Monday, June 23, 2008

Monkey Island!

This week we have an oldie but a goodie! And we'd bet you'd never even knew this place once existed.

It's MONKEY ISLAND in Hollywood! Advertised as 'The Paradise of the Primates'!

Hollywood has long been known for its weird factor, but this joint set the bar pretty high. To us, this place beat the Alligator Farm all to heck.

Opened in December of 1938 by Adolph Weiss and located on Cahuenga Boulevard 'On the Pass', Monkey Island was designed by pioneer Hollywood studio art director Paul Palmentola with assistance from architect George Sprague.
As described in the guide book, Monkey Island was constructed of steel reinforced concrete. The island being oval shaped, surrounded by a moat fifteen feet wide and filled with three feet of clear, circulating water - 55,000 gallons to be precise. The moat elliminated the use of 'depressing bars or cages'.

Monkey Island was landscaped by two palm fringed mountains, each meant to duplicate the look of active volcanoes. Which is a little odd considering that the monkeys were imported from Calcutta, India - not an area especially known for Volcanic activity. Oh well, this is Hollywood after all.

In any case, contained within these concrete mountains were the monkey 'dormitories' and service halls where all two thousand (maximum capacity) monkeys would sleep on straw covered steel shelves - just like home in Calcutta!

Heavily promoted to tourists as a place where one could rub elbows with Hollywood stars and celebrities, Monkey Island took strong advantage of its Hollywood location. This from the guide book: ' Nowhere else in Hollywood can the visitor to Southern California come closer to the screen celebrities than at Monkey Island. There are no police, no ropes, no barriers between the great people of the cinema and those who come to Hollywood to view them at close range.'

Yipes! Makes you wonder if immunization shots were required before your visit.

Among the first celebrity guests were Errol Flynn, Andy Devine, John Carradine, Phil Harris, Dickie Jones and Joan Bennett. There's just no telling who the last celebrity guests might have been.

Shown here is 'Coy' the adult chimpanzee that played the original 'Cheeta' with Johnnie Weismuller in MGM's 'Tarzan'.

Due to his advanced age, the guide book states, Coy is seldom taken from his large cage which is his home at Hollywood's Monkey Island. Feel free to write your own caption for the photo above.

Monkey Island apparently closed in the early 1940s sometime. We just wish it could have stayed open long enough for us to 'swing by' and take a look.