When the Hollywood Athletic Club was built in 1924 it was considered to be the tallest building in Los Angeles. It was built by Meyer & Holler, the very same architectural firm that built Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and the Egyptian Theatre.
Blonde bombshell Jean Harlow once showed up at the club after she was stood up by Dick Powell – clad in nothing but a fur coat. Legend has it that she opened the coat and said to Powell, “Just a reminder of what you’re missing.”
Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller captured the attention of MGM screenwriter Cyril Hume while swimming his daily laps at The H.A.C.
Having found their ideal Tarzan, MGM cast Weissmuller alongside leading lady Maureen O’ Sullivan in Tarzan’s New York Adventure.
Actor Cornel Wilde started out in the Hollywood Athletic Club as a fencing instructor before he was “discovered” by some of the stars he was hired to teach.
Buster Crabbe, the club’s lifeguard, trained in the swimming pool to win a 1932 Olympic gold medal. He later starred as the futuristic sex symbol, Flash Gordon. Crabbe would also share “Tarzan” movie role duties with another club habitue and Olympic gold medalist, actor Johnny Weismuller.
John Wayne’s headquarters were based in the penthouse of the H.A.C. Known to be short-fused, there are stories of him hurling billiard balls at the passing cars on Sunset Boulevard on his off-days.
In the 1955 film noir classic, “Kiss Me Deadly“, private eye Mike Hammer discovers that the most important clue to his mystery is a key with the letters H.A.C. on it.
Those initials stand for the Hollywood Athletic Club, of course, and the key turns out to fit a locker at the club, which contains something mysterious and very dangerous…
One night John Wayne and a producer took bets on who was better at punching his fist through doors. The next day, the H.A.C. presented the winner –Wayne– with a bill for $2,000.
H.A.C. member Errol Flynn was known to swan dive into the pool from the balcony rather than use the diving board. They named that corner of the balcony ‘The Flynn Corner’ in his honor.