|The Frolic Room Travelogue|
|Monday, 20 February 2012 23:06|
Located just a few blocks east of Highland Ave. on Hollywood Blvd., dating back to the 1930s and rumored to have been a speakeasy, the Frolic Room is the last remaining true bar on Hollywood Blvd. You might even say that the Frolic Room is one of the last "real" things left on the Blvd.
There is no concrete evidence that we could find about how the Frolic Room got its start or its name, but the current owner, Robert L. Nunley, gave us his take on how it all started. With that information and a little digging on our own, we think we have come up with a little insight into the Frolic Room and its storied past.
In 1930 the Pantages Theatre was built to host live vaudeville performances as well as first run movies. At the time of its construction, Prohibition was still in full swing and would be for another three years. As is evidenced by the still remaining stairs and a bricked-in entrance, the area that houses the Frolic Room today was at one time attached to the Pantages Theatre. It is believed that this was the only door leading in or out of the Frolic Room. It is rumored that an individual by the name of Freddy Frolic was the host of the establishment which was setup so actors, actresses, and distinguished guests would have a place to enjoy an alcoholic drink or two, each others company, or to just get away from the crowded theatre. So, as we have gleaned from the owner and what we have seen with our own eyes, we hypothosize that the Frolic Room got its start sometime in 1930 as a speakeasy and was named after the orginal host who went by the name Freddy Frolic! Not bad for some investigative reporting done by a couple of state educated guys, that is if we are right and if not....like I said we are state educated.
We do know the Frolic room formally became a bar in 1934 and in 1949, Howard Hughes bought the attached Pantages Theatre. Hughes moved his personal offices into the second floor and the theatre hosted the Academy Awards from 1949 until 1959. It is rumored that Hughes hosted many a private party in the Frolic Room and we imagine the place saw more than its fair share of famous patrons during that time.
On the other side of all the glitz and glamore, of the Frolic Room's past exists a darker and more twisted story. On January 15th, 1947 Elizabeth Short's body was found in the Leimert Park neighborhood gruesomly mangled, disfigured and cut in half. Elizabeth would later come to be known as the Black Dahlia and the Frolic Room was to be the last place she was ever seen alive. (Check out the story here.) Her murder to this day remains unsolved, though plenty of speculation is provided in books and movies alike as to who is responsible for the disturbing act. One thing that has remained constant in all the speculation is that the Frolic Room was both one of Elizabeth's favorite bars and one of the last, if not the last, place she was ever seen alive.
During the 70s and 80s the Frolic Room and the surrounding area found itself caught in the seediness that permeated many of America's cities. The area was known more for pimps, hookers, homeless, drug addicts, and dealers than todays long line of restaraunts, bars, bong shops, and lingere stores. But the Frolic Room stood the test of time as Los Angeles and Hollywood Blvd. evolved into the tourist destination is has become today.
Today, the Frolic Room is located right in front of Gary Cooper's star and remains an iconic and original part of the storied Hollywood Blvd. The interior dates back to 1963 when the last remodel was done, the mural on the wall, pictured below, is likely the one and only of its kind, the bartenders still wear vests and bow-ties, and they feature a no nonsense list of cheaply priced and stiffly prepared drinks, an all time favorite is still the martini.
To find about the current patrons we sat down with Gita Bull, a long time bartender at the Frolic Room, and asked her to describe the crowd today. She said that a lot of times the crowd depends on what is playing at the theatre next door, but one thing has always remained the same "you can be sitting next to a homeless person on one side and Kiefer on the other," the crowd is diverse and a lot of fun to be around. Check out the verse below from 311's "Frolic Room," they apparently got the same feeling:
Oh, in the company of pretty girls and new vagrants
One drink away from sleeping on the pavement
I'm not quite sure what I find so appealing
About the happy hour stealing
-Verse from 311's "Frolic Room"-
As Hollywood has changed and reinvinted itself and as the new hot club, shop, restaraunt, or place to be seen has come and gone one thing has always remained and that is the Frolic Room. Most places in the area feature bright lights, music, new buildings and interiors while the Frolic Room has simply remained the same.
In The End....
The Frolic Room is rumored to have been created as a speakeasy to entertain actors, actresses, and guests of the Pantages Theatre. It was a favorite of Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, John Belushi, and 311 and has evolved into the landmark dive bar of Hollywood Blvd. While its future seems certain because of its connection to the Pantages Theater don't take it for granted. Get down here when you can and enjoy a place that is the polar opposite of the surrounding area, kind of a like finding Jamaica in the middle of Antartica.