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Tiki connection to the Blue Dahlia case?

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A guy I met on-line is writing a book about the famous Blue Dahlia case, a murder in LA in the 1940's.

He sent me this pic, related to the case, to see if I could identify the club it was taken at.

Examine the table lamp carefully - it looks like it says"...combers", leading us to think that this is Don's.

Can anyone DEFINITIVELY I.D. this bar as Don The Beachcomber, or as any other specific Tiki Bar?

Tiki detectives, time to get to work!

Here's the pic:


um...isn't that the BLACK Dahlia? Or was there a whole palette of murders?


I'm no gumshoe, but judging by what looks like a tuxedoed gent on the lampshade, my guess this is NOT a Don the Beachcomber place. It might help to see more of the photo to make a judgement.


Yep it's the Black Dahlia,Elizabeth Short. I think the Blue Dahlia was a movie.


"Snow White" was about Elizabeth. I think David Lynch bought the rights to do a film about the book... not the James Ellroy book that takes place around the Black Dahlia murder, but the book about Short.

There seems to be a Polynesian vibe going on, with the walls and with the women's dresses. But, what Polynesians clubs were there in Hollywood in the 1940s? Don The Beachcombers would be a good candidate. I'm sure there were a few others at that time.

on a tangent to this,James Ellroy writes about "The Luau" in a short story called HUSH-HUSH and he dosen't portray Steven Crane in a very flattering light

The Luau:
A tiki-torchlit restaurant rendezvous on Rodeo Drive. A mecca for movie-biz mavens and Beverly Hills business boys.
Big booths and baroque backlighting. Tricked-up tropical trappings. Rambunctious rum drinks and rumaki sticks at the bamboo bar.
A polyurethane Polynesian paradise--with peekaboo posts perched behind wall panels by the bar and the ladies' too.
Steve Crane owned the Luau. Steve loved to lurk and look. He voyeur-vamped the joint every night.

HUSH-HUSH reprinted in CRIME WAVE (James Ellroy 1999)

Ayayay, this is driving me nuts...when was this pic taken? Early 40s?
Definitely NOT Don The Beachcombers, his table lamps looked different in the 40s. And he was never copied in LA, but everywhere else, so what does it say on the lamp?

And WHAT the hell is the writing on the wall? And those weird round things hanging in that dark corner? The cocktail card on the table could have a Tiki on it, but it's not one I recognize. Also, this place was Pre-Tiki, so it's unlikely...

There were quite a few Polynesian clubs in L.A. in the 30s and 40s:

Bob Brooks' The Seven Seas
Harry Sugarman's The Tropics
Joe Chastek's Zamboanga
King's Tropical Inn
Ken's Hula Hut
Marti's Club Hawaii
Rena Borzage's Hawaiian Paradise
...there was this service men bar, the Tahiti, in Culver City (BoT page 125)
..and more.

Damn, this irks me

It irks me too.

The plates look very plain..no custom design. The letters on the lamp DO look a lot like "comber"...or conker or at least the last three letters also look like "mer". The writing on the wall looks like "tunungtu," whatever that means--sounds more African/Middle Eastern than Polynesian? And I think those round things are actually not three-dimensional, but part of a mural or collage or poster on the wall...

I found on a website a list of restaurants Beth Short frequented in the months before her death. Most all of them are in and around Hollywood, so maybe that'll help narrow things down, at least, if this was a place she was supposed to have gone. I don't understand the connection though as she is not the woman in the picture...

Florentine Gardens (Zanzibar Room) - 5955 Hollywood Blvd.
Roseland Roof (Dance) - 833 So. Spring St.
Pla-mor Ballroom (Dance) - 937 W. 9th Street
Hollywood Canteen (USO Club) - 1451 Cahuenga Blvd.
Boogie Woogie Club - 1304 S. Western Ave.
Ross Five Four Ball Room - 5409 So. Broadway
Acorn Room - 5309 Melrose Ave.
Playboy - 5347 Melrose Ave.
Vagabond Isle - 6202 Santa Monica Blvd.
Pick Up Cafe - 6023 Sunset Blvd.
Streets of Paris - 6729 Hollywood Blvd.
Mayflower Coffee Shop - 6349 Hollywood Blvd.
Pig ‘N Whistle - 6301 Hollywood Blvd.
Lime House Chinese Drink/Dance - 708 New High St.
Club 49’er - 460 So. Main St.
Melody Lane - 6303 Hollywood Blvd.
Susie Q Dance/Drink - 6700 Hollywood Blvd.
Stardust Cafe - 6445 Hollywood Blvd.
Tom Brenenman's Hollywood Night Club & Breakfast Café - 1522 N. Vine
Jack O’Brien Cafe - 1645 N. Wilcox
Oblaths Cafe - 723 N. Bronson
Snow White Waffle Shop - 6769 Hollywood Blvd.
Spanish Kitchen - 7373 Beverly Blvd.
Rhapsody Club - 504 So. Main St.
Bimini Bowling Bowl 16 Alleys - 122 1/2 SO. Vermont Ave.
5-30 Grill - 1640 Vine St.
Steve Boardner's Bar - 1652 Cherokee Ave.
Waldorf Cellar - 521 Main Street
Toto's Restaurant - Hope St. @ 7th St.
Dugout (now Toro) - 506 Main St.
Majestic Malt Shop - 555 Main St.
Old Oriental Hotel (A1ameda & Commercial) (reportedly posed for nude photos here - not confirmed - and meeting and dining with Chinese gentlemen)
Italian Kitchen - Commercial & Los Angeles Streets
Newsreel Theater - Broadway & 8th St.
Gaslights (& Under the Gas Lights) - 732 N. Highland Ave.
Zenda Ballroom Cafe - 936 W. 7th St.
Pucci Café - 3132 Sunset Blvd.
Radio Artists Agency - 6630 Hollywood Blvd.
Harout’s Har-omar - 1605 N. Ivar
Green Dragon Cafe - Ord St.

Boardner's, and, I hear, the Snow White Waffle Shop are still open. Also, the Pig 'n Whistle reopened a year or two ago.

From the above list, that Bimini Bowl, Harout's Har-omar, the Chinese places, the Zenda, the Zanzibar Room and the Vagabond Isle all sound rather exotic, at least...



The lamp looks like it says ?ONKER
And the guy on the shade looks like a genie in a turban and a waiter's uniform...
Maybe you're supposed to rub the lamp and the waiter will appear? haha no seriously...

That's all I can figure out!


Here's the best I could do with the lamp.

Don't see how this could connect, but I thought the words on the wall looked like TUYUNGTU, so I did a search and this is what came up:
And the figure on the lampshade looks like it could be a lobster in a waiter's uniform.

[ Edited by: purple jade 2006-03-20 21:31 ]


A search of "tu yung tu" came up with this:


  _ _

[ Edited by: thejab on 2003-03-18 12:26 ]

[ Edited by: thejab on 2003-03-18 12:26 ]

Wow, how cool! So there were TWO bombers with that name??? This is obviously a true connection to the bar, seeing the soldier with Marge on his lap.
It must be a word play (like Kelbo's "IITYWIMWYBMAD"), turning the classic "Too fast to live, TO YOUNG TO DIE" into "native/asian" lingo. How cool, very appropriate for a bomber crew.

Maybe the crew member who responded to the Vargas girl post knew the bar? And if Marge was just a pal of Elizabeth Short, was this photo even taken in Hollywood?
James, tell your writer buddy about this, but we wanna hear the results!

[ Edited by: purple jade 2006-03-20 21:32 ]

Greetings Tiki enthusiasts.
Here's a little more information on the photo. As someone pointed out, the picture does not show Elizabeth Short (I cropped her out because there are enough Black Dahlia pictures floating around on the Web without me adding more) but her girlfriend Marge and her date.

It probably dates from 1941-1944 and police suspected that it was taken in Miami/Miami Beach, Fla. I got to wondering about the "...omber" on the lamp.

A final warning. The lists so popular on the Web (posted here and now making their way into guidebooks of Los Angeles) of all the restaurants she supposedly visited are complete and utter nonsense. With the exception of a few establishments, nobody can say for certain where she went.


Larry Harnisch

ps. a Web search reveals that "tu yung tu" refers to an old joke about three Chinese virgins. I won't repeat it here; you can find it on google.

[ Edited by: [email protected] on 2003-03-19 12:35 ]

[ Edited by: purple jade 2006-03-20 21:34 ]

Aha (possibly)

Miami city directory for 1942 lists:
The Beachcomber, 1271 Dade Blvd, Miami Beach.

Ikit posted on Wed, Mar 19, 2003 9:40 PM

On 2003-03-19 12:30, [email protected] wrote:
Greetings Tiki enthusiasts.
Here's a little more information on the photo. As someone pointed out, the picture does not show Elizabeth Short (I cropped her out because there are enough Black Dahlia pictures floating around on the Web without me adding more) but her girlfriend Marge and her date.

Unless your friend is trying to keep the pic exclusive for a book that he will then use information gleaned from this site in the caption you are not helping here. We do not want to see the Black Dahlia but something in the background may help ID the place.

The fella who asked me about all of this took a look at all the above responses, and writes:

"The Black Dahlia case is a magnet for crackpots so most of the stuff on the Web (like a list of all the restaurants she supposedly visited) is complete and utter crap. That reminds me, in the course of my research I interviewed the widow of bandleader Muzzy Marcellino, a virtuoso whistler who did all the stuff for Disney's Tiki Room."

ps. What you're seeing is roughly the right two-thirds of the photo. Elizabeth Short and her date are blocking the background so that it isn't visible anyway.

On 2003-03-19 13:31, [email protected] wrote:
Aha (possibly)

Miami city directory for 1942 lists:
The Beachcomber, 1271 Dade Blvd, Miami Beach.

I have seen a menu from this place, and it actually is illustrated with 40s style cartoony characters like the one on the lamp, so that would fit. This joint would be one of the earliest imitators of Don's.

I love those old WWII bombers. Not for the devastation they caused, but more for the creativity and inventiveness that went into there design. My particular favorites are the B-24 Liberator (built here in San Diego), the B-17 Flying Fortress and the British built Avro Lancaster. Can you believe the B-52 is fifty years + old and still a major player?

Ikit posted on Fri, Mar 21, 2003 12:49 AM

Excellent machines. The Germans get a lot of good press but they could never match the allied war machine.

You know what I like best about the time is the Glen Miller sound that I associate with the big bombers. BTW. A lot of B-24’s did not have nose art.

Regarding the Beachcomber, Dade Boulevard, Miami Beach, 1940s

Maybe if I'm lucky some photos or other souvenirs will show up on ebay. You never know.

Whatever happened with all this?

Tikibars, could you repost the photo link?


While not tiki, it makes sense she would have frequented the Pig-N-Whistle, which has been lovingly restored.

Two quick notes about the Black Dahlia:

For lovers of outrageous theories get the amazing "Exquisite Corpse" photo book just out now, which draws the conclusion that she was murdered by a deranged doctor/art collector as an homage to the Surrealists, of which Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp were L.A. ex-pats at the time.

And don't go and see that god-awful movie. The case is closed, we now know who killed Elizabeth Short: It was Brian De Palma!

And to think of the pain of all those authors whose scripts rotated for decades in Hollywood, for it to end like this....sigh.

There IS a connection between Tiki and the black Dahlia: Trader Vic and Elizabeth Short are both buried in the same cemetery!

...and Trader Vic was missing a limb, too! :D

On 2003-03-19 22:07, tikibars wrote:
The fella who asked me about all of this took a look at all the above responses, and writes:

"The Black Dahlia case is a magnet for crackpots so most of the stuff on the Web (like a list of all the restaurants she supposedly visited) is complete and utter crap.

Here is a website "Common Myths About the Black Dahlia," which suggests that the aforementioned list of bars is inaccurate.


However, the website does not explain why any of the names on this list is inacurrate, even though the website provides explanations for the reasons other misconceptions are inaccurate.

This makes me wonder if his poo-pooing might be opnion, not fact, particularly, if the bars were in existence at the time.

[ Edited by: christiki295 2006-10-14 09:27 ]

Luckily I still have the picture that started this thread..


OK, so I'm about a decade late to this conversation but was wondering if anything ever came about it? I can't access the original photo that was shown, but if that last photo is the one originally posted, I'm pretty certain that lamp comes from one of Monte Proser's Beachcomber restaurants. Elizabeth Short, the "Black Dahlia" comes from Medford, Massachusetts, my wife's home town. She spent a short period of time in Miami, Florida, arriving there on August 17, 1942, with a Matt Gordon. My "guess" is this photo was taken either at Monte Proser's Beachcomber in Boston, where's she's from, or Miami. I would love to learn more. Sadly, it seems Tiki Central is about as dead as this case these days so hopefully it will get a new spark of interest going.

On another note regarding PRE-"TIKI" connections to Elizabeth Short... When she arrived in California, she became acquainted with a 15 year old girl who was posing as a 20 something year old) Lynn Martin, while living at the Hawthorne Hotel. Among a few of the jobs she apparently had, she worked as a waitress at Tabu of Hollywood.

According to the website Theblackdahliainhollywood.com: "The Burbank police got their man when they arrested Duke Wellington for writing bad checks. However, the LAPD was more interested in any connection he might have with Elizabeth Short. They were also interested in his relationship with 15 year old Lynn Martin. The LAPD  Homicide Bureau dispatched Det. Harry Fremont and Det. Sgt. William Cummings to Burbank to interview Wellington.

“I first met Miss Martin at the Club Tabu on Sunset Strip in November, about the 15th to 20th, I think.”

“I have seen her off and on since that time, the last on Jan. 21.”"

I'm still trying to find the original primary source for that. I'll be doing some more digging in the days ahead for more info.

Here is a photo of a Monte Proser Beachcomber's in Boston showing the same lamp, as well as a lamp in two other people's collections for reference, and a Tabu of Hollywood ashtray I was lucky enough to put in my collection.

Screen Shot 2023-02-14 at 3.13.26 PM

Screen Shot 2023-02-14 at 8.53.17 AMScreen Shot 2023-02-14 at 9.26.40 AMScreen Shot 2023-02-14 at 9.26.57 AMScreen Shot 2023-02-14 at 9.16.20 AM

Sorry for the multiple edits. I ended up adding more stuff. Greg

[ Edited by TikiSOX on 2023-02-14 11:52:26 ]

[ Edited by TikiSOX on 2023-02-14 12:03:00 ]

[ Edited by TikiSOX on 2023-02-14 12:16:30 ]

[ Edited by TikiSOX on 2023-02-14 12:17:34 ]


Los Angeles Daily New - January 7, 1947. Police interview with Jimmy Harrigan, airplane mechanic and navy veteran, whose name appeared in Elizabeth Short's address book, :Screen Shot 2023-02-14 at 10.04.20 AM

[ Edited by TikiSOX on 2023-02-14 07:09:52 ]


p.s. if anyone has this image including Beth Short I would love to get a copy for my own personal files. Thank you. Greg

Really interesting thread !! seriously cool what everyone found here. It's threads like this that I LOVE about Tiki Central......there is so much info in here that is interesting and amazing.....Thank you again leevigraham for resurrecting it !!

[ Edited by PineappleWhip on 2023-02-28 08:14:26 ]

[ Edited by PineappleWhip on 2023-02-28 08:16:46 ]

No worries 👍

This is why I love Tiki Central's "prmitive" forum as opposed to the organic flow of FB--these threads never go anywhere, are comparatively easy to find and get resurrected with new content on a regular basis!

Except for the time the whole thing disappeared for a couple of years during Covid. That's when I began compiling records of every place I could find. I thought Tiki Central was gone forever. Very appreciative that it was resurrected.

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