We’ve done articles about celebrity homes and favorite eateries in past columns so I thought it would be fun to explore a different type of nightlife that the celebrities of yesteryear would enjoy. This brings us to The Earl Carroll Theatre.
Located at 6230 Sunset Boulevard, the theatre was home to a lavish dinner theatre with beautiful girls performing in a comedy revue.
Carroll got his start on Broadway in New York City after World War I where he served as a pilot. He opened his own theatre in 1923 and produced numerous shows in the 1920s and 1930s before leaving the Great White Way for warmer climes and brighter stars.
In 1938, Carroll hired Greystone Manor architect Gordon B. Kaufmann to design the theatre with his associates Count Alexis de Sakhnovsky and Frank Don Riha with Ford J. Twaits as the contractor for the construction, which was $500,000 (over $9,000,000 in 2020 dollars).
The theatre, which opened on December 26, 1938, had a 24-foot high neon silhouette of Beryl Wallace, one of the Earl Carroll showgirls and his long-time lover. The lettering around the silhouette said: “Thru these portals pass the most beautiful girls in the world.”
The interior of the theatre could hold 1,000 patrons. The layout of the interior was in a dinner-show arrangement with tables and chairs on six terraces.
At the top of the stairs at the entrance to the theatre, the Goddess of Neon held a 50′ tube that swirled up to the ceiling to meet a curving row of 3 foot-long vertical tubes. The auditorium was lit with over 1,800 of these tube lights. The left wall of the auditorium was covered with a faux wood grain wallpaper and the right draped with green satin.
It featured a 70′ grand stage, which revolved with separately operated inner and outer sections. There was also a water curtain, a 2 section orchestra pit, and a revolving three-level tower stage right where 4 ladies would play piano simultaneously. 60 showgirls in all were used in the production. It was true decadence.
On December 6th, 1940 a movie called A Night At Earl Carroll’s was released by Paramount Pictures.
Carroll and Wallace died in a plane crash on June 18, 1948, and the theatre closed the following year for $1,000,000.
From 1950 to 1953 it was used by CBS as a television studio before changing into a new night club called the Moulin Rouge, which lasted until the mid-1960s.
The venue changed names and acts for the better part of the next 3 decades: Hullabaloo Theatre, The Kalediscope, The Aquarius, The Longhorn Theatre and The Chevy Chase Theatre.
From 1997 to 2016 the building was used as the West Coast production facility for Nickelodeon television productions.
The theatre is in the process of being renovated back to its original state with an opening date of 2020, but with COVID-19 this has been pushed back indefinitely.
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