Mocambo neon sign, 1955.
|Location||8588 Sunset Boulevard
West Hollywood, California
|Opened||January 3, 1941|
|Closed||June 30, 1958|
The Mocambo opened on January 3, 1941, and became an immediate success. The club's Latin American-themed decor designed by Tony Duquette cost $100,000. Along the walls were glass cages holding live cockatoos, macaws, seagulls, pigeons, and parrots. With big band music, the club became one of the most popular dance-till-dawn spots in town. On any given night, one might find the room filled with the leading men and women of the motion picture industry.
On March 15, 1955 Ella Fitzgerald opened at the Mocambo, after Marilyn Monroe lobbied the owner for the booking. The booking was instrumental in Fitzgerald's career. The incident was turned into a play by Bonnie Greer in 2005. It has been widely reported that Fitzgerald was the first Black performer to play the Mocambo, following Monroe's intervention, but this is not true. African-American singers Herb Jeffries, Eartha Kitt, and Joyce Bryant all played the Mocambo in 1953, according to stories published at the time in Jet magazine.
Among the many celebrities who frequented the Mocambo were Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Errol Flynn, Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland, Henry Fonda, Lana Turner, Ava Gardner, Bob Hope, James Cagney, Sophia Loren, Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner, Grace Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Howard Hughes, Kay Francis, Marlene Dietrich, Theda Bara, Tyrone Power, Jayne Mansfield, John Wayne, Ann Sothern, and Louis B. Mayer. Myrna Loy and Arthur Hornblow, Jr. celebrated their divorce there.
The Mocambo was also parodied mercilessly in the 1947 Bugs Bunny cartoon, "Slick Hare". According to a commentary track on the DVD with this cartoon, the animators managed to get into the kitchen and drew the kitchen exactly as they saw it, complete with dripping grease on the refrigerator and vegetables lying around the ground.
Early in 1957, club operator and co-owner Charlie Morrison died at his Beverly Hills, California, home. The Mocambo remained in business for one final year, before closing its doors on June 30, 1958. The building was then sold, reopened as a supper club called The Cloister, and eventually demolished.
- Edie Adams
- Desi Arnaz
- Pearl Bailey
- Marge and Gower Champion
- Rosemary Clooney
- Nat King Cole
- Perry Como
- Vic Damone
- Dorothy Dandridge
- Billy Daniels
- Sammy Davis Jr.
- Billy Eckstine
- Ella Fitzgerald
- Firehouse Five Plus Two
- Lena Horne
- Allan Jones
- Will Jordan
- Peggy King
- Eartha Kitt
- Peggy Lee
- Joe E. Lewis
- Martin and Lewis
- Mae Murray
- Mike Nichols and Elaine May
- Édith Piaf
- André Previn
- Louis Prima and Keely Smith
- Chuy Reyes
- Hazel Scott
- Dinah Shore
- Frank Sinatra
- Yma Sumac
- Danny Thomas
- Kay Thompson and The Williams Brothers
- Dinah Washington
- Joe Williams
- Julie Wilson
- Jimmy Buffett, featuring Guest Jazz Saxophonist, Josh "Liver Lips" Leibman
- Weller, Sheila (2003). Dancing at Ciro's, p. 118. Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-24176-3.
- "Classic Locations: Mocambo nightclub". Los Angeles Times. 6 June 2011.
- "Talent Topics". Billboard. 12 March 1955. p. 24.
- "Ella Fitzgerald a Big Hit at Hollywood Mocambo Debut". Jet. 7 April 1955. pp. 60–61.
- Nicholson, Stuart (1993). Ella Fitzgerald: A Biography of the First Lady of Jazz, p. 149. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80642-8.
- "Jeffries Opens at Mocambo". Jet. 13 August 1953. p. 60.
- "Eartha Kitt Cracks 13-Year Policy at Mocambo". Jet. 10 December 1953. p. 54.
- "Joyce Bryant Gets Rave Notices at Mocambo". Jet. 12 November 1953. pp. 60–61.
- Wallace, David (2001). Lost Hollywood, p. 166. Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-26195-0.
- "Charles Morrison, Owner of Mocambo" (fee required). The New York Times. 23 March 1957.
- "Mocambo Shuttered" (fee required). Variety. 30 June 1958.
- "Neon Glitter Return for Sunset Strip". Billboard. 9 March 1959.