Judy Garland and Bob Hope were at the Hollywood Palladium the night it opened in 1940. It was Halloween, and Tommy Dorsey and Frank Sinatra were performing for a crowd of 10,000. Sinatra wasn’t quite world famous yet and neither was The Palladium—but both were well on their way.
A city report that makes the case for landmarking the venue says its opening seven decades ago on Sunset Boulevard was “highly anticipated,” the dream of former film producer Maurice M. Cohen, who sought to create, “the worlds largest dining and dancing palace.” He surely succeeded.
In 1944, Collier’s magazine dubbed the Gordon B. Kaufmann-designed venue, “The biggest night club on earth.” Spanning almost two acres and holding six bars, “on Saturday nights more than twelve thousand people dine, dance and drink together.”
“It was the most wonderful place to go,” the late actress Lana Turner recalled in the Los Angeles Times in 1987. “I would go to the Palladium four or five times a week. It was the place to go after dinner or after a movie. We young ladies could walk in alone and know we weren’t going to . . . you know, be picked up.”
Born as a music venue for Big Bands, it went on to host political rallies, high school proms, rock ‘n’ roll bands, and awards shows. It, along with the Earl Carroll Theatre, Florentine Gardens, the Brown Derby, Montmarte, and Embassy Club, was a staple of Hollywood culture, says the city’s report, which adds:
“While many of the venues no longer exist, the Hollywood Palladium remains as one of the longest-operating event venues in Los Angeles.”
Last week, the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission voted to landmark the Palladium, a designation that, if ultimately approved by the City Council, will help ensure its permanence. Developer Crescent Heights plans to restore the Palladium as it builds two, 30-story towers with more than 700 apartments right next to it.
“This is an example as Hollywood evolves into the future, that we preserve the iconic locations where so much history has been made,” Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell told KPCC. “What’s also great about this designation is the fact that we wouldn’t be able to fully restore the Palladium if we didn’t have the new project approved because that is exactly what’s going to fund the complete restoration.”
Here’s a look back at the Palladium over the years: