Felix In Hollywood

A Blog for the Smart Set

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Muscato Made Me Do It -or- The Earl Carroll Theater. A History in Review.

One of my favorite daily visits is to Cafe Muscato and if you haven't been, it's a must. Well in a post today, the wonderful Muscato encouraged us to celebrate the 71st anniversary of the opening of The Earl Carroll Theater in Hollywood. The idea struck me as being such a fine one that I have put on my showgirl drag and have prepared a brief history for you.

Mr. Conductor, if you please....



Eddie Cantor, Jack Benny and W.C. Fields, posed in overalls, were photographed with shovels in hand, breaking ground for the construction to begin. The building, situated at 6230 Sunset Blvd (just east of Vine St.), was designed by architect Gordon B. Kauffman the exterior featuring a 20-foot high neon silhouette of Beryl Wallace, one of the Earl Carroll girls (later his devoted companion). Over the entrance doors it said: "Through these portals pass the most beautiful girls in the world." The massive 80-foot wide stage was designed with a 60-foot wide double revolving turntable and revolving staircase, and rigged with three swings that could be lowered from the ceiling. Oops, I almost forgot the rain machine. Oh yeah and the timespan from ground breaking to opening night was a mind bending 75 DAYS!!!


The house would seat 1000 guests.


The interiors were done by Kauffman and The Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky.




It instantly became the playground of the famous with industry executives Darryl F. Zanuck and Walter Wanger sitting on the theater's board of governors.

All was wonderful until a 1948 United Airlines plane crash claimed the lives of both Carroll and
Beryl Wallace.

The place then operated through much of the 50's and very early 60's as The Moulin Rouge
Looks familiar don't it.

The place actually led a dual life during this era. By night, The Moulin Rouge, by day, the broadcast stage for the television show "Queen For A Day".
In January of 1966 Realtor Gary Bookasta and KRLA disc jockey Dave Hull reopened 6230 Sunset as Club Hullabaloo, to capitalize on the hit TV show of the same name.

The cover charge was a rather steep $1.50 considering you only had to be 15 to get in.

Shuttered again, the place underwent another quick-change when in 1968 scenic designer Michael Baugh and a team of workers did a 60 day transformation to ready it for the arrival of L.A.’s production of "Hair", this time naming it The Aquarius Theater.
During the 80's, and now owned by Pick-Vanoff, nine seasons of Star Search was filmed there.

Then in the late 90's (and continuing today) it became the production facility of the Nickelodeon Network

And while a children's network may not be my idea of an ideal trustee for such a legendary piece of property, I suppose I'm just grateful that it didn't get bulldozed for a mini mall in the 80's along with everywhere else.

I would also be derelict not to mention my utter amazement that given it's lickety-split construction, it's still standing at all. They really just don't build 'em like they used to!

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice post. For more on this club, there's this nice piece on YouTube about the transformation from Earl Carrol's club to the Hullabaloo.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfpLw1uh2ac

Club was actually owned by Gary Bookasta who later launched KROQ radio in LA. (For a period it was called Dave Hull's Hullabaloo — but Hull was simply a paid personality to attract his listeners.) From '66 to '68, everyone from the Doors to Neil Diamond to the Seeds performed there...

FelixInHollywood said...

Magnificent! Thanks for the update.

thombeau said...

Oooh, what a marvelous post!

FelixInHollywood said...

Dearest Thombeau, you do me kindly sir. I quiver in the shadow of your brilliance!

Muscato said...

I don't know about anybody else, but I'm jonesing to add a Moderne nude with swoopty-doo neon to my décor!

What a fabulous place... Mille grazie!

FelixInHollywood said...

Yeah, count me in on that one!

Donna Lethal said...

Oh, these pictures are beautiful! I was born in the wrong time - I only wish I was a vanities girl.

FelixInHollywood said...

You are in my book, doll!