Boardner's by Labelle
A point of interest on the Lost Souls of Hollywood Boulevard GPS-guided audio walking tour.
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Slightly off the well-travelled path that is Hollywood Blvd, located at 1625 north Cherokee Avenue is Boardner's by La Belle. Self-described as “a Hollywood Institution since 1942” this celebrity favourite is a great place to grab yourself a cocktail and some mac and cheese (or whatever pub-style food you fancy).
But it’s not just the living that like to belly-up to the bar and grab a drink here. This art deco-style building has its walls lined with signed photos of its famous patrons, dating back decades. From Lucille Ball to Elizabeth Short (more commonly known as The Black Dahlia), many people have had a drink and a few have even died at the bar.
Boardner’s has not always been a popular eatery, it started its life as Morrisey’s Hair Salon. As innocent as this might seem, it’s most likely that it was a “front for an illegal card club and speakeasy.” Then, in the early 1930s, singer and songwriter Gene Austin opened My Blue Heaven, a club named after his hit song of the same name. After that it was Padres Restaurant, Cherokee House (a gay men’s club—the current owner said she found “a load of gay porn and old movies hidden” in the club, then Club Zanzibar and, finally, Club 52.
In 1942, Steve Boardner put his name over the Club 52 neon sign. He was a vetran of the Hollywood club scene that had a great reputation with cops who turned a blind eye to some of his more notorious regulars, including Mickey Cohen and the Milano Brothers. In fact, the notorious “two Tony’s”—Tony Brancato and Tony Trombino—a pair of mobsters out of Kansas City who fled from Vegas to Los Angeles after robbing the Flamingo Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas, were shot to death in their car a few hundred yards away on Ogden Street in August of 1951.
In 1997, the producer and former owner of the bar who was described as a “hardcore smoker and drinker” died right at the bar on Christmas Eve. And while word’s out on whether or not he still hangs out at the joint—there are a number of ghosts that you might run into.
Two apparitions can sometimes be seen through the window—most describe them as an old man with a top hat and a woman with a shawl. You might also find the ghost of an actor bumming around the stage area that’s near the fountain, a singing woman in the restroom and, Al, a regular who used to live there and tend the bar—staff still report hearing him wandering around.
This local hot spot might be a great place to pause and grab a bite to eat. The bar itself is dark, so you never know who or what you might be sitting next to.
Let's head back north towards Hollywood Boulevard. We'll cross at the same crosswalk, then turn right to continue east. It's a couple blocks to the next stop. On the way, you'll cross North Cherokee Avenue and Whitney Avenue. Our next point of interest is the next intersection, the corner of Hudson Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard.
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