6380 Sunset: Muller Bros Service Station

Brothers Frank and Walter Muller’s expansive automobile service business was at 6380 Sunset Boulevard on a 5-acre parcel that the brothers later told reporters their father Jacob had purchased in 1893 for $1500. It extended from Sunset to DeLongpre Avenue and along the south side of Sunset Boulevard from Morningside Court on the east to Cahuenga Boulevard on the west, as Ivar did not yet cut through Sunset.

Born in Germany, Jacob Muller married Minnie Altman in Los Angeles in October 1891. Walter was born in August 1892 (per the 1900 census; his WWI draft registration has it as 1893), Frank in October 1895. There was also a Muller sister in between- Florence. Jacob also owned a parcel across the street, where in the late teens Frank and Walter, as “the Muller Bros.” ran a fuel, feed and fertilizer business.

5/26/1916. Hollywood Citizen-News.

After Army service during World War I, the brothers went into the automobile gas and tire business at 6380 Sunset in early 1920.

2/20/1920. Hollywood Citizen-News.

5/21/1920. Hollywood Citizen-News.

By December 1920 they had expanded to include other types of auto supplies, accessories, and service and officially declared the business as the Muller Bros.

12/17/1920. Hollywood Citizen-News.

7/22/1921. Hollywood Citizen-News.

In less than two years of operation, they had expanded from the corner of Sunset and Cahuenga to a sprawling complex occupying 3 of the 5 acres and employed 35 men. In 1922 they were already the (albeit self-proclaimed) “World’s Greatest Service Station.” Services offered included a moter lubrication department, a washing and polishing service, a headlight testing station, and a tire vulcanizing department. They also had a service car that could be deployed to help stranded motorists.

2/18/1922. Hollywood Daily Citizen.

Brich shopfront along the Sunset Boulevard frontage. LAPL.

7/22/1922. Hollywood Daily Citizen.

9/30/1922. Hollywood Daily Citizen.

The brothers’ employees really put the SERVICE in Service station.

Doug and his Grease Rack Boys. 7/22/1925. Hollywood Daily Citizen.

The “Seven Service Sheiks” of Muller Bros. gas pumps. 9/26/1928. Hollywood Daily Citizen.

 

c. 1929-1930. A corner of Kalil’s Cafeteria at 6361 Sunset, a property also owned by the Mullers, can be seen across the street. LAPL

1931. USC Digital.

1931. USC digital.

Exploiting a beautiful elephant to promote the new car wash aka auto laundry, 1931. The elephants were appearing in a Franchon & Marco stage show at the Hollywood Pantages. LAPL.

Fun? Not for the elephant. 6/10/1931. Hollywood Daily Citizen.

4/5/1934. Hollywood Citizen-News.

In February 1936, the firm, which now had 125 employees, announced it was undertaking a modernization, with new structures designed by architects Douglas Hull McLellan and Allen McGill in the streamlined style, inspired by the 1933-1934 Century of Progress World’s Fair in Chicago. The first unit of the project, the lubrication shop, was completed in March 1937. A few other structures, including a modern gas pump station, were indeed built but several Spanish-Italian tile roof buildings, such as the car wash, remained to the end.

Sketch of the planned modernization 2/9/1936. LAT.

With the modernized lubrication shop from the corner of Sunset and Morningside Ct. 3/10/1937. Hollywood Citizen-News.

More modernization completed c. 1937. Mullers became an authorized Firestone dealer for Hollywood in 1932. LAPL.

With gas and tire rationing introduced during World War II and manufacture of new autos halted for the war effort, the Muller Bros. offered services essential to keeping your old car operating. They also began selling some non-auto related products and, in late 1943, used cars.

1/4/1943. Hollywood Citizen-News.

5/21/1943 Hollywood Citizen-News.

After the war, the business kept rolling along. The Mullers continued to sell home appliances in addition to automotive accessories, expanded the used car lot on another Muller-owned parcel in the 6400 block of Sunset, and added a U-drive car rental service. As of 1952, they had 150 employees.

The “airport type control tower” (part of the 1916 modernization) acted as the “nerve center” of the complex. June 1951 for Life Magazine.

Walter and Frank Muller. The car wash building retained its early 1930s appearance. June 1951 for Life Magazine.

Looking north toward Sunset showing the 1936 streamline moderne gas pump island and lubrication station building. June 1951 for Life Magazine.

Reference to the “airport style control tower” 3/5/1952. Hollywood Citizen-News.

Walter Muller died in January 1961. In August 1961, Frank sold the 5-acre property to a New York firm for an undisclosed amount. Muller Bros. service station closed on August 31, 1961. An auction of the fixtures and equipment was held October 3, 1961.

10/1/1961. LAT.

 

Pacific Drive-In Theaters constructed a geodesic dome theater on the site, the Cinerama Dome, that would be addressed as 6360 Sunset Bouevard. A ceremonial ground-breaking was held in April 1963 with stars of It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad World, the film that was to inaugurate the theater at its opening in November.

4/23/1963. Hollywood Citizen-News.

Construction of the Cinerama, looking north. The RCA building is being on the other former Muller parcel across the street. LAPL.

Governor Brown and Mrs. Phil Silvers perform the ribbon cutting ceremony at a press preview of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World at the Cinerama Dome on November 3, 1963. 11/4/1963. Hollywood Citizen-News.

 

A charity event screening of It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad World held at the Cinerama Dome November 7, 1963. The public run began after that. 11/7/1963. LAT.

Cinerama Dome during the run of It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad World. The new Sunset-Vine Tower, built on the site of the second Sunset & Vine Carpenter’s drive-in, looms in the background. LAPL.

 

6361-6365 Sunset: Hofbrau Gardens / RCA Building

This block, on the north side of Sunset between Cahuenga and Morningside Court was owned by Jacob Muller and later his sons Frank and Walter.

On December 28. 1902, the LA Times reported that “J. Muller has a commodious frame building nearly completed on Sunset Boulevard to be used as a butcher shop.”

Before 1931, Ivar Street had terminated north of Hollywood Boulevard. After it was extended through to Sunset Boulevard, it cut through the Muller property between Cahuenga and Morningside Court.

The Muller block 1931. 3/14/1931. LA Evening Express.

The first “Muller Bros.” operated at what became the northeast corner of Sunset and Ivar) as a fuel, feed & fertilizer yard, in 1916, addressed initially as 6371, then as 6367. Hollywood Fuel and Feed moved here (now as 6367) in 1919 from its previous home on Cahuenga. The brothers opened their auto service business across the street at 6380 Sunset the following year.

5/26/1916. Hollywood Citizen-News.

4/18/1919. Hollywood Citizen-News.

6365 Sunset

Jacob Muller built the 2-story wood frame structure here in 1907. As was typical, it housed stores on the ground floor and apartments above. It was addressed variously at times as 6367 Sunset or 6365-6367 Sunset.

2/2/1907. LAT.

As of April 1921, 6365 housed the Blue Bird Chop Suey Parlor on the second floor.

Ad for the Blue Bird Chop Suey Parlor, 6365 Sunset. 7/8/1921. It’s “just east of Cahuenga” because Ivar did not yet extend to Sunset Boulevard. Hollywood Citizen-News.

The Blue Bird was reportedly full of Hollywood film stars and “other patrons” when it was raided on October 26, 1921 on orders of Hollywood Division Chief of Detectives George K. Home. His detectives reportedly found booze being served in tea cups, just like in the movies, and charged the manager, T. Hadaka, with violation of the Gandier Ordinance- the Los Angeles city prohibition on alcoholic beverages that predated national prohibition.

10/26/1921. LA Evening Express.

10/26/1921 LA Record.

The Blue Bird kept a lower profile after that. In May 1927 it “reopened” under new management. It operated through 1931 at least.

5/5/1927 Hollywood Citizen-News.

5/5/1927. Hollywood Citizen-News.

10/31/1927. LAT.

11/20/1931. Hollywood Citizen News.

The Muller brothers replaced 6365-6367 Sunset with a new, 1-story Art Moderne structure in 1937.

6363 Sunset

From Thanksgivng Day 1931 to early 1932, the Hollywood Puppet Theater, operated by artist Ruth Monro Augur, operated in one of the Muller buildings here, addressed as 6363 Sunset. Augur had puppets resembling famous film stars such as Marie Dressler, Will Rogers, Douglas Fairbanks, William Powell, Joe E. Brown, and Greta Garbo. An Ann Harding puppet served as MC of the show. Starting in the Fall of 1932, Augur toured with the Marionettes and did not reopen the puppet theater here.

4/30/1933. Munro Marionettes on tour in El Paso. El Paso Times Sun.

 

6361 Sunset

6361 Sunset is another contender for Building No One Ever Took A Picture Of On Purpose.

In October 1926, it was announced that Mrs. Mae Cooley, who ran the Romaine Cafeteria on Western Avenue and was in need of larger quarters, had leased the ground at this location and that the Muller Brothers would construct a new building here for her use. Walter Muller confirmed the news in November 1926. Cooley’s Sunset Cafeteria opened at 6361 Sunset on January 23, 1927.

1/22/1927. Hollywood Citizen-News.

Muller Brothers congratulate their new tenant. It’s “Sunset at Cahuenga” because Ivar did not yet extend to Sunset. 1/22/1927. Hollywood Citizen News.

6361 Sunset Blvd. built as the Sunset Cafeteria. 2/7/1927. Hollywood Citizen News.

In February 1929, Cooley leased a new space on Western Avenue- 616 N. Western Avenue- and had it converted for use as a cafeteria. By July 1929 6361 Sunset had become Kalil’s Cafeteria. Said Abu “Sidney” Kalil had come to the US from Turkey according to his naturalization papers. He worked as a busboy for the Childs restaurant chain in New York, working his way up to exexutive management. When Childs bought the Los Angeles Boos Brothers cafeteria chain in February 1927, Kalil came West to supervise the transition before deciding to launch his own restaurant here. Kalil also took over Cooly’s space at 616 N. Western.

As Kalil’s Cafeteria. 7/11/1929

 

6365 Sunset (as Blue Bird Chop Suey Parlor) and 6361 as Kalil’s Cafeteria c. 1930. Detail of a larger photo. LAPL.

10/30/1930. Hollywood Citizen-News.

In September 1933, the Hollywood Citizen-News reported that “rotund Frieda and Charlie” were operating their charming Hofbrau Garden at this address. Though national prohibition was still in effect for hard liquor, President Roosevelt had legalized beer sales in March 1933. Hofbrau Garden (sometimes spelled Hofbrau Gardens or Hof-brau Garden) was advertising lunch and dinner by March 1934 with dancing and music. The singing waiters of the Haufbrau Quartette were popular on local radio.

9/20/1933. Hollywood Citizen-News.

As Hofbrau Gardens. Not an ORDINARY beer garden. 3/2/1934. LAT.

As Haufbrau Garden 5/3/1934. LAT.

Postcard view of Hofbrau Gardens.

The restaurant added its Alpine Banquet Room addition in January 1937. The Continental-Swiss-Old World-themed space opened on September 30, 1937.

Hofbrau Garden 9/30/1937. LAT.

With Europe at war with German, Hof-brau Garden was “A Swiss Establishment.” 11/23/1938. Hollywood Citizen-News.

Haubrau Garden, photobombing a Life Magazine photo of Muller Brothers across the street c. 1937.

Having survived the Depression and World War II, Haufbrau Gardens closed in October 1945. THe fixtures were sold at auction December 18, 1945.

Hofbrau Gardens auction. 12/16/1945. LAT

Another restaurant briefly took over this space, The Rotisserire, opening in July 1946.  The signage shown in the ad for 6361 was actually at its second Wilshire Boulevard location. It was gone by April 1947, with 9 years to go on its lease.

As The Rotisserie. 10/26/1946. Hollywood Citizen-News.

Auction of the Rotisserie 4/7/1947.

In the Fall of 1947, Mullers leased the spaces here from 6361 to 6365 to ABC radio, whose main studio was nearby on Vine Street.

9/28/1947. LAT.

 

8/28/1962. Hollywood Citizen-News.

Walter Muller died in January 196q. In August 1962, surviving Muller brother Frank and RCA announced that RCA planned to build a high rise building on the parcel, to be addressed as 6363 Sunset. Demolition of the existing strucres was already underway. Ground-breaking for the new RCA building, designed by Albert C. Martin and Associates, was held on January 3, 1963, The completed building opened in April 1964.

4/22/1964. Hollywood Citizen-News.

 

The RCA Building, 6363 Sunset Blvd. LAPL- Mildred Harris collection.

6301 Sunset: Western Auto Supply / Wallichs Music City

Located on the northwest corner of Sunset and Vine and alternately addressed as 1501 Vine Street, this property belonged to retired toy air rifle manufacturer William F. Markham and his second wife Carrie. The Markham home was located near the southwest corner of the same intersection; Marham had built the Markham Building at 6372 Hollywood Boulevard at Cosmo Street in 1918 and also had numerous rental properties. In June 1925, it was announced that a local syndicate, the Hollywood Holding Company, had made a deal with Markham for a 99 year lease for the northwest corner extending West to Morningside Court and would build a 900-seat movie theater and a 20,000 square foot ice rink on the site. The LA Times published a sketch of the building, which was designed by architect John M. Cooper. The project never went forward.

6/6/1925. LA Record.

A sketch of the never-built theater and ice rink designed by John M. Cooper. 6/7/1925 LAT.

In April 1926, local papers again reported that the northwest corner had been leased, as had- seperately the southwest corner (which became the Hood Building), for 99 years to investors who were to construct a building on the site.

8/22/1926. LAT.

This is how real estate worked in Los Angeles. Early residents lucky enough or rich enough to aquire land holdings rarely parted with it. When newspapers report a building being sold, most of the time, what that really meant was that the lease had been sold. The leaseholder would agree to improve the property with a building and put up all the money for the investment. Likewise, if the leasee defaulted on the lease or breached its terms, the entire property (including the improvements) reverted to the owner of the land. Relatives of these pioneers never had to do anything. They just held on to that land and collected the checks. (That is, unless the relative was stupid enough to sell off the properties to gamble with the cash, and then lose that too. Thanks, great-grandpa).

The leaseholders, Vine and Sunset Realty Company, also had to agree to move dwellings located on the parcel, which was accomplished. In September 1927, the investors announced plans to immediately build a two-story commerical building on the site that would contain 14 stores on the ground floor and 30 studios or offices on the second floor. Architect Charles F. Plummer designed the structure in a fanciful Spanish Baroque/Churrigueresque style, back when Sunset Boulevard still thought it was doing Spanish Baroque/Churrigueresque.

9/25/1927. LAT.

The building was completed in January 1928 and its anchor tenant, Western Auto Supply opened up shop, moving from its existing Hollywood location since February 1926 at 6327 Hollywood Boulevard in the Guaranty Building.

Western Auto erected a huge animated electric (not neon) roof sign consisting of over 750 light bulbs. A series of rockets would appear, burst, and center on an arrow pointing to the front entrance of the business.

1/31/1928. Hollywood Citizen-News.

The 1500 block of Vine Street in 1928, showing Western Auto on the northwest corner. LAPL.

Detail from the above photo.

Western Auto remained here into January 1937. Then they and their roof sign were gone.

Still there 1/14/1937. Hollywood Citizen-News.

Sunset and Vine 1937. Huntington Library digital.

Detail from the above photo. Western Auto and its roof sign are gone.

On January 30, 1937, the leasee having defaulted on the terms of the lease, ownership of the building reverted to the land owner. In this case, the widow of William F. Markham. Markham had passed away in April 1930. Carrie Markham, though nearly 30 years his junior, herself passed away in August 1937. The estate, worth more than $2,000,000, had been in litigation at the time, brought by Markham’s daughter from his first marriage. She’d lost the suit in 1936, but appealed. and lost again in 1937, appealed to a higher court and again lost in 1940.

The property meanwhile, sat largely vacant for most of 1937, 1938 and 1939. In October 1938, the Markham estate spent almost $13,000 to makeover the building with help from architect Kemper Nomland in the new streamline-moderne style, in keeping with the new look of this section of Sunset Boulevard- the style set by CBS’ Columbia Square, which had opened a few months earlier, the just-completed NBC’s Radio City across the street, and Earl Caroll’s nearly finished theater restaurant. The estate spent another $15,000 on upgrades to the main corner storefront for it’s supposed San Francisco tenant who never materialized.

10/16/1938. LAT.

The remodeled building c. 1939. LAPL.

It was in July 1940 that the building got a new anchor tenant: Wallichs. Father and son Oscar and Glenn Wallichs had operated a radio and home appliance store on Ivar Street for 10 years before moving to this high-profile location. They renamed the new business Music City (being across the street from NBC’s Radio City). The Sunset and Vine store would continue to sell home appliances, radios, phonographs, records, sheet music, and recording equipment. In addition, it would offer free rehersal studios, having joined forces with the Hollywood House of Music recording studio, formerly of 5205 Hollywood Boulevard. The 3-day opening celebration began July 10. 1940.

7/10/1940. Hollywood Citizen-News.

7/5/1940. Hollywood Citizen-News.

7/10/1940.

12/4/1940. Hollywood Citizen-News.

 

With neighbor NBC broadcasting television to LA over KNBH as of Janaury 1949, Wallichs highlighted its television department at the “television corner.”

10/2/1949. LAT.

Wallichs c. 1949. At left is the Hood Building. Temporary signage on the top curve of the NBC building. LAPL

 

In 1960, the building was given another face-lift for a more space-age appearance.

12/10/1960. Hollywood Citizen-News.

The 1960 facade. Detail from a larger postcard view.

Wallichs remained here for 37 years. The building that currently occupies this site is modern.

6300 Sunset: The Hood Building

Meet the Hood Building, aka The Building No One Ever Took A Picture Of On Purpose.

This modest little workhorse of Spanish Colonial design occupied the busy southeast corner of Sunset and Vine for almost 40 years. Photographers turned their backs to it in order to snap the more interesting NBC studios/Carpenter’s drive-in at the northwest corner of the same intersection, or Wallichs Music City on the northeast corner, or the Pig Stand drive-in/Carpenter’s second home at the southwest corner. Muller Brothers’ ever-expanding auto service complex was just to the west. 

In April 1926, Richard Haden Hood took a 99 year lease on the corner parcel from William F. Markam and his second wife Carrie. Markham, a wealthy retired toy air rifle manufacturer, had come to Hollywood from Michigan in 1911. The couple subsequently built a home with expansive gardens near the southwest corner of Sunset and Vine (addressed as 1453 Vine Street). Markham had built the Markham Building at 6372 Hollywood Boulevard at Cosmo Street in 1918 and also owned numerous rental properties. The Markhams moved to a new rural estate in Glendale in 1926, thus opening the Sunset and Vine property to development. Hood announced plans to build a brick building containing 12 storefronts on the corner site. 

4/25/1926. LAT

It was a pretty big deal when its anchor tenant, Bee Drug Co., opened it’s second location here, in the primo corner space in December 1926. Otto K. Olsen had his klieg lights out for it and everything. A drugstore occupied the corner here, alternately addressed as 1499 N. Vine, for most of the building’s 40 years. There was not much going on at this intersection in December 1926. The Famous Players-Lasky lot was being cleared. The building that later housed Walichs was not yet built. Even 11 years later, in 1937 there wasn’t much to see here. But, still, no one could be bothered to photograph the Hood Building? C’mon.

12/3/1926. Hollywood Daily Citizen.

Bee Drug lasted inoto 1933. In 1936 it became Boorey’s Drugs. See detail of the larger photo below at the top of this post.

Sunset and Vine 1937. Carpenter’s, a Pig Stand, the pre-remodeled Wallichs building, and the Hood Building. Huntington Library digital.

By 1936, Boorey Drug had taken over in the Hood Building.

The Hood Building. Bilboards cover the tile roof. The drugstore is now Radio City Drugs. LAPL.

The Hood Building, its red tile roof now hidden by bilboards, accidently seen in this 1950s shot of Sunset & Vine. LAPL.

The Hood Building outlasted its more photogenic neighbors: Muller Brothers (demolished 1963), NBC studios (Demolished 1964) and Carpenter’s (by then Stan’s, demolished 1961). It was demolished in February 1965. In September 1965, the Bank of America, designed by Welton Beckett, rose on this spot. The bank opened in October 1966. The corner remained under-photographed, appearing accidentally in photos of the Cinerama Dome theater.

10/11/1966. Hollywood Citizen-News.

6290 Sunset: Pig Stand / Carpenter’s Drive-In

The Pig Stand drive-in was built on the southeast corner of Sunset and Vine in 1931 opposite the already-established Carpenter’s drive-in at 6285 on the northeast corner. Owners “California Pig Stands Inc. Ltd.” applied for a permit in August 1931. J.W. Stromberg was the architect. The permit for a roof sign was issued in September 1931.

Looking North on Vine c. 1932. The Pig Stand on the SE corner of Sunset & Vine and Carpenter’s on the NE corner. LAPL.

 

Pig Stand ad of 4/28/1933. Hollywood Citizen-News.

 

From Vine looking East. LAPL

This was the second Pig Stand on Sunset. The first was at 4700 Sunset at Vermont. A permit for that location had been approved in April 1930.

In August 1937, NBC was eyeing the northwest corner of Sunset and Vine for the site of its new broadcasting studio. The following month, the owner of the Pig Stand’s southeast corner site had the site cleared, hiring the Charles Wrecking Co. to demolish and remove 3 buildings: the barbecue stand, a garage and a house. In October, 1937, Carpenter’s took over the location and engaged structural engineer S.B. Barnes to construct a new building in a more modern, streamlined style. It was round, enclosed in glass and steel, with a wide overhang roof. In place of a mere sign was a tall pylon on top of the building and freestanding letters that spelled out CARPENTERS (later HARRY CARPENTERS). Everything was laced with neon. The Los Angeles Daily News reporting in November 1937 on major building projects planned for Hollywood (including the NBC studio and CBS down the street) noted that the drive-in was to cost $175,000.

11/13/1937. LA Daily News.

Carpenter’s c. 1938. Life.

Looking north on Vine St. from just south of Sunset. Carpenter’s is on the right. Its former location is now occupied by NBC.

As Harry Carpenters c. 1940. LAPL.

As of January 1948, this location had been taken over by Simon’s Drive-in, which also had a location at 6760 Sunset Boulevard between Highland and McCadden since 1938. It continued as Simon’s into 1950. By December 1951, it had become a Stan’s Drive-In. Stan’s also took over the 6760 Sunset Boulevard location at the same time.

The drive-in was demolished in August 1961 and the site was evavated for construction of a high-rise office building and apartment building for Los Angeles Federal Savings, to be named Sunset-Vine Tower, designed by Douglas Honnold of Honnold and Rex. Sunset-Vine Tower opened in July 1963.

Architect’s model of Sunset-Vine Tower. LAPL.

7/9/1963. LAT.

Room at the Top restaurant on top of Sunset-Vine Tower. 9/12/1965. LAT.

***

Notes

 

6285 Sunset Part 2: NBC Radio City West

Alternately addressed as 1500 N. Vine Street, NBC’s Radio City West was located at 6285 Sunset Builevart at the northeast coner of Vine Street.

Until the latter half of the 1930s, commercial radio was primarily based in New York and Chicago because the technology that made radio programming possible was oriented for east-to-west transmission, making it prohibitively more expensive to broadcast a show in the opposite direction. The regulations changed in 1935, sending radio rushing to Hollywood just as moving pictures had done in the 1910s. 

Of the two major national networks CBS and NBC, NBC was the first to invest hard cash in local real estate, leasing a property from the old Consolidated Film Lab at 5515 Melrose Avenue (near Paramount Studios), vacant since being damaged in a 1929 fire. On July 2, 1935, the LA Evening Post-Record reported that the studio was spending $500,000 to revamp the existing structures. It opened December 25, 1935.

12/26/1935. Monrovia News-Post.

The NBC studio at 5515 Melrose Avenue near the northeast corner of Gower. LAPL collection.

The paint at Melrose Avenue had barely dried when already there was talk of adding even more space. On February 10, 1937, expansion effort was abruptly halted, however, by network president Lenox N. Lohr when he realized there was a serious problem with this location: not enough parking places.

2/10/1937. LAT.

In August 1937 NBC announced plans for a bigger home at the northeast corner Sunset and Vine, and aquired the parcel, bounded by Sunset and Selma Avenue, Vine Street and Argyle, from Paramount Pictures. It had been home to the Famous-Players-Lasky movie studio and was currently occupied by a Carpenter’s drive-in hamburger stand. See Part 1 for more information on the previous use of this property.

8/5/1937. LAT.

Circa 1937. A used car lot occupied the Vine Street side of the former Famous Players-Lasky studio between Sunset and Selma. Carpenter’s drive-in sandwich stand is at the northeast corner of Sunset & Vine. Huntington Library digital.

In September 1937, the owner of a rival drive-in restaurant across the street on the southeast corner of Sunset and Vine (6290 Sunset) had the existing buildings demolished and removed. The following month, Carpenter’s applied for permits at 6290 Sunset. NBC was ready to start construction on its new home by the end of October 1937.

NBC studios under construction, c, 1937-1938. LAPL.

NBC’s new building opened quietly on October 17, 1938, without the fanfare that had marked the dedication of CBS’ Columbia Square down the street a few months earlier. In fact, several programs had already been broadcast from the new location.

10/14/1948. Hollywood Citizen-News

The sprawling, modernistic building was designed by John C. Austin. It was tinted a shade of greenish blue to reduce the glare of the California sun and blend in with the blue sky and green palm trees. The terraces leading to the entrances were painted a darker green, with red cement floors. The exterior was bare of ornamentation except for aluminum strips on the rounded corners, and the illuminated metal NBC signs, and magenta-lighted neon tubes parellelling the terrace on Sunset. The 3-story lobby, which linked the offices to the 8 broadcasting studios, was illuminated by  40-ft floor-to-ceiling glass brick panels and diffused with a warm orange light in the evenings.

The lobby. LAPL.

The famous Studio D. LAPL.

Across the intersection of Vine. LAPL

 

Looking east on Sunset fro the Vine Street corner. LAPL.

Looking west along Sunset from Argyle. LAPL.

 

 

Looking north on Vine from Sunset at night. Note the orange glow and the illuminated glass brick panels.

Unlike the film studios, which rarely admitted the general public and kept a tight rein on visitors during filming, the radio studios became a popular tourist destination in Hollywood both for tours and for fans attending broadcasts. The networks were quick to capitalize on this idea with quiz and audience participation programs like NBC’s “Can You Top This,” “It Pays to be Ignorant” and “Double or Nothing.” 

Crowd waiting on the Vine Street side to get in to NBC. LAPL.

Crowd waiting outside the Sunset side of NBC c. 1944. LAPL.

Anyone in the vicinity of sunset and Vine was potential fodder for a radio quiz program stunt.

By the late 1940s, like CBS down the street, NBC was struggling to find the room to expand its television operations. As it had in the early days of radio’s westward expansion, NBC leased theaters around town for extra space. In October 1948, the station was getting ready to house NBC’s western television headquarters and for KNBH, which was already showing an experimental test pattern on Channel 4, to be on the air soon. On January 16, 1949, KNBH Channel 4 began broadcasting in Los Angeles. Signage was added to the facade of NBC at Sunset and Vine.

1/12/1949. Hollywood Citizen-News.

 

Color view with KNBH Television Channel 4 signage addded.

Color view with KNBH Television Channel 4 signage at night.

By the fall of 1951, NBC was building its own television studio in Burbank, which opened in October 1952. An addition specifically for color television, called Color City, was dedicated in March 1955. NBC still had plenty of use for its Sunset and Vine studio. In 1961, however, the studio announced that by 1963 it would consolidate its operations in Burbank and began shopping the Sunset and Vine property to potential buyers. In March 1961, NBC reported that it was negotiating with developer Lionel Hayes Uhlmann to sell the parcel for $3.5 million. The developer was proposing to build a 3-skyscraper hotel-office complex on the site after NBC departed in 1963.

3/7/1961. LAT.

NBC did depart in 1963 as planned and begininning in May 1964, the 26 year-old radion/television studio was demolished. But the skyscraper development never materialized and the property’s new owner, Home Savings and Loan, had no plans for developing the vacant site.

5/5/1965. Hollywood Citizen-News.

The property sat vacant for almost 4 years. Home Savings & Loan ultimately built its own headquarters on the site. The 2-story structure, addressed as 1500 N. Vine, opened in June 1968. In recognition of the site’s importance in Hollywood history, it features a mosaic mural, “The Golden Role of Stars” by Millard Sheets, and a stained glass window by Susan Hertel depicting famous chase scenes. Out front is a fountain with a 1920s sculpture by Paul Manship, the Flight of Europa. The building is currently a Chase Bank.

6/16/1968. LAT.

Home Savings & Loan at Sunset & Vine. LAPL, Milldred Harris collection.

 

 

6230 Sunset: Earl Carroll’s Theater

The Earl Carroll Theater and Restaurant opened at 6230 Sunset Boulevard, on the south side of Sunset between Vine St. and El Centro on December 26, 1938.

Hollywood was familiar with Earl Carroll. The Broadway showman, who for a time had a namesake theater on Broadway, had long staged annual shows featuring beautiful, scantily-clad (if not nude) women. Florence Zigfeld had his “Follies,” George Whaite had “Scandals,” and so Earl Carroll had his “Vanities” or “Sketchbooks.” June Brewster, the 3rd wife of LA underworld boss Guy McAfee, had appeared in an Earl Carroll show on Broadway. In 1934, Carroll brought some of his showgirls to Hollywood to film “Murder at the Vanities” for Paramount Pictures.

Earl Carroll and a chorus line of Beauties arrive at the SP station in LA to film Murder at the Vanities, 1934. L-R: Evelyn Kelly, Dorothy Dawes, Ernestine Anderson, Ruth Hilliard, Beryl Wallis, Marion Callahan, Laurie Shevlin, Wanda Perry. LAPL.

In May 1938, local papers announced the Carroll was to build a dinner theater restaurant on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. The building was designed by architect Gordon B. Kaufmann, who would later design the Hollywood Palladium at 6215 Sunset.

5/28/1938. LAT.

Sketch of the new Earl Carroll Theater, which appeared in the Hollywood Citizen-News 10/15/1938. LAPL

Fittingly, the opening show was “Broadway to Hollywood” 12/23/1938. Hollywood Citizen-News.

 

Watch Hollywood stars arriving at the opening (from Brithish Pathe):

 

The new theater had revolving stages, a patent leather ceiling and miles of neon lighting designed by Frank Don Riha (who like Kaufmann would also work on the Hollywood Palladium) and decor by W & J Sloane of Wilshire Boulevard. It was, as one contemporary critic put it, the public’s idea of what a Hollywood nightclub looks like.

The horseshoe-shaped “inner circle” Huntington Library digital.

The Goddess of (Neon) Light. Martin Deutsch is credited with her design. Huntington Library digital.

The box office. Huntington Library digital.

The cocktail bars. Huntington Library digital.

The entrance. Willy Pogany is credited with the design of the two statues flanking the staircase. Huntington Library digital.

One of several lounge areas. Huntington Library digital.

A show in progress. Huntington Library digital.

“Through These Portals Pass the Most Beautiful Girls in the World.” Motto of the Earl Carroll Theater, exemplified by Beryl Wallis, Carroll’s girlfriend and top showgirl.

The exterior c. 1939. LAPL.

A highlight of the he neon-covered exterior was the giant portrait of Beryl Wallis, rendered in neon along with the “Through These Portals…” motto.

In October 1940, Carroll added the “Wall of Fame” to the exterior, consisting of 150 cement blocks, some signed by various celebrities, others blank to allow for future autographs.

 

10/17/1940. Hollywood Citizen-News.

Carroll and showgirls with some of the “Wall of Fame” cement blocks signed by Barbara Stanwyck, Gary Cooper, Clark Gble, Tyrone Power, and Ginger Rogers, October 1940. LAPL.

Based on the “Wall of Fame,” audience members could buy their own Hollywood Star Autographed Glasses to take home. They were available for purchase in the lobby.

 

In 1940, Carroll and company filmed “A Night at Earl Carroll’s” for Paramount Pictures, which as Famous Players-Lasky had once operated across the street from the theater. This required some adjustments of the revue costumes to please the Hayes Office censors. The film was added as a second feature to the A-picture, Christmas in July, released at Paramount’s downtown Los Angeles theater at Sixth & Hill streets on December 15, 1940. The film featured Ken Murray, who had worked with Carroll on Broadway and would later produce the long-running “Blackouts” show down the street on Vine. He also wrote a biography of Earl Carroll.

12/16/1940. LAT.

 

Beryl Wallace and Earl Carroll, 1943. During World War II, Wallis worked tirelessly on shows for service members. LAPL.

 

Life magazine featured Earl Carroll’s in its February 14, 1944 number. On the cover, a sailor contemplates the “Wall of Fame.”

 

Ticket for CBS radio’s Meet the Missus” broadcast from the Earl Carroll Theater 8/27/1946.

After the war, Carrolls’ near-neighbor CBS began leasing the theater for daytime radio broadcasts. In 1946 Carroll proposed building additional theaters, to rival NYC’s Radio City, at the rear part of the parcel along Vine but the project was rejected by the Civilian Production Administration (CPA) as postwar materials were in short supply and priority construction was being given to veteran’s housing.

On June 17, 1948, Earl Carroll and Beryl Wallis were killed in a plane crash in Pennsylvania.

The Earl Carroll Theater continued to operate for over a year as the estates of Wallis and Carroll were settled. It went dark on October 12, 1949.  Reports in late 1949 that the theater had sold proved premature. Carroll’s niece and executor of his estate sold the venue to Frank Hofues of Texas in August 1950 for a price of $1,025,000. The sale was approved by the Los Angeles Superior Court on September 14. Hofues intended to lease the property for radio and television broadcasts.

10/12/1949. LAT.

In February 1951, however, it was reported that Earl Carroll’s would reopen with a new show, Pleasure Bound, imported from Broadway’s Latin Quarter Theater. The grand re-opening was March 27, 1951 only to close again, apparently ordered by Hofues. The theater wasn’t done yet, however. Another grand-reopening was held September 18, 1951, with a new show, “Holiday for Love.” In December 1951, it was announced that Hofues had leased the venue to CBS for television broadcasts while CBS’ new Television City was being completed.

3/5/1951. The Valley Times.

3/27/1951. Hollywood Citizen-News.

9/16/1951. LAT

12/13/1951. LAT.

Earl Carroll’s Theater with CBS signage c. 1951.

In November 1952, CBS moved to its new Television City. In October 1953, it was announced that 1953, Frank Sennes, a Las Vegas talent-booking agent, would reopen the theater with a Left Bank French theme. It opened December 25, 1953 under a new name as well: The Moulin Rouge.

12/23/1953. Monrovia Daily News.

Earl Carroll’s as the Moulin Rouge c. 1954. LAPL.

Sennes operated the Moulin Rouge for ten years, until the summer of 1964, when he returned to Las Vegas. The Earl Carroll theater was again put up for sale.

881964. LAT.

On December 10, 1966, Dave Hull opened the theater as Hullabaloo, an all-ages rock music club. Though short-lived, it is notable because it was during this phase that the original cement blocks of the “Wall of Fame” were removed, and the old stars’ autographs replaced with those of current pop music “stars.” On March 30, 1966, it was revealed that 24 blocks had been removed, with plans to remove and replace others later.

As Hullaballoo. 12/11/1965.

4/1/1966. LAT.

The Turtles contemplate names on the old Earl Carroll “Wall of Fame” before they were replaced with new pop stars; names. 4/1/1966. LAT.

At least Beryl remained, outlined in neo. For a while. Hullabaloo went away in 1967. For a brief time in the Spring and Summer of 1968, the theater was operating as another rock venue, Kaleidoscope.

As Kaliedoscope. 6/2/1968.

In September 1968 it was announced the theater would be adapted for use as a live theater, to be the Los Angeles home of the Broadway musical Hair and would be renamed the Aquarius. Beryl came down as part of the renovation.

9/11/1968.

By 1972, the building was operating as a venue for other live theater. In 1983 it became a television studio. In 2016, it was named a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural landmark.

 

 

6000 Sunset: Cashis King Market / Hollywood Casino/ Recording Studio

6000 Sunset Boulevard, on the corner of Gordon Street, was designed in the art moderne style in April 1933 by architect Harry L. Pierce. It opened that summer as the Sunset Cashis King Market.

Cashis King was one of Hollywood’s famous open-air markets (much commented-on by tourists) where the colorful displays of fruits and vegetables spilled out over the sidewalks year round.

1933 ad for Cashis King Market, 6000 Sunset Blvd. The NRA “We Do Our Part” eagle at left has nothing to do with guns- it’s the National Recovery Administration, one of FDR’s new New Deal programs.

National Recovery Admin blue eagle.

Cashis King remained at this location through 1937. In August 1940, it became Columbia Square Market.

6000 Sunset Blvd as Columba Square Market 8.22.1940. Hollywood Citizen-News.

In June 1942 6000 Sunset Blvd. opened as the Hollywood Casino nightclub, run by Joseph Zucca. This involved alterations to the building, such as enclosing the Sunset facade, as well as interior modifications.

Yvette Dare and her sarong-stealing parrot at Hollywood Casino, November 1943.

By November 1943, with thousands of US military personnel passing through town, Hollywood Casino was featuring burlesque acts like “Yvette Dare and her sarong stealing parrot.”

Yvette Dare and her sarong-stealing parrot in 1942. University of Washington digital.

But it wasn’t enough, apparently, to keep the struggling nightclub afloat. On February 2, 1944, it reopened as Madame Zucca’s Hollywood Casino. Joseph Zucca’s mother, Veturia (Victoria) Zucca had operated Madame Zucca’s Inn, a cafe and hotel, in downtown Los Angeles from the early 1900s until her retirement in 1932. But even nostalgia, mama Zucca’s French Italian cooking, or new names were able to save the venture, which changed its name to Madame Zucca’s French Casino in June 1944. The fixtures and equipment were put up for auction in September 1944.

February 1944: no sign of Yvette or her parrot, just the wholesome image of Madame Zucca.

As Madame Zucca’s French Casino, 6/17/1944.

Action for 6000 Sunset’s fixures and equipment, 9/3/1944.

Others tried to make a go of 6000 Sunset Boulevard as a nightclub. On September 30, 1944 after undergoing a theme change from French to Western, it reopened as the Sunset Rancho with headliner Spade Cooley (this was the heart of Gower Gulch, after all). But the place didn’t click, and 3 months and yet another theme later, on December 30, 1944, it opened as the Gay ’90s style Bowery Music Hall Follies. It, too, fizzled.

As Sunset Rancho featuring Spade Cooley. 9/28/1944. San Fernando Valley Times.

As the Bowery Music Hall Follies. 12/29.1944. San Pedro News-Pilot.

After this, the building’s market and nightclub days were past. It was used primarily as a radio broadcasting center and recording studio, with offices and schools (some of them shady, fly-by-night operations) for television and radio professionals. It also housed a auditorium available for large meetings, events, and theatrical performances. The building is extant and is presently still used as a recording studio.

As Hollywood Radio Center 4/17/1946. Hollywood Citizen-News.

 

Photo from East-West Studios.

5539 Sunset: Sunset House Restaurant

5539 Sunset Boulevard, between Western Avenue and St. Andrews Place, was designed by Shelby R. Coon in 1925 as an auto showroom, part of a cluster of automotive-related businesses built from 5533 to 5565 Sunset for E.F. Bogardus. Auburn dealer Wilshire Motors opened here in May 1926 amid a cluster of other auto-related businesses.

From 1932 to February 1939 the building housed a neon clock and sign sales showroom.

In August 1939, restaurateur Adolph Remp applied for permit to remodel 5539 Sunset for a cafe. It was operating as “Sunset House” by December 1941.

Sunset House ad 12/15/1943

In February 1945, Sunset House was sited by the wartime Office of Price Administration (OPA) along with The Tropics (421 N Rodeo Dr. Beverly Hills), Lindy’s (3656 Wilshire) and the Trocadero (8510 Sunset) for violating meat rationing (red points) quotas.

2/22/1945. LAT.

Free of rationing restrictions, Sunset House enjoyed the postwar prosperity for several years. Its fixures and equipment were sold at auction on December 28, 1948.

Sunset House ad Christmas Eve 1946.

Sunset House ad 5/24/1947.

Sunset House auction 12/26/1948.

 

5539 Sunset became a television studio space and offices in 1949. Later sound recording facilities were added. In 1965 it was briefly the home of Impression Records.

The building, along with all others on the parcel (5533-5545), was demolished in 2003.

5600 Sunset: Fanchon & Marco Studios / 2nd Hollywood Rollerbowl / Stardust Ballroom

The parcel that includes 5600 Sunset Boulevard is located between Wilton Place and St. Andrews Place.

In 1925, a 1-story brick automobile showroom and garage was built at the southwest corner of St. Andrews Place (addressed vatiously as 5600-5606 and 5600-5620 depending on the number of interior partitions). It’s function remained automobile-related through early 1931.

In January 1931 that Fanchon and Marco applied to the city for a permit to turn the auto showroom building into a rehersal studio. Their long-term lease of the building (referred to at that time as the William D. Fyers Building) was made public in February 1931. Once opened, the new space would replace their existing locations at 643 S. Olive Street and 1584 W. Washington.

2/21/1931. LA Evening Express.

Fanchon and Marco were Los Angeles-born siblings Fanchon “Fanny” Wolff Simon and Marco “Mike” Wolf, producers of elaborate theatrical stage shows featuring dancers and other performers. 

On June 29, 1931, they held a lavish party to dedicate the new facility, with Governor Jim Rolph attending, autographed oranges, and the famed F&M Sunkist Beauties dance troupe.

6/25/1931. LA Evening Express.

Ad requruiting Fanchon & Marco dancers at the 5600 Sunset Blvd. studio. 2/23/1932. Pasadena Post.

 

On May 28, 1933 the pair announced that they were now enrolling students for their new school of the dance (later school of the theater) located at 5600 Sunset.

5/28/1933. LAT.

5/28/1933. LAT.

5/29/1933. LAT.

By January 1936 Fanchon & Marco School of the Dance was advertising 3 locations: 5600 Sunset Blvd., 8569 Broadway and 26 E. Colorado St., Pasadena. LAT.

In September 1936, the duo announced that it was combining the Ethel Meglin Studios and the Fanchon School of the Theater at 5600 Sunset Blvd.

9/26/1936

The pair had officially contracted with Ethel Meglin, who taught children dancers, aka Meglin’s Kiddies, in July 1930, authorizing her to teach the Fanchon and Marco system. This would allow FM to concentrate more fully on its theatrical, stage, film and radio enterprises.

Meglin had operated her studios at various locations, most recently at 2203 Venice Boulevard and across the street at 5545 Sunset Boulevard. By 1938 5600 Sunset Boulevard was advertised at the Ethel Meglin Studio, offering the Fanchon and Marco system. Advertisments continued into March 1940, when the property was abruptly advertised for lease.

7/14/1930. LA Record.

5/28/1932

Ethel Meglin Studio “in association with Fanchon & Marco” advertisment from 1/29/1938 counts Shirley Temple, Jane WIthers, Judy Garland, June Lang, Virginia Grey, Maureen O’Conner, and Jackie Moran among its former pupils. Hollywood Citizen-News.

3/14/1940. LAT.

A fire in May 1940 damage 5600 Sunset, but it was repaired. By November 1940, the building was once again used briefly as an automobile showroom.

As Sunset Motors, November 1940.

In September 1947, the building once again taught performers- now for television- when it was leased by American Telecasting Corp, which had operated a radio school next door since 1942. The company operated it’s school here into 1953.

8/16/1947. Hollywood Citizen-News.

5600-5620 Sunset Boulevard was vacant when Sam Schaeffer, as Roller Bowl Amusement Co., acquired it in May 1955 for a reported $350,000. Schaffer planned to open a roller rink here, having previously managed the Hollywood Rollerbowl in the old Warner Brothers Studio at 5842 Sunset Boulevard, from 1950 to 1954. The Police Commission granted Schaeffer a license for the venture on June 1, 1955, but the action was vigorously contested by the Assistance League of California. The group operated boys and girls clubs right behind the building and were convinced the rink would prove to be a juvenile delinquent magnet.

7/12/1955 LAT.

When the issue went to court in July 1955, Schaeffer blurted that he’d paid $50,000 “under the table” to the Police Commission for the license, causing a flap and bringing up allegations of graft. Schaeffer said the remark was just a “slip of the tongue” and there had not, in fact, been any bribery involved. Three public hearings later, Schafter’s license was reinstated over the objection of the Assistance League, only to be pulled again in October 3 while the matter was appealed. It was finally resolved in Schaeffer’s favor and in June 1957, plans for the remodeling work necessary to convert 5600 Sunset into a roller rink were announced along with an anticipated opening date of August 1. Things took longer than expected, however. The rink did finally open by June 1958. Like its predecessor at 5842 Sunset, it was also called Hollywood Roller Bowl. 

The prime corner location was partitioned into a lobby for the rink, and about June 1959, converted into a separate space for rent, addressed as 5600. The Hollwood Roller Bowl was thereafter addressed as 5612.

6/24/1958. Hollywood Citizen-News.

Now addressed as 5600. 6/26/1959

 

In November 1961, Hollywood ballet instructor Kathryn Etienne moved into the corner space at 5600.

2/3/1962.

 

The second Hollywood Roller Bowl operated through November 1972.

Photo of 5600-5612 c. 1973.

 

In December 1975, vocalist Orrin Tucker converted the rink into a nightclub/dance hall, the Stardust Ballroom.

As Stardust Ballroom, 12/12/1975.

The space continued to operate as a ballroom/nightclub into 1995. In August 1995 5600-5612 was demolished and a Home Deptot retail store was built on the site, today occupying the entire parcel between Wilton Place and St. Andrews Place.