Most people remember the Ambassador Hotel as the site of Robert Kennedy’s tragic assassination. However, for many decades it was a Hollywood oasis that included Los Angeles’s premiere nightclub, celebrity hang out and hot spot, the Cocoanut Grove.
Shortly after opening in 1921, The Ambassador Hotel’s grand ballroom was changed into the sprawling 1,000-seat Cocoanut Grove. Designed by Pasadena architect Myron Hunt, everything was over the top, sparkling stars covered the high ceilings and a real waterfall ran down the back wall. Glamorously dressed guests were led down a long staircase to reach the dance floor and dining area. The room even included mechanical monkeys which hung from large paper mache palm trees originally from Rudolph Valentino’s film “the Sheik”.
The Cocoanut Grove always featured the best jazz bands, big bands, and swing orchestras, led by talents like Bing Crosby and the in-house musical director Freddy Martin. Often their performances were broadcasted all over the country on nighttime radio increasing the Grove’s reputation as “the place to be”. Throughout the years, many iconic stars of music and film considered the club their “home away from home”. The Cocoanut Grove was also host to six Academy Award ceremonies.
In 1989, after 68 years of operation, the Ambassador Hotel’s doors were closed for good. Sadly, the building was demolished in 2006 to make way for a public high school. Though it no longer exists, the Cocoanut Grove will continue to be remembered by Hollywood and history lovers alike.