11 historic photos of the Hollywood Palladium as it moves toward becoming a city landmark

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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 Palladiumbut 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.”

The Palladium isn’t the heart of the town’s nightlife anymore, but with a big facelift amid a Hollywood development boom, it’s possible it could have a second heyday.

Here’s a look back at the Palladium over the years:

An undated view of the Palladium with a marque reading, “Frankie Carle and his orchestra.”
All images courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection unless otherwise noted
Panoramic view of Hollywood looking northwest toward the Cahuenga Pass, taken sometime around 1940. The cluster of buildings in the middle portion of this urban jungle are: KNX and CBS Radio Playhouse (short, windowless building mid-photo); Plaza Hotel; Broadway Hollywood; Hotel Knickerbocker and the Taft Building. The three large white buildings running in an east/west direction along Sunset Boulevard are: CBS Television (long horizontal windows on lower right); the famous Hollywood Palladium (semi-domed white roof, lower middle); and NBC Studios (white building with three long, vertical windows) located on the corner of Sunset and Vine.
A crowded Palladium dance floor on Dec. 4, 1940.
New Year’s eve, 1951 at the Palladium
USC Digital Library
High school students party and dance at the Palladium on June 18, 1954.
USC Digital Library
Pictured from left, are Vivian Vance, co-star, holding her Emmy for Best Supporting Actress, Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball holding the Best Situation Comedy Emmy. Pictured from left, are Vivian Vance, co-star, holding her Emmy for Best Supporting Actress, Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball holding the Best Situation Comedy Emmy.
I Love Lucy, starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, won one of the top television awards at the Emmy’s presentation in 1954 hosted at the Palladium.

President Kennedy “comes to breakfast” with the ladies June 8, 1963. He arrives at Palladium for a $10-a-plate breakfast, held by the Women’s Division of the Democratic State Central Committee of California, to the cheering of more than 3,000 women.
Martin Luther King is honored Feb. 26, 1965 during a luncheon held at the Hollywood Palladium. Here he is pictured with Los Angeles City Councilman (and later mayor) Tom Bradley and Mayor Samuel W. Yorty. King arrived in Los Angeles under heavy guard following the assassination of Malcom X. An anonymous bomb threat was made during the luncheon. When addressing the group, King said, “Before the victory is won, some of us will have to get scarred up a little bit.”
Posed amidst and dwarfed by huge Easter bunnies, Amanda Levant, daughter of wit-pianist Oscar Levant, prepares for her duties as a hostess at the Teen-Age Fair, due March 20-29 (1964) at the Hollywood Palladium.”
Catching a case of that Friday-night-only fever at the Hollywood Palladium on October 22, 1978.
Police arrive in riot gear at the Palladium on Sunset and Argyle in 1984. The marquee reads, “KROQ and Avalon Attractions bring you The Ramones, Black Flag, Nov 17, 8 PM.”

Hollywood Palladium

6215 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028(323) 962-7600Visit Website

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