During the 1960s heyday of the Royal Poinciana Playhouse — which now is beneath redevelopment just after getting shut considering the fact that 2004 — audience associates were being known to arrive late to a clearly show or depart in advance of the curtain arrived down.
Looks someplace else constantly beckoned.
That location? The Movie star Place, wherever the loaded, famed and gorgeous dined and danced further than a gilt-framed signal that browse: “Through these portals go the most glamorous …”
With sights of Lake Value, the waterfront Superstar Home restaurant and nightclub — an adjunct of the playhouse — was a whirl of Palm Beach social everyday living for a dozen-as well as yrs until finally it was renamed below new ownership in 1973.
Both equally the playhouse and the Celebrity Room debuted on Feb. 3, 1958 with the opening of the theater’s first exhibit: ”Holiday for Fans,” starring Robert Cummings, Ann B. Davis, Julie Bishop and Lyle Talbot.
That started out what turned plan for the opening night time of each individual demonstrate: Theater-goers currently being delivered to the playhouse in their chauffeur-pushed Rolls Royces and rising in black tie and furred robes and “jewels like you could not imagine,” longtime Palm Beacher Arlette Gordon once recalled.
Where by did they go right before having their plush-red theater seats? The Celebrity Room for evening meal. And soon after the final act? Back again to the Celebrity Area for supper and dancing until finally 1 or 2 in the early morning.
Mainly accountable for the good results of the playhouse and the Movie star Space was the head honcho of both equally: more substantial-than-life Frank J. Hale, who carried the torch until his loss of life in 1973.
“It’s the most incredible showplace beneath the sunlight,” Hale declared.
The San Francisco indigenous rose to the fore in Palm Seaside as a wealthy arts philanthropist and globe-trotting businessman who was president of the Countrywide Yeast Corp.
He’d begun out as a vaudeville dancer and producer right before landing a stint as a prohibition agent in the 1920s.
Hale, who owned a household in Palm Beach, teamed up with manufacturing theater director Paul Crabtree to operate the Royal Poinciana Playhouse, where by they also launched a ballet business and youth acting school.
With the playhouse buoyed by what Crabtree explained as Hale’s “globe-circling connections” and “dynamic electricity,” the adjoining Celeb Space was an instantaneous hit.
With a round bar, lounge banquettes, tables and large home windows with large lake views, the cafe and nightclub offered nightly amusement — comedic functions (Jimmy Durante, Joe E. “King of Clubs” Lewis and other individuals) nationally acknowledged club singers and dance orchestras led by well-known band-leaders Marshall Grant, Peter Duchin and more.
The Royal Poinciana Playhouse and the Movie star Room were being designed by Palm Beach front architect John Volk. He additional the Regency-style cultural-centre framework in 1958 to the footprint of the neighboring Royal Poinciana Plaza he’d made in the identical style in 1957.
On the Movie star Room’s ceiling, a tromp l’oeil mural — commissioned by Hale and Volk — highlighted caricatured portraits of 125 actors and superstars, together with Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, Helen Hayes and Fred Astaire.
A handful of properly-known locals — between them, Hale, Volk and Lilly Pulitzer — also were depicted in the mural, which several years afterwards was included by cloth ahead of being “rediscovered” in 1991.
Termed “Venetian Pageant,” the mural was produced by New York artist Robert Bushnell, who’d also painted murals for the Everglades Club and the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York.
Headliners’ grand appearances
Headliners at the playhouse in the 1960s and early 1970s — Rex Harrison, Ray Milland, Ginger Rogers, Vivian Vance, Dina Merrill, Hayes and a lot of a lot more — nearly often made grand appearances at the Movie star Space.
Lavish charity balls also hotfooted for the Celeb Place, the place Hale ensured there was hardly ever a boring instant —right down to his inventing a dance for the location that incorporated moves he’d originated all through his vaudeville times.
Evening meal friends could choose for filet of sole, say, or rack of lamb while late-night supper grazers nibbled on caviar, crepes Suzette or even plates of scrambled eggs.
When two cooks didn’t clearly show up one particular night time through the 1966 time, Hale jumped into the kitchen to enable so waiters could deliver foods to the 385 patrons in the dining home.
“I did not know at initial what had transpired,” Hale mentioned later on. “Then it dawned on me when there were no waiters in the home and persons ended up acquiring to get their individual beverages from the bar.”
During the mishap, company evidently did not shed their beautiful-persons glow.
“It was the most glittering group assembled to day in Palm Beach,” a modern society-columnist gushed. “And, my buddy, when Palm Seashore glitters, it GLITTERS.”
Stop of an era
Soon right before his loss of life in 1973, Hale finalized preparations to sell the Celebrity Place company to a team of buyers led by businessman Albin Holder.
It was renamed The Poinciana Club and operated effectively as a membership club till it closed in 1994 following Holder died.
The club was then acquired by restaurateur Peter Beck, who reopened The Poinciana Club in 1995 and then closed it in 1999.
The playhouse continued to operate with a blend of Broadway and other reveals, but closed in 2004 — the tenant then, Apparent Channel Communications, left — simply because of economic hardship compounded by a trend for glitzier, larger sized staging.
A new period
The residence now is remaining redeveloped with ideas for it to reopen as a cultural heart and new waterfront cafe.
Function is expected to be finished in 2024.
Inside demolition and abatement are underway on the job, according to a November presentation to the Landmarks Preservation Commission by Alexandra Clark, vice president of Asset System & Knowledge for WS Progress, the project’s developer.
The undertaking will include things like a leading-to-base renovation of the two-story, 34,517-square-foot landmarked making.