Seeing Stars: Hollywood Landmarks   

  
6525 Sunset Blvd.,
Hollywood, CA / (323) 462-6262


The original Hollywood Athletic Club and pool room. is an art-deco landmark. It was the tallest building in L.A.when it was built in 1924 by the same architects who built Grauman's Chinese Theatre and the Egyptian Theatre.

The Club was also a celebrity magnet.

Founded by stars of the day like Charlie Chaplin, Cecil B. DeMille, and Rudolph Valentino, as a private men's club, it was a hangout for the likes of Errol Flynn and Clark Gable.

  • It was also the site of the very first Emmy Awards (in 1949).

  • Johnny Weismuller trained in the pool here for his "Tarzan" films.
  • Actor Cornel Wilde started out here as a fencing instructor.

  • Dick Powell reportedly brought the corpse of John Barrymore here for "one last drink".

  • John Wayne tossed billiard balls from the roof at passing cars below.
  • According to the L.A. Times, blonde bombshell Jean Harlow once showed up at the club after she was stood up by Errol Flynn - clad only in a fur coat.

  • In the 1955 film noir classic, "Kiss Me Deadly", private eye Mike Hammer discovers that the most important clue to his mystery is a key with the letters H.A.C. on it. Those initials stand for the Hollywood Athletic Club, of course, and the key turns out to fit a locker at the club, which contains something mysterious and very dangerous...

Restored to its Old Hollywood splendor, it is now a Hollywood landmark, it re-opened in 2006 as "Social Hollywood" (see the details below).

For a while, the Club was not open to the public. It was available only for private parties, and as a filming venue. They filmed a number of things there, including the TV movie "Dorothy Dandridge," the TV series "Profiler" and "Unsolved Mysteries," the movie "Jello Shots," a few music videos and a number of TV commercials.

But back in the late 90's, it was a thriving nightclub. The H.A.C. was named "America's Best Pool Hall" for two years in a row by Billiards Digest. It was a celeb hangout in its own right; and one of the hottest party spots on Saturday nights. Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe first met there in 1992, and were later married. (Hilary said it was "love at first sight".)

They had a live stage with a 2,000 square-foot dance floor, state-of-the-art sound & lighting system, and room for 1,500 concert-goers. It featured live music from an eclectic variety of national and local acts including alternative, R&B, jazz, lounge, rock and salsa - plus a dining area. After $800,000 worth of remodeling, the emphasis at the club had moved away from pool, and it had basically become a dance club. The men's gym became a dance floor with polished wood floors below, and a circular balcony overhead. But one of the billiard rooms survived, with 16 tables, and it attracted celebs like Keanu Reeves and "ER"'s George Clooney.

David Bowie drew a big crowd for a rare show there a few years back, a crowd which included other celebs like Alanis Morissette, Dwight Yoakam, director David Lynch, and Anthony Kiedis of Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The movie "Wild Things" had its post-premiere party here, with guests including Matt Dillon, Neve Campbell, Denise Richards, Kevin Bacon, Robert Wagner, Bill Murray, Ben Affleck, Christina Applegate, Nicolas Cage, Courteney Cox, Teri Hatcher, Spike Lee, Jennifer Lopez, Ben Stiller and Kevin Spacey.

Lou Diamond Phillips ("La Bamba") met his future wife here over a pool game.

Noah Wyle (ER) was a regular at the pool tables. Tatyana Ali chose the H.A.C. for her 16th birthday party; her guests included Will Smith, Jaleel White ("Family Matters") and Tim Reid ("Sister, Sister").

(And remember Johnny Crawford, who played Luke's son, Mark, in the TV western "The Rifleman"? Well, he's now a bandleader, in top hat & tails, for a 30's-style big band called 'The Johnny Crawford Dance Orchestra'   His band played at the Hollywood Athletic Club the first week of every month. Actress Julie McCullouch was a regular at his performances, and learned to Lindy Hop to his tunes.)

In October 2003, Quentin Tarantino ("Pulp Fiction") threw the premiere after-party for his movie "Kill Bill Vol. 1" at the Club, complete with a Japanese theme from the film (Geisha girls and black-masked waiters) and guests including Uma Thurman and Daryl Hannah.

In May of 2006, the next incanation arrived, as the Hollywood Athletic Club re-opened with a new name: Social Hollywood., a restaurant//club that attracted the likes of Lindsay Lohan, Charlize Theron, P. Diddy, Nicole Richie, Rebecca DeMornay, and Jamie Foxx. TV Guide threw their 2006 Emmy Party at Social Hollywood, which drew the likes of Ben Kingsley, Debra Messing, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Matthew Perry, Hugh Laurie, Jenna Elfman, Jaime Pressly, Mariska Hargitay, and the "American Idol" trio of Simon Cowell, Ryan Seacrest, and Paula Abdul. In 2008, Michel Richard moved into 'Social Hollywood' to open a new version of his famous 'Citrus' restuarant.

As of 2010, the property now houses the Boulevard3 nightclub (which, among other things, was seen in a 2010 episode of "Dexter", as "the Club Mayan".)

 Getting there: The Hollywood Athletic Club is located on Sunset Blvd., just west of Wilcox. From Hollywood & Vine, go about five blocks west to Schrader Blvd. The club will be on your left (north) side.

You can find the Club's original website at http://www.hollywoodathleticclub.com

To find the new Social Hollywood's website, go to http://www.socialhollywood.com




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Copyright  2014-Gary Wayne
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