The Veterans Club, a nightclub at the corner of Santa Monica and Crescent Heights boulevards, achieved nationwide notoriety in 1948 when party girl Vickie Evans was arrested there during a gambling raid. Her arrest was news because she’d made the front pages nationwide a month earlier when she was arrested for marijuana possession with rising star and Hollywood bad boy Robert Mitchum in a friend’s home in Laurel Canyon. It was the second raid on the club in under a week, and the owners soon shut it down.
In 1952 a group of actors acquired the building and converted it into an arena-seating venue they called the Gallery Stage. Among the shows they produced was the quirky-sounding “The Maid and the Martian” (1952), written by Joseph Barbera, who, with William Hanna, was an animation director for the Oscar-winning “Tom and Jerry” cartoon series at MGM. Later their company, Hanna-Barbera, would produce “The Flintstones,” “The Jetsons” and other hit television cartoon series.
Paul Levitt and Ted Thorpe acquired the theatre in 1955 and renamed it the Players Ring Gallery. In December they reopened it the West Coast premiere of the Broadway hit “End as a Man.” That show launched a successful six-year run for the Levitt-Thorpe organization. But in early 1961, the county condemned the building for demolition for a street-widening project. Over the summer Levitt and Thorpe renovated the building at 8325 Santa Monica Blvd. – today’s Coast Playhouse – and reopened the Players Ring Gallery there in September 1961.Noteworthy Productions: