60’s and 70s. They had big Tiki Gods, Polynesian Chairs, drinks on fire and a moat around the joint with a bridge leading to the entrance. My parents were regulars and went there for years until they closed.

I celebrated my first birthday at the infamous Luau. Now I need to build my time machine and go have a double with Lana Turner!

                                   The Luau, 427 North Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills

This 1959 Magazine "Movie Screen Year Book" featured a celebrity section called Hollywood Teens shown below. Caption read: "Judy Harriet does the Hulu, While Annette Funicello and Roberta Shore sip pineapple punch at the Luau in Beverly Hills. To judge by the expressions theremay have been more then just pineapple in the punch. Roberta Shore, who is a Mormon, keeps the straw away from her l…