Want to rub shoulders with someone in Hollywood who might further your career? In the history of Hollywood’s late Golden Age, you might have tried Schwab’s Pharmacy on Sunset Blvd. From the 1930s through the 1950s, Schwab’s operated near Columbia, RKO, and Republic studios. Even after those studios shut down, the drugstore endured until 1983. It succumbed to the wrecking ball in 1988. Ironically, the retail complex later built on the site included a muti-screen cinema.
The four Schwab brothers, sons of a Polish immigrant, moved from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. They opened Schwab’s Pharmacy in 1932. Their entire family got into the act. They not only filled prescriptions with free delivery, but also had a lunch counter that drew in customers with their hot fudge brownie sundaes. Even as their celebrity customer count rose, they continued to treat all customers equally – famous or not. They even provided food on occasion to some who could not pay.
Another magnet for Hollywood hopefuls was the paging service and a cluster of pay phones. Agents could easily have a client paged at Schwab’s when they needed to get in touch. So, just like in Casa Blanca, a person could come to Schwab’s and wait, and wait, and wait…
Schwab’s showed up as a location for selected scenes in everything from Doris Day movies, the epic Sunset Boulevard, to The Andy Griffith Show.
Sid Sklosky, a writer for Photoplay Magazine, added to the Schwab’s mystique each month, stating that he was writing from a stool at the drugstore. Hollywood regulars included Humphrey Bogart, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Clark Gable, and Bette Davis. In later years, they came to feature Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, and Diane Keaton.
Closure and a Scoop of Nostalgia
It is not completely clear why Schwab’s closed. Certainly national drugstore chains were taking over by the 1980s. Family businesses don’t always attract members of their later generations to perpetuate the store. Schwab’s had originally benefitted from an adjacent parking lot in the old days. With real estate skyrocketing and street parking drying up, the lot also went way. Foot traffic from the now-closed studios also disappeared. Times change.
The best way to experience the ambiance of Schwab’s today is at Universal Studios Florida. A replica of the store has been built, where you can get ice cream with sprinkles of nostalgia at no extra cost.
- Year Started: 1932
- Year Ended: 1983
- Origin Of Name: Name of Founders
- Location Sales: Los Angeles
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: Schwab Family
- Owner While In Use: Schwab Family
- Owner Successor: N/A
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: N/A
- Naics Code: 456110
- Location Headquarters: Los Angeles, California USA