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Don the Beachcomber, Marina Del Rey auction material

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I feel like a cicada that has come up out of the ground after seventeen years, at least on the Tiki front! Here is the story. When Don the Beachcomber in Marina Del Rey went out of business my friend Chris Byk and got in my flat bed truck, filled our wallets with cash and headed out. I got a lot of stuff, including sixteen large custom made glass 'net floats', framed black white photos, ephemera and newspaper clippings. But the most outstanding acquisition was thirteen carved posts made (I believe) by Oceanic Arts. The pieces are 10' high,
14 1/2" wide and 3" thick out of solid mahogany. Each one is a unique design. Here are the photos...

[ Edited by: Bora Boris - Fixed image links. - 2013-07-23 14:07 ]

Aaah, the legendary auction! Those are real beautes indeed, they look like O.A.'s/Leroy's work.

Of all the wonders of that auction, the original Leetegs from the Hollywood location, the carvings, the floats - do you know what happened to the celebrity-tagged chopsticks? Were they spread into the winds, or did one person get them all?

I am looking for just one set in its bamboo case with whatever star's name on it for a museum show on American Tiki culture I am curating next year. If you have one, or have any leads, I would be most appreciative.

Mahalo, Sven Kirsten

I do not have any of the chopsticks, sadly. I do have some photos of private parties, with celebrities of the era hanging with Don. I will post those. Meanwhile, here are the rest of the large pieces.

[ Edited by: Bora Boris - Fixed image link. - 2013-07-23 14:05 ]

Amazing! Are those still in storage or do you have them on display somehow? Granted, 10-fot tall posts are not easy to display in most homes.

Thanks for the posting the posts (pun intended!). Would love to see photos of other items you got in the auction.



At the time I bought these I was a sculptor living in a warehouse in Boyle Heights (east LA). I decided to build a room around them (plus a 11' tall Yali demon sculpture from southern India). I spent a lot of time making the coved blue ceiling, lit by fluorescents behind the Tikis. We had some amazing parties down there in the late eighties and early nineties!



Wow - I'm getting tingles looking at these!

Thanks!! I wish I had been hooked into the Tiki community back then! We could have had some fun events. Oh well, never too late. Does anyone out there have images of the interior of the Marina Del Rey Beachcomber's? By any chance was anyone else present at the auction or took pictures of the auction items during the inspection? I didn't. No phone cameras back then.
Anyway, next big items were the glass floats, I think we got sixteen of seventeen of them. They originally hung in a cluster in the entryway, I believe....again any photos would be great to see! They hung from the ceiling of the room I posted the pictures of earlier, most are now hanging in a ficus tree in my yard, I will post a better picture, they look fantastic at night

I love the glass float tree! I bet it looks more cool than the chandelier tree house in Silver Lake.
Thank you for posting your panels and other wonderful purchases from the auction.

By the way, I don't know how many Tiki Central members used to frequent Yee Mee Loo's bar in LA Chinatown, but that is the cashier's counter in the middle photograph. Some friends of mine bought the entire interior and we stored it at my place for about six months. A Glendale restauranteur and devotee bought it all. It was an incredible locale and should have been preserved. Replaced, of course, by a piece of crap mini-mall development.

Tigertail, we like cicadas ... especially those with cool workshops!

Are the large floats glass or acrylic? Looks like lights in a few of them, and some on the ground have openings on the top. We'd love to see some of the photos and ephemera you got. Last year we had a wonderful opportunity to interview someone who worked there when it was still Don's -- that was a long time ago, and it seems like the people who were there and remember are getting scarce.

Here's a thread on Yee Mee Loo's. No tiki per se, but certainly exotic -- and probably would have been a stop on JOHN-O's chop suey tour (I can see the t-shirts already!). Tigertail if you're interested in LA preservation, you should check out LA Mod Com. They've helped save a lot of places.

Welcome to Tiki Central!

Tigertail, I think Kevin & Jody told me about you some years ago...you are/were in Eagle Rock?

I am looking forward to your images of Don with Hollywood celebs. One display in the show will concentrate on the PR value of stars utilized by Tiki restauranteurs.

In my over 20 years of Tiki research and collecting in Los Angeles, I have never come upon any sign of the Beachcomber chopsticks, it's a mystery what happened to them.

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2013-07-25 07:45 ]

Thanks guys! The floats are glass, obviously custom made, blown into a mold. They vary in thickness from 3/8" to 5/8" even within individual pieces. Each has a 4" aperture at one end for the light fixture. Most are in their original netting, that is an issue because they will eventually rot outdoors, but what can you do? leave them in boxes? I had lights on dimmers installed in them last year. They are delicate, which is why I put them up in the tree double cabled them. Five have been broken over the years. painful. I will post good photos of them in the next couple of days.
meanwhile, the tall Tikis are getting some air. I have installed them in my carport for a party! Can't leave them out or they will be ruined, but they are good for a couple of weeks...


Here is a Tiki Hut light fixture rescued from the auction. Pulled it out to photograph it and have decided to restore it, it needs a little love. The design is great but the construction was definitely a bit rough and ready. I particularly like the electrical with the 12/3 cord, you could run ten lights off of that! No electrical fires due to overloading in that place.

I am going to replace the missing roof scroll detail and it looks like there was some kind of roof dressing (maybe thatch?), does anyone have any thoughts on that?

O.A. made that light. It had woven palm front matting on the roof, they might still have that. I wasted mine by having it hang outside :(
Your Tapa still looks great - testament that the old Polynesians knew what they were doing!


Tigertail thanks for posting photos of your lights.
On the floats I can tie new rope for you if you need it done.
They look like this when I tie them.
I tell people that most of the float lights in the old days were not real fishing floats,
looks like yours were glass made to be lights as well.
Good luck, and thanks again!!




beautiful work! I will contact you in a couple of weeks, I could use at least two nets made. Thanks!


Here's a night shot

Some newspaper clippings from the back room...a little window into the past.


On 2013-08-02 08:17, tigertail wrote:
beautiful work! I will contact you in a couple of weeks, I could use at least two nets made. Thanks!

These large glass globes are getting very hard to find.
And then if you do they are very costly.
Found the perfect blue 12 inch globe yesterday only to find it was $90.00 dollars.
That's no net, no light, just glass.
Kinda high for me to buy, tie and light then try to make some money.

Hate to see any more break, as they are awesome, and rare.
Post more photos your place, looks very cool!

-==--==--==--==-Google "Tiki bar lights" To find TIKISKIP-==--==--==--==-


On 2013-08-02 11:43, tikiskip wrote:

On 2013-08-02 08:17, tigertail wrote:
beautiful work! I will contact you in a couple of weeks, I could use at least two nets made. Thanks!

These large glass globes are getting very hard to find.
And then if you do they are very costly.
Found the perfect blue 12 inch globe yesterday only to find it was $90.00 dollars.
That's no net, no light, just glass.
Kinda high for me to buy, tie and light then try to make some money.

Hate to see any more break, as they are awesome, and rare.
Post more photos your place, looks very cool!

The California Seashell Company in Seal Beach has very large netted glass floats for $45. Mine is larger than a basketball and heavy! They had a good selection of colors too. I bought an orangish/red one. Don't go on a weekend the place is a madhouse during the summer. http://www.caseashells.com
Here's a pic I got off of yelp.com


Thanks Lori, Looks like a cool place.
That is a good price.
They also look like thin Mexican glass, really fragile.
But... The hole in the top is the rub.
Those floats look like blown glass, don't know what it is about
blown glass, but when you try to put a hole in it lots of
the time it cracks or breaks outright.(I think It's the small bubbles in the glass that heat and crack)
Plus the Mexican floats are even more thin and crackie.
I have put a hole in a old float with success but it was very slow going.
Have also broke some trying.
This is why I just gave up on putting a hole in real or blown glass floats.
All I need is to sell a light with a small crack in it that splits the light in two
after you heat it up with a light bulb. (Glass is just waiting to break)
I would bet this is why the old tiki joints did not use real floats for these lights.
Just wish I could find a place that makes glass like you see here.
I have looked and looked to no avail.

¨*•.¸¸¨*•.¸¸¨*•.¸¸¨*•.¸¸¨*•.¸¸¨*•.¸¸TIKISKIP "Go to the light"¨*•.¸¸¨*•.¸¸¨*•.¸¸¨*•.¸¸¨*•.¸¸¨*•.¸¸¨*•.¸¸

Lights for home and
commercial TIKI bars.

Nope, many did not use glass :)


Its like a pumpkin harvest! We need to get some old 2" hemp rope, dye it green and tie these together in the garden. We could build a haunted Halloween Tiki Garden around that!

Tigertail awesome stuff you have here!! Keeping this post in my rotation for now on. Aloha! BB

On 2013-08-02 15:10, bigbrotiki wrote:
Nope, many did not use glass :)

BA Hoo Ka!!


Another piece. The clipping overlap slightly and are glued down but the file is big enough to read the text.

[ Edited by: Bora Boris - Fixed link - 2013-08-07 15:17 ]

On 2013-08-06 21:49, RevBambooBen wrote:
BA Hoo Ka!!

Kel BO's! :D

On 2013-08-08 10:30, bigbrotiki wrote:

On 2013-08-06 21:49, RevBambooBen wrote:
BA Hoo Ka!!

Kel BO's! :D

Whhaaaaa??? Awesome.

Tikiskip is going to make a new net for this magnificent surviving amethyst colored globe and its blue companion (I just haven't asked him yet)

Publicity photos from the back office, Don the Beachcomber Marina Del Rey...
Good Copy!

The Lady herself, Sunny Sound

Red Skelton and Sunny Sund

Calling a Bookie

Original Mixmaster (one of the Lees?)

Wizard of Oz in Paradise (Frank Morgan)

Believe it!

Gary Cooper and the Yams

Red Skelton cries watermelon tears

Mr and Mrs Franchot Tone

Van Johnson, Donn Beach and Red Skelton

Sunny and Friend

Leon dishes it out!

Shocking table manners!


On 2013-08-29 18:14, tigertail wrote:
The Lady herself, Sunny Sound

Original Mixmaster (one of the Lees?)

Hey thanks again for posting!
Great stuff! this is what Tiki Central is all about.

Look at that table! Awsome!
And I got some of these glasses seen here, I don't think that they are made by Federal
Glass co, but they came in that box.

I've never said this to a man before but that is a nice set of balls you got there!
Just got some old rope to tie with, it takes A LOT to tie big ones like you got there.
Do they have holes in them? and are they frosted inside?
I can tie em, you could send em to me or I may be able to tie on a ball here and send you the
tied rope, but then you would need to finish the top.
It's up to you.

Again great stuff!!
Please keep it coming.




KILLER Pics man!!! Thortiki

Yes, they are sandblasted inside and have the 4" openings. I will get you exact dimensions and lets proceed with making new nets for these two!

BTW , that one photo is mislabeled , should be The Lady Herself Sunny Sund. (Spellcheck always there to help, whether you want it or not)

The table tops were Monkey Pod wood, where are they now?

Monkey Pod Tree info...


On the tables I would have no idea where they are.
I do have some from the Kahiki.
The are monkey pod too, But not as nice as that one.
For me the real old shells, bamboo, ect, the BIG stuff is the cool stuff in your tiki bar.
That table has what they call a live or maybe a living edge. Awesome!
Can't find stuff like that anymore.

On the floats lets start with the smaller of the two.
I will need to know how wide it is.
Lets do one see how it works out then move on to the big guy.
Don't know if I have a globe that size here, will need one to tie it.
Also it will be the biggest one I have tied, know I can do it, but will
take some time as I don't have all of the numbers and sizes down for a globe that size.

Going to send you a pm via Tiki Central let me know when you get it.

B.T.W., all the tables in the restaurant and lounge of Trader Vic's Emeryville are Monkeypod with live/living edges.

What do you mean "living edges?" Once a tree is cut down, isn't it dead?

Cool article.

And live or living edge is a term used to describe
wood that has the edge that it had when cut down.
They take the bark off but clean up the rest so you
get this cool organic look.

But yes the wood is dead.

As seen here.




[ Edited by: tikiskip 2013-08-30 12:09 ]

Tigertail, those pics are amazing! Thank You for sharing them with us.

Thank you! Its a pleasure having people to share them with.

Yes indeed, it is great to see that this kind of visual material got preserved! Some of the photos look like they were taken at Don's backyard Luaus in Encino.

For the Polynesian Pop historian, it is shocking to read how in the article Sunny Sund is portrayed as THE founder and owner of the Hollywood Beachcomber, mentioning "Don Beach-comber" as the "original owner" who "continued working for her after selling her the restaurant" and is "now a Lieutenant in the Army is expected to return to the cafe where he acts a managing director". They were married for chrissakes, and she took it over after the divorce while he was in the service.

We cannot ask him how he felt about it all, but the fact that he moved on to Hawaii and did it all over again kind of says it all. I am not saying he got cheated, perhaps she was very much "the woman behind the man" helping to create the place, and it all was a concordant dissolution of property and rights, but one wonders how he must have felt reading this article.

Ultimately, it is him who is justifiably remembered as the innovator and creator of many concepts that made up the American Tiki paradise.

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2013-08-31 23:19 ]

Exactly right on all points. As little as I know of the history I found that fluff piece very odd. Obviously they were a team, and Sunny Sund had style and gumption, but she stepped onto a stage that had been set by him. I thought some of this pictures were taken at his private home. Wow. How strange must it have been to travel across miles of avocado and citrus groves to arrive at a tropical oasis, at that time period. No freeways, the whole valley dotted with cowboy movie ranches.There is a missing picture of Red Skelton, on his back with hands and legs in the air like a begging dog, and Gary Cooper standing over him dangling a fish. My friend Chris took that one and I haven't seen it since...
BTW, does this photo and address mean anything to anyone? It must have some significance, it was framed. Maybe a restaurant location at time of purchase? None of these photos have any notation or dates, I have just pieced together info. The address is 1727, no street sign

Donn opened his first bar at 1722 McCadden and a couple years later moved across the street to 1727. Here's some additional pics, although I think at least one if them is the 1722 address:


T-shirts based on vintage tiki matchbooks: TikiTees

[ Edited by: TikiTacky 2013-09-01 11:49 ]

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