There used to be elegant nightclubs in Hollywood. Not so much today.

Yesterday morning I got up really early...okay...early for me. I headed out for an estate sale. I didn't expect much and that's what it delivered. I was in the door with the first group so I know I didn't miss anything. It was more of a moving sale than estate sale with personal items not for sale. The house itself was very nice with a beautiful private grove of redwoods out front. A personal park. Lovely.

I zipped through the house, not finding anything of interest. But then what I zero in on is what most people are ignoring. On the way out I thought, "What the heck, check out the garage." It was there behind a large framed photo of a little girl in some sort of bright gymnastics costume that I found this photo. It was in a crummy black metal frame. You know the kind, black metal with some "gold" beading on the edge near the glass. Cheesy cardboard on the back that has a die-cut so you can fold-out a stand. They wanted a buck. Okie dokie. I'm a sucker for things for a buck.

Click on image to see it larger.

As soon as I got home I took the photo out of the frame and then it was my wonderful surprise to see the back of the cardboard souvenir frame in which the photo was inserted. Oh sure, the front has all the wonderful signatures, but it was the back with the War Bonds stamp that excited me. I'm easily pleased. And then to see "Hollywood Nite Club Photos" had me all a twitter (no, not the stupid minimal character posting social networking drivel).

Click on image to see it larger.

I have no idea what nightclub this was. I'm hoping someday someone finds this post and recognizes the painting on the wall in the background. It was très elegant. Look at the waiter with the white bow tie. You don't find that at Applebees.

The more I looked at the photo I found myself becoming nostalgic for a time that was already past by the time I was born. And I wondered about the people. Who were they and what was the occasion? I'd imagine most of these people, if still alive, are in their 80s. Were any of these smiling fellows sent off to Europe or the Pacific never to return? And what of the smiling young ladies with their corsages? Well, okay, the one isn't smiling. She seems to be longing for someone across the table and not who she's with. The guy on the lower left reminds me of Leo Gorcey from the Bowery Boys. I was addicted to the Bowery Boys when I was a kid, watching them every Saturday morning on a local channel. This fellow is far too young to actually be Gorcey, but he's got that Muggs look.

All and all it was a good estate sale, even if I only found one item. I got to walk around a private redwood grove, see a garish photo of a little girl in a gymnastic suit (I did not buy it), and found this joyous moment caught on film. People appearing happy AND there's a cake. Love photos with cakes.

Now if someone could just identify the nightclub I'd be so happy myself.

UPDATE: Received a comment with a bit of information about Hollywood Nite Club Photos:
I just inherited a few of these pictures, address for Hollywood Nite Club Photos was 6304 Riley Way, Carthay Circle Theatre Bldg, Los Angeles 36,Calif. YOrk 5293.
If this is indeed where the company was headquartered it would mean the building is gone. The Carthay Circle Theatre was torn down decades ago. It was a part of old Hollywood and the location of the "Gone With the Wind" premiere. Thanks to Craig Satersmoen for the information.

Found another vernacular photography blog, The New Found Photography. Stumbled upon it while hunting for information about "Hollywood Nite Club." Perhaps others are already aware of this site. I'll be adding them to the links to the left.


  1. Great picture - do you suppose it was a wedding celebration dinner? Some have corsages and that could be a wedding cake. Carol

  2. I wondered that too, but it isn't a bride and groom on top of the cake. And then there's the message "This belongs to 'Staggin" Stut' (please sign)" so maybe it was a stag party. Apparently not all that stag.

    I also really looked at it and now notice the woman who is staring across the table is next to a man staring off at nothing. Perhaps that's why she's longing for greener pastures. Some interesting dynamic going on between them.

    Perhaps it was a party for one of the guys at the end of the table thrown by his fellow workers, perhaps for a eminent marriage, though there are only two guys without dates so...

  3. The artwork is very similar to what was in the old Persian Room at the Plaza Hotel during that era, but that was in New York. Perhaps the same designer did the work, it's a place to start.

  4. Thanks Maureen. Good starting point. My best friend also said maybe it was in San Francisco since that would be the closest big city to where I bought it. I'm still thinking Hollywood because of imprint on the back. I'll have to do some googling of old night spots.

  5. I also suspect it may have been a wedding..second wedding? I liked this post very much! The kind that sets your imagination working. I went through the
    "estate sale" with you! The old photo's that someone is willing to part with, or...there is no one left to treasure a lovely photo like this...makes me sad. Will any of my pictures end up in a garage being bought by a caring stranger? :)

  6. Thanks Wsprsweetly,

    Isn't it nice these folks are making others happy so many years later? I wish I had some true story to go with the event. It would have been nice if something had been written on the back of the actual photo, but I took it from the frame and nothing was there.

    And yes, someday I think we all end up in estate sale boxes or flea markets. It's not just the photos we have, it's the ones that friends have that get tossed by their family when they don't recognize us. I just enjoy collecting them and when I die someone will think I knew all of these people. That makes me laugh.

  7. That really IS funny. I wonder if my descendants will think the same.

    Excellent find. There must be some clues in there somewhere.

    Except for that fellow at the far end of the table, they are all very young looking. The “War Bonds and Stamps” logo would indicate war years or shortly after. These boys would all be draft age. They would all be in their late eighties now or beyond. There are surely some descendants who would love to see their grandparents at this young age.

    If this is an “itinerant” photographer working for the club, there will be other prints showing approximately the same background. The wall mural is perhaps from “Arabian Nights” or “Aladdin” or “Scheherazade” or that ilk. Looks like two characters playing drums in the lower left corner.

    For a buck, you got a fine bargain.

  8. You know what's interesting is that they specifically say "We do not make reprints" which I gather means "Buy it now or forever hold your piece." Sort of like the shots taken on cruises. Buy the photo when it's first offered because they aren't going to give you another chance months later. And then hold onto that sucker because it's the only one you'll get. Thus the reason they can charge more than normal.

  9. Craig Satersmoen5/23/2010

    I just inherited a few of these pictures, address for Hollywood Nite Club Photos was 6304 Riley Way, Carthay Circle Theatre Bldg, Los Angeles 36,Calif. YOrk 5293. Hope that helps some, my photos were from Top's in San Diego btw

  10. Craig, thanks for the information. That means they must have been headquartered in the old Carthay Circle Theatre area which is now considered Westwood. The theatre was torn down in 1969.

  11. There was a Vernamin [sic] Vagin born in 1923 in San Francisco, and a Ven Vagin living in Salinas as recently as 2002. A compelling bit of information is that he went from San Francisco to Honolulu in December 1947 and then on to Guam, the Philippines and Hong Kong. This could have been a military trip, or a business trip, it's impossible to tell. It's a tough name to Google because if you add an A to the end of it a lot of terrible sites come up.

  12. Thanks Norkio. A friend said to me that maybe it was actually a club in San Francisco since that's closer to where I bought it. It could be there was a "chain" of photographers that used that name "Hollywood Nite Club" which would of course have spiced things up and make people feel a bit more special and interested in buy the shots. It would certainly be interesting to know what became of these people. Thanks for the research.

  13. Don S.9/10/2022

    I found an old photo of my parents from July 23, 1949. It was taken at the Biltmore Bowl in downtown Los Angeles - now the Millenium Biltmore Hotel. They were having dinner there but not sure in which room. The back stated: "For Additional Prints write to Hollywood Nite Club Photos. Be Certain to Mention this No (32) and the date. The address to order more prints was 6304 Riley Way, Carthay Circle Theatre Bldg, Los Angeles 36 Cal. YOrk 5293 which much have been the phone number at the time. Hope this helps somewhat