Opening Night at Southland Arthur
BY JOYCE HABER
Arthur, the West Coast replica of the Manhattan discotheque, opened on La Cienega Wednesday night. Everyone was there except Warren Beatty, because almost everyone is an investor.
NewYork socialite Sharman Douglas, with producer Frank McCarthy. Playwright-producer George Axelrod, with Joan and their daughter, Nina. Dick Benjamin and Paula Prentiss.
Mama Cass Elliott in dubonnet velvet, with frequent escort Lee Keefer. Hank and Shirley Fonda, she mistily lovely in a dress of lacy beige.
Zsa Zsa Gabor with Ron Postal. Agent Kurt Frings. Athlete-turned-actor Jim Brown. Director-choreographer Herb Ross and wife Nora Kaye.
Producer Arthur Jacobs with dark-haired singer Jane Harvey. Mrs. Josh (Nedda) Logan. Francesca Hilton with Brian Morris, who founded the Ad Lib in London. Horst Buchholz. Sean Garrison.
Samantha Eggar, in a white hairband, and tailored black suit, with mustachioed husband Tom Stern. Ann Jeffries and Bob Sterling. Mark Rydell. Attractive Hope Lange and producer-husband Alan Pakula.
The Leslie Bricusses, Yvie in a pink chiffon mini which ended early in a border of ostrich plumes. Young stunner Juliet Mills, Johnís daughter and Hayleyís sister, with Carroll Bakerís estranged husband, Jack Garfein. Mark Linsey. Marlo Thomas.
Ruth Berle with producer Conrad Rooks ("Chappaqua"). J. Lee Thompson. Jimmy Galanos. Gus Tassell. Jessica Walter with agent Saul Krugman.
Arthur Loewe. Jack Haley Jr. Sal Mineo. Tom Mankiewicz.
Richard Gregson with Natalie Wood, in a silver and black checked military mini from Paraphernalia, which is owner Marvin Chaninís favorite design. Dominick Dunne. Roddy McDowall.
And Mae West. Mae West in the flesh. Mae West with a long platinum mane, in a flip hairdo. Mae West in folds of white satin, crystal-beaded at the neckline. Mae West with Reg Lewis, who was Mr. Universal in an unidentified year.
"I just spoke to Warren Beatty again," said the press agent. "Heís still on his way."
"Isnít he in New York?" I asked.
"He just flew in from New York," said the press agent.
"Isnít he spending the New Year in London?"
"Yeah," said the press agent, "but he moves fast. You never can tell with Warren."
"I think there are 80 investors," said owner-officer Roddy McDowall. "Arenít there 80?" he asked owner-manager Cord Hamilton.
We were sitting in the "quiet" room, the pub room which is a near-duplicate of its New York counterpart, with its circular bar, low ceilings, and dull rust-colored decor.
Except for a giant Peanuts drawing on the wall, which features the familiar characters standing by an Arthur marquee. Lucy is saying, "Can Arthur come out and play?" Snoopy is saying, "Arthur!"
"I asked Schulz to paint that for us," Roddy explained. He pointed to another sketch, a reproduction. "Do you remember that?" It was a New Yorker cartoon picturing a man frantically hailing a taxi while his elderly wife is frugging on the sidewalk. "Arthur," the man is saying, "and hurry."
The new club in West Hollywood was fringed with autograph seekers and rubbernecks, but there was no mob scene comparable to the New York opening in 1965, at which dancer Rudolf Nureyev was photographed fighting to get in.
That other Arthur was started by Sybil Burton Christopher, Roddy McDowall and dancer Edward Vilella. This one, like others to follow, is a franchise. It cost $100,000, and people who like New York will like it.
The main room has low tables and lots of mirrors and a variegated, mode glass mural. It has twinkling blue lights over the dance floor, and enough noise to satisfy any addict of the boo-ga-loo.
Sybil Christopher called from New Yorkís Arthur, where she was minding the shop with investor Lauren Bacall and buddy Angela Lansbury.
And Warren Beatty kept calling.
"Warren will be here any minute," announced the press agent. "Did you know the Detroit Arthur opens Jan. 18?" he added. "Itís completely leased out, to Rudy Bardem, Detroitís most eligible bachelor. Its backers are the Fords and people like that."
McDowall and Cord Hamilton retained the Los Angeles franchise for themselves, and for designer Gustave Tassell and Natalie Wood: "Natalieís the Sybil of the West Coast," the press agent explained.
The West Coast Sybil left long before I did, and when I exited, Warren Beatty still hadnít shown up.
"You know Warren," said the press agent. "Heís unpredictable."
"Yes," I said. "I know. Heís on his way."
LOS ANGELES TIMES December 29, 1967
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