TagTrocadero

Video: Trocadero Owner Eddie LeBaron and His Orchestra

This is a clip of a performance by Eddie LeBaron and his band performing in a scene from the 1944 movie, “Trocadero.” In 1943,LeBaron, whose real name was Eduardo Albaclini de Gastine, and his brother Albert, leased the building at 8610 Sunset Blvd. on the Strip that three years earlier had housed Billy Wilkerson’s Cafe Trocadero and opened a club they called the Trocadero, which featured Latin music and dancing. They sold the club a year later when LeBaron was drafted and left to serve in World War II.

LeBaron, who came from an aristocratic Latin American family, did not have to work. He was married to Burnice Smith, a multimillionaire heiress to the Smith-Corona typewriter fortune.

What Really Happened the Night Ted Healy Was Beaten at Cafe Trocadero?

Left: Ted Healy (in hat) with the Three Stooges; top right: Wallace Beery; bottom: Pat DiCicco

The premise of The Fixers: Eiddie Mannix, Howard Strickling and the MGM Publicity Machine, by E. J. Fleming, is that in the days when the movie studios dominated the Los Angeles economy studio executives used their influence with city officials, including law enforcement, to protect their stars — the studios’ biggest assets — when the stars got into trouble. The “fixers” were studio executives who were charged with cleaning up these messes, even if the clean-up involved tampering with evidence, as is believed to have happened in numerous sensational cases, including the murder of director William Desmond Taylor and the purported suicides both of Jean Harlow’s husband Paul Bern, a studio executive himself, and Thelma Todd, the comedic actress and nightclub entrepreneur, just to name a few.

Fleming covers these and many other famous Hollywood crimes and scandals, focusing on how MGM fixers Eddie Mannix and Howard Strickling interfered with investigations and engineered coverups. Most of the incidents he covers are familiar stories in the Hollywood hagiography, even if the coverups and skullduggery behind them are not. One that is not as well known, however, is the story of the death in December 1937 of comedian Ted Healy, who is forgotten now but whose legacy includes having invented the Three Stooges.

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Then and Now: Trocadero

Top: Looking south at the Trocadero at 8610 Sunset Blvd. from Sunset Plaza drive, in a photo taken after 1944; bottom: a newly built row of Sunset Plaza shops that occupies the same lot today

Here’s another angle showing the Trocadero looking east:

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Schwab’s Drug Store: Where Lana Turner Was Not Discovered

Sweater girl: Lana Turner

Sweater girl: Lana Turner

In its five decades at the epicenter of the movie industry’s comings and goings on the Sunset Strip, Schwab’s Drug Store was a lot of things — a movie industry meeting place, restaurant, soda fountain, liquor store, tourist attraction and, oh yeah, a pharmacy.

But there was one thing Schwab’s was not. Despite the persistent myth otherwise, it was not where Lana Turner was discovered.

Here’s the myth: In January 1937, 16-year-old Judy Turner ditched high school to grab a Coke at Schwab’s. Mervyn Le Roy, the famous movie director, happened to be seated at the counter that day. He couldn’t help noticing the attractive young lady. Sure, she was wearing a tight sweater but what really got the director’s attention was Judy’s wholesome beauty. The director introduced himself and offered her a screen test. The test was boffo, and the studio offered her a contract on the spot. Judy changed her name to Lana and, after making a movie or two, she was Lana Turner, one of the biggest stars in Hollywood.

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1933 Tourist Map of Hollywood

This map of Hollywood was apparently taken from a tourist guidebook. Unfortunately, the page shown here, Plate 59, is all that was available online, based on a quick but thorough scour.

As the map key notes, items indicated with letters refer to “pleasure resorts.” The first of these, A. La Boheme Cafe, is not shown on this map because it was located at 8614 Sunset Blvd. [map], four miles west of Hollywood and Vine, in the Sunset Plaza section of the Sunset Strip. Cafe LaBoheme — which for a while featured entertainment by Karyl Norman, a cross-dressing star of what was known as the “Pansy Craze” — was closed during Prohibition. Later, Hollywood Reporter publisher Billy Wilkerson acquired the space and reconfigured into the Trocadero Cafe, which, in the 1930s and ’40s, was one of the most famous night clubs in the world.

Many of the spots shown here are still standing eight decades after this map was published:

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1934: Cary Grant at Trocadero with Billy Wilkerson

At Trocadero Cafe in 1934: From left, unknown woman, Cary Grant and Billy Wilkerson, owner of the Trocadero and publisher of The Hollywood Reporter

Source: The Man Who Invented Las Vegas.

Harlow and Powell Out at Trocadero with William Haines and Jimmy Shields

Cafe Trocadero on the Sunset Strip1935: From left, Edith Gwynne Wilkerson (wife of Trocadero owner Billy Wilkerson), Jean Harlow, William Powell, William Haines’ lover Jimmy Shields (standing), Anderson Lawler (seated), unidentified man (standing), William Haines, Edith’s sister Marge

Source: The Maybelline Story.

Top Sunset Strip Restaurants Indicted for World War II Rationing Violations

In August 1945, just weeks before World War II ended, the finest restaurants and nightclubs on the Sunset Strip were indicted by a federal grand jury for violating the meat rationing laws.

Among those questioned by investigators and by the grand jury were representatives of:

  • The Players, 8225 Sunset
  • St. Donat’s, 8351 Sunset
  • The Marquis, 8420 Sunset
  • Ciro’s, 8433 Sunset
  • Temple of Heaven, 8711 Sunset
  • Cafe Gala, 8795 Sunset
  • Bubilchki, 8846 Sunset
  • The Little Gypsy, 8917 Sunset
  • Trocadero, 8610 Sunset
  • Restaurant La Rue, 8633 Sunset
  • Villa Nova, 9015 Sunset
  • Bit of Sweden, 9051 or 9031 Sunset

It is unclear what became of these charges, but it’s likely they were dropped after victory was declared on Sept. 2.

1934: The Strip’s Style Setter

Top left: Billy Wilkerson with Marilyn Monroe; bottom right: Wilkerson with Cary Grant and friend at Trocadero; left: Wilkerson in photo taken by George Hurrell

Top left: Billy Wilkerson with Marilyn Monroe; bottom right: Wilkerson with Cary Grant and friend at Trocadero; left: Wilkerson in photo taken by George Hurrell

William R. Wilkerson wore many hats. He was publisher of the Hollywood Reporter, of course, which, along with Variety, has been the go-to trade paper for the movie industry for decades. He was also a nightclub and restaurant visionary who had a genius for articulating Hollywood glamor through the decor and ambiance of his nightspots. But perhaps most of all, Billy Wilkerson was a gambler. It was the gambling, more than anything, that drove him.

Billy Wilkerson arrived in Los Angeles from New York in 1930. He immediately went into business publishing the Hollywood Reporter. Later, he opened Vendome, a lunchtime restaurant, in Hollywood near the Hollywood Reporter offices. In 1934, after Prohibition ended, he launched his first venture on the Sunset Strip, the Cafe Trocadero–named for the Trocadero Plaza near the Eiffel Tower in Paris–at 8610 Sunset Blvd., in Sunset Plaza.

The Troc soon became the top A-list place to be seen in the city and one of the most famous night clubs in the world. Wilkerson went on to be the creative force behind two other top Sunset Strip venues, Ciro’s and Cafe La Rue. He also was also the originator of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, which he lost to fellow Sunset Strip denizen, the gangster, Bugsy Siegel.

1934: Cafe Trocadero Opens

Cafe Trocadero

Cafe Trocadero

La Boheme, at 8614 Sunset in Sunset Plaza, was closed when Billy Wilkerson acquired and remodeled it with what would become his trademark Hollywood style. He named the new club after the Trocadero Plaza at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It opened on Sept. 17, 1934, just nine months after Prohibition ended. Wilkerson was an inveterate gambler and provided high stakes gaming in private rooms below the main floor.

The Troc soon became the top A-list place to be seen in the city and one of the most famous night clubs in the world. Wilkerson went on to be the creative force behind two other top Sunset Strip venues, Ciro’s and Cafe La Rue. He also was also the originator of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, which he lost to fellow Sunset Strip denizen, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel.