LAistory: The Cocoanut Grove
The Cocoanut Grove, a supper club where the rich and famous dined and danced, opened 3 months after the Ambassador Hotel, in April 1921. It was designed in Moorish style. The palm trees that decorated the room were rumored to have come from the Rudolph Valentino film, The Sheik and they had stuffed monkeys hanging from them. The ceiling was painted midnight blue and sparkling stars were strewn across its firmament.
Joan Crawford won over a hundred dancing contests under those stars. It's said that she was discovered there, while on the dance floor, as was Carole Lombard and Loretta Young. It was a regular hang out of the Rat Pack in the fifties. In remembrance, Sammy Davis Jr. recorded a live album there. He wasn't the only one. When Judy Garland staged her comeback there, her live album featured the last night of her appearance. Bing Crosby began his career crooning to the dancers.
The first Academy Awards where they gave the famous "Oscar" statue was held in the Grove in 1930. It was also the home of the first Golden Globe Awards.
There were efforts on the part of the LAUSD to save the Cocoanut Grove as part of the school they were building there. Later, it was found (because of numerous overhauls) to be unsalvageable, and has since been demolished.
Now the ghosts have had to find some place else to dance. Those stars have been extinguished, the whole building, with all its style and history wiped out, the victim of necessity and blindness.
LAistory is our series that takes us on a journey to what came before to help us understand where we are today.
Check out our other entries in the series:
Val Verde; Thelma Todd's Roadside Cafe; An eclectic house in Beverly Hills; Echo Park's Bonnie Brae House; Marineland of the Pacific; Grand Central Air Terminal; LA's Own Wrigley Field; How LA got its name; The wreck of the Dominator; The 1925 "Hollywood Subway."; The Pink Lady of Malibu; Lions Drag Strip; Disneyland...when it was cheap to get in; The ugliest building in the city; Union Station; Union Station's Fred Harvey Room; A Smelly Mystery at another train station; The Egyptian Theatre; Pilgrimage Bridge; The "It" Girl, Clara Bow; Elias J. "Lucky" Baldwin; Get Involved!; Houdini's House; Spanish Kitchen; The Platinum Blonde; Chutes Park; Fatty Arbuckle; The Brown Derby; Griffith Park; The Outpost Sign; Cross Roads of the World; Sowden House; Monkey Island; Carthay Circle Theater; The Post-War House & the Home of Tomorrow; Dan the Miner; Tropical Ice Gardens; William Desmond Taylor; Alligator Farm; Schwab's Pharmacy; Tail O' the Pup; Good Reads; Fatty Arbuckle's Plantation Cafe; The Garden of Allah, Mapping LAistory, The Pan Pacific Auditorium; Pickfair; Tower of Wooden Pallets; Hollyhock House; Randy's Donuts; the Ennis House; Helms Bakery Coaches, The Ambassador Hotel