Ciro’s Nightclub of the Stars
by Andra D. Clarke and Regina Denton-Drew
2015, 128 pages, 6.5 x 9.2 x 0.3 inches
In the 1940s and ‘50s, everyone who was anyone went to Ciro’s Nightclub on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. The famous and infamous came to dine, dance, and perform during its 15 plus years in business. Regina Drew was a Cigarette Girl and photographer at Ciro’s for eight years. Her best friend Nancy Caporal was the head photographer from 1940 to 1957. These women were part of the glitz, glamour and decadence of the Ciro’s era, and they seemed to love every minute of it.
Regina’s daughter, Andra Clarke, worked tirelessly to research and cull through both women’s photographic mementos. As tribute to what Regina called the “best job of my life,” Andra created Ciro’s Nightclub of the Stars, a compact coffee table book filled with photos and stories that capture the semi-private lives of Hollywood’s elite.
Most of the pictures in this book had previously not been seen by the public. Some of my favorite photos include Elizabeth Taylor dining with President Nixon and his daughters; Bing Crosby photographed with his sons; Ray Bolger (from “The Wizard of Oz”) joking around with Zero Mostel (from Fiddler on the Roof), Clark Gable chatting with (or to) a bevy of admirers, and Lucille Ball having drinks at a table with Peter Lawford, with no Desi in sight. The captions for each picture are as interesting as the images themselves. There are also Ciro’s behind-the-scenes tidbits like Yvonne de Carlo having the hatcheck girls watch her pet monkey, and Errol Flynn’s special food preference of octopus. Ciro’s Nightclub of the Stars offers a great glimpse into the past and is much more interesting than today’s tabloids!
Fun fact not in the book: Before these photos were turned into a book, Andra’s collection was appraised on the 18th season of Antiques Roadshow. Per the appraiser, the most expensive photo Andra brought in was of Marilyn Monroe. Monroe was photographed at Ciro’s after her movie premiere of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Andra was told at the auction that an unseen photo of Marilyn Monroe would sell for about $100 to $150. All the other photos were in the value range of $30 to $75 each.
– Carole Rosner