Then and Now: Sunset Plaza Apartments, Luxury Living at the Sunset Strip’s Historic Core

Top: Sunset Plaza Drive on the Sunset Strip at Christmastime in the late 1930s, with the luxurious Sunset Plaza Apartments on the hill in the background. Bottom: The same intersection in December 2014. Many of the nearby buildings remain but the Sunset Plaza Apartments were demolished in 1987 and replaced by a residence that is hidden behind tall shrubbery.

During the Sunset Strip’s early incarnation as Hollywood’s playground, the Strip was more than just an entertainment destination where the stars dined, drank and gambled, it was a desirable address. Perched on a hill above Sunset Plaza midway along the Strip, the Sunset Plaza Apartments were the westernmost and last-built luxury apartment buildings on the Strip. Three of the buildings on Sunset are still standing. Two have been repurposed as hotels — the Chateau Marmont and Sunset Tower, built in 1929 and 1931, respectively — and one, the Hacienda Park Apartments, built in 1927, is an office building now called the Piazza del Sol.

The others, including Sunset Plaza Apartments, have been demolished.

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Aerial View of 1930s West Hollywood

(Click to enlarge) 1. Victor Ponet estate, 2. back of a north-facing building in Sunset Plaza, 3 steeple of S.t Victor’s Catholic Church on Holloway Drive, 4. Hancock Avenue, 5. Palm Avenue, 6. Horn Avenue and Shoreham Heights, and 7. Sherman Trolley Yards

This is a section of an aerial photo of West Hollywood taken in the early 1930s that has been slightly enlarged to highlight noteworthy historic sites, including (1) the stately-looking home of Victor Ponet, an early major landowner in the area. In 1892, he purchased 280 acres in the hills above the village of Sherman (7), where he grew poinsettias and avocados. In 1906, Sunset Boulevard was extended westward from the Hollywood city limits to Ponet’s estate when land to the east of his property was developed into a residential neighborhood called Hacienda Park. That same year, Ponet donated land and funds to build St. Victor’s Catholic Church (3) on Holloway Drive. (St. Victor’s original woodframe building was replaced with its current building in the 1960s.) Within the next few years, the Sunset extension was graded all the way west to the Beverly Hills city limits, completing the 1.5 mile route that would become the Sunset Strip.

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Then and Now: Trocadero in the 1940s

Modern Screen, 1942: Will Virginia Hill Marry Actor John Carroll?

John Carroll and Virginia Hill

Here’s an item, interesting in retrospect, by Sylvia Kahn from the January 1942 edition of Modern Screen:

It’ll be a great for Hollywood when John Carroll takes plumpish, black-eyed Virginia Hill to be his blushing bride. If the pair do bounce to the altar, John will bring into the Movietown family the most fantastic personality it has known since Bogus Prince Romanoff was in his prime.

At 23, Virginia Hill is a woman of mystery. Her wealth is inestimable and untraceable, though it is surmised her three marriages (the first occurred when she was 14) might have had something to do with it. Her extravagances are notorious. At $1,000 evening gown [$16,000 today], the gem of Designer Irene’s fall collection, draped her body only three or four times before she gave it to a friend. Other gowns for which she pays from $100 to $400 are often discarded without being worn at all.

Her parties are reminiscent of something that went out with the Romans. Starting with two or three couples, Virginia frequently finds herself winding up the night hosting a mob of fifty. One evening she rented the Mocambo and its entire staff for a shindig. Conservative estimates say that little social cost her well over $3,000.

It’s always cash on the line for Virginia Hill. She travels with gobs of it tied in a rubber band. She’s never used a checkbook even to pay bills for her Chicago apartment, her New York and Hollywood hotel suites, automobile upkeep, maid and secretary.

There’s no denying, Husband Number Four will have to step fast to keep pace with the mad, exciting Miss Hill. But if anyone can do it, John Carroll is the boy. He’s not exactly a rest cure himself.

John Carroll was a popular actor who had appeared in over 25 films by January 1942 — his best-remembered performance, with John Wayne in “Flying Tigers,” would be released in October that year. Six-foot-four and ruggedly handsome — he was often compared to Clark Gable — he had a reputation at the time for playing the field.

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Seen on the Sunset Strip: Liberace and the 40 Foot Vegas Showgirl

Pianist Liberace, hoisted by crane above Sahara Hotel billboard on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, Calif., 1966

From the Los Angeles Times, June 23, 1966:

LIGHT TOUCH-Pianist Liberace uses a Tiki torch to symbolically light a 4-foot-high replica of his trademark candelabra, held by the rotating female statue atop the Sahara Hotel billboard on the Sunset Strip. Liberace was hoisted 60 feet for the stunt, designed to publicize his new two-year, $500,000 contract with the Las Vegas hotel.

The showgirl billboard stood at the Hollywood end of the Strip, adjacent to the Chateau Marmont Hotel.

Excavating the Viper Room – Early History of One of the Sunset Strip’s Oldest Buildings

The Viper Room, which is celebrating its 21st anniversary this year, has lost none of the dark, edgy vibe it had when Johnny Depp launched the club on the Sunset Strip in 1993. And yet fans who have lined up over the years to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, Oasis, Run-DMC and dozens of other acts that have topped the Viper Room’s bill might be surprised to learn that the venue itself is one of the oldest commercial buildings still in use on the Strip — maybe even the oldest — and that at one point it was a Safeway Market.

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Rare Color Photos of the Interior of the Sunset Strip’s Mocambo Nightclub

Photo of the Mocambo’s dance floor from a January 1949 article in Modern Screen titled, “The Mocambo Affairs,” by Charlie Morrison, the nightclub’s proprietor

These photos were published in the January 1949 issue of Modern Screen magazine illustrating an article titled, “The Mocambo Affairs,” penned by the Sunset Strip nightclub’s proprietor, Charlie Morrison.

It is rare to find color photos of the club’s interior, which was designed by Tony Duquette.

Click through the following three pages to see more photos, and click the photos to see larger versions.

 

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6

Suge Knight and Mickey Cohen, Shot on the Sunset Strip – Same Location, 65 Years Apart

Mickey Cohen bodyguard Neddie Herbert is loaded into an ambulance after Cohen’s entourage was ambushed outside Sherry’s nightclub on the Street Strip by two men with shotguns lying in wait across the street – Herbert later died from his wounds

The attempted murder of a rap mogul Suge Knight in a Sunset Strip nightclub early Sunday morning has striking parallels to another even more brazen — and more historically significant — assassination attempt against a powerful underworld figure on the Strip 65 years earlier.

Most striking is the fact that both shootings occurred at the same address, 9039 Sunset Blvd. Today it is the location of 1 Oak, an upscale live entertainment venue. In 1949 Sherry’s, a nightspot that was popular with movie stars and mobsters, occupied the site.(One of Sherry’s owners was famed Sunset Strip private eye and former NYPD detective Barney Ruditsky.)

Knight, 49, was shot inside the crowded club during a pre-Video Music Awards party hosted by Chris Brown. Police say a gunman approached him and opened fire, hitting him six times and wounding two others, an unidentified man and woman. All three are expected to recover.

“We believe it was a crime of opportunity,” a Sheriff’s Department investigator told the Los Angeles Times. Knight, who made millions producing and distributing rap music in the 1990s, has ties to the Piru Bloods of Compton.

The target of the 1949 assassination attempt was mob boss Mickey Cohen, 35, the powerful head of the national crime syndicate’s multimillion dollar illegal gambling and vice operations in Southern California. At the time of the attack, he was embroiled in a gang war gripping Los Angeles. Earlier in the year, his accusations of corruption against senior LAPD officers had launched highly publicized investigation into vice racketeering in the top ranks of law enforcement.

Here’s how the Los Angeles Times described the ambush at Sherry’s:

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Mike Wallace Interviews Lili St. Cyr

Part 2:

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Lauren Bacall, 1924-2014