The Lost Art of Nite Club Souvenir Photos
It’s no secret I’m a fan of collecting vintage California souvenirs, and awhile back Patrick and I stumbled upon a souvenir photo from the Hollywood Palladium, which was tucked inside a delightful folder. It combined my love of California souvenirs and his love of photography, so we decided to start collecting vintage nite club souvenir photos. Perhaps you may have even spied these small folders scattered amongst the vintage cameras in our living room post, but today I want to highlight each of them and even show you the photos within. And because I can’t help myself, there are some history tidbits on the locations!
We started with Los Angeles area locations, and have expanded to include some from the Bay area, one from Las Vegas, and one mystery one.
The Biltmore Bowl is the ballroom located within the Biltmore Hotel, which is still operating in downtown. The Bowl was also the original home to the Oscars. The hotel is also where Elizabeth Short, aka the Black Dahlia, was last seen alive. The photo of this serviceman is dated to November 29, 1945.
Long time reads of the blog may be familiar with my love of Clifton’s Cafeteria. Both folders represent the first two locations, Brookdale, and Pacific Seas. While Pacific Seas opened first in 1931, and closed in 1960, Brookdale, which opened in 1935, remains open, er…somewhat, it seems to be in a constant state of flux…To pay homage to Pacific Seas, one of the upper floors of the Brookdale location was transformed into a tiki bar under the Pacific Seas name.
A couple years ago I had the pleasure of meeting two women who are the daughters of a woman named Vilma, who was a Clifton’s camera girl. She kept an amazing diary of her time there, and her daughters have been transcribing it as a blog. Read it here.
The Earl Carroll opened in 1938, and lasted until 1948. This particular photo is dated to June 12, 1947. A few years later, in 1953 it opened as Frank Sennes’ Moulin Rouge.
The Moulin Rouge shuttered in 1966, and the location went on to have many more incarnations, including the groovy Aquarius, and more recently Nickelodeon’s west coast HQ. After Nickelodeon vacated, the location was repainted to its Aquarius stage for Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood. You can read more about this Hollywood hot spot here.
Florentine Gardens opened in 1938 and struggled for a few years, going through different incarnations over the years, including a dental school, but eventually it returned to its nite club status, however, no where near as glamorous as it once was.
Hollywood Casino opened in 1942, however, like the Catalina Casino, no gambling was here. Its life was short, as it closed in 1950, and today the location is a recording studio.
The Hollywood Palladium opened its doors in 1940, and has played host to many stars over the years. Thankfully, it remains relatively intact, and still serves as an amazing venue.
Slapsy Maxie’s in Hollywood opened in 1943, by fighter Max Rosenbloom, and was supposedly bankrolled by gangster Mickey Cohen, a story that was perpetuated in the 2013 film Gangster Squad.
Over the years we a two neat Bay Area folders as well.
These Bay Area nite clubs have proved rather elusive in trying to figure out their history. Thankfully though the Club Kona photo dated to August 11, 1944.
I’ve always had a soft spot for the glitz and glamor of old Las Vegas, so when I finally saw a photo folder for the Stardust, one of my favorite old casinos, we just had to add it to our collection.
This last one is a bit of a mystery, however, based on the illustrations and copy, I think this is from Hawaii.
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8 comments on “The Lost Art of Nite Club Souvenir Photos”
Racetracks did these too. I have ones from Santa Anita & Agua Caliente in Tijuana.
So good!!! Sam and I had souvenir photos Taken during our first visit to the Tonga Room in San Fransisco 7 or 8 years ago 💕.
I am intrigued by old photos like this. I wonder who the people were, and invent stories about them! I came across a beautiful album at a car boot sale last year, but on close inspection a lady’s face had been cut out of every single photo she was in. It has really stayed with me.
Hope you and Patrick are doing okay in this pandemic. Stay safe and sane xx
Great article and finds with these old photos. Regarding Clifton’s. I am sure glad that a few years ago I made a special trip on the Blue Line into LA to eat at the cafeteria before they closed that part down – so disappointed that they did that! I got some of my old favorites that reminded me of the old days. PS – love your blog. Found it when one of the Knotts fan pages putting up a link to it. I wonder what you came up with to wear to Boysenberry day – ?? So sorry that didn’t happen this year. I miss Knott’s like crazy.
I love souvenir photos! I’m so happy you’re collecting them now 💗!
Seriously fantastic post on this highly interesting topic. I’ve swooned over (and intently studied) many a vintage nightclub image over the years, often wondering what it would have been like to visit such clubs in their heyday. I might be the world’s biggest introvert who shies away from modern nightclubs at all costs, but I’d hop in a time machine and savour the evening until last call at these sorts of establishments, if such was possible.
Alas, it is not, but thankfully this awesome look at them gets us a little closer to feeling like we’re there in person.
Autumn Zenith 🎃 Witchcrafted Life
I have 3 of these photos 1944 and 2from1945
My mother-in-law was a night club photographer in the late 1930s and early 1940s. She took the photos and her husband developed them in the back room of the club.
There is very little information on the people who actually took these photos.
Thank you for all your research.