Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Strolling Down Sunset Boulevard

On my recent trip to Hollywood, I decided to stroll down Sunset Boulevard for a variety of reasons: get some updated photos (it had been almost two years since I last did this), check out the Viper Room, and most importantly, get some exercise for Willis! First stop on my photo tour was Carneys Restaurant, famous for its hamburgers and hot dogs. While the exterior looks like it has seen better days, the interior was doing a rocking business!

The Comedy Store had a RIP tribute on its sign to the recently departed Gilbert Gottfried:

Back in the day, this building was home to the glamorous Ciro’s Nightclub:

Two more shots of the Comedy Store:

The Mondrian Hotel was built in 1959 as an apartment building, then converted to a hotel in 1985. Ian Schrager of Studio 54 fame took over the property in 1996 and that’s when it became a celebrity haven. When I first moved back to Southern California in 1999, the Skybar was the hottest nightspot in town. From a 1997 L.A. Times article:

Finally, L.A.'s coming of age—even New Yorkers are beginning to take this town seriously. East Coast club entrepreneur Rande Gerber, known for his Whisky Bars and Armani Cafes, just gave L.A. a tremendous gift—the Sky Bar at the Mondrian Hotel. It’s the most gorgeous nightspot this town’s seen in years—from its spectacular view of L.A., which you see while lounging poolside in the club’s patio, to the intimate bar area, which is softly adorned with sheer white curtains and open to the night. The club requires all guests to phone prior to arrival to be included on an advance guest list. Once inside, you feel as if you’re part of a sexy cocktail party. The music is soft and European, with sensuous, mid-tempo beats providing a backdrop to the L.A. night. In the Sky Bar’s one-month existence, the crowd has been a mix of mature, confident Hollywood players, young stars and starlets, and basically anybody who can weasel his or her way in.

Today, one would barely notice the sad looking little entrance that used to have people lining their way up and down the block, hoping that they would be allowed to go beyond the velvet rope to hob-nob with the celebrities from the rooftop lounge.

The Sunset Plaza shopping center is still around (first built in 1924), but the tenants and façades have obviously changed through the years. Famous former tenants include photographer George Hurrell, fashion designers Don Loper and Adrian, the Elizabeth Arden salon, and former actor turned interior designer William Haines.

The Rocky and Bullwinkle statue still stands at its new location near Sunset and Holloway Drive:

When it resided across from the Chateau Marmont, the statue rotated. Today, the pair stand still.

Looking like a space ship ready for take-off, the Mutato Muzika building was built in 1967 for Dr. Richard Alan Franklyn, a well-known Hollywood cosmetic surgeon and author of books like "The Art of Staying Young" and "Developing Bosom Beauty."

From the L.A. Conservancy site:

Franklyn wanted a building designed expressly for doing plastic surgery, with natural light streaming in through central skylights to illuminate the operating room. He got it, with a circular UFO-like building lit not only by skylights, but by elongated arched windows separated by simple concrete pilasters covering the entire circular façade. The architect Franklyn hired to design the building is said to be none other than Oscar Niemeyer, the world-famous Brazilian architect who designed the Mid-Century Modern buildings of Brasilia, as well as many others that changed the face of modern architecture around the world. Niemeyer was known for his love of curves over straight lines, so by that token the Beauty Pavilion certainly fits with the rest of his oeuvre. The architect was living and working primarily in Paris in the late 1960s, however, and most of his designs were monumental civic and institutional complexes around the world.

Fred Segal has a branch on Sunset; my heart still belongs to the one on Melrose:

Having grown up in the Watergate era and being familiar with the outspoken Martha Mitchell’s attempt to get the word out, I may have to check this one out:

Last stop on Willis’ long walk down Sunset Boulevard was the Viper Room, which is apparently in danger of being torn down and replaced by yet another mixed-use monstrosity.

While I hate to see historic buildings erased, I can’t say the exterior cries out for salvation. Maybe a good power wash would help.

I also can’t say I’ve ever been inside, either, so one way or the other I don’t have any personal ties to this one.

I had never noticed this side entrance before:

Willis was very glad to get back to the hotel for a beverage and snacks:

See more Sunset Boulevard photos at my main website.

1 comment:

Nanook said...

Thanks for sharing these 'all-too-telling' images of Sunset Blvd. with us. "The more things change, the more they stay the same". I'm not so certain about that, anymore-!