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Screen Actors to Dedicate Headquarters

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Times Staff Writer

The Screen Actors Guild has set the date to dedicate its new headquarters at 7065 Hollywood Blvd., former home of the Hollywood Congregational Church.

It’s May 1, the grand finale of a week of events planned to celebrate “the second coming of the City of Stars.” The week will focus on the history of Hollywood, its stars, star attractions, restoration and aspirations.

Known as Hollywood Week or Hollywood II, the week will be kicked off with champagne and strawberries April 25 at the Wattles Mansion, near La Brea Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard.

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Conceived by L. A. City Councilman Mike Woo, with Debbie Reynolds as official spokeswoman, the week will feature symposiums, theater discounts, concerts, free museum viewings, youth relays and religious services, capped by the Screen Actors Guild dedication/Hollywood II closing ceremony at 2 p.m.

Then, slowly, the guild will move from where it’s been on the Sunset Strip for more than 30 years. The move is expected to be completed by June 1.

In the meantime, the old building at 7750 Sunset Blvd. is on the market, and, as of last week, the guild’s attorneys were examining offers.

Hugh Hefner closed his private L. A. supper club, Touch, just before the Academy Awards, and last week the Playboy magazine publisher was in negotiations to sell the 8,000-square-foot building and 30,000-square-foot lot at 8750 Beverly Blvd., probably to Cedars-Sinai, the hospital across the street.

The club had about 1,000 members, including TV producers Mark Goodson and Aaron Spelling, Johnny Carson’s ex-wife Joanna, Sammy Davis Jr., Gabe Kaplan, Kenny Rogers and Dionne Warwick.

Lamenting the sale, one member wrote of the club: “It was one of the most romantic places on this planet, along with Venice, Italy.”

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It had what she described as “museum-quality examples of Art Deco, an irreplaceable, three-dimensional mural (by New York artist Dennis Abbe) and beautiful etched glass, marble floor, live palm trees growing inside and little lights that twinkled like stars as the night sky appeared through the skylights and reflected off the mirrored walls.” The interiors, which really are spectacular, were designed by Stanley Felderman.

Alas, the sale must go on, Richard Rosenzweig, an associate of Hefner’s said, “because it doesn’t give him a proper return on his investment.” Mike McConnell, who was the manager, said, “Eighty restaurants opened within five miles of us since we opened five years ago. Also, Spago opened right after us, and that set a trend toward the informal.” Touch, which promoted touch dancing, was strictly uptown.

McConnell plans to open an informal place known as Tracy’s Dinner House, patterned after the dinner clubs of the ‘50s, in Sherman Oaks in May. His partners will be Bill Tracy and Mike Carazza.

“Bill was a child actor in Bing Crosby pictures, and he grew up to be part of a successful comedy team that appeared on Ed Sullivan’s long-running TV show, so he’ll be our emcee,” McConnell explained. “Mike owned other supper clubs, most recently the Etcetera, which is now closed.”

Before he opens Tracy’s, though, McConnell probably will help remove the art that he watched painstakingly installed. Said Rosenzweig: “We’ll sell the art, normally referred to as furnishings, because if Cedars buys the place, they won’t need the interiors.” And the chance that Cedars will buy the site is good.

“Cedars is hemmed in,” McConnell noted. “This is one of the few places it can expand.” Rosenzweig said that Hefner “feels a community responsibility to let Cedars have it, so he is leaning toward that, but the deal is not yet closed.”

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So Hefner had a busy week last week. Not only was he negotiating on Touch, but he also celebrated his 60th birthday on Wednesday. And on Thursday? A party was planned on Touch’s parking lot to celebrate the renaming of Hamel Road, which separates the hospital from the supper club, to George Burns Road. “He came to Touch a lot,” McConnell said.

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