The LIFE Archive has some great photos shot by Peter Stackpole for the opening of Earl Carroll’s Sunset Boulevard Nightclub and Theater. This place had a massive stage, patent leather ceilings and was lit by 10,000 neon tubes.
Earl Carroll was kind of like a sleazier version of Florenz Ziegfeld. He owned several Broadway theaters and put on variety shows with elaborate sets, costumes and rows of chorus girls. He was also at the center of the period’s vivid rumormill. Tabloids and scandals are fodder for a lot of internet talk these days, but they just don’t make gossip like they used to.
Carroll’s biggest scandal involved throwing a private party during prohibition where all of the guests drank illegal hooch out of a bathtub occupied by a voluptuous nude woman. If that’s not enough scandal for you, the party was in honor of Harry Kendall Thaw, a notorious cocksman with a preference for Carroll’s chorus girls who shot Stanford White (another notorious cocksman with a preference for Carroll’s chorus girls) in the face at a party on the roof of Madison Square Garden!