Sunday, October 05, 2008

Who said "I'll Never Smile Again" ???

SIXTY-EIGHT years ago this month, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and its new singer, a skinny 24-year-old New Jersey crooner named Frank Sinatra, welcomed a cheering crowd to opening night at the Hollywood Palladium. Dorothy Lamour was there to snip the ribbon, spangled with orchids, and as Jack Benny, Judy Garland and Lana Turner looked on, hundreds of couples danced the jitterbug on a 11,200-square-foot dance floor made of maple wood.

With its coral and chromium interior, Streamlined Moderne swoops and shimmering chandeliers, the Palladium that night must have seemed like a dreamy refuge in a world that was growing darker by the day. German bombs were falling every night in London, but beneath the searchlights of Sunset Boulevard, all the young lovers were swaying in a Hollywood champagne fantasy.

Still, when Sinatra sang the band's No. 1 hit, "I'll Never Smile Again," how many of those 3,000 couples held each other and fretted about the future?

That golden night might be difficult to envision for anyone who attended the last shows at the Palladium. Last October, British singer Morrissey planned to play 10 nights at the battered and creaky venue, but two of the shows were canceled after a water pipe ruptured and added to the building's already considerable dankness. The club was shuttered and a $20-million overhaul began.

That back-to-the-future effort meant a meticulous revival of architect Gordon B. Kaufmann's original vision along with the installation of modern-day amenities -- recessed LED lighting with 20,000 possible accent colors, wheelchair ramps, a new concessions area, more bathrooms, a movable stage, steel rigging for elaborate concert productions -- that Mueller says will make the Palladium a nimble 21st century venue for concerts, television broadcasts and private bookings.

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