El Morocco

El Morocco

El Morocco (sometimes nicknamed Elmo or Elmer) was a 20th century Manhattan nightclub frequented by the rich and famous in the 1930s and 1950s. It was famous for its blue zebra-stripe motif (designed by Vernon MacFarlane) and its official photographer, Jerome Zerbe.


In 1931, John Perona (born Eriane Giovanni Perona in Chiaverano in the Province of Turin, Italy), [http://www.oldandsold.com/articles06/new-york-city-75.shtml] an Italian immigrant, with Martín de Alzaga [http://es.geocities.com/alzaga203/gorbato.htm] [http://www.pilotosmuertos.es/comunicados/oc_no_di_2007/alzaga.html] opened El Morocco as a speakeasy at 154 East 54th Street, on the south side of 54th Street in the middle of the block between Lexington Avenue and Third Avenue, where the Citigroup Center now stands.

After prohibition was repealed, it became one of the most popular establishments in New York City. Its regular clientele consisted of fashionable society, politicians, and entertainers. Part of what made the club the 'place to be' was the photographs taken by Jerome Zerbe which were always in the news the next day. Everyone always knew from the background zebra stripes on the banquettes where the celebrities had been.

The neighborhood started changing after World War II, and eventually Perona moved El Morocco to a four-storey townhouse at 307 East 54th Street, on the north side of the street near the corner of Second Avenue in 1960.

Perona died in 1961, and his son, Edwin took over the proprietorship. Later that year, Edwin Perona sold the club to John Mills, who owned it for three years. [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,830962,00.html?iid=chix-sphere In Old Morocco - TIME ] ] It was then owned by Maurice Uchitel (1964–70) and Sheldon Hazeltine. [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3190/is_v20/ai_4240554 Hazeltine acquires N.Y.'s El Morocco; targets October reopening - Sheldon Hazeltine | Nation's Restaurant News | Find Articles at BNET.com ] ] Before taking over El Morocco, Uchitel owned the Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach for several years. [ [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9907E2D71538F934A35756C0A9669C8B63 Maurice Uchitel, 88, Owner of El Morocco - New York Times ] ] In 1981, the Second Avenue wing operated briefly as a steakhouse. [http://events.nytimes.com/mem/nycreview.html?res=9D04E6D61239F933A15750C0A967948260&pagewanted=print] [ [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DE6DC173DF93AA15757C0A961948260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all '21' AND EL MOROCCO: 2 LEGENDS REOPEN - New York Times ] ] In 1992, it operated as a topless bar. [ [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0CE6DE1631F934A1575AC0A964958260 El Morocco: Famous Sup 'n' Sip Is a Strip - New York Times ] ] In 1997, Desmond Wootton bought the property and opened the Night Owls nightclub. The site is now occupied by the Milan Condominium. [ [http://www.emporis.com/en/wm/bu/?id=191980 The Milan Condominium, New York City ] ]


*First club to use a velvet rope.
*In 1950, Humphrey Bogart was banned for life.

References in popular culture

* Setting for scene in the 1973 film "The Way We Were"
* Recreated in the 2006 motion picture "Infamous"
* Mentioned in the 1936 Cole Porter song "Down in the Depths"
* Mentioned in the 1946 film "The Kid from Brooklyn"
* Mentioned in the 1954 film "Sabrina"
* Mentioned in the 1960 film "BUtterfield 8"
* Mentioned in the 1966 novel "Valley of the Dolls"
* Mentioned in the 1969 novel "The Love Machine"
* The cruise ship Carnival Splendor will feature a bar named El Morocco Bar themed after the original
* [http://www.elmorestaurant.com/index.html Elmo Restaurant and Lounge] on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan is named for the nightclub [ [http://events.nytimes.com/gst/nycguide.html?detail=restaurants&id=1015360073662 Elmo - Chelsea - Details and Reader Reviews - The New York Times ] ]




External links

* [http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/05/nyregion/thecity/05feat.html?ei=5070&en=82a430f64c75eee1&ex=1147579200&pagewanted=all&position= "Ghosts of El Morocco"] , Laura Shaine Cunningham, "The New York Times", September 4, 2004
* [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9503E1D7143AF931A2575BC0A96E958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all Angelo Zuccotti, 89, Artist of the Velvet Rope] , Thomas, Robert, Jr., "The New York times", August 12, 1998
* [http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Nights+on+the+town.-a014752854 Nights on the Town] , Taki Theodoracopulos, "National Review", December 13, 1993
* [http://www.georgeglazer.com/archives/prints/portraits/morocco.html Photos of El Morocco]
* [http://www.robinsonarchive.com/photograph-search-results.asp?pc=5&pages=1&page=1&subject=79 Photos of El Morocco]
* [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2370598649443475288&q=%22el+morocco%22&total=25&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=1 Video of El Morocco and John Verona]

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