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T

Name:Seven Seas
Type:bar
Street:6904 Hollywood Blvd.
City:Los Angeles
State:CA
Zip:
country:USA
Phone:
Status:defunct

Description:
The Seven Seas in Hollywood is one of the original 'pre-Tiki' Polynesian nightclubs located just blocks away from the original Don the Beachcomber. Following hot on the heels of Don the Beachcomber, Ray Haller started the Seven Seas just blocks away in the mid 30's as a Polynesian bar and soon became a hot spot for Hollywood celebrities as well as the soldiers and sailors stationed in Los Angeles during WWII.

The inside was decorated with tropical plants, nautical souvenirs, lava rocks and a faux corrugated metal roof above allowing for it's probably most unique and original feature - a nightly tropical rainstorm inside the bar complete with authentic thunder sounds played from a record!


"Ray Haller was inspired when his customers thought the building's leaky roof during rainstorms was cute. Haller installed sprinklers to create the effect nightly. (Don the Beachcomber borrowed the idea.) The next Seven Seas owner, Bob Brooks, added a full Hawaiian show headlined by Jennie "Na Pua" (Little Flower) Wood, the hula comic. Jennie remained here for twenty-five years."
From "The Story of Hollywood"

Bob Brooks took over in the late 30's and went head to head with Don the Beachcomber. He improved his drinks by stealing Don the Beachcombers bartenders (including Tiki-Ti's legendary Ray Buhen) and most importantly the Seven Seas had stage acts as well as a true Polynesian floor show differentiating itself form the other tropical bars of that time.



Freddie Letuli

"One evening in Hollywood, I paid a visit to the Seven Seas, a popular nightclub owned by Robert Brooks. There I met Harry Baty, a guitar player who also served as the club's emcee. Always on the lookout for new Polynesian talent, Harry asked me if I could sing. "No," I told him, "but if you play Hano Hano, I'll show you what I can do." I took off my shirt and did my slap dance for the audience. I was hired as a slap dancer and knife dancer that very night. It was late 1945, and my salary was a cool $75 a week!"
From "Flaming Sword of Samoa," by Freddie Letuli, as told to Patricia Letuli

One other unique feature was that Bob Brooks was a frequent visitor to Tahiti and became enamored with the black velvet paintings of Leeteg and eventually had his whole bar decorated with them.

"The club was decorated in Polynesian style with lava rock and a thatched roof. They featured three floorshows a night. The show as great, with Hilo Hattie, Chief Santini, a powerful Samoan, plus five beautiful Hawaiian hula girls and knife dancer. The walls were covered with 97 original oil paintings on black velvet. Bob Brooks made many trips to Tahiti and purchased them from Edward Leeteg, the famous artist. Many of them were obtained in exchange for a bottle of whiskey. When Leeteg died in the early fifties, the value of his paintings climbed to $20,000 each, so Bob removed them from the club and placed them in vaults. He then hired Leeteg's protege to make copies of each to hang in the club."
From "My Nine Lives by Roy Sannella

As the years progressed, the nightclub became "The Seven Seas Supper Club" and by the late 70's it had become a seedy Hollywood bar used as a cover for drug dealings. Cocaine had replaced Rum as the libation of choice. It's lowest point was in the early 80's when owner Eddie Nash was tried with porn star John Holmes for the 'Wonderland' killings and for drug trafficking through his nightclubs including the 7 Seas.

FROM THE NY TIMES:
AROUND THE NATION; Pornography Film Actor Charged in Coast Deaths
December 10, 1981
A pornography film actor, John C. Holmes, was charged today with murdering four persons by bludgeoning them last July at a house in Laurel Canyon, but he won a two-week delay in his arraignment without entering a plea. Judge Samuel Mayerson of Municipal Court continued the arraigment to Dec. 22 at the request of defense attorneys. Mr. Holmes, 37 years old, was held without bail. No charges were filed against Gregory Diles, 33, a bodyguard at a Hollywood nightclub owned by Adel Nasrallah. Mr. Diles was arrested Tuesday night at the Seven Seas Supper Club in Hollywood and booked for investigation of murder in the July 1 slayings. According to published reports, investigators believed the slayings discovered July 1 might have been in retaliation for a robbery two days earlier at the home of Mr. Diles and his employer, Adel Nasrallah, owner of the Starwood Nightclub.

Sadly one of the original homes of the birth of the Polynesian pop movements faded away and now stands filled with tacky souvenir stands without any hint of its glorious past.

Also see: http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=34799&forum=2&0

[ Edited by: Tattoo 2009-12-03 11:07 ]

Very nice post! For some reason I always thought Bob Brooks was first, and then Ray Haller, thanks for clearing that up. For years there used to be a ghost sign from the Seven Seas in the back of the building, I regret never having photographed it. If I would be home right now, I would post the matchbook I have, and the quote from the Leeteg bio that mentions Bob Brooks buying his art for the club. Wonder what happened to all the originals!

G

Excellent post! You've done some great research.

"97 original oil paintings on black velvet"

Now that I would love to see.

T

The hardest part has been trying to figure out when the 7 Seas opened (and closed). The dateline I have come up looking at postcards and writings is

1936 - a post card that refers to a visit in 1936
1937 - Ray Haller postcard
1941 - Bob Brooks postcard
1981 - Wonderland Murder article in NY Times

So it's save to say the 7 Seas was open from at least 1936 through 1981. Another question I've had is the whole Ray Haller and Bob Brooks relation. If you ask me, they're the same person!

Although Brooks has a few pounds on Ray, they look like the same person (look at the nose). I think it was quite common to change names back then (especially in Hollywood). The former owner of my house here in Echo Park had a total of 6 different names over a period of 40 years.

Tattoo, great Post

There is another Seven Seas thread on General Tiki that has some additional information.

http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=7510&forum=1&hilite=seven%20seas

Here is a Seven Seas Matchbook

DC

[ Edited by: Dustycajun 2008-11-25 18:36 ]

Looks like there was a little tiki devolution happening on the Seven Seas matchbooks.

Here's an earlier version with a larger, clearer tiki and pig. (Please pardon the scribbles.)

Another early matchbook.

There was a lot going on at the Seven Seas.

Jumbo postcard for Bob Brooks' 7 Seas.

TikiShaker,

Nice card

DC

T

This place was really something! What a cool place this would have been to visit for dinner after a movie and check out the crowds and entertainment. Maybe even see a star or two!

Here is a glass that I came across which I hadn't seen before. I thought I would throw a picture of it here to add to this cool post.

Mahalo, TabooDan

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TikiG posted on Fri, May 22, 2009 5:02 PM

I remember going to the Seven Seas a few times with my buddies and our girlfriends. It was a great place to go get a drink and maybe dancing..when we were still teenagers :)

I can remember at that time the place was pretty run-down, smelled funny, the drinks were pretty rank and loads of unsavory characters with missing teeth, missing fingers and some older guy there wore an eye patch. Anyone else remember that? The place was pretty loose. I remember the same environment inside the lounge (can't remember the name right now) just down the street at the Roosevelt Hotel run by Skippy Lowe
(God, I have tons of stories about that place.)

My experiences would have been during the late 1970s before all the renovations and destruction.

Ah! GREAT MEMORIES! I kinda miss it. I kinda don't.

T

I was just talking with someone about The 7 Seas a couple of days ago.

So many in the tiki world have never heard of it. Donn's and Vic's get all the thunder. Of course those reading this thread, or familiar with the 7 Seas, know that Bob Brooks started the rain and thunder. I think of him every time I am at the Tonga Room in SF.

OK, so the real reason I am so captivated by the 7 Seas? I have always been fond of the history of this place because real name IS Bob Brooks.

Oh, and I just love that Leetag painting of Brooks.

Can you imagine having a portrait of yourself done by Leetag???

Tiki Bob

This is a photo of the inside of Bob Brooks' 7 Seas. It is in a photo folder like the one Tattoo posted. It's dated Nov. 12, 1944.

A nice ashtray from ebay.

DC

Couple matchcovers I just found:

Buzzy Out!

T
TikiG posted on Tue, Mar 16, 2010 8:04 AM

Variation of Dustycajun's ashtray. Purchased at a Riverside, CA thrift store.

Here is another photo folder and matchbook style from the 7 Seas.

DC

An early matchbook from the Ray Haller era at the 7 Seas,

and a newer napkin from after the Bob Brooks era spotted on ebay.

DC

I have a documentary about Hollywood in the 40s or 50s with a shot down Hollywood Boulevard showing part of their neon sign. I will try to dig that up and get a screen snap.

Bongofury,

Always look forward to your movie screen grabs.

I just picked up a photo holder from Bob Brook's 7 Seas with a great photo of the interior showing some party animals with three nice sized Leeteg paintings on the wall.

The party animals.

The Leetegs

DC

Nice score, DC!

That's one of the better photo folders I've seen. Usually the background is too dark to pick out any details.

Thanks Sabu, it is a nice clean photo.

Just got a menu from the Seven Seas Restaurant, it came from the more "Tiki" period after Bob Brooks. It uses the same logo Tiki with the clam shell-friutbasket-on-the-head that is shown on the matchbook.

The food items

Close up of the Tiki rendering.

The drink page.

There are some funny drink descriptions so I did a few close ups so you can read them.


The Tiki rendering.

A nice menu.

DC

Indeed! I knew one like that -matching the matchbook- must exist, but had never seen it.

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2011-02-10 10:56 ]

So the Tiki was on the menu, the napkin, and the matchbook.



Here is a postcard I have from the Seven Seas.

I started looking closely at it and wham, there it was, that same dang Tiki on the left side in the back of the bar. Looks like he is even wearing the same kind of headdress.

The photo is poor quality so hard to get much of a close up.

DC

Yessss, excellent photo archeology, DC! This shows again that often, when a Tiki rendering is kinda unique and specific, it was based on an existing piece, not just on the graphic designer's imagination.

Found another souvenir photo folder from the Seven Seas featuring four lovely dancers from the floor show.

DC

I got a more "modern" postcard from the Seven Seas.

Devoid of Tiki but still running the Polynesian floor shows.

The back of the card advertises the Original Rain on the Roof, so they must have kept that feature till the end.

DC

T

A bar napkin from the Bob Brooks era:

A postcard from the Ray Haller era featuring ol' Bing Crosby:

and my 7 Seas collection so far.

Can't seem to find any recent stuff but an interesting insight into an old Hollywood nightspot.

Tattoo,

Nice collection of Seven Seas swag.

Here is a photo I found on-line on a family website that featured the Hawaiian dance troop at the Seven Seas circa 1970.


Would you look at those big, round, supple, tightly wrapped...... fish floats!

And here is an old napkin from the early 1940's from flickr.

And a little story about Bob Brooks and his Leetegs from the book My Nine Lives.

I wonder what became of Bob Brook's collection of 97 Leeteg paintings?

DC

On 2008-11-25 15:28, Tattoo wrote:
The hardest part has been trying to figure out when the 7 Seas opened (and closed). The dateline I have come up looking at postcards and writings is

1936 - a post card that refers to a visit in 1936
1937 - Ray Haller postcard
1941 - Bob Brooks postcard
1981 - Wonderland Murder article in NY Times

So it's save to say the 7 Seas was open from at least 1936 through 1981. Another question I've had is the whole Ray Haller and Bob Brooks relation. If you ask me, they're the same person!

I've been doing a little research in the LA Times for a project, and came up with some possible answers.

The earliest mention of the 7 Seas that I can find is from The Times' Hollywood gossip column of December 26, 1935. Here's the full quote:

Recent visitors at Ray Hallor's Seven Seas Cafe included Alice Faye, Jean Harlow, Dorothy Lee, the Hugh Herberts, Betty Lawford, Eugene O'Brien, and the Ray Dodges.

Interestingly, they call the proprietor Hallor, not Haller. Ray Hallor was a fairly successful actor in the silent-film era, starring in pictures with Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Myrna Loy, and a few other big names. He was killed in a car accident on April 16, 1944. The Times' obituary refers to him as an "actor and night club figure." Here's the full quote:

Ray Hallor, 44, stage actor, silent film player, and well-known figure in Hollywood night life, was killed yesterday in a head-on auto collision between Palm Springs and Cathedral City. All five occupants of the car were seriously injured.

After a career on the stage when he appeared with such prominent stars as Maude Adams, Hallor went into motion pictures and played a number of roles in silent films. He was reported to have interests in several Hollywood nightclubs in recent years.

He leaves a sister, Mrs. Edith Hallor Dillon of Hollywood, widow of the film director, Jack Dillon.

A little more digging turned up some interesting stuff. A Times article from April 4, 1933, mentions that Ray Hallor escorted Jean Harlow (the same Jean Harlow who was spotted at the 7 Seas two years later) to a party at W.S. Van Dyke's house. Woody Van Dyke, of course, directed lots of pictures from the silent days through the 1940s, including "The Thin Man" series.

Another Times story -- this one from November 7, 1929 -- mentions that Hallor was arrested and fined $50 for liquor possession, having been caught, along with Mickey Walker, middleweight boxing champion, with a bottle of booze at the Hollywood apartment of an actress named Dorothy Davis.

Hallor was also named in a 1929 breach-of-promise-suit that a young woman brought against the actor Maurice Costello, a silent-film star who was apparently one of Hallor's friends, and, incidentally, the great-grandfather of Drew Barrymore.

In any case, I might be missing something, but it seems likely to me that (a) Ray Haller of 7 Seas fame was the same man as Ray Hallor the actor; and (b) Ray was not the same man as Bob Brooks, given that Ray died in 1944 and Bob was apparently still alive in the 1950s.

One last tidbit: in 1928, Ray Hallor starred in a movie called, appropriately enough, "Tropical Nights." Here's the tagline from IMDB:

Thrilling Battle with Death-Dealing Octopus--Guardian of Hidden Treasures of the Sea Jungle!

Sounds like a forgotten tiki classic.

Very interesting. Great research. But why the repeated difference in the spelling of the name?

A Times article from April 4, 1933, mentions that Ray Hallor escorted Jean Harlow (the same Jean Harlow who was spotted at the 7 Seas two years later) to a party at W.S. Van Dyke's house. Woody Van Dyke, of course, directed lots of pictures from the silent days through the 1940s, including "The Thin Man" series.

Van Dyke also directed some of the earliest South Seas movies:

White Shadows in the South Seas (1928) and: The Pagan (1929)

...and in Africa: Trader Horn (1931)

On 2011-11-10 22:25, bigbrotiki wrote:
Very interesting. Great research. But why the repeated difference in the spelling of the name?

I'm not sure. IMDb lists him as "Ray Hallor, a.k.a. Ray Haller," and the Times referred to both "Ray Hallor's Seven Seas" and (after about 1936) "Ray Haller's Seven Seas."

Maybe people tended to mispronounce Hallor, so he switched to a more phonetic spelling?

Well, those connections pretty much seal the fact that it's the same guy, whatever the reason for the spelling change, thank you.

What I would give to have been at W. S. Van Dyke's party to see if the two Polynesian pop purveyors knew each other. Though they never worked together ( http://www.citwf.com/person206963.htm ), Van Dyke might have frequented the Seven Seas nightclub.
I just came to Hollywood too late, all I got to do was a shoot a horrible B-movie with Drew Barrymore:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106753/fullcredits :)

Hallor was also named in a 1929 breach-of-promise-suit that a young woman brought against the actor Maurice Costello, a silent-film star who was apparently one of Hallor's friends, and, incidentally, the great-grandfather of Drew Barrymore.

So if we apply the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" rule, I am related to Ray Hallor/Haller :)

But for the possibly true relation to W.S. Van Dyke: Not only did he direct the South Sea movie classic "White Shadows in the South Seas" (1928), which might have been the first Hollywood film to feature a Tiki:


(which was based on a never since utilized Necker Island statue)

....but Van Dyke also discovered Ray Mala, first non-white Hollywood star (AND cinematographer!), and portrayer of South Seas natives (despite his being Eskimo) in such classics as "Robinson Crusoe on Clipper Island" (1936)

Here the best segment from the series (note the early Tiki necklace, and the silly Pele idol):

http://www.archive.org/details/robinson_crusoe_of_clipper_island_ep6?start=719.5

"Rani Rani, Melani !" :)
But enough veering off from the main subject, I thought it would be interesting to delve a little into the pop cultural environment that Haller's/Brooks' Seven Seas club existed in. Now WHY and WHEN exactly did Bob Brooks take over?

Here is another souvenir photo from the Seven Seas.

He looks like he is having fun!

DC

So nobody else went to the 7 Seas when it was a "New Wave Dance Club" ?

A

On 2012-06-15 10:29, Atomic Tiki Punk wrote:
So nobody else went to the 7 Seas when it was a "New Wave Dance Club" ?

Was it called Club Hollywood by any chance? I know I went to some crappy new wave club by that name and it was right about that location in around '85 or '86, I think.

On 2012-06-15 13:23, arriano wrote:

On 2012-06-15 10:29, Atomic Tiki Punk wrote:
So nobody else went to the 7 Seas when it was a "New Wave Dance Club" ?

Was it called Club Hollywood by any chance? I know I went to some crappy new wave club by that name and it was right about that location in around '85 or '86, I think.

I think after 7 Seas closed, there was a few clubs in the same building around that time.

I remember the KROQ radio commercials for it, with I think the B52's playing in the background and wasn't it all ages?

JB

On 2012-06-15 10:29, Atomic Tiki Punk wrote:
So nobody else went to the 7 Seas when it was a "New Wave Dance Club" ?

That's when we called it the 7 Sleaze.

On 2012-06-16 15:57, Joe Banks wrote:

On 2012-06-15 10:29, Atomic Tiki Punk wrote:
So nobody else went to the 7 Seas when it was a "New Wave Dance Club" ?

That's when we called it the 7 Sleaze.

Yup, That's what we called it!

A

In any case, I might be missing something, but it seems likely to me that (a) Ray Haller of 7 Seas fame was the same man as Ray Hallor the actor; and (b) Ray was not the same man as Bob Brooks, given that Ray died in 1944 and Bob was apparently still alive in the 1950s.

I did a little digging on Ancestry.com, and I find both a Ray Haller and a Ray Hallor in Los Angeles at the same time.

Raymond Ellworth Hallor, the actor, appears to have been born Jan. 11, 1900, in Washington, DC, and died near Palm Springs in a car crash April 16, 1944, as shown in the above quoted news story. In the 1940 census, his occupation is listed as "publicity manager" for a nightclub, and living at the Garden of Allah Hotel (playwright George S. Kaufman and Columbia Pictures president Harry Cohn were neighbors).

However, I also find a Ray Haller, born in California on July 24, 1903, in California, and died Dec. 12, 1975, in Port Hueneme, Calif. In the 1940 census, his occupation is listed as "broker." Ray Haller appears to have been married to a woman named Ailene, and had at least two children, daughters named Rayleen and Jean.

So which one was with the Seven Seas? I would guess it's the actor/nightclub publicity manager.

Did you all know that Ray "The Master Ninja" Buhen (founder of the world famous Tiki Ti) used to work at the Seven Seas?

Check it out here:

"He'd say anything," chuckled Ray. "He said he invented the Zombie, but he didn't. Or hardly any of his drinks." That work, Ray maintained, was done by Ray and his fellow Filipinos. As fond as he was of his brazen boss, Ray left the Beachcomber's in 1937, moving to the Seven Seas when it opened across from Grauman's Chinese Theater. Owner Bob Brooks hired away most of Don's bar crew by offering $10 more per week, at a total salary of $40 per week. Recalls Mike Buhen: "Mom used to say that they could pay their rent, stock the fridge, and still have money to party. A loaf of bread was five cents back then, so they could afford to go out nightclubbing."

The Seven Seas built on Don's faux Polynesian restaurant concept with live Hawaiian music and a Tahitian dance revue. Ray’s duties included playing a thunder-and-lightning LP for the bar’s famous "Rain On The Roof" sound -- sometimes with unintended results. As Ray told the Bum in '98, "One time I put the record on, and this chick jumped up from her table and ran outside to close the top on her convertible." Ray also remembered an illegal gambling set-up downstairs, run by an offshore casino boat operator named Tony Corneo.

World War II bounced Ray back to the Seven Seas, which needed all the help it could get: Sailors on shore leave packed the place, clamoring for what might be the last drink of their lives before shipping out to the real South Pacific. Even with eight bartenders mixing in tandem, “You worked your ass off. There was always money on the bar, never a minute’s rest.” In addition to making sailors drinks, Ray made their boats: He helped build Liberty Ships during a stint at the Long Beach shipyards, which were churning out four to five transport vessels a day by 1945. Ray worked as a “burner,” torching off rough edges left by the welders working above him –- who rained down showers of sparks that left life-long scars across his chest." (from: http://www.tiki-ti.com/pages/ray.html )

[ Edited by: Lloyd*AloHHHa 2014-02-13 00:43 ]

K
kiara posted on Wed, Apr 2, 2014 11:29 PM

7 Seas, Hollywood Blvd. across from the Chinese theater on the right side of photo.

OL

I have heard stories that one of the behind-the-scenes owners of the Seven Seas was William F. "Billy" Gleason, who was originally a gambler from East St. Louis, where he did very well, and came to the Long Beach area around 1932. He was a visible part owner in at least three (and probably four) of the gambling ships that anchored off the coast of Long Beach and Santa Monica from 1928-1939. Does anyone have info that might confirm (or at least lend some credibility) to these stories?

Here is an old ad for the Seven Seas.

And a postcard from Grauman's Chinese Theater where you can see the front awning for the Seven Seas across the street.

Lastly a lighter from the Seven Seas.

DC

H

Found this picture on the internet.

Hiltiki,

Nice photo, another view of Bob Brooks Leeteg collection. I picked up a souvenir photo holder from the Seven Seas with this photo inside. Looks to be from the 1950s.

And an old photo of the exterior sign.

DC

From the Los Angeles Public Library photo archives.

Circa: 1950
Historical Notes: Ray Haller opened the Seven Seas in the mid-1930s as a Polynesian bar and it soon became a hot spot for Hollywood celebrities as well as the soldiers and sailors stationed in Los Angeles during WWII. The island-themed nightclub held live floor shows with music and dancers three times a night. It was decorated with tropical plants and nautical items, lava rocks and a faux corrugated metal roof above allowing for its most unique feature, a nightly tropical rainstorm complete with authentic thunder played from a record player. The nightclub later became the Seven Seas Supper Club and closed sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s.
Summary:Two men and a woman are shown in front of the 7 Seas Restaurant in Hollywood. The group is standing at the entrance to the restaurant which has a protruding neon sign above the entrance that reads "7 Seas." Below that is a ship's wheel with "7 Seas" in neon. On the right, partially obscured is a building with the signs "liquor" and "wines," and bottles can be seen in the window. The restaurant is located at 6904 Hollywood Boulevard.

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Tiare posted on Sat, Jan 23, 2016 8:40 PM

I was watching Valley Girl last night and when she first gets in the car with Randy ( Nicolas Cage) and they are driving around hollywood they go right by the Seven Seas! The movie was from 1983 so they probably shot it in 1982 and the sign was lit up so maybe still open? It was at the 29 mins mark.

Sorry for the photo of my laptop, couldn't get a screenshot.


http://bibliotiki.blogspot.com
A blog about South Pacific Literature!

http://alohatiki.blogspot.com
A sporadically updated blog about tiki, food and stuff.

[ Edited by: tiare 2016-01-23 21:32 ]

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