Posts Tagged ‘milton berle’

Friar’s Club is no more

Saturday, January 29th, 2011


Friars Club building in Beverly Hills being razed






LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – The iconic building that once housed the Friars Club of Beverly Hills is being torn down.


Demolition of the building at 9900 Santa Monica Blvd., which housed the club until a 2007 lawsuit by the New York Friars forced the private Beverly Hills group to change its name, began this week and continued Thursday.


Milton Berle founded the club in 1947 as a West Coast outpost of the New York club. It became a showbiz hotspot, and members included Al Jolson, Jack Benny and the Rat Pack.


In 1961, the Friars moved into the distinctive Santa Monica Boulevard building, known for its windowless facade.


“It’s very sad, it was a wonderful place to meet and have dinner with fellow performers,” said comedian Mel Brooks, who was not a member of the Friars Club but attended roughly a dozen events there over the years. “What I loved about it was the bizarre architecture — it just looked like it was in an Ed Wood movie.”


Little is known about the current owner of the property, which records indicate is Chartwell Sports LLC., a Beverly Hills official said. But that limited liability company does not appear on the California Secretary of State’s online business database.


According to Jonathan Lait, assistant director of community development for the city, the owner has not filed plans to replace the club’s building. Chartwell could not be reached for comment.


The Friars Club — but not the property — was purchased in 2004 by businessman Darren Schaeffer, who planned to modernize it. According to a 2004 Los Angeles Business Journal story, Schaeffer signed a 10-year lease for use of the building. Soon after, the New York Friars sued, alleging that under Schaeffer, the club morphed from a nonprofit to a commercial enterprise that was exploiting the Friars name.


The New York group won and the club’s name was changed to Club 9900 in 2008, then shuttered soon thereafter. It is unclear if Schaeffer is still involved with the property; he also could not be reached comment.


Unlike the city of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills does not have an ordinance that protects historic buildings from being demolished or significantly altered.


Lait said that the building had been cataloged by the city as part of a historic resources inventory, but Beverly Hills’ review power over the property extends only to instances in which a new development would replace the building, and not demolition.


“The property owners filed for a demolition permit, and there is no discretionary judgment used in issuing the permit,” Lait said. “We certainly did talk with representatives of the property owner when they came in; we said, ‘Hey, it’s on this inventory.’ We asked if they were thinking about (developing) a project, they said, ‘We don’t have anything.'”


Adrian Scott Fine, director of advocacy for the Los Angeles Conservancy, said the Friars Club building is significant for its Hollywood history and its architectural pedigree. It was designed by Sidney Eisenshtat, the late Los Angeles architect known for the design of several landmark synagogues in the area.


“The idea of the Friars Club is very unique itself, and when you put it in the larger landscape, it makes it such a significant loss because it’s such an L.A. institution,” Fine said.


While Los Angeles is not without a private club that caters to the Hollywood crowd — an outpost of the well-known SoHo House opened in West Hollywood last year — Brooks said the Friars Club was a different sort of place. “We just don’t have it (anymore),” the 84-year-old director, screenwriter and producer said. “Where am I going to go tonight where I’d be assured of running into Don Rickles?”

(Editing by Zorianna Kit)



Happy Birthday Anita Page…

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008


Anita Page



“I must say that I enjoyed being a movie star, but I have never had to look back. My life has been happy, rewarding and fruitful. Today I still receive fan mail and applause from fans all over the world and it gives me a warm feeling to know that I am remembered after all these years. It has been a pleasant life… what more could I ask for?”

— Anita Page, 1994


By Allan R. Ellenberger 


“The King,” Clark Gable compared her to the beautiful Grace Kelly. Talk show host, Jack Paar spoke of her to his late night viewers as his “dream girl.” Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, hounded the studios for years for a photograph of her, and Prince Ferdinand of Germany would not stop until she agreed to go out on a date with him.


Anita Page, the object of desire for all these men, (and more) was a bright star in the Hollywood heavens for more than seven years. Of that, five of those years were at the legendary Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer-Studios, where she appeared in twenty-one films. With numerous public appearances, and friendships with many of Hollywood’s most celebrated people, Page secured a career that is legendary in its own right.




Yesterday, August 4, was the 98th birthday of Anita Page. I first met Anita in 1993 while researching my book, Ramon Novarro: A Biography of the Silent Film Idol. Anita costarred with Ramon Novarro in The Flying Fleet (1929) and was one of his last living co-stars, so naturally I was thrilled when she agreed to meet with me.


That same year, on her 83rd birthday, I was invited to join her family, friends and former costars at what was then called the St. James Hotel, on the renowned Sunset Strip. Once known as the Sunset Towers, it was at one time the home to countless Hollywood stars and executives, including Anita’s first husband, composer Nacio Herb Brown, who lived in the penthouse.


The guest list that evening looked like a Hollywood Who’s Who and included Cesar Romero, Milton Berle, Hugh Heffner, Margaret O’Brien, Betty Garrett and Mel Torme, to name a few. They all came to toast one of the last remaining silent film stars from that once great studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.


Hugh Heffner, who is a silent film fan, recalled that Anita “fell down the stairs well,” referring to her bravura performance in the hit Our Dancing Daughters (1928), which put Anita on top.


Hefner, who has helped to preserve old films said, “Well, I think one of the things that are fascinating — because of the technology — things are being reproduced on laser and tape and there’s a kind of rediscovery. I suspect as we move into the next millennium, this last century will be seen as very special. It’s really the dividing point in which the magic of an era has been captured and saved and I suspect as we move forward, the past is going to look better and better.”


Betty Garrett, who costarred in such films as On The Town and My Sister Eileen, recalled going to the movies as a child with her mother and spoke about the way movies used to be. “I became a movie fan in those days,” Betty recalled. “I saw Anita’s films and adored her. We’re all longing for movies the way they used to be. I don’t know what there was about them that was so intriguing – maybe it was because it was a new industry. It was so exciting to see a movie in those days. It was magic.”


Cesar Romero told everyone gathered that, “Her legs are just as beautiful today as when she was a top MGM star!”


Anita’s husband of fifty-four years, Admiral Herschel House, died in 1991 but Anita told the packed room that evening that her beloved husband was there in spirit. “I thought I’d never, never get over it. And I never will,” Anita said. “But I appreciate the beautiful daughters he gave me.”


“Mother left the business for many, many years, but people didn’t forget,” her oldest daughter Sandra said. “She had a combination of sweetness and sensuality. It’s what Marilyn had and it’s what Harlow had. It seems to be quite a good combination. She has all different ages of people that love her and remember her. It’s been a complete resurgence, and she’s so happy about it.”


At that time, Anita had a resurgence of her popularity, making personal appearances at film festivals, and taking time to answer her mail from a new generation of fans. As Margaret O’Brien said that evening, “That’s the wonderful thing about Hollywood. You can always come back!”





Milton Berle’s Birthday…

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

Happy 100th Birthday

Milton Berle!





ne Milton Berlinger 


  • BORN: July 12, 1908, New York, New York
  • DIED: March 27, 2002, Los Angeles, California
  • CAUSE OF DEATH: Colon cancer
  • FUNERAL & BURIAL: Hillside Memorial Park, Culver City