How much did dinner and a floor show cost in the 1940s-50s
Like what were Ricky Ricardo's patrons presumed to be paying for an evening at the Tropicana? I'd be curious to know what the most famous places in NY and LA charged too. Was this a once-a-year outing for most people or something people could do on a regular basis?
Here's a menu from 1945. Lamb Cops = $1.85. Gives you an idea.
Ask Barbara BaBa Walters. Her father owned El Morocco. She's talked about it on The View. She even tried to sing and dance a little.
[quote]...what were Ricky Ricardo's patrons presumed to be paying for an evening at the Tropicana?
Depends on your choice of "Once Around the Island" or the "Havana Harvest."
Yeah, R1, but that's with a veg OR potato. Add another 40 or 50 cents so you can have both, plus 85 cents for a lobster cocktail and now you're talking about big money.
On the nights Lucy was working, you could get a lapdance for $0.25 AND your parking validated for free!
Did The Tropicana serve food?
Were there clubs in NYC really like it?
Why weren't there any black patrons?
Wasn't it awfully well-lit for a nightclub?
Did the Mertzes have to pay to get in?
What neighborhood was it?
Did Ricky sing every night?
Did they ever have comedy or magic? Or was it just music?
It never made sense that Lucy and Ricky's domestic routine seemed to fit a 9-to-5 lifestyle with Lucy making Ricky breakfast and him being out the door and gone all day until dinner time.
[quote]Ask Barbara BaBa Walters.
Great suggestion! I have her cell phone number right here on my speed dial, so I'll call her right up.
They didn't have a nine-to-five routine. He often came late, after Lucy was asleep, and he would sleep late in the morning.
He only had dinner at home on his nights off, usually with the Mertzes.
And when they travelled, which was often, then they had a more normal routine, except, again, when he was working. But on those work-trips to Europe and Florida he didn't keep late night club hours, anyway.
It always seemed like a 9 to 5 situation, but he really could have been served his breakfast around 11:00 or so.
Could you imagine going to the Tropicana for a lovely dinner and show on a night when Lucy was fucking up the show or the Mertz's were doing one of their tired old Vaudeville routines. Wouldn't you pissed?
LOL, R13. Alice and Trixie wait years for Ralph and Ed Norton to take them to a swell night club and all they get to see is a bald coot and his fat cow of a wife braying "Carolina In the Morning."
There was a surcharge if you wanted Ricky to shake his maracas at you.
I also wonder about those old supper club type places. They seemed so elegant.
Could we please get this thread back on track? Anyone with historical knowledge on this subject?
I was watching a Perry Mason the other day and Della, Paul and Perry were all at one of these clubs. Della looked really nice in her gown and Paul and Perry were handsome in their dinner jackets. I guess you were supposed to wear dinner jackets. There was always some sultry singer.
Dirt cheap, but still a great deal more than the daily food stamp allowance for a family of four in 2013.
R1's menu really has me wondering what "Dell's Tid-Bit (with mustard sauce) was. At $2 it was as expensive as the prime rib.
R21 Soylent Yellow
I cannot give you an exact amount. Inflation calculators are virtually useless.
I can tell you this, people often went to a supper club after the had been to a play, concert, opera, etc. It would have been a very long evening... and an expensive one. I would say that it fell into a once a month event for most people in the city (including entertaining clients). Obviously, cafe society would be out nearly every night, but I don't think that would be how most people lived.
Interesting blog page talking about "LA's World Famous Restaurant Row" where Dell's was located:
I always wish I could go back in time and see a few of these shows.
There was always a shiny bucket with champagne.
I don't know the average cost, but it was long rumoured that if you bought my grandmother a nice dinner the floorshow was free.
R23 Thanks for the substantive answer I appreciate it.
OP, I often wonder the same thing. The huge dinner/dance nightclubs in old movies are so over the top! A big orchestra, chorines and all kinds of staff. I imagine it was a luxury. The Tropicana seemed to have been in midtown by some of the references in the show from time to time.
[quote]Ask Barbara BaBa Walters. Her father owned El Morocco.
Barbara Walters father was a shit level Jewish mob type who owned The Latin Quarter nightclub. It was teeny, and later became The Princess Theater on Broadway, where I saw "Pump Boys and Dinettes" in 1982. There's a hotel, I think it's The Millenium covering the triangular block today.
I did see several of the routines performed in night clubs. I am old enough that many of the old night club acts were still around in my youth, even if the clubs were not. Most of it was really grade C entertainment. I think, from what I remember of the performers talking, the performers changed every week to keep things fresh. In some cases a successful act would stay on, but for the most part you played a week and then moved to your next gig.
They always looked packed.
I Had the Worst Experience at The Tropicana tonight!!!
You won't believe this, but William and I went to the Tropicana for dinner tonight to see Ricky Ricardo and his orchestra. Well, this crazy woman comes out in a black wig with the chorus girls and she is dancing off time and ruins not only the number, but the entire show. Then this fat couple comes out singing Sweet Sue, which made no sense at all, since it was supposed to be a Latin number. I was never so disgusted in all my life. We heard that the woman in the black wig was Ricky's wife and the fat couple are his landlords. We demanded our money back, but they said no.
Reply 1 - This never happened!
Reply 2 - EST!
Reply 3 - Ricky Ricardo has sizemeat.
Reply 4 - R2 wears jeans on the subway
Reply 5 - OP types like she wears hostess pants and has decorated her home in Chinese Modern.
Reply 6 - This would never happen at the Macambo.
Reply 7 - R3=Carolyn Appleby
Reply 8 - How are we doing this when the internet hasn't even been invented yet?
When I was a kid I always thought that it would have been fun to be the cigarette girl.
Reply 9 - Did you hear that Ricky is banging the harpist?
I love you, r5.
Dinner and floor show would run around $15.00
OP here's a link to a menu from the Copacabana nightclub in NYC from the 1950s. This should give you some idea as to the meal prices. I'm sure that there was also a cover charge, but that likely varied by who was appearing at the time.
Ricky had his breakfast at a standard BREAKFAST time.
Almost every time Lucy was shown serving him breakfast, Ethel showed up afterwards, usually in her bathrobe, and it was obviously still morning.
And Ricky didn't seem to work nights very often since he spent plenty of evenings at home with Lucy, being visited by Fred and Ethel.
Reply 10: Do you think Ricky is uncut?
did Ethel ever air out her tits? I bet there was some STANK going down between those meat puppets.
R37 Thank you. I assume this is in today's money? Otherwise we are talking about close to $100...
God this is getting tiresome. Could you people please take it over to one of the Lucille Ball threads? This thread is about mid-century floor shows/supper clubs.
Paul Anka (who performed at the Copacabana) is now Jason Batemans' father in law. Amazing how clicking thru a wikipedia item can find some trivial little nugget like that.
R42, we were going to start our own thread but Gary Morton advised us not to.
Isn't it interesting that those menus all have Chinese entrees.
Here's a piece from a Ciro's program-newsletter from 1946. Special New Year's Eve dinner and entertainment was $15 plus tax per person.
I think I remember hearing that it was about $25/person for dinner and show at the Rat Pack's summit shows in Vegas in the early 60s.
Before it was Ciro's, it was the Moulin Rouge. this menu advertizes a "price policy starting at $5.50 per person plus tax" for a "full course dinner or (THREE DRINKS and NO DINNER) plus dancing and gala revue."
Reply 11, was wearing that tired old Don Loper dress again last night?
R49 I want to find out what "Dulcina" did ...
Sorry, my bad. The Moulin Rouge was also the Earl Carrol Theatre at one time. It's located east of Ciro's on Sunset Blvd in the heart fo Hollywood.
In the 1960 and 1970 it was the Aquarius Theatre, and is now owned/occupied by Nickeoldeon.
R55 "Dulcina & Her Amorous Donkey" was a novelty act that Ciros imported from Tijuana.
Unfortunately the duo broke up when Dulcina caught the Donkey "comforting " Elizabeth Taylor after the death of Mike Todd.
The median family income in 1945 was about $2500 and in 2012 it was about $50,000.
If you do a direct extrapolation based on these numbers, income is now about 20 times what it was then. Those lamb chops cost would now cost about $37.
I asked an older person who used to go to these places a lot.
The big difference in NY anyway...rent.
Back then no one paid more than 25% of take home pay in rent. As little as 10 to 15% was common.
They had much more disposable income so while shows and clubs were not cheap, if you had a job you often went out a couple of times a month.
reply 11 -- I hear Ricky swings both ways.
reply 12 -- I hope so. I'm happy to take Ricky's jizz.
reply 13 -- do you think Lucy's drapes match her carpeting?
reply 14 -- if Mrs. Trumble will look after Little Ricky, I'm be happy to find out.
On "The Burns and Allen Show", they would often mention Ciro's as well as the Mocambo (sp?) Room so I assumed they were high-class establishments especially since George or Gracie would talk about seeing other famous stars at either place. I assume that they really did go to such places and the restaurants / clubs enjoyed the free publicity as well as viewers who might have been tempted to dine there on a night out.
Reply 15- Ricky!! Mamacita's mussy is as moist as mole sauce on an enchilada!
These menus are great. I found one for the Mocambo too which according to Wikipedia was replicated as The Tropicana set for I Love Lucy. Desi Arnez played there as well.
So adding $2.00 cover plus a starter at around $1.25 plus a steak at $5.50 plus dessert at $1.00 plus a couple cocktails at $1.25 each you'd be looking at about $25 per couple before tax and tip.
I'd guess the big name celebrity clubs would only be a once or twice a year special occasion night out for the average person. Maybe a little more often for the lesser name clubs and acts.
Does anyone know anything about this establishment on R24's list of 1960s W. Hollywood eateries:
[quote]Skipper Alan Hale's Lobster Barrel
"The Skipper" had a seafood restaurant to cash in on Gilligan's Island's success??!!
Never mind - I found it for myself.
I liked this comment on the site:
[quote]I never ate there, but I passed it often on the way to work and a few times saw Alan Hale outside hosing down the small driveway and entrance himself.
May have been Alan Hale Senior who was the Skipper's father and also an actor.
A blow job a la carte would add six bits but it appeared on the bill as "other services."
[quote] May have been Alan Hale Senior who was the Skipper's father and also an actor.
No, it was Alan Hale Jr. Skipper from Gilligan's Island.
He wasn't the only celeb restauranteur in L.A..
Actor Philip Ahn had a Chinese restaurant in the San Fernando Valley called "Phil Ahn's Moongate"
R62 Yes - the Mocambo, Ciro's - those are some of the upscale ones I wondered about. I'd like to see a menu from those places.
[quote]He wasn't the only celeb restauranteur in L.A.
How about Casa Cugat, (partly) owned by the famous bandleader, Xavier Cugat? From this newspaper ad. it appears Charo might have been performed there.
Charo AND mexican food?!
[italic]Hot cha?[/italic] You betcha!!
R57, I heard about that, although I was living in Barcelona at the time and never saw the act. Didn't Cantinflas adopt Donkey after his career was ruined by the Hollywood Reporter?
I heard Cesar Romero at the end of his life referred to him as "The Original Burrito Grande."
Preston Sturges and some others owned The Players Club on Sunset Strip for a while.
[quote]Didn't Cantinflas adopt Donkey after his career was ruined by the Hollywood Reporter?
Please derail this thread by telling us how the Hollywood Reporter ruined Cantinflas' career.
OP, there was a book that came out in the 80s called "Out With the Stars," and it was all about the clubs in LA in the 30s, 40s, 50s. Lots of pictures and menus.
In addition to the Mocambo and Ciro's, on The Burns and Allen Show, they also referenced Romanov's and Chasen's.
[quote]Didn't Cantinflas adopt Donkey after his career was ruined by the Hollywood Reporter?
[quote]Please derail this thread by telling us how the Hollywood Reporter ruined Cantinflas' career.
I believe R75 is under the wrong impression.
Cantiflas ruined The Donkeys career... which was Cantiflas' revenge for Donkey always getting top billing ( both on and off stage if you get my drift. wink wink.)
We enjoyed The Cub Room. That is, unless the fishwife Addison de Witt and Eve Evil were there.
r60 People also had less home entertainment-- so they pretty much had to do this. Nowadays people spend a lot on home-entertainment--- internet, cable tv, big screen tvs. I think it actually evens out.
r83 LOL !!!
[quote]Depends on if you wanted the Havana Surprise or the Spanish Sausage.