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Paul Coates

November 15, 2007 |  4:45 pm

Nov. 14, 1957

Paul_coates I'm an old-fashioned boy. I don't like changes.

That's why i was more than slightly disturbed at the recent rumbles that Ciro's might close forever.

Such a thing, if it happened, would be a catastrophe on the Sunset Strip. It would end a damned colorful era of Hollywood life.

Ciro's is a landmark.

It's pudgy boniface, Herman Hover, nursed it into one of the most famous cabarets in the world.

Within its plush, velvet walls, every top star has either performed, got tight or had a fistfight.

(Hover had a standing rule that any male movie star was entitled to two fights at Ciro's. But he was barred after the third time.).

The cafe was the proving ground for Kay Thompson, Nat Cole, Mitzi Gaynor, Sammy Davis Jr. and Liberace.

Its star attractions have included Peggy Lee, Martin and Lewis, Danny Thomas, Xavier Cugat, Carmen Cavallaro, Veloz and Yolanda, Joe E. Lewis and the indestructible Sophie Tucker.

It's been the scene of lavish parties. The setting for Darryl Zanuck's historic trip on a flying trapeze.

Ciro's cigarette girls have included a future Mrs. Tommy Manville, a future Mrs. Huntington Hartford Jr. and the present wife of Sir Cedric Hardwicke.

Hover himself has been a curiously colorful addition to his own room. A graduate of Columbia Law School, he took his degree, passed the bar and promptly got a job as a chorus boy in Broadway musicals.

1957_0822_ciros After that, he worked as an attorney for the federal government and later as an executive of the Earl Carroll enterprises.

But he's a buck-and-wing dancer at heart.

No act can be sure of having their option picked up unless they invite him on stage to dance at least once during their appearance.

"I can dance as well as Fred Astaire for a couple of minutes," he assured me yesterday.

So it's been rather sad to see Ciro's get clobbered in recent months. But fortunately, Hover is a showman who bounces back.

Instead of closing, as the rumors have had it, he's going strong the other way. Next month he'll bring in the entire Katherine Dunham troupe, which is maybe two short of a battalion of dancers.

On Nov. 22 he's presenting the complete Minsky revue with a company of 24.

And with that I can relax. It sounds like the good old days are returning to that beloved scene of my childhood--the Sunset Strip.

[Note: Ciro's closed in early 1958. The exact date is a little unclear--lrh].