If walls could talk, we’d love to listen to the ones at Hollywood’s most iconic hangouts. Just imagine the stories they could tell about the glitzy hotels, bars, and clubs frequented by the movie stars of days gone by. The history of Hollywood is littered with tales from these celebrity hot spots — some iconic, others infamous. Ready? Let’s dive in.
1. Whisky a Go Go
When it comes to Hollywood hot spots, they don’t come much more iconic than the Whisky a Go Go! This historic venue has been a proving ground for just about every rock music sub-genre from the ‘60s onwards, from folk rock to psychedelia, punk, and metal.
In the ‘60s, celebs such as Steve McQueen, Cary Grant, and Jayne Mansfield all rocked out there. The Doors were its house band in 1966! Since then, a Who’s Who of legendary bands have gone on to grace that same stage: Led Zeppelin, Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac, and KISS, to name but a few.
2. Dunbar Hotel
The Dunbar Hotel was the place for Black Hollywood to dance the night away and listen to the legendary jazz artists who jammed there in the ‘30s and ‘40s. Los Angeles was segregated at this time, but the Dunbar was open to Black guests, and it made a point to book Black musicians including Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, and Count Basie for its Club Alabam.
Actor Wren T. Brown told The Hollywood Reporter, “It was the most celebrated Black club in the history of Central Avenue.” Yet it wound up closing its doors in the ‘70s and is now an old folks’ home!
3. Cocoanut Grove
The Cocoanut Grove was the Ambassador Hotel’s nightclub, and it functioned as a playground for the stars from 1921 until 1989. After this, it turned into a sought-after filming location for Tinseltown until the hotel itself was torn down in 2006!
Barbra Streisand, Lena Horne, and Nat King Cole all sang in the club, and several Academy Award ceremonies were held there too. An uncomfortable fact: as the club didn’t become integrated until 1959, Black Oscar-winner Hattie McDaniel had to be given special dispensation to even be in the building to accept her Best Supporting Actress award in 1940.
4. Frolic Room
According to website Thrillist, “If you wanted to catch Frank Sinatra chatting up Judy Garland after a long night of award ceremonies, The Frolic Room would’ve been the place.” Amazingly, although this tiny hole-in-the-wall bar opened back in 1934 it is still going strong today.
It was one of the legendarily well-oiled writer Charles Bukowski’s favorite spots, and his photo still takes pride of place above the cash register. It also has a macabre celebrity connection: L.A.’s most famous murder victim Elizabeth Short, better known as the Black Dahlia, was last seen exiting the Frolic Room.