From Villa Nova to Rainbow Bar and Grill, the 71 Years of an Iconic Sunset Strip Club

From the Villa Nova in 1944 to the Rainbow Bar and Grill today, Alison Martino tells the story of the evolution of one of the Sunset Strip’s iconic destinations in a video interview.

Martino has long charted the history of Los Angeles, with a special focus on the Sunset Strip, on her Facebook page, Vintage Los Angeles. For the first in a series of videos she brought together Charlotte Dale, 91, who opened the Villa Nova with her husband Allen (some say with funding from Charlie Chaplin) and Mikael Maglieri, son of the Rainbow’s original owner, Mario Maglieri.

Dale talks about her restaurant, where the regulars were stars such as Dean Martin, Don Knotts, Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio and Micky Rooney and the mobster. Micky Cohen. Villa Nova is where Marilyn Monroe, then on a date with Micky Rooney, met Joe DiMaggio for the first time — a meeting that resulted in one of the most famous marriages, and divorces in 1950s America.

Maglieri talks about the evolution of Villa Nova in the Rainbow Bar and Grill, known for customers from the world of rock such as Alice Cooper, John Lennon, Grace Slick, Ringo Starr and Neil Diamond. Both Maglieri and Dale point out remnants of the original Villa Nova in the club’s interior.

The Dales moved Villa Nova to Newport Beach in 1968, where it burned down in 1995. Mario Maglieri, Lou Adler and Elmer Valentine opened the Rainbow Bar and Grill in 1972 with a party for Elton John.

The video, produced by the Ebersole Hughes Company, can be viewed above. More information is available on Vintage Los Angeles.

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[…] The Rainbow Grill in Hollywood was another big hangout for the mob. It was a well-known gambling hall, and despite raids, the establishment kept continuing to manage the wagers night after night. Ultimately, the Hollywood Commission granted an official license in 1948. […]

Gary Mortimer
Gary Mortimer
5 years ago

I wonder why the time BEFORE the Villa Nova became the Rainbow Bar & Grill is not mentioned here or in the interview. In the 1970’s for a few years, it was called the Windjammer and I worked there as the bartender…in the bar downstairs and also the small bar upstairs on certain nights for all the dancing. And at that time it was co-owner/operated by two men: Larry (can’t remember his last name, and Gene Selznick, who also was a famous beach Volleyball player. Doesn’t anyone have any information about the Windjammer and those two men?
Gary Mortimer

Jerry Brown
6 years ago

Thank You …..I LOVE LA from the days when it was special and unique……..

7 years ago

Fascinating piece, but for the sake of accuracy, I would like to add that Mickey Rooney did not arrange Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio’s first date. It was indeed at the Villa Nova, but it had been set up by David March, a friend of Marilyn’s who knew that DiMaggio wanted to meet her. Rooney was there that evening (and according to what Marilyn told biographer Maurice Zolotow), he butted into the date and talked Joe’s ear off about baseball. Mickey and Marilyn were old friends and had worked together, but as he grew older he exaggerated his importance in… Read more »

Tom Smart
Tom Smart
7 years ago

I could watch this stuff all day!! Thank you!!

Showbiz Lady
Showbiz Lady
7 years ago

Very cool!

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