It's late December 1938 and Carole Lombard and Clark Gable, not yet married but well on their way to doing so, joined an array of Hollywood notables attending the grand opening of the cinema capital's latest nightclub. It was on Sunset Boulevard, not far from the Columbia Square (CBS) and NBC West Coast radio studios that had opened earlier that year, and to say it exuded glamour would be an understatement.
The Earl Carroll Theatre, named for the New York showman who built it, staged elaborate -- and I mean elaborate -- stage shows to complement fine dining and dancing. For proof, here's the theatre's stage under construction, featuring a 60-foot-wide double revolving turntable, along with some of the 60 chorus girls who would use it:
Carroll's slogan was "Thru these portals pass the most beautiful girls in the world." (His "Earl Carroll Vanities" rivaled Florenz Ziegfeld's "Follies" on Broadway.) One of them, showgirl Beryl Wallace, was Mrs. Carroll; she was featured on postcards, and her neon image adorned the facade:
And as we've noted here numerous times (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/763795.html)...
...more than two decades before the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce created its Walk of Fame, Carroll had a "wall of fame," with Lombard and scores of other Hollywood celebrities autographing concrete slabs.
From its debut throughout much of the 1940s, Carroll's nightspot thrived. But in June 1948, Carroll and Wallace died in a plane crash, and the theatre soon closed. It served a variety of purposes in ensuing years -- as the Moulin Rouge nightclub, home of the TV shows "Queen For A Day" and "Hullabaloo," the Aquarius Theater in the late 1960s (where the Doors cut a live album) and most recently as West Coast headquarters for the children's cable channel Nickelodeon. But earlier this year, Nickelodeon vacated the space, and last month it was announced the site would return to its roots as part of a mixed-use development (https://la.curbed.com/2017/10/23/16505122/earl-carroll-theatre-historic-building-photos).
As you can see in this rendering from the developer, Essex Property Trust, the exterior, including the neon Beryl, will be restored. (It would be nice if Lombard's slab and some of the others could be brought back as well.) But there's even better news: Despite its many interior changes in the nearly seven decades since the club shut down, it still has many of its original features.
For example, the "Goddess of Neon" sculpture Carole saw in the lobby on opening night remains:
These photos, also taken last month, should similarly wow you:
And that double-revolving stage? It's still there, and still believed to be functional.
Now all the developer needs to do is find a tenant who do some work on the interior and activate the space for shows again. And somewhere Clark, Carole, Earl and Beryl will applaud.