The Daisy in Beverly Hills

Alison Martino Hollywood

“The Daisy”, which bloomed in 1962, was Beverly Hills’ first members only – private discotheque. It was a place were actresses in skin tight pants would dance the Watusi jerking elbows and hips with Steve McQueen or Robert Redford.

Jack Hanson, bought the property on Rodeo Drive where the original Romanoff’s had stood. Night spots like The Mocambo, Ciro’s and The Trocadero were slipping away and discotheques and Go Go clubs were moving in. The timing of the Daisy’s infancy was perfect. A new culture of music was just about to arrive from London, mod fashions were featured in all the hip boutiques and a new young Hollywood crowd was taking over the scene in Los Angeles during the early ’60’s.

The original Romanoff’s before it moved to it’s second location and became the Daisy

For a better perspective of where it once thrived, you can see the original brick structure of this stunning image of the Anderton Court Shops located at 332 N. Rodeo Drive by Architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Photo by the brilliant, Julius Shulman

On any given night you’d see Sonny and Cher on the dance floor, Warren Beatty and Julie Christie canoodling on the brick patio or the Jackson 5 performing a few of their very first sets on stage.

Glancing around the intimate booths, one may have spotted Paul Newman, Natalie Wood, Peter Falk, Sammy, Tony Curtis, Jay Sebring, Sharon Tate, Angie Dickinson, John Derek and Linda Evans. The Daisy was also one of the first night spots Frank Sinatra was seen publicly with Mia Farrow.

Shooting 8-ball in another room will be a Richard Conte or an Omar Sharif, properly galleried. Scattered around the tables in the main room, will be the Zsa Zsas, the Joan Cohns, the Oleg Cassinis, the David Hemmingses, the Ryan O’Neals, and 17 different varieties of teen-agers, each fully capable of saying, “Well, hi,” and making it sound like, “Where’s the acid?”

Fabian and actress Carol Conner dancing the Watusi in 1965

Natalie Wood and Mike Nichols leaving The Daisy in 1965

Compared to The Daisy, all other discotheques are slums. And, sitting there one night, a good actor named Norman Alden gazed at the dance floor, swirling with Hanson’s scented, glowing human decor, and put it all in perspective with a joke. “Oh, this crazy tinsel town with its popcorn machine for a heart. It’s all alabaster and sham,” he said. “Think of all those young girls, going from casting office to casting office, willing to sell their souls for a part. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be a part of it.”

Menu card featuring Jack Hanson

Vintage Los Angeles member Dave Etchie recalls, ” I was on the “Dating Game” and the producers and my date went to the Daisy as part of the prize. Unfortunately my winning date was only on the program for the exposure as an actress. The producers and I enjoyed the Daisy and we didn’t see the date the rest of the evening”.

Hordes of celebrities from the entertainment and sports fields were members. And those that weren’t of course still managed to get in like Dean Martin and Wilt Chamberlin.

Hanson also owned the wildly cool boutique, “Jax” with his wife Sally located on the corner of Wilshire and Bedford and made beautifully cut pants for Jackie Kennedy, Barbra Streisand, Marlene Dietrich and Audrey Hepburn. He socialized with showbiz players and hobnobbed with all the Hollywood swingers that frequented his club. James Elroy described him as, “Noir Personified!” Jack ‘firmly’ believed women should show off their best features, so sensations such as Twiggy or Diana Ross would be seen inside “Jax” trying on the latest tight slacks or thigh-high miniskirts before attending a night out. They specialized in very tight peddle pushers that zipped up the back.

The trademark of “Jax” slacks was their extreme tightness (because the pants zippered up the back) which emphasized the female butt. You needed to be very slim to carry this off. One of his best customers in the early days was Marilyn Monroe. The shop had a number of interesting salesgirls, namely Frank Sinatra’s daughters, Nancy and Tina, and Dean Martin’s three daughters, Deana, Gail and Claudia.

Photo by Julius Shulman

By day their backyard is headquarters for a Hollywood sport-in. By night his own discotheque became a Beverly Hills drop-in for the likes of Dickie Smothers greeting Jack with Peter Sellers. Nancy Sinatra Jr. once said, “The most important men in America are my father, Hugh Hefner and Jack Hanson.”

The Chic destination was also where Aaron Spelling met 18 year old, Carole Gene, also known as, Candy. Their first dance together was to “My Funny Valentine” and that song had been their “song” ever since.

Lovely Jill St. John and the talented Jack Jones were also seen frequently together at the Daisy Club in Beverly Hills around 1967.

James Garner’s character in the Rockford Files referenced the Daisy in an episode I recently watched. ” I went to the Daisy and then cruised Rodeo Drive for a half hour”.

Jack Hanson also put together a celebrity softball team that included, Anthony Franciosa, Peter Falk, Bobby Darin, Mark Goddard, Michael Callan, Ryan O’Neal, Peter Stone, Aaron Spelling, and Danny Thomas. The team’s cheering section consisted of Anne Francis, Suzanne Pleshette and Nancy Sinatra.

Nancy with Sharon Alpert at The Daisy”

If there is anything that delighted Jack Hanson as much as being in his New World rumble at The Daisy it was the weekly Softball games he had arranged between a couple of power-loaded outfits called Raskin’s Raiders and, big surprise, The Daisy. When someone once suggested that Raskin’s Raiders perhaps seek a different opponent for a change after they had just won a series, Producer Jimmy Harris (Paths of Glory, Lolita, The Bedford Incident), a Raider mainstay in center field, said, “What? And not get to see Tony Curtis try to pitch?”

My folks used to frequent The Daisy with Joey Bishop, Gene Barry and Buddy Hackett. This photo was taken at one of Buddy’s parties. He had requested on the invitation that everyone show up dressed like construction workers. (which explains my parents overalls).

Joey Bishop’s wife Silvia, my parents Al and Judi Martino and actor Gene Barry in 1969

Mel Brooks also held a cast party for “Young Frankenstein” at the Daisy in 1974 and director, Paul Schrader” captured a scene on celluloid for “American Gigolo” staring Richard Gere in 1980.

Scene from “American Gigaolo” filmed on location at The Daisy

And on August 11, 1969 Diana Ross invited Hollywood’s media to come and meet Motown’s newest act, The Jackson 5 between 6.30p.m. and 9.30p.m. at The Daisy, 326 Rodeo Drive, in Beverly Hills! Berry Gordy boldly predicted that The Jackson 5′s first three singles would be number one hits (they were) and that they become one of the biggest-selling acts of the decade at the club.

It was at this party that ten-year-old Michael, just over two weeks away from his 11th birthday, was instructed to tell interviewers that he was only eight years old. Ever the professional, young Michael understood the importance of publicity in show business, and eager to please, he gladly did as he was told.

Vintage Los Angeles member, Jeff Jansen recalls this awesome memory. “I remember seeing the amazing stage show of The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo at the Daisy. That band eventually morphed into Oingo Boingo and launched the career of the now famous Danny Elfman.”

Eddie Bales, another member of Vintage Los Angeles also shared his recollections: “I was one of the Daisy’s valet parking attendants. I was old enough to drive but not enough to go in (though I did on NYE 1983). I was ALWAYS tipped extremely well. Edy Williams was a regular with her friend, a character named Skip E Lowe. Edy was in “Beyond The Valley of The Dolls”, “Batman”, and tons of classic TV series of the ’60’s and ’70’s. She became known for crashing the Oscars with those scandalous outfits in the late 80s and ALWAYS wore revealing outfits and would flirt with me. I was barely 18 and beyond nervous and had absolutely no idea what to do”.

As far as MY own personal memories of The Daisy, growing up in Beverley Hills during the 70’s still had little fragments of elegance and fortunately I took afternoon cotillion classes on Saturdays at 10 years old. But let’s face it – our parents enjoyed it way more on those late night evenings dancing the night away, while us kids were stuck home with the babysitter watching “The Love Boat” or “Fantasy Island”. But one thing I do remember clearly besides that dance floor was the the food. This was the first place I ever tried a club Sandwich and The Menu was always naming dishes after dedicated customers and and powerful heavy hitters.

I can’t help but notice how eerie O.J.Simpson’s dish is – also considering The Daisy is where he met Nicole Brown

Nicole Brown Simpson first met O.J. Simpson in 1977 when she was just 18 and working at The Daisy.

Zsa Zsa Gabor, Tony Curtis and Red Buttons at the Daisy

Sadly the Daisy has since been banished from Beverly Hills and felt it needed a worthy tribute.

Sections for this blog came from a Sports Illustrated article. Click here to read the entire article on Jack Hanson and additional information from members of Vintage Los Angeles.

Photos and memorabilia: Vintage Los Angeles Collection

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