The Clover Club was a posh private club on the Strip, at 8477 Sunset [map], situated at the northwest corner of Sunset and Queens Road and operated by vice cop-turned-racketeer Guy McAfee and others in the 1930s and ’40s. It was closed when McAfee was driven out of town to Las Vegas in the great corruption purge of 1938 but reopened under new owners and later as the Bacon Club and again, during the war, as the Clover Club. After the war, it briefly served as the Army and Navy Officers Club. It was destroyed in a fire in January 1952.
Update: Corrected location.
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.
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.
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.
Bobby Short, back in the day
Jimmy Dolan bought Cafe Gala in 1948. He brought in young Bobby Short, who played the main room, as well as Eadie and Rack, who played twin pianos in the salon. Bobby Short had a following among local tastemakers, which made his shows very popular. He played the Gala until 1951, and would later say that his favorite night there was when Lena Horne came in at closing time and sang for an hour to the delight of the club’s clientele.
But Robert Clary played at Cafe Gala the next year and, in his autobiography, From the Holocaust to Hogan’s Heroes, he recalled Short was still working at the Gala in 1952:
When I finished my engagement at Bar of Music, I was hired to work the very next day by Jimmy Dolan who owned a tiny, chic club on the Sunset Strip Called Cafe Gala. It had two pianos and no microphones. I worked for Dolan a whole year. I was paid a hundred and fifty dollars a week, and never got a raise. Sometimes the checks would bounce, even when business was good, and I would complain to Dolan who always said, “Put it back; it’s good now.”
The list of people who entertained there was impressive. Bobby Short had been a fixture for years, and was still doing his marvelous tasteful show tunes. Like Bobby Short, Portia Nelson sang romantic and witty songs from Broadway shows. Felicia Sanders sang like an angel. The breathtakingly beautiful Dorothy Dandridge had her night club debut there, with an act fantastically put together by Phil Moore. She stayed at the Gala for three months, and while she was there you could not get into the place unless you ade a reservations weeks in advance. It was great for us who were working with her, because we were seen by all the important people in Hollywood.
By the time his career ended, Frank Sinatra had become the avatar of 1960s’ “Rat Pack” cool. An American original. An institution.
His career took off in the early years of World War II when his smooth, mournful crooning thrilled socks off of bobby-soxers. But within a very few years, his career suddenly veered into the weeds.
Part of the problem was that smoking and booze had deepened his voice. Once known as “The Voice,” he was derided as “The Gargle.”
It didn’t help that he kept popping up in the headlines, and not in a good way. In 1946, on a visit to Cuba, Sinatra was seen shaking hands with the mobster, Lucky Luciano. In 1947, he briefly left his wife and children, Nancy, age seven, and Frank Jr., age four, for Lana Turner. His former bobby-soxer fans, now entering their twenties, were appalled.
But at Ciro’s on April 9, 1947, Sinatra caused another uproar when he was arrested after taking a swing at columnist Lee Mortimer.
Here’s how the incident was described Modern Television & Radio in December 1948, by Barry Ulanov, editor of Metronome Magazine: