Los Angeles 1970s Alison Martino

Los Angeles in the 1970s

Alison Martino Hollywood

When my mother took this photo of me in BH during the ’70s, we still had JJ Newberry, Jurgensen’s, and a local Home Silk Shop. Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly would say hello to you waiting in line at the post office. You’d pass by Edward G Robinson walking his dogs, and Doris Day riding her bike. Freight Trains were still plowing down Santa Monica Blvd with the smell of fresh Wonder Bread on board and Helms Bakery Trucks brought milk to our door steps. Robinson’s, Bonwit Teller, The Broadway, Bullock’s, and The May Co. were the high-end stores of the day, and Rodeo Drive was not yet a tourist trap. We instead had reasonably priced boutiques and ‘mom and pop’ shops where everyone knew you on a first-name basis.

I believe the 70s ensemble I’m wearing came from Toby’s on Beverly Drive. My mother recalls seeing Natalie Wood and Priscilla Presley shopping for their own daughters there on occasion. We had local neighborhood joints and elegant restaurants like Chasen’s, The Cock n’ Bull, Tony Roma’s, R.J’s, Ah Fong’s, Wil Wright’s, La Scala Boutique, Frascatti, the Brown Derby, and Scandia. For the more bohemian types, there was Cafe Figaro, The Melting Pot, The Old World, Alfie’s and The Source. Tiki-themed restaurants like the Luau and The Islander were the current craze, known for their flaming drinks and moats surrounding their properties. Orange Julius and Fotomats seemed to be on every corner. Banks didn’t have underground parking, and you never had to get a ticket validated. There were no answering machines and no texting. We only had telephone booths and landlines.

Westwood was still a destination, and you could only play video games in the arcades. We waited in long lines to see summer blockbusters at the ABC Entertainment Center and Mann National. The only place you could hear the most current songs was on the radio, and we could name every disc jockey who played them. American Graffiti, Dark Side Of the Moon and Kojak had just been released, Columbo and Jim Rockford were our favorite detectives, Johnny Carson ruled late night, and the movie-of-the-week was a big family event.

Tower Records was our second home and dozens of LPs, cassette tapes, and 8 tracks were pilled up in our bedroom. (The first 45 my mother ever bought for me was Sing by the Carpenters). Our Zenith TV’s were controlled by ONE remote: the clicker – also known as the Space Command. Our old library looked like a row of colorful books made of mid century mosaic glass, rather then Faux Tuscan stucco. Our parents bought our toys at Toy-Mart, our clothes at Pixie Town, our footwear at Standard Shoes (and played in a giant boot), while they organized our birthday parties at Farrell’s and Genie Land. We took cotillion classes and the Daisy and tap dancing at Al Gilbert Studios. Our mom’s got our baby shoes bronzed at Harry Harris. We rode amusement park rides and ponies where the Beverly Center is located today, ate hotdogs at a stand in the shape of a hot dog, and roller skated at Fiorucci, Pan Pacific Park and Flippers Roller Disco.

Our moms lunched at Bullock’s tea room, salons were referred to as beauty parlors and barber shops. My dad wore jackets by Sy Devore and oversized glasses, and mom shopped at Lanz for flower-power dresses and Wilson’s House of Suede for fringe. This was also a time when the Century City Mall had a Clifton’s Cafeteria, and a Bob’s Big Boy, as well as Heaven, Joseph Magnin (near the jelly belly cart) and a singing flower man across from Judy’s. Houses weren’t torn down for McMansions, Kids still rode their big wheels and Trans Ams and Pontiacs were the coolest cars on the road. Beverly Hills was still a village and wasn’t yet famous for its zip code.

We would see Dean Martin and Bette Davis at Hamburger Hamlet, Frank Sinatra at Matteo’s, and Jimmy Stewart at Chasen’s. Our home was filled with shag carpeting, fake ferns, flocked wallpaper, blue velvet couches, Spanish tables, swivel chairs, and avocado colored appliances. We went to Baskin-Robbins, ordered pizza from Jacopo’s, ate cookies at Famous Amos, and the International House Of Pancakes hadn’t yet been abbreviated to IHOP. And to this day, I still call Rite Aid, “Thrifty”. That’s where I used to see Milton Berle in the aisles, and Jack Lemmon ordering double scoops of rocky road. Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, Peter Falk, Rosemary Clooney, and Agnes Moorehead were still very much alive, and living a few blocks over on Roxbury Drive. Charles Nelson Reilly, Stan Freberg, Dinah Shore, Pamela Mason, Bob Hope, and Karl Malden were regulars at “Home Savings and Loan”. Simpler times with WIDE open spaces. Big enough to park this monster car from Casa de Cadillac!

These are just some of the reasons I created Vintage Los Angeles.

Photos and clips of several places and people I mentioned:

With my dad and mom in 1975 in our backyard. (Al and Judi Martino)

Beverly Hills Circa 1975. I grew up just around the corner of this intersection. The Beverly Hills Hotel can be seen across the street. That’s about the only thing that remains the same of all the following photos.

J.J.Newberry’s on Beverly Drive in BH. Remember they sold parakeets and goldfish? And how about those soda counters? This is where my mom purchased my Halloween costumes.

Edward G. Robinson’s House. Photo taken from my bedroom window.

Doris Day on her bike

Freight Trains plowing down Santa Monica Blvd during the 1970s. The smell of fresh Wonder-bread was one of the greatest things about living in Los Angeles during the 1970s and 80s.

The Beverly Hill train tracks that carried Wonder Bread.

The Wonder Bread Factory

Wilshire and San Vicente in Beverly Hills, 1970s .

Robinson’s Department Store demolished in 2014 (weep).

The Broadway Department Store in Century City. For some reason my father always called CC mall, the Broadway 🙂

Bullock’s Westwood, shortly after opening in 1951. Stretching down Le Conte and Weyburn Ave, the Welton Becket building replaced a smaller Bullock’s store on Weyburn which opened in 1931. Bullock’s Westwood closed in 1998 and today the exterior looks much the same, but the interior became a multi-tenant space that includes a Ralphs, Target, and the UCLA Child Care Center.

May, 1970: Looking towards May Co. from a northbound car on Fairfax Ave. at Wilshire Blvd. On the right side is Ohrbachs dept. store, which opened in 1964 and closed in 1986.

Tony Roma’s in Beverly Hills. My parents used to go here with Morey Amsterdam, Jerry Vale and Tony Roma himself.

Ah Fong’s in Beverly Hills. Dad used to tell me we were taking the stairs down to China. Of course I believed him.

Wil Wright’s on South Beverly Drive. Later Hagan Daaz would move in.

La Scala Boutique on the corner of Little Santa Monica Blvd and Beverly Drive. A favorite of Natalie Wood and Suzanne Pleshette.

Scandia at Sunset and Doheny. The structure was sadly demolished in 2015 to make way for a new Marriott Hotel.

Chasen’s on Beverly Blvd. Today this is a Bristol Farms market.

Cafe Figaro on Melrose Avenue.

The Melting Pot at the corner of Melrose and La Cienega.

The Old World on Sunset Strip

The Old World Restaurant at Holloway and Sunset Strip. Miraculously this structure still stands and is currently a bar / restaurant called THE STATE.

Sunset Strip, 1979. Photo: Robert Landau

Alfie’s on the strip – later became Mirabelle…

The Source on Sunset Strip. Today its a restaurant Cabano Cantina. The Source has also been preserved on celluloid in “Annie Hall”. There is also a fascinating documentary on Netflix about the Source called “Source Family”. The Source is where I first ever had avocado on a sandwich.

My father’s Sunset Strip billboard advertising his role as Johnny Fontane in The Godfather was directly next to the Source in 1972.

The Luau on Rodeo Drive. Owned by Lana Turner husband, Steve Crane. They also had a gift shop and a bridge surrounded by a moat. It was tragically demolished for a complex called The Rodeo Collection in the early 80s that never took off.

My very first birthday was at the Luau – snapshot taken by my mother Judi.

The Islander on La Cienega. Today this once unique stretch of La Cienega has been replaced with sterile looking apartment buildings.

Fotomat. The drive-through film-developing kiosks began in the 1960’s in Point Loma, Ca. At its peak in 1980 there were 4,000+ Fotomats. Some of them still stand today and have been re-purposed into other businesses.

Westwood Village in the 1970s.

Westworld Arcade in Westwood

We waited in long lines to see summer blockbusters at the ABC Entertainment Center and Mann National.

Close-up of the entrance to the ABC Entertainment Center with a view of the Shubert Theatre (left), which was later demolished in 2002, in Century City. / photo by Michael Haering.

The Mann National Theatre in Westwood Village opened on March 27, 1970. Its 1970s futuristic exterior belied a large upstairs lobby with large space age chandeliers and an enormous orange-colored auditorium.

The Mann National closed on April 19, 2007 and was demolished in January 2008. The empty dirt lot is still vacant and extremely depressing to walk by.

Architect: Harold Levitt

Tower Records on Sunset Strip – Photo: Robert Landau

John Lennon commercial for Tower Records.

Elton John shopping at Tower Records in the early 1970s.

KHJ in the 1970s.


Movie of the week bumpers.

James Garner as Jim Rockford The Rockford Files. My mother never missed an episode.

“and another thing….” Peter Falk in Columbo. My dad never missed an episode.

Johnny Carson on set in 1974

The first single my mother ever purchased for me was SING by the Carpenters and I still have it.

I also still have our family ‘clicker’ from our Zenith TV!

The Beverly Hills Library during the 1970s. It was supposed to look like a row of books. Exterior shots of this library was also used as Mike Brady’s office in the Brady Bunch.

Pixietown clothing store for kids.

Standard Shoes on La Cienega 1970s

A rare photo of the giant boot us kids played inside of at Standard Shoes.

Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor

My birthday party at Genie Land. A magical place that was used for children’s birthday parties in the San Fernando Valley.

My photo taken and an old program from Al Gilbert Dance Studio on La Cienega.

My baby shoes bronzed from Harry Harris.

Fiorucci in Beverly Hills located in the former Beverly Theater.

Pan Pacific Auditorium. Also seen in the movie Xanadu. A popular skating destination. Sadly it burned to the ground in the late 1980s.

Flippers Roller Disco on La Cienega during the 1970s. (today a CVS).

Me at Flippers on by 9th birthday.

My dad in clothing from Sy Devore clothing and oversized ’70 shades.

My mother decked out in a two piece Flower Power ensemble circa 1971 purchased at Lanz.

Wilson’s House of Suede Commercials

Our living room on Rexford drive. Blue velvet couches, swivel chairs, shag carpeting from “Carpeteria”, built in entertainment center and fake ferns! So 70s!

Imagine a gigantic ferris wheel in the heart of LA. Well here’s proof of one that existed on La Cienega. Even though the place was really called “Beverly Park”, we kids just called it “Kiddy Land”. Sadly it shut down in 1974. The Beverly Center now sits on Beverly Park soil…

This was Beverly Park in 1970 taken from the Rexall Parking lot at La Cienega and Beverly Blvd – where the Beverly Center now stands. Smokey Joes Cafe on the bottom right had just suffered a fire in this photo and apparently Bobby Darin is getting ready to headline the Hilton in Vegas!

Beverly Park on Beverly Blvd between La Cienega and San Vincente. Today this is the Beverly Center. Photo courtesy of Jay Jennings (check out his book: BEVERLY PARK: L.A.’s Kiddieland, 1943-74.

Next door to Beverly Park was Ponyland.

Tail O’ the Pup once located across from Beverly Park at La Cienega and Beverly Blvd.

Bullock’s Wilshire Tea Room circa 1977.

Me at Bullock’s on my 6th birthday.

Clifton’s Cafeteria once located in Century City.

Joe Richards “The Singing Flower Man” at Century City.

The Jelly Bellies cart at Century City in 1973! It was directly across from the “singing flower man!”

Judy’s located at Century City

Joseph Magnin, Century City, 1970s

Me in my Heaven shirt!

Heaven business card from Century City.

Dean Martin photo-bombed at the Hamburger Hamlet.

Hamburger Hamlet on Sunset Strip. I took this photo on closing night in 2011.

Matteo’s in Westwood. Frank Sinatra’s table was all the way back on the right.

Jimmy Stewart and his wife Gloria, with Peter Bogdanovich and Cybill Shepherd at Chasen’s in 1972. (Now a Bristol Farms)

Another image from the wonderful world that existed before smart phones occupied the dinner table and when people actually looked directly at each other instead of looking down and texting. Men were also required to wear a jacket and tie at Chasen’s.

Jacopo’s 1978….see the railroad track on the left? My dad almost purchased Jacobo’s, but sadly a friend of his talked him out of it. I often think if it would still be in business if he had went through with it.

Famous Amos Cookies on Sunset Blvd.

International House of Pancakes located on Santa Monica Blvd. STILL THERE TODAY!

Thrifty in Beverly Hills

Our Beverly Hills Thrifty location even made an appearance the Albert Brooks movie, “Modern Romance”.

A few LA keepsakes…

My mother’s Home Savings Of America wallet size calendar, her mother’s Bullock’s and Robinson’s charge cards, a receipt tab from Ben Frank’s, Schwab’s Pharmacy logo stickers, and my watches from Camp Beverly Hills and Hamburger Hamlet.

Just last year I ran into Charo in the isles! You’ll ALWAYS see a celebrity at the old Thrifty. Now Rite Aid.

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Alison Martino is a writer, television producer, and pop culture historian. She founded the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles in 2010. Alison muses on L.A’s. past and present on Twitter and Instagram.