History of 8004 Sunset Blvd


Photo Ed Ruscha, 1973

HISTORY OF 8004 SUNSET STRIP
 
This little stretch of property located at 8804 Sunset Strip includes the corner of Palm Drive and Holloway. In 1932 it was a hair salon that specialized in finger waves for 75 cents. 

Los Angeles Evening Citizen News, July 21, 1932

During the mid 1930s and mid 1940s, this property had three club incarnations just across the way from Simon's Drive in: It was originally CLUB BALI from 1935 until 1941 owned by Ickie Outhwaite which was fined and raided for providing illegal gambling and slot machines. Then it became CLUB SOCIETY (which was forced to close after getting caught serving liquor after 2am) and finally The THREE STAR CLUB. 

The Society Club located at 8004 Sunset Blvd, 1930s

There was also a popular voice studio in the same structure from 1934 until 1947 owned by Major Herbert Hall. 

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Inside Cafe Society at 8804 Sunset Blvd. before a police raid in 1941. Photo: LAPL.org



Simon's Drive-In was located across the way at Sunset & Horn. Decades later this property would become Muntz Stereo and Tower Records 

In 1947, L.A. gangster Mickey Cohen acquired 8804 Sunset Strip. He built a new building and funded three legit businesses in the building’s street-level storefronts including COURTLEY JEWELERS and a swank men's store called MICHAEL'S EXCLUSIVE HABERDASHERY. Many believe these were just fronts for his bookie empire. The building was often referred to as Mickey Cohen Headquarters.



Cohen was targeted by his enemies several times on Sunset Strip. The first attack came in August 1948 at 10:30 pm when a gunmen entered COURTLEY JEWELERS and opened fire. Luckily for Cohen, (who was an intense germaphobic), he happened to be in the mens room washing his hands during the ambush. Cohen's bodyguard, "Hooky" Rothman, was not so lucky. He was found on the ground in front of the building with his head blown off. Ironically there was a mortuary next door (where Book Soup is today). I guess that made things somewhat convenient. 

The Utter-McKinley Mortuary offered a 24-hour service. Located where Book Soup is today.



Harold "Hooky" Rothman, also known as Harry Rothman, was a Jewish mobster and mob enforcer who was the right-hand man of Los Angeles kingpin Mickey Cohen during "The Battle of Sunset Strip" for the control of illegal activities in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. 

It was no secret those bullets were also meant for Cohen.  During the investigation, the LAPD originally thought it was a random jewelry heist gone wrong, but Cohen revealed his sentiments in court by saying, "that was no holdup gone wrong, they were coming for me". 

The boys told all they said they knew about the shooting of Harry "Hooky" Rothman, at a Coroner's inquest. After due deliberation, the jury solemnly decided--with appropriate expert advice-that "Hooky's" demise was homicide, perpetuated by a person or persons unknown. 

Cohen sold off the property the following year after admitting he needed to raise a $50.000 bond for one of his henchmen awaiting trial on conspiracy and negotiated a quick sale of his haberdashery. 


Mickey Cohen calls it QUITS at his Haberdashery in 1949.
 

In the 1950s and early 1960s 8804 Sunset Blvd was another mens clothing store called MAN ABOUT TOWN & and then a wig shop called THE HARUM. Notice that the ad for MAN ABOUT TOWN mentions they were one block away from the Jerry Lewis Restaurant (which later became the Classic Cat Strip Club, University Stereo, and Tower Video. That building hung on until it was was demolished in 2014 for a new Chase Bank building).  




In 1965 a pool hall called the CORNER POCKET and a boutique called the CLOTHES LINE and the jewelry store called the GOLDEN EARRING occupied this stretch. 

Photo taken by Ed Ruscha in1966. Source 12 Sunsets. 

During the late 60s it became the PSYCHEDELIC CONSPIRACY and a neighboring store called SIMBA. (The CORNER POCKET  Pool Hall was still located next store). The PSYCHEDELIC CONSPIRACY was the most impressive and genuinely 
psychedelic of all the shops in Los Angeles. The dazzling effect of the store was achieved by a silver ceiling that reflected light from a complicated deployment of colored lamps above, below and inside some large translucent plastic sculptures made by the then-owner of the shop, Tony Melendy. People would have to adjust his their eyes to the lights & their and sinuses to the thick haze of incense. 


Photos taken by Frank Zinn (Vintage Los Angeles Archives)


Inside the Psychedelic Conspiracy. Vintage Los Angeles Archives  



Inside the Corner Pocket


Screen grab from "I Love You Alice B. Toklas" released in 1968

In 1985 all the original store fronts were taken down to build offices for Carolco Pictures and various other offices. 


The address then became 8800. Jose Menendez was working for Carolco Pictures when his two sons, Lyle & Erik Menendez murdered him and his wife Kitty in 1989. I graduated BBH with Eric in 1989, and that entire story is still so horrific 30 years later.


Photo of Carolco Pictures was taken just one year before Jose and Kitty Menendez were murdered by their two sons, Erik and Lyle. 


Today it’s the IAC Building, which kinda looks like a giant Chia Pet.

All of this could have been straight out of a Quinn Martin episode! 



Alison Martino is a writer, television producer, and pop culture historian. She founded the Facebook page 
Vintage Los Angeles in 2010. Alison muses on L.A’s. past and present on Twitter and Instagram

Comments

  1. What a fascinating bit of info. I would have loved to have experienced The Psychedlic Conspiracy firsthand!

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  2. I'm glad other people dig stuff like this. I would love to have actual memories of these cool places but these stories are the next best thing I suppose.

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  3. This was very interesting. Thanks for the detective work.

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  4. Fascinating! Thanks for this! When I worked across at Tower Records across the street in 1987 I always wondered what the history was here. So cool! and it DOES look like a Chia Pet! I guess this was the location where Warren Zevon's father, William "Stumpy" Zevon (originally Zivotovsky) helped Cohen run his bookie and dice business. He was Mickey's best man at his first wedding!

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  5. Awesome article.

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  6. Fascinating post as usual!

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