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.
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.
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.
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.
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.