William Powell and Carole Lombard Dancing at Ciro’s

The source of this photo of William Powell and Carole Lombard dancing at Ciro’s says that it was taken in 1940, which would have been seven years after Powell and Lombard divorced and a year or so into her marriage to Clark Gable. She died two years later in a plane crash.

Photos: Brenda Allen Burns, Witness in the ‘White Slave’ Trial, July 1940

Original caption: Brenda Allen Burns today told jurors in the white slave trial how she tried unsuccessfully for three hours to resist the advances of “Glamor Boy” Bristol Barrett and the “sales talks” of men luring her into a life of shame. Brenda Allen Burns had several known aliases: Brenda Allen Burns, Brenda Burns Allen, Brenda Burns, Brenda Burris. Photograph July 18, 1940.

The future notorious Sunset Strip madam Brenda Allen in 1940, when she claimed to be 21 years old, at the time of her involvement in the “white slavery” scandal involving Ann Forrester, the “Black Widow,” and her boss, Charles Montgomery.

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1940: Death of F. Scott Fitzgerald

The building at 1443 N. Hayworth Ave. where Scott Fitzgerald died in 1940 s it appears today; inset: Fitzgerald and Sheilah Graham

The building at 1443 N. Hayworth Ave. where Scott Fitzgerald died in 1940 s it appears today; inset: Fitzgerald and Sheilah Graham

On Dec. 21, 1940, the winter solstice, Scott Fitzgerald suffered a fatal heart attack in the apartment of the British-born gossip columnist, Sheilah Graham, at 1443 N. Hayworth Ave. [map], just south of Sunset Blvd.

In his prime, Scott and his wife Zelda were part of the Lost Generation of literary set and spent time in Paris in the 1920s, along with with Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. He died in Hollywood, however, in Graham’s apartment, a fact which proved to be awkward because he was still married to Zelda.

Scott and Sheilah had been in love and sharing digs for three years, although Scott also maintained an apartment a block east, at 1403 N. Laurel Ave. [map] (where his next-door neighbors was another couple living in sin, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz).

Fitzgerald had a history of heart problems. In November 1940, Scott suffered a nonfatal heart attack earlier at Schwab’s, reportedly while he was standing in line to buy cigarettes. He died a month later in Sheilah’s living room.

1940: Ciro’s Opens



Louis Adlon, son of the proprietor of Berlin’s Hotel Adlon opened Hollywood’s first iteration of Ciro’s in 1934. Located on Hollywood Boulevard, the club was informally part of a chain with locations in London, Paris and Berlin. The Hollywood Ciro’s was not a success, apparently, because it soon folded.

A year after the Hollywood Boulevard Ciro’s opened, the building at 8433 Sunset Blvd. [map] that would later house the Sunset Strip’s Ciro’s was completed. The first tenant was Club Seville, where the gimmick was a dance floor made from sheets of glass over a giant aquarium. But dancing on fish proved not to be popular, and the club closed within a year.

In 1940, seven years after he successfully launched Cafe Trocadero down the street in Sunset Plaza, Hollywood Reporter publisher, Billy Wilkerson, acquired the former Club Seville building, redesigned the interior in his trademark Hollywood style and opened a new Ciro’s in the space on January 31.

Wilkerson created Ciro’s as a “celebrities only” club, but by the summer of 1942, he had lost interest in Ciro’s. In November, he leased it to Herman Hover, who reconfigured the layout and opened it up to the public as well as the stars. In June, the building was nearly destroyed by fire. It was closed for four months, after which Hover purchased the building from Wilkerson.

In the post-war era, Ciro’s became notorious as a venue for celebrity brawling. There were so many fights that Hover said he was considering replacing the dance floor with a boxing ring. He also declared a limit of three brawls per customer. One of the most infamous of these was in 1951, when famed actor Franchot Tone approached gossip columnist Florabel Muir at her table and spat in her face.

That same year, as a publicity stunt, Hover put high-class stripper Lili St. Cyr on the bill. The stunt worked. As she was doing her act one night, sheriff’s deputies emerged from the crowd, stopped the act and arrested St. Cyr and Hover. The story became front-page news for weeks afterwards.

Hover was forced into bankruptcy in late 1957, and eventually lost the club. The venue became a rock club in the 1960s, and in 1972 opened as the Comedy Store, which is there today and thriving.