8588 Sunset Blvd

*** (1) Bublichki at 8846 was the other.

Mocambo 

The nightclub Mocambo opened here on January 3, 1941 with a timely Latin-American themed interior by Billy Haines and Tony Durquette and along with Ciro’s operated for the next two decades as top Hollywood nightclub.

Another nightspot briefly operated at 8588 before it became the Mocambo. In December 1937 it was widely reported in Hollywood gossip columns that “Club Versailles” was opening soon on the Sunset Strip. In her book, Ladies on Call (written 1939-1941 but not published until 1965), Hollywood’s top madam Lee Francis alleges that the Versailles was her idea. Looking to make a career change, she paid to have the club decorated and furnished, and had issued invitations to the opening, but was denied a permit at the last minute. In a thinly veiled reference to Bugsy Siegel, Francis reports that a recently arrived “eastern sporting figure” offered to buy her out for $4000. And 8588 duly opened, as Phil Selznick’s Cafe. By February 1939 it was calling itself Club Versailles, now operated by Mel Walters and Henri Desoto.

1938 3-11 phil selznick club versailles 8588 sunset

3-11-38

1939 2 1 8588 as Versailles

2-1-1939

On December 20, 1940, silver haired, dapper Charles Morrison, with  Felix Young advertised the opening of Mocambo on December 27. It must have been pushed back a few days however, as gossip columns refer to the January opening date.

1940 12 27 mocambo 8588 sunset

The Mocambo opening was set for December 27, 1940. Felix Young had briefly been associated with the now-defunct Trocadero from May to October 1939. Phil Ohman had led the Troc’s house band. Louis Cantone would briefly manage the Trocadero when it reopened in 1943. 12-20-1940

While other nightspots came and went, the Mocambo just sailed along, without all the raids that characterized the operation of the Clover Club or the frequent management changes of the Trocadero. Drama was provided by the exotic interior decoration and the many well-publicized brawls between patrons.

1940s mocambo decor 8588 sunset

A glimpse of the Mocambo interior by Billy Haines, who had a salon down the street at 8720 Sunset, and Tony Durquette.

1942 1 7 mocambo 8588 sunset 1940s

Mocambo from Sunset Plaza 1940s

A view of Mocambo from the intersection of Sunset Plaza, c. 1945. Talent agents, realtors and other offices were situated on part of the second floor. The dark area on the façade was the separate entrance to The Crillon restaurant. Later other eaters woul take over this space.

1946 4 16 Crillon sunset blvd.

Charles Morrison continued to operate Mocambo until his death at age 57, March 22, 1957. His widow, Mary Morrison, took over management of the club. One of the first acts she booked was Frank Sinatra, who opened on April 5, 1957. French singer Edith Piaf opened July 19, 1957.

1957 4 5 sinatra at mocambo

5-3-1957

edith-piaf-mocambo-1957

Mocambo during Edith Piaf’s engagement in July 1957

edith piaf mocambo 7-19-1957

7-19-1957

Other top acts followed, including Peggy Lee, Edie Adams and Rowan & Martin, etc. But nightlife on the Strip was declining and competition with Las Vegas for talent was fierce. The Mocambo closed in 1959 and the building was demolished not long after.

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